Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Year 8, Day 6 - 1/6/16 - Movie #2,206

BEFORE:  You might have noticed, all of my films this year have been released relatively recently, everything so far from 2013 or later.  That trend's going to continue for another week, and I think it's largely because about one-third of the films left on my list are from 2013 or later.  I didn't watch the films of 2014 during 2014, because I was busy watching the films of 2012 and 2013, and so on.  

Sienna Miller carries over from "American Sniper".

THE PLOT:  The Schultz brothers, the greatest U.S. Olympic Wrestling Champion brothers in history, join Team Foxcatcher, led by multimillionaire John E. du Pont, as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul - a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.

AFTER: I'm not really seeing the appeal of this one, partially because it's such a slow build and a dark subject matter.  No spoilers here, but if you're familiar with the true events behind this story, then you may spend the entire film wondering when that shoe is going to drop.  

There are plot points that are also quite unclear here, by intention it seems.  Maybe no one really knows what happened between rich wrestling sponsor du Pont and his intended Olympic protege, Mark Schultz - but that's a problem because the director may not have felt comfortable making a leap in logic if the complete facts were unavailable.  

I guess it works as a character study of someone who was so rich that he felt he could get anything he wanted, and if he couldn't be a wrestler himself, he could live vicariously through the athletes he funded.  Whether his interest in getting up close and personal with training wrestlers was misguided or something more sinister is (mostly) left up to the imagination, though close-ups of him grappling with Mark can certainly be viewed in a prurient manner, if one is so inclined. 

What's clear is that Mark exhibits signs of being in an abusive relationship, even if the exact nature of that relationship is not completely clear.  His brother, who joins the wrestling team at Foxcatcher later, is able to sense this, even if all of his questions about the relationship seem to go unanswered.   

I also felt a little out of the loop, similar to how I sometimes feel watching a boxing movie, if a film about sports doesn't find a way to give me a little information about an athlete's moves, which I'm somehow supposed to understand.  I sort of picked up on the fact that when du Pont was demonstrating some wrestling moves while his mother watched that those moves were quite basic, perhaps laughably so, but when the championship matches were displayed, I honestly don't know a winning move from a losing one.  I could sort of pick it up from the context, like whether a wrestler was happy or defeated after the match, but a little information about the various holds and pins, the ways someone can win or lose a match, would have gone a long way. 

I was about to point out that both this film and "American Sniper" were Oscar nominees, but not for Best Picture.  "Foxcatcher" didn't get a Best Picture nomination, and now I sort of understand why.  But Carell was nominated for Best Actor, as was Bradley Cooper for "American Sniper" and neither won.  Again, I now sort of understand why.

Also starring Steve Carell (last seen in "The Way Way Back"), Channing Tatum (last heard in "The Book of Life"), Mark Ruffalo (last seen in "In the Cut"), Vanessa Redgrave (last seen in "The Butler"), Anthony Michael Hall (last seen in "Happy Accidents"), Guy Boyd (last seen in "Pacific Heights"), Lee Perkins, Francis J. Murphy III, with cameos from Brock Lesnar and the real Mark Schultz. 

RATING: 4 out of 10 towels

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