Currently browsing the "true story" tag.

Million Dollar Arm

Slumdog Millionaire meets Jerry Maguire? That’s a major-league oversimplification, but Million Dollar Arm works for a lot of the same reasons that those flicks did: good writing, good story, great casting, a lot of humor, and even more heart. Plus, it’s based on real events, which makes it even more endearing. This flick goes in the ‘win’ column for chicks and dudes alike.

Rush

Opie – oops, I mean Ron Howard – doesn’t make bad movies. At least, that’s what I told myself as I dragged myself into Rush, a film about Formula 1 racecar driving – a topic I know less than nothing about. Well, now I’m a fan. Sort of. Because Ron Howard’s movies tend to do that to – and for – the mainstream audience. It all boils down to good characters, good storytelling, and good directing. So yes, I got a rush out of Rush, and left the theater wanting to know more about the true story it’s based on. And yes – the eye candy didn’t hurt. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) is a cutie. But he showed more than his taut backside in this flick. He showed some real acting chops as well. And so did his co-star, Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds).

Fruitvale Station

You know from the opening of Fruitvale Station that it is going to end very badly. Based on a true story, it begins with what appears to be cellphone footage of a group of Bay Area transit cops abusing a bunch of young black men, and the scene escalates to the point where one of the men is shot, face down on the floor, in the back. The rest of the film flashes back to follow Oscar Grant III, the 22-year-old victim of this senseless crime, through what turns out to be the last day of his young life. It is impossible to watch without thinking of another unarmed young man who was killed recently, and one of the great strengths of this film is that it humanizes without sugarcoating the victim’s life; it gives a fleshed-out personality to what would otherwise just be another sad statistic.

The Sapphires

In a nutshell, The Sapphires is like an indie version of Sparkle meets Dreamgirls. It’s based on the true story of an aboriginal singing group that was basically Australia’s answer to The Supremes during the late 1960s. And while the story itself is interesting, the performances solid, and the music engaging, the film suffers from an extremely muddy narrative. It’s all over the place. That said, if you’re a fan of soul music and Motown, it’s definitely worth checking out – if not immediately, then down the road as a rental. Here’s the gist:

The Impossible

You’ll need the tissues for this one. Seriously. It’s nearly impossible not to cry watching The Impossible. The movie is gripping and intense, horrifying and uplifting- all at once. It’s based on the true story of a family literally torn apart by the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than a quarter million people in 2004. The Impossible seeks to humanize the enormous catastrophe by focusing on this one family’s plight. It’s hard to watch. But it’s even harder to look away.

We Bought a Zoo

It’s a good thing Matt Damon didn’t succumb to warnings about working with children and animals. Because without Matt Damon, We Bought a Zoo could have been really lame. Instead, it’s a heartwarming family film that manages to tackle some pretty big issues without getting too sappy or sad.

Damon plays Benjamin Mee, a young widower struggling to raise his two kids, Dylan, 14, and Rosie, 7, in the months following his wife’s death. Desperate for a change of scenery and a fresh start, Mee moves the family out of the city and into a fixer-upper in the country that happens to be situated in the middle of a zoo that also needs some major fixer-uppin’.

Conviction

‘Tis the season of movies based on real events. 127 Hours, Fair Game, Secretariat, and yes, Conviction – a movie that sets the bar for sibling devotion.

127 Hours

James Franco rocks. Pun intended – but only sort of, ‘cause I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict that Franco will get a best actor nomination for his role as gutsy mountain climber Aron Ralston, who cut off his arm to escape sure death in a Utah canyon in 2003. Ouch.