“Adversity is the crucible for greatness.”*

by chuckofish

I have seen a couple of good movies recently which I heartily recommend for your weekend viewing.

Woodlawn (2015), directed by Andrew Erwin–MV5BMTA0ODM5MTM5MTleQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDAwNzk1NDYx._V1_UY1200_CR119,0,630,1200_AL_It is a “Christian” movie and a very rousing one I thought. When I attended a conference last summer at the University of Alabama, Jeremiah Castille, Bama grad and a former NFL football player, gave the keynote address. At the end he mentioned that his son Caleb was making a movie, so I had been on the lookout for it. It was released on dvd last week. The film tells the story of how one Birmingham high school (Woodlawn) was integrated in 1973 and how the football team that was converted together helped to ease racial tensions. There are a few well-known actors in the movie–Jon Voight (as Bear Bryant), Sean Astin and Nic Bishop–but the rest are for the most part newcomers like Caleb Castille (on the poster above). They are all excellent and the production values are very high. I was impressed.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015), directed by Guy Ritchie–

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Everyone my age watched the original The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on TV in the 1960s. My dual personality, in fact, had a huge crush on David McCallum who played Ilya Kuryakin. (He was probably her first crush ever since she was a kindergartner at the time.) Well, let me tell you that Armie Hammer as the new Ilya is pretty adorable, and, boy, can he drive a speed boat. He definitely steals the show. Henry Cavill is appropriately cool as Napoleon Solo and I really liked Alicia Vikander as Gaby. The direction by Guy Ritchie is stylish and fast-moving without being too stylish and fast-moving, if you know what I mean. The ’60s vibe is strong but does not take over. I really enjoyed the whole thing.

I also watched the truly terrible Of Human Bondage (1934) starring an awful Bette Davis. It was worth it to see Leslie Howard who, as always, was quite appealing and redeemed the movie somewhat. Reportedly Bette did her own make-up and thought she deserved to win an Oscar for looking so bad, but her fake accent and over-acting are really quite heinous.

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If you are a Vin Diesel fan like me, you might like The Last Witch Hunter (2015) about the guy who “stands between humanity and the combined forces of the most horrifying witches in history.”

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Vin co-stars with Michael Caine and Elijah Wood in what is basically a comic book-movie hoping to spawn money-making sequels. It was enjoyable, but you would be better served to watch one of the first two movies described above.

P.S. I nearly forgot that Valentine’s Day is Sunday. Well, it’s just not on my radar these days. If you want appropriate Valentine viewing suggestions, I blogged about romantic movies/screen kisses here. Of course, there is nothing like Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald for romance. Here’s a great one to sing along with now:

Have a good weekend! I am co-hosting a baby shower for the daughter of a friend, so I will be knee-deep in gender-neutral baby stuff. How about you?

*Tandy Gerelds, the coach, in Woodlawn