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The saga of John du Pont is one of the more bizarre and tragic stories
from the mid-1990s. In Bennett Miller's dark and ominous Foxcatcher,
the episode is framed as a true-life Faustian Tale. But the story is
almost secondary to three outstanding dramatic performances -- two of
which are given by men who are better known for their work in other
Channing Tatum stars as Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz. When we first meet him, he's already reached elite status by winning a gold medal. But the achievement hasn't allowed him to escape the shadow of his older brother, Dave, also a gold medalist. The younger Schultz wants more. He wants to be the best. His past prize also doesn't pay the bills. After training sessions, he's eating ramen noodles. All that changes, however, with a phone call from du Pont (Steve Carell) who offers to pay him and set him up in a first-class training facility on his Pennsylvania estate.
Like Schultz, the multi-millionaire du Pont is a man in a seemingly enviable position who nevertheless wants something greater. He has family issues of his own, as he strives to please his disapproving mother (Vanessa Redgrave). He hopes he can make her proud by leading a team of wrestlers to gold in Seoul in 1988. But du Pont doesn't just want to be a benefactor. Even though he's little more than an extremely wealthy fan, with only a rudimentary knowledge of the sport, he wants to be seen as a coach and mentor to his wrestlers. And so, when Dave arrives to guide his brother, jealousy develops. Dave is everything du Pont wishes he could be, but isn't. He's a great teacher, a great leader. This leads to tension that slowly builds toward the story's shocking climax as du Pont's demons emerge.
As du Pont, Carell is almost unrecognizable beneath make-up and prosthetics. It's a quietly disturbing performance that will definitely have audiences and critics seeing the comic talent in a new light. Action/comedy star Tatum also has a breakthrough turn as the intense and driven young Schultz who grows increasingly uncomfortable under du Pont's subjugation. As a past Academy Award nominee, Mark Ruffalo's exceptional portrayal of the older Schultz comes as less of a surprise. But that doesn't make it any less notable or transformative. The normally wiry Ruffalo packed on a lot of muscle to play Dave Schultz. Here, he looks less like his Bruce Banner alter ego, and more like the Hulk himself. All three performances are a study in the art of subtly. This is a movie that derives drama from silent moments. In many key scenes, it's the words that aren't said that speak volumes.
Foxcatcher features themes of control and manipulation, and wrestling functions as an apt metaphor. It's that most primal of sports one in which you literally bend another person to your will. Ultimately though, the movie is a story about two people who reach for greatness, only to experience a great fall. And it's also the tale of a great man caught in the middle. The saddest part is that it actually happened.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Foxcatcher is a 2014 American biographical drama film, directed by
Bennett Miller, starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark
Ruffalo. The screenplay was written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman.
It competed for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the
2014 Cannes Film Festival, where Miller won the Best Director Award.
The story of Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz and paranoid- schizophrenic millionaire coach John du Pont, who murdered Schultz's brother, Olympic Champion Dave Schultz in 1996.
The film has received acclaim from critics, with many praising the performances of Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 'Certified Fresh' rating of 91%, based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 8.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A chilling true crime drama, Foxcatcher offers Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum a chance to shine - and all three rise to the challenge". Metacritic gives the film a score of 91 out of 100, based on 11 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Justin Chang of Variety praised the film, writing: "Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum give superb performances in Bennett Miller's powerfully disturbing true-crime saga." Eric Kohn of Indiewire also reacted positively to the film, with most of his praise going towards Carell and Tatum's performances. Donald Clarke of The Irish Times praised Bennett Miller's direction, saying that "he (Miller) hits his stride with a stunning portrayal of psychopathy and moral decadence in the unlikely environment of Olympic wrestling." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter praised Carell's performance calling it "career changing". On the other hand, Budd Wilkins of Slant Magazine gave the film a negative review and said that the film "offers us next to nothing of utility or complexity about du Pont's pathology.
I'm not surprised this terrific decent movie has won 2 International Awards.
See It With Your Kids!.There aren't any bad words or sex, just some violence!.
Foxcatcher tells the fateful story of John Du Pont and the Olympic winning Schultz brothers. Directed by Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher taps into the psychology behind Du Pont, examining his psyche in the most disturbing of fashions. Steve Carrel delivers a performance that many will find hard to swallow. He is dry, he is awkward, and he is completely insane. To keep it simple, Steve Carrel is absolutely terrific and truly shows his range as an actor. It is an amazing performance that is bound for Oscar glory. The other half to Carrel's Du Pont is Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz. Tatum completely drowns into his character, leading him to turn in a vicious, unapologetic performance that is so perfectly executed that you will soon forget that this is Channing Tatum. When he is on screen, he is Mark Schultz. It is the best performance that Tatum has given in his career and stands to grab a possible Best Suppoting Actor nod at this year's Oscars. The voice of reason for both Mark and Du Pont lies in Dave Schultz, played brilliantly by Mark Ruffalo. Dave serves as this mediator in between Mark and Du Pont especially when their relationship starts becoming more and more intense and violent. The rest of the cast featuring Vannessa Redgrave and Anthony Michael Hall also turn in very sound and great performances as well. As far as acting is concerned, Foxcatcher is a hard film to beat. Every actor is on top of their game here and it really shows how good of a director Bennet Miller is. He takes a seemingly dry script and turns it into an emotional roller-coaster by way of his actors. One scene in particular haunted me involving a simple glare from Tatum's Mark Schultz as he peddles faster and harder upon seeing Du Pont. That scene on paper isn't that interesting but with Miller's uncanny ability to make even the simplest scenes intricate and layered, it works and remains one of the more memorable scenes from the film. The other highlight from this film has to be the cinematography. Everything is filmed with a slight tint of dread and gray, it creates the mood immediately and balances the story perfectly. Overall, Foxcatcher is a great character study featuring top notch performances that push this film into the top ten of the year easily.
"Foxcatcher" is anything but a wrestling drama. Although based on the
true story of Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz and his brief years of
training under multi-millionaire John du Pont, "Foxcatcher" expands
well beyond the wrestling ring into the minds of two men longing to
So those expecting anything close to director Bennett Miller's last film, "Moneyball," should be forewarned. This is not a sports movie, but a slow-burning character study (like Miller's first acclaimed film, "Capote") in which the wrestling serves as the visual, physical expression of the psychological struggle between the characters.
When we first meet Mark, played by Channing Tatum, whose versatility continues to amaze, it's 1987 and he is living in the faded glory of his 1984 gold medal. Despite his success, he is living a rather lonely life and itching to accomplish more; his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), also won gold and Dave feels that leaves him with something to prove. So when John du Pont (Steve Carell) contacts him about paying him to come train at his top-notch facility on his family's estate, Foxcatcher Farm, he sees his opportunity.
Mark and du Pont's philosophies about striving to be the best align, and the two form a close, almost father-and-son bond, though more so because they both feel pressure to live up to others' expectations. Du Pont, in particular, wants to prove himself to his mother (Vanessa Redgrave), who breeds world class horses and finds wrestling barbaric. John's desperation, bottomless checkbook and unresolved family issues make for a dangerous combination, and his relationship with Mark slowly begins to change for the worse. Further complicating the matter is Dave, the only man capable of saving Mark from his demanding expectations of himself and whose coaching expertise intimidates du Pont.
The often unspoken psychological warfare between the three (and, perhaps most importantly, du Pont and his mother) is the driving force of the story more than anything that actually happens on screen. Mark's ups and downs as he competes at the '87 World Championships and '88 Olympic trials are symptomatic of his mental state and the state of his relationship with the other men. As such, "Foxcatcher" is a long, at times brooding film that can drag in spite of the brilliant character development and internal drama.
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman's script is quiet and doesn't have a lot of big juicy moments for its actors to lean on, so the fact that Carell is totally haunting and captivating in this role says a lot. Du Pont is an incredibly complex character whose back story is mostly implied so as to keep him as unpredictable as possible. Even with all the makeup on, Carell gives the epitome of an understated performance, something you would never dream possible from a guy who has made a career out of big acting and abrasive characters. Undoubtedly some credit goes to Miller, who has churned out acting nominations and wins for his previous casts, and gets Carell and Tatum to pause and linger at all the right moments.
With those two in transforming roles, it's easy to overlook Ruffalo (who always seems to get overlooked). Dave is the comparison point for both these men. He's a family man who is smart, has accomplished a lot and knows what it truly means to work hard. Ruffalo brings his trademark authenticity to his part as the "good guy" and does it so well.
Even when it's too quiet and languishes, "Foxcatcher" is a fine piece of cinema and Miller has established himself as a true auteur. It certainly does not satisfy in the mainstream sense, but its purposeful use of imagery, total avoidance of melodrama and magnifying glass on the human condition make it an undeniably sharp and intelligent art film to be sure.
~Steven C Thanks for reading! Visit Movie Muse Reviews for more
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Foxcatcher... a limp train wreck of a film, driven only by the tragedy
of the true story on which it's based, and no doubt geared to be hot at
the Oscars thanks to huge departures from typecasting for both Carrell
"Accuracy of events and characterizations be damned - we're making an art movie here!"
Let's summarize, shall we? Forrest Gump and his bearded brother, Quasimodo, both won wrestling gold in the 84 Olympics. Their relationship is somewhat strained, as Forrest feels second best. 1987, we see Forrest poor and down on his luck, when mentally disturbed narcissist, billionaire & self-appointed ace wrestling coach, Montgomery Burns, invites Forrest over to his elaborate estate to wrestle for him and assist in coaching his team in exchange for boarding and big money. Forrest wins gold at the 87 World championships, and fosters a twisted father/son relationship with Mr Burns.
Much homo-erotic bonding, drinking and drug use later, Mr Burns loses his marbles, humiliates Forrest (who is now addicted to booze and cocaine), and instead brings in Quasimodo as assistant coach, reducing Forrest to wrestler status. Forrest cracks under the pressure, and sucks at the 88 Olympics. Mr Burns grows envious of Quasimodo's coaching prowess and success, as well as his efforts to protect Forrest, regardless of poor performance. Forrest gets the boot & takes up cage fighting, while Quasimodo stays behind and eventually gets murdered by a slow-burning, envious Mr Burns.
Channing Tatum plays Mark Schulz, aka Forrest Gump - minus the good humor and sunny disposition... instead replaced by an overly-accentuated ape-walk and a constantly protruding forced under-bite that obviously made it hard to speak. A shame that he had to be portrayed in a mentally challenged, quasi-autistic fashion, when the actual Mark Schulz is in fact a personable guy that had a 3.6 GPA in high school.
Mark Ruffalo is Dave Schulz, aka Quasimodo - having packed on a few pounds of muscle and managing to look exactly like David Cross, our tragic hero is always hunched over and bow-legged, in a morning-after-Brokeback-Mountain kind of way.
And finally, funny man Steve Carrell... John DuPont - who is portrayed as Mr Burns with a speech impediment, an unhealthy love for guns, and a thousand-yard-stare borne of the constant clamoring for his aristocratic mother's affections & approval. His over-accentuated giant nose sadly changes size and shape several times throughout the film.
Everyone else is just a face - added like an afterthought, with no real interactions or discussions with the main characters.
It's got the whole "Faustian retelling, filled with belated guilted patriotism for a fallen American sports champion" vibe about it - throw in some men grappling, oddly shot scenes, men hugging, incredibly slow dialog, men slapping each other's backs and shoulders and a score filled with loads of melancholic piano during dramatic shots, and it's easy to see how it was so loved by the Cannes crowd...
Personally though, I wanted to gouge out my eyes halfway through - the film could have been around 40 minutes shorter were it not for the dramatic artsy landscape / filmed through a window / mundane happenings scenes and the frustratingly slow dialog.
The most entertaining bit during the entire 2-hour ordeal, was having a chuckle at the snoring of the guy sitting behind me.
I went in expecting an epic sports drama of Warrior proportions, and left depressed, wondering where it all went wrong.
Avoid this film like the plague.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Bennett Miller's newest biopic, Foxcatcher, creates quite a disturbing
picture for one of America's wealthiest and most powerful families. The
film is based on the autobiography of Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark
Schultz where he details his training leading up to the 1988 Olympics.
John Du Pont decides he wants to coach the men's Olympic Wrestling team. What are his qualifications you are asking yourself in the meantime? None. He has no qualifications. He simply is a rich schizophrenic man who lives at home with his mother and has a very strange affection toward men's wrestling and especially Mark Schultz. The film provides a dark tone and setting for the entirety of the film offering no alternative. The story is dark and Miller makes sure you know that.
The film is based on real events so it is not a spoiler to tell you that Du Pont's schizophrenia leads to a murder resulting him in jail where he resided until his death in 2010. His obsession with Mark and his brother Dave Schultz, another Olympic gold medalist, becomes the center of the plot in this spine tingling tale.
Steve Carell is going to get an Oscar nomination for this. He has finally proved to audiences that he can undertake and perfect dramatic acting. There is not one specific scene in the film that showcases this talent rather his performance as a whole. He is John Du Pont. They plaster on him a fake nose, make him look much older, and voilà you have Steve Carell looking like Du Pont. Next, he masterfully had to act like Du Pont. His struggle to prove to his mother he can do something and his sickening obsession with Mark and Dave give us that eerie feeling he is up to no good. Steve Carell freaked me out in this film. If it were up to me, I would absolutely give him a nomination and probably the Oscar.
Channing Tatum gives the biggest and best breakthrough performance I have ever seen. This role is not like any others for Tatum. He plays Mark Schultz, the younger of the two brothers. Tatum perfects Schultz's nervous habits allowing the audience to see the insecurity in Schultz's mind. He is a loner, seemingly sexually confused, and very much insecure about his own wrestling ability despite being an Olympic Champion. Channing Tatum is magnificent. I pray he receives an Oscar nomination as well.
It is so refreshing to see actors who have never really branched out before finally show us what they got. Tatum branched out with Foxcatcher and he showed us he has what it takes to be a serious actor and potential Oscar nominee in the future.
Director Bennett Miller won the Best Director prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival and I must confess I admire his directing so much. Foxcatcher is a very well made film and is created quite tastefully. There are several scenes that allude to Du Pont's homosexuality with his complete infatuation with Mark towards the beginning. It even implies Mark allowed this to evolve into something. Whatever it is, Miller does an excellent job conveying the creepiness of it all. His previous filmography includes Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011). Obviously Miller enjoys creating stories centered on real people and events.
This film is not lighthearted and happy. It is dark and it is mysterious. Miller keeps us in a sort of shrouded mist throughout the film. It is very ambiguous at times but this ambiguity does not inhibit the film at all. This was one of the best films I saw at Cannes this year and I believe it's going to rack up a lot of Oscar nominations this awards season.
My first night at the Stockholm Film Festival turned out really great
thanks to Foxcatcher. A movie I didn't expect much from, but it was in
fact one of the best movies of 2014. Foxcatcher is a movie that doesn't
have that much action and will surely disappoint those who loves
wrestling and wants to see fights. This is not a movie about the good
side of the sport, it's about the bad one we don't get to see when Hulk
Mania and The Rock performs nowadays.
The film is based upon a true story. Mark Schultz is an Olympic wrestler. His relationship with his sponsor, John du Pont and his older brother leads to very unlikely circumstances between both. John du Pont turns out to be a bit different than the man he first seemed like.
What I first wondered when I read about the film was, "how could they pick Channing Tatum for such a dramatic role? Isn't he that guy who just shows off his abs so the girls can look at something?" Well, in this movie Channing was someone completely different. He is superb as Mark Schultz, I couldn't imagine anyone else playing him after seeing this film. And this is partly what makes the film very watchable and good. Steve Carell (who usually stars in sex comedies) also did an amazing job as John du Pont. I could barely recognize him at first, and forgot that it was him 10 minutes after he first appeared on the screen. In the end, I also forgot what he looks like in real life. Great job on the make up there!
The good performances is definitely what I enjoyed the most. I'm not into wrestling, and Foxcatcher didn't really make me interested. It's a very deterrent example of how some Olympic athletes are trained and treated when they're not on TV. The movie will be out in theaters later this month, and I suggest you to go watch it. If you're not a fan of wrestling, that's even better. I don't like the sport but loved this movie.
However, pick your theater carefully. Sadly, some people in front of me waited to see Channing Tatum naked during the beginning. They were just annoying, but quiet when they realized that they weren't watching a teen comedy. Which was, around thirty minutes into the film. So I didn't really mind! The movie is a bit over two hours long...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is a complete disappointment. I was so excited to see it after watching the trailers and knowing that Steve Carell was in it, I think he has great potential as a dramatic actor. The movie has a lot of awkward scenes and doesn't give you any back story into the characters. There's a lot of things that don't make sense and that are never explained. At the end of the movie they don't even tell you what Mark's reaction to his brother's death was or the sentence that du Pont got. I didn't even think the acting was that spectacular. Channing Tatum literally acts like an ape and Steve Carell is just creepy and uncomfortable. One of the worst movies I've seen.
A film that takes its time presenting its case, Bennett Miller's
wickedly brutal "Foxcatcher" entices audiences to learn more about the
questions around us, and where they could lead. Seated firmly in the
center are a trio of dazzling performances from Channing Tatum, Steve
Carell, and Mark Ruffalo, all of which make a compelling case for their
career best works.
Written by Oscar-nominee Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, "Foxcatcher" tells the story of Mark Schultz (Tatum), an Olympic wrestler who befriends billionaire John Du Pont (Carell) in the mid-1980's. Along with his brother Dave (Ruffalo) and his wife Nancy (Sienna Miller), that new relationship leads to unforeseen consequences.
At the core of this morality tale is Bennett Miller, the Oscar- nominated director of "Capote" and "Moneyball." He allows"Foxcatcher" to study its subjects, and give the audience an in-depth understanding of all the motives involved. With the help of Cinematographer Greig Fraser, and composer Rob Simonsen, the movie's melancholy atmosphere is truly compelling. Miller's brilliance isn't in things he chooses to show, but in the things he chooses not to. He draws out scenes that offer so much to the narrative. There's still so much left on the table that we do not know, which in itself, is perfectly acceptable. Life never gives us all the answers we seek. Miller, Futterman, and Frye understand this. Material like this calls to be made into a film. I'm so glad that these three answered the call.
What Steve Carell achieves as John DuPont is not just a performance by a full embodiment. With strength and precision, he understands DuPont, a man with an extreme outlook on reality. Carell doesn't just ask us to sympathize with John, between his awkward behavior and his constant yearning to impress his family's legacy, he demands our understanding. If I didn't already know about the film for the past two years, I wouldn't have recognized him. His performance is completely focused and profound. Looking at the way he carries himself through the film, you are witnessing one of the purest creations of a character this year. When he's not on-screen, you're secretly wishing he was.
When it comes to Channing Tatum, I have to admit that I never FULLY understood the appeal. Discovered the young ferocious actor in Dito Montiel's "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" nearly a decade ago, and afterwards was only mildly entertained by his presence in films like "21 Jump Street" and "Side Effects." What he does in Miller's film is something beyond anything I could have ever thought he could do. Tatum doesn't just do an imitation, he channels the inner workings of a man desperate for more. His peculiarities are richly on display as he yearns for a father figure outside of the shadow of his more successful brother. He embraces the odd DuPont, against all logical instincts, but you can see exactly why he would feel so compelled to do so.
Mark Ruffalo gives Dave the ticks and beats of an original creation. Picking at his beard (something I know all too well), constantly engaging in team leadership, and hugging his younger brother whose more of a son than anything. Ruffalo mounts himself on the perch of a loving brother just trying to create success for himself and his family. This is another solid outing for him.
Co-star Vanessa Redgrave, as John's fragile mother, is marvelous in her short scenes while Sienna Miller adds a needed dynamic to understanding both Mark and Dave. The two women both offer compassion and balance.
"Foxcatcher" is terrifying, disturbing, and utterly engaging. A slowly unraveled piece that is risky but pays off immensely. It's cautious yet strictly well-defined as a character study. Like all great films with great performances, its element of truth is plainly apparent. On the gray-skied farm, we will get to know three interesting men, some of which, we'll never truly understand.
Fox hunting is a bloody sport and in the case of Foxcatcher, so is wrestling. You can hear the thud and almost feel the pain as heavily muscled male bodies pound each other. It's almost like a ritual. John DuPont, billionaire and unbalanced eccentric, offers a talented young wrestler the kind of sponsorship that one can only dream of. Why then does Mark Schultz, ensconced in a luxurious guest house with a state-of-the-art training facility, feel so uneasy? Mr. DuPont, played by Steve Carell as you've never seen him before, has some disquieting qualities. I can't avoid thinking that if the characters in this movie, and men in general, had been more articulate about their feelings, a tragedy could have been avoided, but that is irrelevant. The ending of this movie, based on a true story, was in the headlines some years back. If you don't remember what happened, I won't spoil it for you.
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