DVD Review: The Blind Side

Hi everyone…

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that pulls on your heartstrings. Yes, I’m a sensitive guy. I have to admit I like sports movies though, some of them anyway. And when you see a movie that combines an amazing story with sports, I’m either in the theater or have it in my queue on Netflix. The Blind Side is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time that preaches that family is important, regardless whether you’re in the family by blood or not.

Michael Oher or “Big Mike” (played in a powerful, understated way by Quinton Aaron) has not had a good life so far. He can’t live with his mother, Denise (Adriane Lenox), since she can barely take care of herself, so he’s forced to wander place to place scrounging food and shelter where he can find it. Some take pity on him and lend him a couch now and then, but it doesn’t seem to take long before he has to move on again.

Now put the Touhy family into the equation. Leigh Anne Touhy (Sandra Bullock) is the family matriarch and a successful interior designer. Sean Touhy (Tim McGraw) is a successful businessman in his own right, owning a chain of restaurants. Daughter Collins (Lily Collins) and son S.J. (Jae Head) round out the family.

One day on the way home, Leigh Anne spots Big Mike walking along the side of the road in the rain and she asks if he has a place to stay for the night. When he eventually says no, he begins his journey to a better place. He starts going to high school and playing football, eventually becoming the first-round pick as an offensive left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft.

Based on a true story and the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game written by Michael Lewis, The Blind Side is a bit like Pygmalon with a little Cinderella thrown in for good measure. Lessons are learned on all sides by teachers, coaches, the Touhys, and Michael Oher.

Included on the single-disc DVD version are four deleted scenes. Like most deleted scenes, I can see why they might have been cut from the final product. However, at the end of the “Lunch Ticket” scene is a scene with Big Mike and science teacher Mrs. Boswell (Kim Dickens) that I would have liked to have seen in the movie. It showed a bit more of the realization that Mike was actually retaining knowledge from his classes and just couldn’t take tests well, but when tests were given verbally he did better.

The Blind Side is an inspiring story that will sit proudly on my DVD shelf and get pulled out when I need a reminder about the importance of family. Be sure to check it out at your local rental or retail counter.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up the movie and books at Barnes and Noble below:

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Movie Review: Black Snake Moan

Hi all…

Black Snake Moan has been on my Netflix queue for quite a while and I finally had a chance to see it over the weekend. I’ll sum it up like this: Amazing soundtrack. Great characters. A messed up world of drinking, drugs, cigarettes, sex, and the blues.

Black Snake Moan (film)

Image via Wikipedia

It used to be wine, women, and song… Now it’s sex, drugs, and rock and roll. In this case, it’s more blues than rock-n-roll, but it’s close enough I guess.

[rating:2.5/4]

By far the weakest part of this movie is Justin Timberlake. There’s a scene when he beats a friend of his for sleeping with his girl, and it was very poorly staged.

But the strongest part is Sam Jackson. Who the heck knew he could play anything other than the kick-arse roles he’s played in the past in such movies as Pulp Fiction? And if he wasn’t the one playing the licks on the electric and accoustic guitars in those scenes, he did a fine job faking it.

Ultimately the story is one of the relationships among a group of people.

Jackson plays a blues singer who operates a small farm and sells the produce in town. His wife just left him for his brother. And he’s a bit angry about that.

Ricci plays a woman who was abused as a child and uses a sex addiction to try and fill the holes in her life. Her boyfriend (Timberlake) heads off to join the National Guard and she goes into a tailspin, eventually ending up beaten and sick on the side of the road near Jackson’s house.

The rest of the movie is one of redemption and finding a way to survive. Jackson helps Ricci because he doesn’t want to be alone to think about the fact that his wife is gone. Ricci needs structure in her life and to be handled with a certain amount of respect to get her over the sex addiction and on a road to recovery.

Ultimately, both Jackson and Ricci’s characters find a way, even though it might not be ideal in Ricci’s case. But each has a path they can live with.

I was impressed by Sam Jackson in this movie. His character was much deeper than many of the characters I have ever seen him play. If it was actually Jackson playing the guitar, he’s pretty good. 🙂 As such, if you’re a Sam Jackson fan (and don’t mind foul language, nudity, and adult situations), I would recommend this film.

I give it 2.5 out of 4. I’d give it 3 out of 4, but Timberlake’s performance was horrible IMHO. He should stick to making music that I don’t listen to on the radio. Definitely not a movie for the kiddies though.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick this one up at Amazon. I know I’ll be picking up the soundtrack soon!

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My Netflix “Watch Instantly” Experience…

Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase, source unknown

Hi all…

I had a chance to watch the Justice League: The New Frontier animated movie over Netflix‘s “Watch Instantly” feature on their website and thought I’d write about it.

Amazingly enough, it worked really well. I say that as if I was shocked, because I was. I tried it a year ago and was sorely disappointed. But on Vista and using Internet Explorer (ugh), it worked remarkably well.

I’m a dedicated Firefox guy, so it was a little bizarre having to open up IE for this. I hope they can figure out how to make it work cross-browser. But ultimately it was pretty seamless.

It did have a few hiccups now and then as it streamed the movie to my desktop, but the quality was excellent on my 19″ wide-screen computer monitor. The colors were crisp and the sound quality was good.

Now that I’ve had one positive experience with it, I might have to start watching other movies online as time allows. It would certainly free up some of the backlog of movies I have in my Netflix queue. 🙂

So give it a shot if you’re a Netflix subscriber with Broadband internet access. You might like what you see. 🙂

–Fitz
Netflix, Inc.

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