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The Game of Their Lives (2005)
Fun (Especially for St. Louisans)
My soccer team and our coach (all St. Louis Public High people) decided to go see Game of Their Lives today, opening day. We went to the Chase, one of the three theaters in the area where the movie was playing. We were hyped no matter what - It was the weekend and we were a bunch of teenage girls going to go see a movie. None of us actually expected a great movie though. We were happily surprised though.
The movie started off introducing the tale - the who, what, where, when, and whys of it all. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist, Dent McSkimming, retells this information and relays us back to 1950. We are introduced to the St. Louis members of the team in a rather amusing manner, in which the team gathers from such venues as a funeral... They gather down at the Hill (where a good deal of the film was filmed), and play a game. For soccer fans, these scenes are really fun to watch, and wonder how the scenes must have been choreographed. It really is amazing.
In addition to the St. Louis members, there are East Coasters who join the team. The team ends up being rather segregated between the two groups. The teams are brought together by the leaders from each side, Walter Bahr (the amazing Wes Bentley) and Frank Borghi (the equally amazing Gerard Butler). The two have a great on screen chemistry, especially when they go to recruit Joe Gatjaens (played by Jimmy Jean-Louis).
The whole cast is amazing, but none more so than the three fore-mentioned actors who really truly seemed to become the soccer player they were portraying. It was a lot of fun to cheer with the rest of the theater every time Frank (Mr. Butler) stops the ball, or when Joe (Mr. Jean- Lewis) scores the game winning goal against the Brits. Jay Rodan is also particularly amusing as "Pee-Wee" Wallace. It's hard not to like the characters you're supposed to like (and equally as hard not to dislike the ones you're supposed to dislike, such as Gavin Rossdale as Stanley Mortensen).
It was also fun to sit in a theater filled with people who were actually in the movie. The Chase was packed with extras who were eager to cheer out every time they were on screen. The man sitting next to our coach plays the barber in the very beginning of the film and told us to cheer for him when he came on. So of course we did. Then, as soon as his part was over, he stood up and said 'All right, that's it for me' and left. It was absolutely hilarious. The man in front of us had pictures of him and Gerard Butler at the Premier, which was held in St. Louis. This film has been something that has united St. Louisans, and anyone from the city should go see it. It is an amazing deal of fun to see the little car place across from Adrianna's (home of the best sandwich in the city) and the field up at Soldan High, or the Bocce field on the Hill. It shows the real St. Louis.
All in all, this was an amazing movie that everyone should see, especially those from St. Louis and those who have ever played or watched soccer. It's a great story no matter what. And the film isn't too long either... So if you don't like it - well, you don't have to sit through it for too long (now that's what I call logic).
9/10 stars (I just can't call it perfect... Awfully close though.)
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Brava Brava Bravissima
I have now seen this movie three times. It's not a perfect movie, but it certainly entertains more than other movies I have seen recently (Meet the Fockers, The Life Aquatic). And it's pointless to look for perfection in movies. Andrew Lloyd Webber's amazing music never ceases to give me goosebumps. And the cast certainly does it justice.
In my opinion, Butler steals the show. He is an absolutely astounding Phantom. He manages to portray emotions so strong I was brought to tears two of the three times I saw the film. But he still keeps the mystery and horror of the Phantom. While many critics have bashed his voice, I loved it. It had the rock-y edge needed in the character, but was still clear and very nice. Butler's native accent came through a bit more when he was singing, but that didn't bother me too much. The one issue I had with his character is that Gerry is a very good looking man. And he was very VERY good looking, even without the mask. I found myself thinking that if he had gone up into Paris, kept the mask on if he must, and sang his music, he would have had everyone (especially the females) wrapped around his finger... But that was a very small issue I had with the film. And I'm not complaining about getting to look at a very good looking man, with a great voice, and a wonderful portrayal of a character for two and a half hours.
Emmy Rossum stayed very true to the character of Christine. She's a very beautiful girl and her voice is quite lovely. I had a few issues with her acting- the fact that her mouth kept on hanging open... I think that was supposed to make the viewer think she's naive or innocent.. That probably leaned more to a directing error than an acting problem on Emmy's part. I personally liked her voice a lot when she was singing Phantom of the Opera with Butler, as she had a bit more of an edge in her voice. I think it's very cool that she's an opera trained singer... Very few opera singers have successfully crossed over into film. And Ms. Rossum is doing just that quite well.
Patrick Wilson was an excellent Raoul. He made everything that he could of the drab character. He actually made me like Raoul. I'm still a Phantom girl of course, but Wilson was great. His voice was clear as glass and I was very happy with the contrast between he and the Phantom. They are polar opposites in every way except for their affections.
Miranda Richardson and Jennifer Ellison played the Giry women flawlessly. Minnie Driver also plays La Carlotta, the Italian prima donna of the opera house. She provides the much needed humor in this rather dramatic tale. Her song at the end, Learn to be Lonely is absolutely haunting. It's beautifully sung and the lyrics are perfect. In my opinion, it should be the front runner for best song at the Golden Globes.
A large amount of the critics have commented that bad directing ruined Phantom. Personally, I thought this movie was very well directed and the cinematography was breathtaking.
I recommend this movie to almost everyone. Those who cry easily should be wary. I took my mother to see this, and I have never seen her cry that hard before. I figure that's a good thing though- it takes a good movie to make someone react this strongly. Phantom is up there with my favorite films of all time. 9/10 stars