*** Official CINDERELLA MAN Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Janna S, May 30, 2005.

  1. Janna S

    Janna S Second Unit

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    It's sometimes a mistake for me to try to assess the quality of a film right after I've seen it, when I am still under the spell of the immediate experience. I guess it's like one-night-stands (if memory serves) - they always seemed OK in the first few post-coital hours; it was only in the light of the following day (or week) that I'd say to myself, "What the hell was I thinking?"

    But back to the point . . .

    In what might be another general lapse of judgment on my part, I tend to over-value films about the early years of the 20th century, in particular the depression era, because of the experience of my parents (especially my father, who was born into a family that was dirt-road poor long before the depression made headlines of poverty).

    With all those caveats in place, I have to say that this film really worked for me. The period was done well; the sets and lighting were smoothly evocative; the music fit. Crowe, who I have come to like less on screen the more I see of him off-screen, convinced me utterly. Zellweger had less to do but did it with conviction and grace. Giammatti was schleppy and simply wonderful - the scene in the apartment, with his wife, was a gem.

    I don't know much about the real Braddock story. I assume the trajectory here was accurate, but regardless of how they might have fiddled with facts, I liked what they did with the story here. I knew how the big fight ended, of course, but that didn't prevent me from cringing and hiding my eyes during many of the boxing scenes. I know almost nothing about boxing, other than shaking Ken Norton's hand many years ago, and seeing Joe Louis when he was being paid to hang around the casino in Vegas, a walking shell, an aging half-legend.

    But this film worked for me. I think it worked for the sneak preview audience, as well. There seemed to be a good amount of attention, and tension, during the screening.

    And it was nice to read, in the closing notes, that Braddock used his winnings to buy a home that he and his family lived in for the rest of their lives. And that he went on to work in a trade, to be a piece of something that stands today (beyond print and celluloid - or do we have to say pixels now?) It's hopeful to think that 15 minutes of fame doesn't have to be a albatross.
     
  2. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    I caught a sneak peek last night and agree with most of Janna's views on the merits of the movie.

    There will be Oscar talk for Russell Crowe, Paul Giammati and Ron Howard. The sold-out preview ended in applause.

    I knew/know next to nothing about Braddock's real life, but what little I have read seems to be accurately portrayed in the movie.

    This is a stirring movie that will play to a wide audience. It is the sort of Feel-good, American Dream movie that I need from time to time.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. Claire Panke

    Claire Panke Second Unit

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    Saw the sneak last night...

    My verdict: "Seaboxer".

    The film is well crafted. Although CM gets off to a slow start pacing wise, it does pick up some steam along the way - the final fight sequence builds impressively. The evocation of Depression erea NYC/NJ is effective. Crowe and Giamatti are very good. To me, Zellweger didn't show anything other than the most obvious (that scrunching up her eyes bit in reaction shots is getting darned annoying.)

    Honestly, I hated A Beautiful Mind, and as far as I'm concerned, Akiva Goldsman never met a cliche he didn't like. He doesn't help here either.

    For me, it's Seabiscuit by 1/2 length over Seaboxer, mainly because I prefer horses to boxers.
     
  4. Mike.P

    Mike.P Second Unit

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    Excellent Film. Sure, it's about as formulaic as a movie can be - but if the recipe is right, why bother changing it?

    I'm all for advancing/innovation in cinema, but sometimes a very well done movie that doesn't have anything to add to revolutionize the industry can be wonderful.

    Crowe doesn't disappoint (he rarely does), Zellwiger does well enough (Can't say I like her much so that doesn't help) and Giametti was just awesome (although I will forever consider him Miles for his performance in Sideways).

    So far, for me at least, its between this and Sin City for my best picture this year.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]/[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  5. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Overall, I liked this one a lot. The first third or so seemed mostly dull and uninvolving, so I wasn't that keen on it, but then suddenly we get this brilliant sequence of the comeback fight. All sorts of great touches--the hash meal in the locker room, the robe with the other guy's name still on it, the interplay with Giamatti between rounds. From that point on, the movie picked up a lot of steam, building strongly to an excellent finish. Giamatti is great, in a big-personality role with plenty to do, and Crowe delivers the goods in what's really the tougher part, making a plain old decent-guy role compelling.

    At least one or two story arcs didn't really need to be there, like the whole character of the dockworker friend (of the several reviews I've read now, only one of them even mentioned him). And they should have spent less time in the first third--everything up to the comeback fight--on various plot points that were there to show the family's poverty and desperation, which got redundant after a while. The one really good scene in that early section of the movie is when Braddock goes to Madison Square Garden with hat in hand, begging for help from all the people in the fight business whom he used to know, as Crowe pretty much carries the whole scene with his facial expressions. They should have focused more on that sort of thing, letting the performances set up the story, and less on establishing plot points with the script. But, regardless of that, the last two-thirds of this film are grade-A feel-good underdog-story material, beautifully executed.
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Well, I was "in" this film from the get-go, no nodding off from me. Nowadays that counts for something for me, as truly uninspiring films will have me tune out within the first hour, but that didn't happen with me in this film and its 2 hours and 20 some odd minutes.

    I may have known the outcome of the fight at the end, but consciously repressed it, and the fight was pretty amazing at capturing the raw intensity of a true underdog against some mighty tough odds. I caught myself ducking and dodging during some of the punches that landed or missed. That's when you know you are into the fight that is on the screen.

    Is there a magical moment in this film, not really a huge one, but there are a lot of small little moments of fortitude that propel the storyline and offers enough nuggets to become involved in the story of a perceived over-the-hill boxer with 3 children and a wife during the depression era, and somehow he not only gets a last minute swan song of a chance, but a series of chances to reach the pinnacle of his profession, that of boxing. Can you over-value how inspirational Braddock's rise of the top was for the people during the depression era? I think Ron Howard was able to balance it without going over the top with the allegories, while providing the viewer with a concise tale of Braddock's seemingly unbelievable story in the early 1930's.

    Crowe looked pretty credible as a pro boxer, and the fights were staged convincingly, and many punches were landing when they were thrown. Zellwegger's role of a supporting wife is okay, she gets a few good scenes of standing up for herself and her family, but it is a supporting role that doesn't draw huge attention to itself. Giamatti is the spark of the film when he's on the screen, it's another good supporting turn for him as well.

    Overall, I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
     
  7. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Couldn't find a review thread so here goes.

    Just returned from seeing Cinderella Man. Haggai said it well in the Discussion thread about the first 1/3 of the film getting a bit bogged down, and there are some plot points that could have been omitted. Even early on, I was thinking I was a bit disappointed....but gradually I began connecting with it.

    The acting is really, really good. Ron Howard uses great care in not overdoing certain shots or moments and I like that. Crowe was great as usual. Renee Z, who I haven't really liked since Jerry Maguire, was also top notch.

    I knew nothing of Jim Braddock prior to the film but I was totally captivated. The final 30 minutes was gripping and I really cared.

    I give it 4.5/5.
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Cinderella Man". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



    Crawdaddy
     
  9. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

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    This was much better then expected. I was a little worried about the length of the film and the unconscious feeling that this was thrown out there just to ride the coattails of last years Million $ success. Thankfully, my fears did not prevent me from attending one of the better movies I’ve seen this year.

    Ron Howard milks it for a while with a healthy dose of family struggles mostly brought on by Braddock’s inability to find work during his stint away from boxing. Eventually this makes way for a last chance payday that promises at worst to provide his family with enough money to get out of the red and an opportunity for him to enter the ring one last time. This movie ends wonderfully and thus easily makes up for some of the earlier more mundane moments.

    I felt happy when things were going well for the family and felt sad when they were not. I wasn’t thrilled with Renee Zellweger’s performance as Braddock’s wife mostly due to her ditzy damsel in distress approach that seemed fake. Russell Crowe on the other hand played James J. Braddock perfect, emanating an internal toughness without being overly cocky displaying just enough dignity and charisma to make his character likeable and easy to cheer for.

    The great thing about this film is that it doesn’t take away from any of the previous boxing films and holds its own nicely against all of them. This movie is much better then the trailer indicates and is definitely worth seeing in a big theater with lots of people. I didn’t think I would like it but I did.

    A
     

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