Race

In the morning, I sadly had to sign a form to approve the sale of my brother’s house. There is no way that we can keep the house. I went over to my ATM, and then over to the Grand Lake Theatre, where there was a 12:30 showing of “Race,” the biographical film about Jesse Owens. I liked the movie overall, although it was definitely flawed. I thought it took too long to get where it was going, with a lot of time spent on the boycott vote. There was no real suspense about whether the United States was going to participate in the 1936 Olympics. I don’t know why the character of Leni Riefenstahl was necessary. She is almost a heroic figure in this story. Two Oscar-winning actors, Jeremy Irons and William Hurt, are a part of these scenes. I thought the Irons’ performance wasn’t good. Hurt’s character represents a conscience. I hold the point of view that these boycotts don’t work, having seen what happened in 1980. It mostly means that you didn’t show up, and you are forgotten. Jason Sudeikis is Larry Snyder, the not-so-old coach who has the typical personality traits of a coach, although he has new idea on training. Like the coach himself, Sudeikis’ performance seemed overbearing after a while. His worst moment was wandering through Berlin and encountering German guards. He couldn’t really have been dumb enough not to realize that he needed to show his identification. I would like to know how this Larry Snyder compared to the real one. The center of this movie, of course, is Stephan James as Jesse Owens. He has a good presence on the screen, although it’s hard to believe that he could be an athlete who could break world records. The movie spends time on the women in Owens’ life without showing much insight into those relationships. At the beginning of the movie, Owens already has a daughter, and he isn’t married. Later, he gets involved with another woman who latches onto his celebrity. These are obligatory scenes because the movie couldn’t be all about men. The stunt with the jump that led to Owens’ injury showed that both Owens and his friend were truly immature and stupid. He would risk his health and career on something idiotic. It made me think about today’s athletes and their constant stupidity. I would hate to be a coach and deal with all of it. It seemed to take forever for the story to get even close to the Olympics. After seeing the second episode of the Star Wars movies, I didn’t want to see another vote. This felt like it should be a small movie focused on Owens and his training and his character. I don’t think we needed to see these obviously CGI scenes of the construction of the Berlin stadium. The movie also goes into the plight of the Jewish athletes on the U.S. Olympic team, which is another side issue that slows the movie down. It feels like there were politics involved in the content of the script. There is a strange scene in which Brundage tries to get Owens to meet Hitler. It’s setting up the audience for a dramatic moment, but then it shows that Hitler is a loathsome human being, which we already thought in the first place. It feels like a waste of another couple of minutes, ultimately, and the entire movie has too many of these scenes. Even from the title “Race,” with its double meaning, it feels that too much is going on at the same time. When the Olympics gets started, we don’t have to endure the waiting between races and events, although Owens was a fool for not knowing the rule and getting the first foul in the long jump. The shots of the gold medals reminded me of the medals with the holes in them. I wouldn’t want one of those when Jesse Owens got the real thing. True to the tendency of this movie, the director didn’t seem to know how to end things. We got another scene with Riefenstahl in some comment on film and filmmaking, and then another scene of racial discrimination even after Owens’ return to the United States. The epilogue tells us what happened to the principals. Owens died in 1980, after the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviet team and before the Moscow Olympics that the U.S. boycotted. I enjoyed “42” more than I did “Race,” but it was a good afternoon at the movies. The audience applauded at the end. I returned home and took a nap and watched the Partridge Family episode “Partridge Up a Pear Tree,” about Keith’s money problems and his trouble with Annette O’Toole. It looked like Laurie actually ate something at dinner, perhaps a carrot. I went out to the record store and bought the Blu-ray edition of “The Exorcist,” and came home to see the Tonight Show from November 9, 1989 with Charles Grodin. Grodin seemed awfully disagreeable. How did he ever have much of a career in Hollywood? I heard the sad news that Tony Phillips had died at age 56. Just last year at Root Beer Float Day, he autographed my mug. Some of the people who died on February 20 include Frederick Douglass (1895), Dick York (1992), Robert Bolt (1995), Toru Takemitsu (1996), Gene Siskel (1999), Rosemary De Camp (2001), Sandra Dee (2005), John Raitt (2005), Hunter S. Thompson (2005), and Curt Gowdy (2006). Today is a birthday for Sandy Duncan (70), Nancy Wilson (79), and Sidney Poitier (89). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for February 20, “Goodbye Cream,” a documentary about Cream’s last concert, opened in 1969, getting poor reviews for its audio quality and it bizarre editing. In 1997, Ben and Jerry’s introduced their ice cream flavor inspired by the rock group Phish. In 2007, Britney Spears entered rehab.

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