When we drove away I wasn't sure if the head was missing, folded back along the body or perhaps I ran over it with the front wheel of the Blazer as we backed into the turnaround. After the movies and grocery shopping, I went over with my camera to record what was left. Then I got a shovel.
Here's the Gross Part
Our land is heavily sand and supports quite a population of ants. I'm sure the bunny was the one from last weekend because the ants were busy pulling maggots from the carcass -- and in the ways of busy little ants, there were wriggling maggots being dragged by ants in all directions all at once. Amazing that ants get anything done at all.
I got a shovel and pitched it under the pine trees away from the house. I have nothing against the "circle of life" and all, but it doesn't have to play out right where I have to walk or drive (grin).
Poor Ron Howard just doesn't get respect from some critics. Previous films have gotten reviews about "little Ronnie Howard" and one critic referred to A Beautiful Mind as his "magnus Opie". Sometimes I think that some movie critics just live to make the well-turned pun or yank the chain on the slam, deserved or not. Our local Grand Rapids Press reviewer used the term "heavyhanded". I'm not sure how such a true turnabout story in the midst of the Great Depression, with an honest man at the core, comes to be "heavyhanded", but there are details and then there are details. The local review went on to say that Ron "suggests" that the final victory is divinely inspired. Hello? This is the 1930s. A lot of people went to church in those days -- it's natural and unforced in this movie.
Okay, so "little Ronnie Howard" vomited the Jim Carrey mess of a Dr. Seuss Grinch Massacre on the public -- and I shall never forgive him for that. But we've got A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13 and the fun-but-overblown Backdraft -- some of my favorite cinema.
Renee Zeilwigger is one actress I haven't decided upon. Clearly she is dedicated to her craft, I'll grant that. And she was terrific in Bridget Jone's Diary, even if the sentimental Brit favorite for the overweight Brit girl was their very own Kate Winslet, not a Texan who crammed the donuts to make the curves. And I thought her just ditzy enough in Nurse Betty, which is one seriously surreal film. Here she dresses down to the 1930s convincingly, even if she squints through this role as much as any other she does. But I'm still not sold on Renee.
Russell Crowe gets bad press, too, but it is hard to give some of that any real street cred. The man still plays in his rock band, Thirty Odd Foot Of Grunt, and comes out of New Zealand and Australia. But we just watched a rerun of BRAVO's Inside the Actor's Studio on Russell Crowe, and were very impressed with how well spoken he is, blessed to be in the business and how hard he works on his roles. All these are clearly held up on the screen of this new flick for all to see.
But the first Oscar nom for Cinderella Man needs to go to the fighter's manager, Joe. Is he using Jim? Taking advantage of him? Or just doing the job he's being paid to do... The relationship between boxer and manager, and the dialogue and repartee they serve up stands first-rate in a period film thick with ambiance.
Heavyweight Champion Max Baer is played up at the villain, sufficient to make us fear for Jim's brain, if not his life. Ron Howard managed this in Apollo 13, too -- taking a historical outcome that you either know or could look up before the film, and put the star in real danger, so you're unwilling to completely hope that he can survive this trial. That's not heavyhandedness, IMHO, this is allowing today's audiences to be in the crowd's position and hang on every punch.
I am not a big fan of boxing, but I've seen some of the major fights of Ali and Frazier and Foreman when they were on non-pay TV in my lifetime and I've seen (some of) the Rocky saga -- now there's manipulation wedded to a driving soundtrack, re "Eye of the Tiger" -- and this year's Oscar darling Million Dollar Baby. The fight scenes here are both personal and pulled back to show the setting. The final fight may go on too long, at least the first time, and it's hard for me to follow which punches close in are ones I should root for or cringe at. But this isn't a training film, a la Stallone's vision, this is a personal and family vision. I may not be wild about Renee, but the three kids are fantastic -- all rail thin and Depression era scrawny.
My mom really wants to see this, and not because she's a boxing fan, but because she was in Pittsburgh when this all went down the first time and has strong memories. To me it's a historical oddity, which Ron Howard brings to life with some able acting and set dressing to recreate a bleak, tough and sometimes inspiring chapter of the 20th century.