The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

The word ‘Family’ came into English in the 15th century. As the years passed, many families found themselves in the midst of discord and distrust. And so the term dysfunctional family entered our lexicon many years later.

Amongst the many symptoms that have been used the one that comes most readily to mind is the word ‘conflict’. And many dysfunctional families deal with conflict by:

using criticism, contempt and defensiveness, along with putting up walls and looking for scapegoats.

Now in the world of tv, films, and theatrical dramas – conflict is a major component. As such, dysfunctional families are the meat and potatoes of a lot of what we watch on our various media platforms.

From The Simpsons to the The Sopranos to The Royal Tenenbaums, and from Oscar Winning films like Ordinary People (1980) to American Beauty (1999) – we can’t seem to get enough of these dramas or dramadies.

Lets add the Meyerowitz family to the mix. The film is called The Meyerowitz Stories. It opened in a limited number of theaters in mid October while simultaneously streaming on Netflix. At the head of the family is the patriarch Harold Meyerowitz with Dustin Hoffman taking the role. His claim to fame was more for being a tenured Bard College professor than for his varied art works.  Though if you ask him – he’ll be happy to tell you of the excellence of that art in what can be described quite simply as a very ‘Trumpian’ manner.

He was far less successful in his personal relationships. He fathered 3 children – now all adults – Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Elizabeth Marvel have the roles.  His kids will tell you that each of them has a different mother – meaning that Dad, good old Dad, was divorced 4 times. At which point, Harold will correct who ever said it with – No, I was divorced just 3 times – the other marriage ended with an annulment.

Such is life with Harold Meyerowitz. Currently, Harold dwells with Maureen (played delightfully by Emma Thompson), who seems to be drunk or working towards that state of being most of the time.

Adam Sandler (as Danny) is down on his luck – divorced, jobless, and nearly broke. Ben Stiller, portraying the ‘successful’ brother Matthew, is deeply resented by Danny as apparently Matthew was the apple of Harold’s eye.  I said ‘was’ but ‘still is’ is likely still in play – if you ask me.

Elizabeth Marvel is Harold’s third child, or maybe she was the first. She’s Jean Meyerowitz and she appears to be in a permanent state of depression.  Her role is underwritten and she looks as if her costumer and her make up people turned her on to the set as a female sad-sack. I say that because she just hasn’t enough lines for us to know.

Well the set up of the Meyerowitz Stories is that each of the adult kids will all tell their own version of their stories, as in they each take a turn in narrating. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, the film has its moments of levity. Truly there’s not a lot of laugh-out-loud moments but at least there’s some.

Hoffman gives a stand out performance and that’s no surprise. All the best lines were written for him.  Stiller is at least competent but he hasn’t much to work with.

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Man From Reno

As the 2014 film, Man from Reno, begins we get a gray screen. Then we hear some sounds like the ocean waves, a train whistle, then a sound which turns out to be the windshield wipers of a moving car, and is the first real visual that we get. This car is driving in the midst of a ‘thick as pea soup fog’ – meaning visibility is less than poor, or verging on dangerous. Who is driving and where is the car is info we don’t have yet.

Eventually the camera shows us the driver. We can see he is an older man, and we can also tell that this is truly not a night to be out on this particular stretch of road. The car radio is on and we hear the terms Bay Area, the peninsula, and the fact that the fictional San Marco County is getting the worst of the bad weather.

Which was really confirmed when our driver almost hits an abandoned car that is sitting on the road rather than pulled off to the side. No sign of life or anything else, and this is why our driver reaches for his police radio, He’s going to report the missing vehicle as he is a Sheriff. Pepe Serna has the role of the Sheriff.

Moments later while still on the road, the Sheriff’s car hits a man. The car was proceeding quite slowly, and the impact wasn’t too severe, as shortly thereafter the man who was hit by the car is up on his feet and tries to run away. He doesn’t get very far as the Sheriff spots him collapsed in the road.

Cut to the hospital where a doctor is describing the man’s injuries to the Sheriff. Some cuts, a concussion, and a few bruises – but he will be alright. The Sheriff wants to talk to the injured man but the doctor says the man is asleep. By the next morning, the man has checked himself out of the hospital

Roll credits.

We next get a helicopter view as it comes off the bay and flies over the Embarcadero Ferry Terminal in San Francisco. Cut to a woman in a car. She flashes back to a recent book tour in Japan that she was a part of . She’s a writer of mystery novels. Her name is Aki Akahori (she’s played by Ayako Fujitani) and she will fancy herself as something like the lead character in her books – a sleuth called Inspector Takabe. But pressures (not described) caused her to abandon the book tour. She winds up in SF for R & R and some downtime.  The cab takes her to a hotel.

The next we see of her she’s at a family gathering of old friends in SF. While Aki does some cool things about another guest at this party – like acting as if she was deducing he went to Stanford, and he has an Ivy League manner to him. But we don’t get a lot of info other than the fact that these folks know each from past years. The male guest is kind of outsider but serves as the foil for ‘detective’ Aki.

At this point, several story lines have just begun; and there’s another that hasn’t been started yet. Lets lift up one corner of the canvas and take a peak at what is ahead – and we’ll start with Sheriff Paul Del Moral. That’s him with one of his junior officers. She’s actually his daughter and a) she has a lot to learn, and b) she wants to learn pronto. Sheriff Del Moral may not be at the center of the story – but if he’s not, then he’s only centimeters from the center

Eventually our writer/amateur detective is chatted up in the hotel lobby. By who? you must be thinking. I’ll just call him the Man from Reno to simplify matters. Because even if I mentioned his name, it would carry all the weight of a bit of gossamer. And that’s as far as I will take this introduction.

Man From Reno is a modern-day version of the mystery genre known as Noir. Director Dave Boyle kinds of presents us with a film that is part drama, part comedy, and part thriller. He has imported some items from Alfred Hitchcock’s trick bag – one of which is a priceless collection of living Indian flat-head turtles which serve as the MacGuffin or red herring.

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La La Land

 

So the Oscars roll in less than a week from today. La La Land has garnered 14 nominations – the most ever and is tied with Titanic and All About Eve for the most ever.

The most ever wins is 11 for Titanic in 1997, Ben Hur brought home 11 in 1959, and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003 walked away with 11.

I am not one to make Oscar predictions, but being as generous as possible, LLL shouldn’t win for Best Original Screenplay, shouldn’t win for Best Costume Design, and shouldn’t win for Best Male Actor – so I think 11 Oscars is the max for La La Land. Doesn’t mean I think they will win 11. Rather that I think the most they could win is 11.

I did not see the film back in December on Christmas Day when it opened, or even in January. It was only a few days ago on Wednesday (the 15th) that I saw La La Land and I was at the Cinemark 12 in Bluffton, South Carolina to do so.

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, this is a film about Hollywood, and the California lifestyle (maybe work search is a better word) , and it slots nicely and initially into the classic boy meets girl genre.

Mia (Emma Stone) is a late twenties aspiring actress who hasn’t made much of an impact lately. On the side, meaning most of the time, she’s a barista at a local coffee imbibery.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who must pound the ivories at various cocktail emporiums. playing songs he hates, and chafing about having to do so (he’d rather own his own jazz club where he could riff his own musical creations for as long as he wanted). The chafing continued right up to the moment when he could no longer do so; that is – until he was fired by the club owner (portrayed by J.K. Simmons).

It is on the night he’s fired, that Mia happened to be in that very same club. Nothing at all happened between them that night other than Sebastian brushing rudely past Mia on his way out. But that wasn’t even the first time they’d seen each other.

That was during a huge traffic tie-up on the Santa Monica Freeway ramp when 100’s of cars were gridlocked into a traffic standstill. But as things usually go in films – they’d be in the same place at the same time again and again – before they noted that those accidentally crossing of paths ‘might mean something’.

Once they met and began conversation, we didn’t expect it would take that long before a romance would start. And that proved to be the case.

Also expected was a change in their careers. Mia wrote and mounted a one-woman show ( at an L.A. version of an off-off-off Broadway venue)

which was sparsely attended but led to something else. Sebastian ran into an old friend

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(played by John Legend) who already had a successful band. But at the time, he needed a keyboard man.

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Riphagen: The Untouchable

 

This film, entitled Riphagen: The Untouchable is the story of one Andries Riphagen. As the film begins we met Dries, as he is called by some, accompanied by another man. They arrive at a home in Amsterdam in The Netherlands. It is some time in 1944.

They ask the homeowners if they are hiding any Jews. When an older woman is discovered behind a false wall, Riphagen (played by Jeroen van Koningsbrugge) tells her can help her. She will have to turn over all her valuables in exchange for a safe passage out of Amsterdam. She says she has no valuables.

But Riphagen finds a packet of diamonds hidden in her hair. He promises to return all of her jewels and diamonds after the war. He will need to take about 10 of the diamonds to satisfy the Germans who think that he is indeed working for them.

He tells this woman and other Jews that he is working with the Dutch Resistance and he can get them safely out of Amsterdam.

So, we are faced with this question: Is Riphagen a hero, or is he a traitor to his fellow Dutch people. Said another way is Riphagen an Oscar Schindler or is he something else?

This film was originally a three-part tv mini-series. Netflix thought that these three parts could be merged and made into a film. So you can see it with a Netflix streaming account.

I watched this film for the premise seemed intriguing. I’ve been to Amsterdam, and loved the place; so seeing it again was an idea I couldn’t resist. Of course Amsterdam in 1944 would not be the same as the Amsterdam where I spent some time in 2015.

Obviously, the Amsterdam in the film is not the one I remember from a year and half ago. In fact I watched for about 45 minutes before seeing even a hint of a canal. Maybe that is because a good portion of the film was shot in the Dutch city Utrecht which has an older and more historical look to it whereas Amsterdam has a much more modern look. Having said that, I can state that the topic of the film is a familiar topic – The Holocaust – albeit this story is told from a different angle and from a different perspective.

I must say that Jeroen van Koningsbrugge about whom you might say appears in this film as a version of the 70″s and 80’s actor Telly Savalas in appearance, gives a more than credible performance as the anti-Schindler.

As for the rest of the cast, I knew none of them, but found most them excellent with one exception – the character of Wim Sanders as played by Michel Sluysmans.

The two-hour plus film has a good crisp look to it. There’s not a preponderance of night scenes, or rain-drenched, or foggy scenes either.

The costume designer has done a wonderful job in recreating both the men and women suits and dresses of the time.

Also for the record, the automobiles used gave the definite sense of Europe in the 40’s as we saw both German and French cars.

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Lion

I’m not saying that the timing in my seeing the film Lion, and the announcement of the BAFTA Awards has any kind of deep meaning. What I am saying is the fact that I liked the film and I am decidedly ratified that the British Academy of Film and Television also liked the film.

Lion walked away with two BAFTAs which are Britain’s Oscar-equivalents. Dev Patel won for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (film) and Luke Davies won for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film Lion is up for six Oscars and both Patel and Davies have been nominated in the same categories that they won their BAFTAs.

Lion is a film based on a true story (Mild spoilers ahead) . Saroo (played by Sunny Pawar) is a small child of five living in a very poor neighborhood called Ganesha Talai located in the vicinity of the city of Kwandha in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. His mother is a day laborer and Saroo helps his older brother to steal coal from rail trains which they can then sell in the neighborhood.

On a particular day, Saroo’s older brother Guddu decides that he will head off to a bigger place to do laborer work that pays more. Saroo begs to go with him, and despite the fact that little Saroo is really too small for the work, Guddu takes his little brother with him.

At a rail station, Saroo is instructed to wait for his brother, who promises to return. The small boy falls asleep. When he awakes there’s no sign of Guddu, so the small boy climbs aboard a parked train to look for his brother. Again he falls asleep. This train happens to be a newly de-commissioned train and will be driven empty to Calcutta which is 1600 kilometers away.

When the train finally arrives at Calcutta, 1600 kilometers and two days later, Saroo is not only without his brother, but is literally as lost as one can be. He does not speak Bengali, the local language, he doesn’t know his own surname, his mother’s name, nor can he accurately describe the name of his neighborhood.

After a few days of hanging with a group of homeless street kids, and then being taken in by a woman called Noor, he is eventually ‘captured’ or maybe collected is a better word. He is taken to an orphanage that is described by other kids there as ‘a very bad place’.

That’s basically the first half of the film. Saroo will ultimately be adopted by a Tasmanian couple – the Brierley’s.

Sue Brierley is played by Nicole Kidman, and John Brierley by David Wenham. We see a bit of little Saroo settling in with Brierleys until the screen goes black for a longish 3-4 seconds before we see a graphic that says ’20 years later’.

Saroo Brierley is now played by Dev Patel. This begins the second half of the film, and at its core, it replicates the first half. Whereas little Saroo was a small uneducated child lost in a, to him, foreign city, Dev Patel’s Saroo has none of the disadvantages that his younger self faced.

But he will want the same thing, to return to his roots and find his original family.

The differences between the first half of the film and the second half come down to conventionality. For the viewer, we know as little as the young Saroo. We have none of the information that is asked of him. So for us , we are as lost as the onscreen child. Also as viewers we know that Saroo will survive. But despite that, the first half is more involving and interesting.

The second half is less involving and less interesting. The older Saroo is more than capable of acting on his dreams and remembrances. Plus he has the support of his adoptive parents as well as a girl friend (Lucy is played by Rooney Mara). He is going to distance himself from his supportive family and friends as he works through his dilemma of researching.

What I am getting to is that the child Saroo’s separation from his brother and mother is an external fact and that he has no tools at hand to work things through. But the older and adult Saroo’s problem is mostly internal. Yes it is a struggle for him, but he still has a roof, and food, and safety and security; so his way of dealing with it will be to work things out internally and then using his memory and a terrific computer tool – Google Earth – to solve his problem which is to finds his roots.

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Copenhagen Cops – The Department Q Trilogy

So over the long Thanksgiving weekend, I think we had just one day when the Mouth that Roared (DJT) was thankfully silent. Taking advantage of that fact, I concentrated my efforts at watching a scruffy detective out of Copenhagen, Denmark, and his partner, solve three cases.

The series which I watched on the Netflix streaming service, is actually three two-hour films. Collectively the series is called Department Q – Trilogy. But the reality is that these films were produced in 2013, 2014, and the most recent in 2016.

The first is called The Keeper of Lost Causes (in Danish Kvinden i buret). Detective Carl Mørk is just back from an extended leave. He had been recuperating from something. Mørk is a smart, even a brilliant cop, but not one given to either following orders, or being a team player. His vices include being a heavy smoker and a drinker. He’s unkempt, and that’s being generous or kind.

He doesn’t shave (or likely bathe) very often and to say that the complete package of Homicide Detective Carl Mørk is distinctly an unpleasant person seems more than apt.

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Anyway, he and his partner are on a stake out when they determine that their suspect is in the building in front of them. They are ordered to hold their positions and wait for back-up to arrive. But Mørk, played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, isn’t about to sit there waiting. Against the orders issued and his partner’s reservations, they enter the building.

Shots are fired, and the partner is shot resulting in a serious wound. He lives but he may never walk again.

Mørk’s superiors are not happy. Not only did Mørk disobey direct orders, but now, no one is willing to work with him. So he’s removed from the Homicide Division. They demote him down to Department Q, a previously non-existent department. His task is to go through twenty years of  unsolved cold cases. In short, he’s been sent to the ‘Siberia’ of police posts anywhere in the world. Cold cases barely registers above evidence locker in most police departments. Solving the cases is not what the brass wanted. They wanted Mørk and company to simply clear the cases. The task is to close three cases a week with a written report.  In short make no waves.

Mørk is assigned a partner, a detective named Assad, played by Fares Fares, who you may have seen in Safe House, Zero Dark Thirty, and will soon be seen in the upcoming Star Wars film – Rogue One. While Mørk considers that he has been both demoted and tossed aside, Assad sees it as a promotion because he had been stamping paperwork at the train depot. Assad is a Muslim and has no personal life to speak of. He eats at the same diner every day of the week.

So to finish the set up – The Keeper of Lost Causes is about a politician who disappeared after boarding a ferry. They, the detectives who handled the original investigation have called it a suicide. But Mørk is not convinced. Check out the trailer for The Keeper of Lost Causes:

The second film is called The Absent One (in Danish – Fasandræberne). This one is about some murders in an exclusive and expensive private school. The belief is that a certain student witnessed a pair of murders of some students at this school. There’s another school of thought that this ‘witness’ also took part in these killings. By the way, this female student apparently has been missing since 1994. Seems like another lost cause doesn’t it?

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Allied

Allied is a term you don’t hear very often these days. While there are plenty of allies, or alliances, it is quite likely that when you hear the term ‘allied’ you will most likely think of a moving van company, or your thoughts will stray back to the WWII era.

Which is exactly where director Robert Zemeckis and screenplay author Stephen Knight have taken us in the brand new film Allied. The film has Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as the leads. Pitt plays a Canadian called Max Vatan who is on loan to the British Royal Air Force, and Cotillard is a Frenchwoman called Marianne Beauséjour, who is in the French Resistance to be accurate.

We find both of them in Casablanca. Morocco, a then French colony under the control of the occupying Germans. It is 1942. Pitt, as Vatan,

parachutes in, landing in the desert, while Cotillard, is already up and running, as a smart and desirable member of the Casablanca high society. Which said another way means that she is hobnobbing with the German High Command in Morocco.

Vatan is picked up on a road that leads back to Casablanca. He’s given a suitcase which is filled with all the requisites – you know – passport, Letters of transit, cash, and of course weapons. His driver gives Vatan the intel just as he’s about to be dropped off at the tres chic nightclub, called The Rivoli,  in Casablanca.  Your wife will be in a purple dress. Look for the hummingbird.

And there she is. You can see the hummingbird’s wing at the bottom of the photo above. This is exactly what Vatan saw. Max is going to be passed off as Marianne’s husband who after many months in Paris is now able to join his wife in Casablanca.

So the tale is now in motion. There’s some concerns about Vatan’s French accent, (in the film he’s Canadian after all, but his ‘wife’ thinks he sounds like he’s from Quebec rather than Paris) and some other hurdles will come their way – but hopefully, they will be able to complete their assignment which is to assassinate the German ambassador.

Now that seems a fine set up for the movie. But the problem is that this part is only the first half of the movie. There’s a second half and almost all of that takes place in London and the some suburbs called Hampstead and Hampstead Heath.

While the first half is about the mission it is also about Pitt and Cotillard’s characters a) getting to know one another, 2) getting to care for each other, and 3) falling in love. It’s near perfection. Every box has been checked and every mark was hit. Exotic location = Yes. Spies and espionage – Yes. Action – Of course. And the love-story part.

Pitt and Cotillard get to wear the most beautiful clothes imaginable. Pitt? You’d never know he is 50 in real years. In the film he doesn’t look a day over 38.  I’ve been a fan of Cotillard for some time, and in this film they certainly didn’t skimp on her costumes. Breathtaking is a word that comes to mind.

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Snowden

Snowden is the latest from classic film director Oliver Stone. Yes, it is kind of a biographical character study of Mr. Snowden. But it is also a thriller of sorts, and a romance, and … a film that poses the questions about whether or not Snowden is a heroic whistle-blower or a traitor.

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Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden and Shaileen Woodley as his g/f Lindsay Mills, the film opens in a room in the Mira Hotel on Nathan Road in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Present are documentary film maker Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo), the Scottish journalist Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson), and the American Journalist Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), along with Mr. Snowden. He’s about to turn over the files he had in his possession which detailed how the US Government was using sophisticated technology to keep an eye on its own citizens.

In short, this hardware and the programs written for it enabled the US to monitor every cell phone in the world.

But it is at that point that film give us a flashback to a far younger Edward Snowden.

This time he’s a member of a squadron of Special Forces trainees in boot camp. A slightly built man, we learn that the stress of carrying 80 pounds of gear was a bit too much for Snowden’s legs.

The doctor shows him the x-rays and tells him, it appears that you have been going through the drills with stress fractures in both legs for at least a couple of weeks.

The doctor is going to discharge Snowden from the active military. He tells him, you will have to find another way to serve your country.

Which leads Snowden to apply for a job at the CIA. This is where he meets Corbin O’Brian who will become his mentor. O’Brian is played by Rhys Ifans, who comes close to stealing the film away from Gordon-Levitt and Woodley.

I hadn’t seen much of Ifans. I think the only two films I saw him in were Notting Hill in 1999 and The Replacements in 2000. In both of those, Ifans came off as a somewhat, if not downright, goofy character. Here, he’s altogether different. This time out he plays like a younger Max Von Sydow. And he’s very good.

So much for our introduction. Snowden’s career in the intelligence industry has just begun. We are going to follow Snowden as he meets Lindsay Mills, then takes on posts as an intelligence contractor to locations like Geneva, Tokyo, and Oahu in Hawaii.

The film follows Snowden’s career from posting to posting. As a contractor he’s doing very well financially. He has a relationship with a fine woman, and yet – he’s not happy. His job involves long hours as well as travel and he can’t tell Lindsay anything of what he’s done, doing, or working on. It eats away at him.

And this is Oliver Stone’s main point.  His set up is that Snowden did not just blow the whistle for the sake of blowing the whistle. Yes, there came a point when he could no long reconcile to himself, that his specific work had nothing to do with events that happened, not only within the US but across the world as well.

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Hands of Stone

While I’m not a huge fan of boxing, I have seen and liked more than a few boxing movies. Starting with Paul Newman as Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me, to Sylvester Stallone as Rocky, to Will Smith as Ali, and to Robert De Niro‘s great performance as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull – I’ve been there.

The newest film (or bio) about a boxer is called Hands of Stone. The film stars Edgar Ramirez as Roberto Duran and co-stars Robert De Niro as the legendary boxing trainer Ray Arcel. Usher Raymond plays Sugar Ray Leonard. Ruben Blades plays Duran’s manager Carlos Eleta.

Ellen Barkin plays Stephanie Arcel, Jon Turturro plays the mobster Frankie Carbo. And to round out the major players, Ana de Armas plays Duran’s wife Felicidad Iglesias Duran.

Also present are Howard Cosell, Don King played by Reg E. Cathey, and Ray Charles. Not in person but via actors representing them. Other figures from the world of boxing represented included Angelo Dundee, Gil Clancey, Ken Buchanan, Davey Moore, John Condon, and Bob Arum.

That’s quite a lengthy list of roles for this film. And therein lies the problem with Hands Of Stone. I think that by choosing the all-encompassing story of Duran who grew up in the rough and tumble slums of El Chorillo, a neighborhood of Panama City, we have too much to digest, there’s too many characters, and the story suffers for this approach. Not from bloat, mind you, the film runs only 111 minutes, but from its lack of focus.

Simply and additionally, Duran doesn’t come off as heroic, or for that matter even charismatic. When you talk about Ali, you always start with charismatic. And Rocky was the underdog hero, as was Graziano. De Niro who wowed us as the brooding and dramatic Jake LaMotta – was a guy that you could care about, as well as root for.

But we don’t get there with the fierce Edgar Ramirez as Duran. He got to a point where he was able to enjoy the fruits of boxing career. In effect, after defeating Sugar Ray Leonard by a unanimous decision in Montreal on June 20th, 1980 – he was on the top of the boxing world. Going into the fight, Duran’s record was 48-1 with 41 knockouts. The fight would be sold, hyped, and remembered as The Brawl in Montreal.

The film then moves to a quickly arranged, by Carlos Eleta, rematch with Leonard. It would be an 8 million dollar purse for Duran. But Roberto had partied and played too much. To fight Leonard again, Duran would have to lose about 35 pounds in just 3 months.

Arcel said it couldn’t be done, plus if the weight did come off, Duran would be seriously weakened. Arcel urged Eleta to cancel the fight. But Eleta had not only put Duran into a sweat box to make the weight, he had put himself in a different kind of box. Don King would sue for breach of contract if the fight didn’t go off.

So the fight went on, and if you were around at that time you know the outcome. Duran hadn’t the endurance to chase Leonard around the ring, nor had he the punching power to take Leonard off his feet and out. So in mid-fight – Duran quit.

No Mas was what was reported at the time, meaning No more, but the film takes great pains to report that Duran never uttered those words in the ring. Basically that’s the film.

I found other things that I didn’t care for as well, that’s being besides the overfilled story, and the lack of charisma by the actor playing Duran. While Ramirez was fine, Duran was an uneducated street kid from El Chorillo. He couldn’t read, and he was crude in many ways. He really couldn’t be labeled either heroic or charismatic. So to expect more from the actor was more wishful thinking than anything else.

The boxing action in the film was badly edited. We’d see arms in motion and then hear the thuds of the punches, but the camera was always panning out of the ring to pick up Arcel’s reactions and instructions. Or we left the venue to watch people watching the fight on TV screens. Or we would get a glimpse of the boxer’s wives reacting. In short the fight sequences lacked impact.

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