Tag: james mangold

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

I am not a motorsports enthusiast, heck I am not even a sports enthusiast but the sports film, Ford vs Ferrari is one of the most impactful films I have seen this year. 

James Mangold’s film is a product of conviction and evident proof that the only way to win over the audience is through good story and great characters and not by pandering to them. When done well this approach brings in even those who are not remotely interested in the space that you are making the movie in. ( Me and sports)

I don’t think, I emphasised the previous paragraph to much effect; what I meant to say is that making a good film starts by having complete disregard to the expectations that your audience might have. 

“Oh right, this is one of those sports films and the movie ends with the winning moment” 

No it doesn’t.

But it plays on the existing sports movie template and makes it better. 

Make it better.

Ford vs Ferrari is a movie about optimisation. It’s not what movies are usually about, especially Tamil movies, in which we take the broadest of canvasses to tell the shallowest of stories. Optimisation begins where specialisation deepens. Ford v Ferrari is about making fast cars, faster. 

Bit by bit, Ken Miles(Christian Bale in a soon to be multi-nominated performance), our hero is trying to make things better. As a race car driver he is in search of an elusive perfect lap. Every race win, in this movie (and there are many) ends with a feeling of how he could actually have done it better, while the world watches in awe as Ken Miles breaks his own lap record. 

The search for excellence is a solitary game, it is a search that does not end with a pat on the back or the roaring sound of applause or admittance from peers. The search for excellence is in fact a never ending search. 

James Mangold takes the much seen sports drama arc which has the rebellious maverick- the considerate mentor- the conniving and unreasonable corporate into a drama about artisanal passion where the race (although shot with great precision ) gives way to the characters. 

Competing with respect

In any other movie, Henry Ford II ( Tracy Letts is brilliant) would be the corporate monster, a villain who derives pleasure in killing competition like boutique car mechanics. No, but here, underneath layers of tailored suit is an entrepreneur trying to do good by his grandfather’s legacy.  Mangold and his writers treat characters with respect, even the stock characters. 

Also in the movie is the relationship between designer Carroll Shelby( Matt Damon, too in a soon to be multi-nominated performance) and driver Ken Miles- a friendship so relatable when they have hands on each other’s shoulders talking about chassis and brakes, but not so much when they really try to spell it out. 

Nevertheless, Ford v Ferrari takes a close second place in my imaginary best films on friendship contest in 2019. That honor, as on date firmly rests with Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood. 

For Mangold and his crew, I do what Enzo Ferrari does, with his hat, at the end of the race.

REAL STEEL: THE WOLVERINE

<Ok, I know they are made of adamantium>

the-wolverine-movie-poster-4

Just for amusement sake, let us imagine that this year of our lives is running parallel to a super hero film.

<Close your eyes and list in your mind the super hero films you have seen or heard about in the last 10 months, suggest you to leave out Iron Man 3>

<Now open your eyes and list in your mind the number of super hero or related films that is going to open in screens in the coming months>

Horror!

Personally, keeping with the life-movie parallels I had given up hope entirely after seeing Man of Steel. I felt that even quick cash thumbing loan sharks would have more consideration to my time <which im already wasting by seeing summer blockbusters- suggest Chris Nolan to come up with a hi-fu time wasting within time wasting type film>

In a world where everybody is hopeless and are going to die (summer of 2013)

When I say James Mangold’s The Wolverine is not your average summer blockbuster, I mean it is a brilliant film considering the times.

Considering the times because the superhero is the Santhanam of Hollywood< he is a comedian that we deserve but also the one we are forced to see in every film>

I reiterate myself, I was pushed off the cliff of cinematic fun after seeing Man of Steel, my whole world was being filled with hope I did not need, with villains trying to destroy my world with a bore-well, with governments so inept that all they do is stare at plasma screen. Death which seemed nearer now, was more welcoming; until the kind adamantium based claws of wolverine grabbed me and he said to me in a soft but scary deep voice “Wait! We are not after your 120 Rs”

That of course was a white lie, what wolverine meant was “We are not ONLY after your 120 Rs, we have some stories to tell also”

If you think Man of Steel was an amazing comic book adaptation which brought the comic panels to life, so close that it touched your butter popcorn smeared lips; you should have stopped reading this article a long time ago.

The Wolverine has no superfluous concepts of alien attacks or end of the world by numerous means; it is a simple story of a different man stuck in turbulent times told with the easy uncut charm of its protagonist and interesting characters.

The action this time is almost entirely set in Japan with locales bringing out flashes from Logan’s long past. Pitching the famously erratic wolverine against the clockwork type martial art masters is interesting to watch, it also helps to see that this film works even better as a stand-alone adventure, almost noir-ish in its treatment of the abducted and the protector(also a recurring theme in Japanese lore and lit).

On a different level, it deals with the solution of being alone and the extent of damage a single act of kindness can cause.

While not completely opening its heart to the talented stunt generators usually over used in these summer films; Mangold and co use them as a necessary tool while not detonating half of Tokyo unnecessarily; just to create a spectacle.

It is more about spectacle rather than a few magic moments that used to permanently register in the retina of your mind, these days. The spectacle is fast losing its effect on me, they have only made a more tired individual who once sought the comfort of theatres to laugh and cry a little.

And it is this same individual who is saying that ‘The Wolverine’ is a great film, considering these dark times.

 The Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman is out now in theatres