Wait, there are TEN of these things?
What up, MAMFAM!
How is the spring treating you? We hope well! A springtime rite-of-passage is upon us... no I'm not talking about the Masters or pollen-related illnesses--it's FAST AND THE FURIOUS TIME! Summer is about to kick into high gear (hahahaha, see what I did there!) and MAM is ready for an awesome summer movie season (even if the movies suck, our eps won't) and we couldn't be more excited to have all of you along for the ride. As always, e-mail us your thoughts on the upcoming summer movie season to email@example.com or if brevity tis the soul of your particular wit, hit us up at twitter @mam_podcast.
Around the Diamond: A Brief History of Baseball Films
By: Sean Lowery
Editor's Note: Every once in a while--since we have the best listeners in the world--we like to allow someone to come on the show or in the newsletter to give their opinion on a topic that's important to them. Sean is a great friend of the show, enjoy his take on baseball in film!
Spring has arrived and that means baseball season is here, too! Love it or hate it, baseball is America’s game. I love baseball. I also love movies. Fortunately, Hollywood loves sports movies. For this short list, I wanted to put together a few of my favorite baseball movies, and they really are just my favorites. I’m by no means saying they’re objectively the best baseball movies ever made. For the list, I decided to leave out the family-friendly fare like Little Big League and The Sandlot, as well as the more comedic films such as Major League. I love all those films, but I had to tighten it down somehow. Here are a few movies I think you might want to check out, and maybe even one or two you haven’t heard of or have forgotten about over the years. Play ball!
Field of Dreams
I’ll get this one out of the way first since it could be considered more “baseball adjacent” than an actual baseball movie. The film does contain various sports themes and features a great little performance by Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson, but deals more directly with issues like faith and family. One of Kevin Costner’s many sports-related movies, it also gets credit for being one of the rare films that is (at least in my opinion) better than the book. This is a great movie for the family (though not specifically directed at kids) and definitely worthy of a watch during baseball season.
Some may consider this Best Picture nominee to be on the more “baseball adjacent” side as well, but I feel it is absolutely a baseball movie, it just happens to deal more with the business side of things. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill received well-deserved Oscar nominations for their respective portrayals of two men attempting to build a winning team on a tiny budget. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman also turns in an impressive performance as A’s manager Art Howe. I’m sure most people have seen this one, but if you haven’t, it’s a must-see.
Apologies to any fans of 42, but if I had to pick a baseball movie with a number for a title, it would be this one. Directed by Billy Crystal, 61* stars Thomas Jane and Barry Pepper as Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, respectively. While the two leading actors don’t have many homeruns on their filmographies, they both deliver memorable performances in this dramatization of the 1961 battle to break Babe Ruth’s home run record. If you haven’t seen this one, give it a shot. It might surprise you.
Bang the Drum Slowly
If there’s one film on this list that a lot of people haven’t heard of, it’s probably this one. It’s also the “darkest” film mentioned here, as it deals with the friendship between veteran pitcher Henry Wiggen and a rookie catcher suffering with a terminal illness over the course of a season. The film features Robert De Niro in an early role and an Oscar-nominated performance from Vincent Gardenia. It’s short and sweet and worth your time, especially if you’re looking for a change a pace from the more “feel-good” baseball movies.
If I had to pick one baseball movie as my absolute favorite, this one would probably squeeze past some of the others, if for no other reason than nostalgia. I used to watch this one all the time as a kid. It is no doubt at least partly responsible for my love of both baseball and film. Based on the post-modern novel of the same title, The Natural tells the story of Roy Hobbs and his middle-aged return to baseball after a tragedy seemingly ended his career before it had a chance to start many years before. Featuring some homage to true events and real people, this movie is a true classic among baseball films, and perhaps one of the best sports films in general.
Arby and Bri-guy on 300
By: Richard Bardon and Brian Gill
I should say I am perfectly in the wheelhouse--age wise--for 300. I think I was 20 when it came out. I was working at a bookstore so I was very familiar w/ the source material.
I ended up seeing it with a mixed group--some friends from high school/college (Corn Dogg and crew) and some friends from the bookstore (Producer Steven and some other bros)--at the theatre behind the store. I remember it being awesome for 2 reasons:
1) It was an IMAX theatre and I think this was the first non-James Cameron-underwater-documentary-type thing I had ever seen on IMAX and
2) One of the dudes from the bookstore wore a huge nose ring and left wearing a leather sex-mask and it really freaked my high school friends out.
I think I've seen this once since, and--while I know it hasn't aged well--I actually put it on par with Avatar as a fabulous theatre experience. I came out of that screening READY FOR WAR.
Here's what I remember about my 300 experience in the theater.
1. I saw this with two girls and in hindsight that seems weird. Not that women couldn't enjoy 300 (OBVIOUSLY, please don't @ me!) but just odd that I didn't get my bros together for a movie made by the guy who would be King of the Bros.
2. I think this is the first time I can remember there being a second theater attendant right at the theater doors checking ticket stubs and IDs. I thought it was really weird and then like 10 minutes into the movie I understood.
3. The aforementioned ladies did NOT understand how pumped up I was after the movie ended. Like you said, I think all guys our age saw this movie and immediately started working on developing 10 packs. I killed a deer with my bare hands in the parking lot after this movie and thought nothing of it.
300, I think, is a singular experience. We've seen that graphic novel style before, Sin City for instance, but it wasn't as clean as it was in 300. Moreover, at least on first viewing, it's not used for gimmick or effect. Snyder really did a great job of putting together in a way that made the style seem necessary, not just an indulgence. He deserves a lot of credit for that. Even the hyperviolence fits rather than feeling gratuitous. You remember seeing it for the first time (if you saw it in a theater) and that lends to its staying power.
I've also only seen 300 once since the theater, maybe 5 years ago. I was torn on its place in the hierarchy of films from the decade at the time. I'm not sure how well it holds up, honestly. But I'm going to watch it sometime this week and see how it looks 10 years on.
Two questions for you, though. One, where does this stand in the Snyder Verse and two, much more importantly, does what we know about Snyder now diminish his earlier films?
I think this is the best film of the Snyderverse in that it thematically matches his aesthetic perfectly. Everything he stands for as a director (gratuitous violence, muscles, editing) all work in this movie. I tend to not take away from things depending on how well they've aged. If you hit a homerun in the moment, that's still a homerun.
This could have used more piss jar though.
New to Home Viewing in April
Each month in this space, we take a look at what movies and TV shows you’ll be able to (legally) watch in the comfort of your own home in the coming weeks. I recommend a couple of properties I enjoy, highlight one I haven’t seen but I’m looking forward to checking out, and something I desperately want you to avoid. I’m just doing my part to help you make smart decisions with your precious free time. Am I a hero? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
WHAT I’VE SEEN AND YOU SHOULD, TOO:
Kubo and the Two Strings – Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes (Coming to Netflix)
I’ve hated everything Laika has ever done. There, I said it. ParaNorman, Coraline, Boxtrolls, probably something else I’m forgetting, I don’t just dislike them, I actually hate them and it annoys me to no end how often Laika fans complain about people not seeing these dumb movies. But they’ve got a point with Kubo, the first Laika movie for me that is unique and interesting and not extremely off-putting in its animation style and content. I loved Kubo when I saw it just before the end of 2016 and I’ve grown to appreciate its brilliance even more over the ensuing months. This is worth your time whether you’re a Laika lover or, like me, a staunch hater.
MAY I ALSO RECOMMEND:
Almost Famous – Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup (Coming to Amazon Prime)
I feel confident in saying Almost Famous has come up in this space at least once before but I don’t care because it’s one of my three favorite movies of all time and I’ll speak to its virtue at every opportunity. Just about every time I’m trying to pick a movie to watch in my abundant free time, I have to fight the urge to watch Almost Famous for the thousandth time because I pretty much always want to be watching Almost Famous. So, for me, please, watch Almost Famous already.
See Also: Chaplin (Amazon Prime), Cool Runnings (Netflix), Donnie Darko (Limited Edition), The Ghost and the Darkness, Gremlins (N), Hidden Figures, La La Land, A League of Their Own (Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray), The Prestige (N), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Schindler’s List (N), The Secret Life of Pets (N), Split, There Will be Blood (N), Tommy Boy (AP), Tropic Thunder (N)
WHAT I HAVEN’T SEEN BUT INTEND TO:
The Girl with All the Gifts – Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine (Coming to Blu-Ray and DVD April 25th)
I read this book last year and was instantly hooked. It’s a fantastic novel, an instant classic, and one that I could see clearly in movie form. I never got the chance to see this adaptation because of its extremely limited run but I’m looking forward to catching up with it now.
Seeing Also: American Honey (Amazon Prime), Documentary Now Season 2 (Netflix), Louis CK 2017 (N), Paterson, Queen of Katwe (N)
WHAT I’VE SEEN SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO:
Trouble with the Curve – Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake (Coming to Netflix)
I’ve seen a lot of bad movies over the years but few have angered me as much as Trouble with the Curve does. It’s been nearly five years and still, when I saw this title on the Netflix list, my soul darkened a little and I had to fight the urge to curse and throw my computer like Sonny Weaver. This is a movie that begins with Clint Eastwood talking (read: “growling nearly incoherently”) at his penis AND IT ONLY GETS WORSE FROM THERE. Kinda feel like I don’t need to say anything else about this one, right?
Don’t See Also: Monster Trucks, Thunderstruck (Netflix)