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.
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.