America’s Game


198. Bad News Bears (Richard Linklater, 2005)

A remake of the 70s film of the same name, Billy Bob Thornton is the failed alcoholic baseball player (sound familiar?) who is given a chance at redemption in the form of a coaching position for an inept little league baseball team.  The typical journey of the sports film is undertaken and it has more than a little in common with the excellent Friday Night Lights.  Not least Thornton himself.  This is a different mood though, its good sardonic fun in the vein of Thornton’s other successes, like Bad Santa. He brings a fantastic world weary sense to proceedings and Linklater continues to make entertaining mainstream family films (School of Rock) as well as his indie fayre.

May 1st: Shit Sandwich


99. Fast Food Nation (Richard Linklater, 2006)

Last year I watched, and very much enjoyed, Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman, 2005). It struck me that Fast Food Nation had the potential to be a sort of sister film. It could have been a savage and witty exposé on the methods of producing the foods that we take for granted. It isn’t though. Instead Linklater has worked on crafting this narrative from the non-fiction book and rather than imbuing it with zippy sharp dialogue and swift pacing he opts for a much more sober tale. Greg Kinnear heads up the cast along with several big-name cameo appearances as the story unfolds of what happens at a meat processing and packing plant. The film meanders between several different threads and even references Linklater’s superlative Dazed and Confused with a party at the watchtower. Unfortunately the whole thing left me kind of cold though, for some reason it lacks energy and verve. It doesn’t propose a solution or a way out or effect any change – it isn’t supposed to. But it doesn’t make you angry enough about the system either, and this is perhaps its biggest failing.