June 19, 2013
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Movies and Documentaries Articles
Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Movies and Documentaries .
06/19/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/19/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 12, Vol. IIby Karl de Vries
06/19/2013: Roy for ROYby Frank Jackson
06/19/2013: Currently historic: Helton doubles!by Jason Linden
06/19/2013: You can’t take it with youby Derek Ambrosino
06/19/2013: Trending youngby Alex Connors
06/18/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/18/2013: The Verdict: absolute power corrupts absolutelyby Michael Stein
06/18/2013: All-time two-first-names teamby Greg Simons
06/18/2013: AL East division update: June editionby Nick Fleder
06/18/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
06/17/2013: Closer watchby Karl de Vries
06/17/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/17/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 12, Vol. Iby Jack Weiland
06/17/2013: 30th anniversary: Bob Welch does it allby Chris Jaffe
06/17/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
06/17/2013: Red Line doubleheaders (part I)by Chris Jaffe
06/14/2013: The daily grind: 6-14-13by Brad Johnson
06/14/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/14/2013: 18 again!by Shane Tourtellotte
06/14/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 11, Vol. IIIby Karl de Vries
06/14/2013: Traders Corner: Oakland Elixir, V is for Victorby Jonah Birenbaum
06/14/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Amos Otisby Bruce Markusen
06/13/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/13/2013: The daily grind: 6-13-13by Brad Johnson
06/13/2013: The clutchiest hitter of all?by Carl Aridas
06/13/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘50sby Richard Barbieri
06/12/2013: The daily grind: 6-12-13by Brad Johnson
06/12/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/12/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 11, Vol. IIby Jack Weiland
06/12/2013: Helping their own causeby Shane Tourtellotte
06/12/2013: Hub fans bid Kid redoby Frank Jackson
06/11/2013: The daily grind: 6-11-13by Brad Johnson
06/11/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/11/2013: Call-up season is upon usby Jeff Moore
06/11/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
06/11/2013: 10th anniversary: Houston no-hits the Yankeesby Chris Jaffe
06/11/2013: The Steel City power outage of 1917by Dave Vocale
06/10/2013: The daily grind: 6-10-13by Brad Johnson
06/10/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/10/2013: NL East division update: June editionby Brad Johnson
06/10/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 11, Vol. 1by Karl de Vries
06/10/2013: When a $9 ticket costs $20by Chris Jaffe
06/10/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
06/09/2013: Visualization: the 2013 MLB draftby Dan Lependorf
06/08/2013: Four teams, 38 innings, one historic dayby Shane Tourtellotte
06/07/2013: The daily grind: 6-7-13by Brad Johnson
06/07/2013: Jose Canseco’s independents dazeby Frank Jackson
06/07/2013: Roster Doctor: Two to sell highby Jonah Birenbaum
06/07/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 10, Vol. IIby Karl de Vries
06/06/2013: The daily grind: 6-6-13by Brad Johnson
06/06/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/06/2013: The Roto Grotto: catching up with pitcher statsby Scott Spratt
06/05/2013: Ignoring suspension noiseby Derek Ambrosino
06/05/2013: Does MLB have a case this time?by Eugene Freedman
06/05/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/05/2013: The daily grind: 6-5-13by Brad Johnson
06/05/2013: Currently historic: So many walks and strikeoutsby Jason Linden
06/05/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 10, Vol. Iby Jack Weiland
06/05/2013: Three True Outcomes too common?by Alex Connors
06/05/2013: BOB: Spring training war updateby Brian Borawski
06/04/2013: The Verdict: not all trades are created equalby Michael Stein
06/04/2013: The daily grind: 6-4-13by Brad Johnson
06/04/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/04/2013: 25th anniversary: three-run walk-off errorby Chris Jaffe
06/04/2013: Revisiting pre-arb contractsby Greg Simons
06/04/2013: Ike Davis and comfort at the plateby Matt Filippi
06/04/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
06/04/2013: Astros set to repeat their draft philosophyby Jeff Moore
06/04/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
06/03/2013: The daily grind: 6-3-13by Brad Johnson
06/03/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
06/03/2013: AL West: pretty much what we thought going inby David Wade
06/03/2013: 10th anniversary: Sosa’s corked batby Chris Jaffe
06/03/2013: What WPA can tell usby Chris Jaffe
05/31/2013: Traders Corner: Conundrums Kemp and otherwiseby Jonah Birenbaum
05/31/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/31/2013: Shut ‘em out, hit a home run: “Pappas games”by James Gentile
05/31/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 9, Vol. IIIby Jack Weiland
05/31/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Joe Pepitoneby Bruce Markusen
05/30/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/30/2013: Lohse goes for pitching history tonightby Chris Jaffe
05/30/2013: Trapped in the minors: Dean Annaby John Kochurov
05/30/2013: The Roto Grotto: z-scores appliedby Scott Spratt
05/29/2013: On Jon Heyman and the Oakland Coliseumby Dan Lependorf
05/29/2013: Job opening at Bloomberg Sportsby Dave Studeman
05/29/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/29/2013: BOB: A new chapter in the spring training warsby Brian Borawski
05/29/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 9, Vol. IIby Karl de Vries
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November 30, 2012
Pop culture and the pastime: Black Gunn and Vida Blue
Throughout the winter, I’ll be examining the National Pastime from the standpoint of popular culture, in particular through movies, television appearances, memorabilia and advertisements. It’s remarkable how often baseball and pop culture intersect, sometimes in ways that are curious or funny or even downright bizarre. While some ballplayers have achieved notoriety for appearing in mass media (I’m thinking of Wes Parker’s appearance on The Brady Bunch), other examples are more obscure, but no less entertaining. So let’s have some fun with these situations when baseball steps out of its own beaten path and ventures outward to become part of the cultural mainstream.
There has been a long tradition of ballplayers appearing in film, dating back to the earliest days of motion pictures, when silent movies ruled the theaters. A more recent example, though not too recent, can be found in the blaxploitation films that became so prominent in the early 1970s.
For the uninitiated, blaxploitation films were originally targeted for a black, urban audience, but they also became popular with other ethnic groups and eventually gained mainstream appeal. These films, generally made on a low budget, featured a mix of good and bad features. On the one hand, they gave roles to talented African-American actors who were being ignored by the rest of Hollywood. On the other hand, these films often perpetuated the stereotypes that some whites held toward blacks. The films also contained countless ethnic slurs that spared no one, whether they be white or African-American.
40 years ago, an intriguing blaxploitation piece hit the theaters with the release of Black Gunn. This classic example of 1972 cinema stars former NFL star Jim Brown as the title character. The retired Cleveland Browns great plays what is billed as a “beefy nightclub boss” living in Los Angeles. When his brother, a Vietnam veteran, is murdered after the robbery of the “wrong people,” Brown seeks revenge against the local mafia. Although Brown is clearly the centerpiece, and is surrounded by such veteran actors as Martin Landau and Bruce Glover (the father of Crispin Glover), the film also features appearances by two well-known baseball players of the day, Vida Blue and Tommy Davis.
So what were Blue and Davis, teammates with the Oakland A’s, doing on the set of a feature film? Black Gunn was filmed in 1971, which just so happened to be Blue’s breakout season with Oakland. The pill-throwing left-hander, who also had a terrific overhand curve, led all American League pitchers with a 1.82 ERA, winning 24 of 32 decisions and striking out 301 batters in 312 innings. He drew huge crowds throughout the season, particularly on the road. Some opposing teams like the Yankees even staged promotions to capitalize on Blue’s upcoming appearance at their ballpark.
The media coverage given Blue throughout the season helped his cause for immediate fame; he appeared on the covers of Sports Illustrated, Sport Magazine, and Jet, and even made the cover page of Time, a rarity for a baseball player. Blue also made guest appearances on two nationwide television programs, the Dick Cavett Show and NBC’s Today Show. Given Blue’s on-field performance, which earned him both the Cy Young and the MVP, not to mention his growing media celebrity, he became a logical candidate to make the transition from baseball to film. And so the movie poster heralds Blue’s appearance by “introducing Vida Blue.”
But what about Davis? While the veteran first baseman/outfielder had a fine season in 1971, hitting .324 in a platoon role and a scorching .464 as a pinch-hitter, he was hardly in the prime of his career and certainly lacked the household name status of Blue. Well, that didn’t matter. Davis happened to be Blue’s roommate; the two men were good friends, perhaps the closest of friends among the A’s. So it’s likely that Blue was able to convince the filmmakers to bring Davis along for the Hollywood ride.
In making his only feature film appearance, Blue played a character named “Sam Green.” (How about that, Blue playing a character named Green in a movie featuring the word Black in the title? How great is that?) The role was a small one, but Blue did earn fifth-place billing, right after Brown, Landau, Brenda Sykes, and Luciana Paluzzi, all established veteran actors. In the meantime, Davis settled for lower billing and an even lesser role, playing a character named “Webb.”
While Blue and Davis gave the film two well-known baseball names, they were outnumbered by the number of football players who appear in the movie. In addition to Brown, present-day NFL players Deacon Jones (who plays himself) and Gene Washington also made cameos, as did retired footballers like Bernie Casey (perhaps best known for appearing in Revenge of the Nerds) and Timothy Brown (of M*A*S*H fame).
All of these appearances, while interesting, don’t tell us about the quality of the film. Though I have never seen Black Gunn from start to finish, I have watched a number of clips and have read a sufficient number of reviews to offer some general judgments. As blaxploitation films go, Black Gunn is pretty much standard fare, and perhaps a bit above average for its genre. Though cheaply made, there is a good supply of fight sequences, funky 1970s music, and plenty of period atmosphere to make it a worthwhile ride.
In terms of acting, Brown is acceptable as the lead character. He has enough charisma and brawn to make up for a lack of technical acting skill. (He also appears often with his shirt off.) Landau, in contrast, overacts badly, especially when he is playing the role of a used car dealer, which is a cover for his true role as a vicious mob leader. By far the best acting is put forth by Glover, who portrays Landau’s lead enforcer. A prolific and talented character actor, Glover brings some gusto and humor to the role of a racist henchman. His performance also stirs up visions of his acting son, Crispin; the two share a number of facial mannerisms and speech patterns.
All in all, Black Gunn provides a relatively uncomplicated entertainment diversion that lasts 96 minutes. You’ll have to look closely to see Blue and Davis, but they are there, as are the full cache of football stars. As long as you don’t take the plot too seriously, you’ll be able to pick out some sports celebrities and enjoy a classic slice of 1970s culture.
Posted by: Bruce Markusen
September 21, 2011
Quick thoughts on the Moneyball filmTHT's Jeff Gross plans a comprehensive Moneyball review for early next week, so be sure to check that out.
In the meantime, an advance screening provided an opportunity for me to see the movie before it debuts this Friday, so I thought I'd share some quick thoughts on the film.
The fact that this effort is based on the use of statistics in baseball means most readers of sites like The Hardball Times will likely go to see it. Certainly, it means those who liked the book probably will check it out. That actually poses a few problems for the movie.
Since so many viewers will bring a tremendous amount of subject material knowledge into the theater with them—sort of like a professor specializing in colonial American history sitting down to watch The Patriot—they're going to have some issues with the film.
The Patriot could have been a meticulous, in-depth study of the Revolutionary War. Instead, it banked on the popularity of a previous (and very popular) Mel Gibson vehicle called Braveheart and more or less made a similar movie with a different setting. That way, it actually had a chance to make money at the box office.
Appealing to the masses doesn't necessarily mean a particular movie fails, however. If the filmmakers had to appeal only to viewers with extensive prior knowledge of the subject, they may have made a different movie. But they need to entertain what they hope will be a large number of viewers who just want to watch a good story, and that means we inevitably will find oversimplifications.
As in the book, the main character battles the old guard, which is represented by a cadre of scouts who continue to focus on intangibles. Therefore, it becomes a fight between tradition and technology, and the hero must turn his back on the supposedly proven methods of his old-school contemporaries to embrace evaluations of a Yale-educated economist.
Visitors to this site are familiar with such squabbles, and perhaps have even participated in them. The movie hypes this conflict, but I found many of the scenes funny, and so did most of the rest of the audience.
No need to delay the verdict any further. In short, I liked it. No, it's not the best movie you'll ever see, but it's better than The Blind Side, a previous Lewis book-turned-movie. It's a fair adaptation of the book, and I suppose that means those who found Lewis' borderline deification of A's general manager Billy Beane aggravating in the text shouldn't be surprised if they come away with the same feeling from the movie.
Now, finally, the quick thoughts.
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are excellent. A lot of the humor comes from their interaction with each other.
There are quite a few laughs, but not many one-liners. You're not going to come away quoting this one like Tombstone.
There are, by my count, two f-bombs. This normally doesn't matter much to me, but I did take my eight-year-old son last night because no one else wanted to go with me, and he had seen the previews and asked to go. I was afraid he would not like it due to the shortage of fighting robots, but he was a trooper and paid attention the whole time.
The funny thing is, other than those two "queen-mother of dirty words," the language is pretty tame. If any of you moms or dads want to take your kids with you, consider yourself informed.
The guys playing Scott Hatteberg and David Justice did a pretty good job, although the latter seemed pretty small for a major leaguer.
Toward the end, when (SPOILER ALERT!) Oakland falls in the Division Series once again, there is audio of Joe Morgan telling Jon Miller something along the lines of "statistics are not the be-all, end-all," etc. Given Morgan's notoriety for disliking the book, I chuckled and thought that was fitting.
Also, the girl that plays Billy Beane's daughter sings a song for him and that song sounds a whole lot like a song from Juno, and the melody is stuck in my head.
Posted by: David Wade
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