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Tag Archive: Nicole Beharie


boseman-as-robinson-42

Review by C.J. Bunce

Sadly racism has not gone away in America since the days of the legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, but the progress that has been made can be felt from the biopic 42: The Jackie Robinson Story, now streaming on Amazon Prime.  Starring a perfectly cast Chadwick Boseman (Captain America: Civil War’s Black Panther) as Robinson and Harrison Ford as craggy Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, file this baseball entry as a straightforward, historical, earnest film, but probably one falling short of your baseball best-of list.  Where so many films of sports heroes put the hero in the driver seat, the oddity here is Robinson seems to be shown as merely a pawn in the 1940s segregated business of baseball.  A film centered around Robinson instead of Rickey with less slow motion shots of kids in the crowd and more Robinson as inspirational figure may have fared better.  To their credit, director Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, A Knight’s Tale, The Postman, Mystic River) and the film’s writers do make efforts to portray Robinson as the almost “superhuman” athlete history reflects him to be.

You’ll likely get the feeling that at times the difficulty of being the first black man in baseball is glossed over, and at other times the director seems to plunge the viewer in too much and too bluntly, as when Firefly star Alan Tudyk as Pittsburg Phillies manager Ben Chapman goes on a painful, unending, cringeworthy, racist rant in front of a full stadium with no one standing up to him.  Another scene hints that a lynch mob almost finds him in a residence he is staying at during training in Florida.  The true story can probably be found in a combination of the best of the scenes that are recreated here.  Certainly the spirit of this legendary figure is portrayed with reverence.  Robinson is the only baseball player ever to have his number–the movie title’s 42–retired by every baseball team in the major league in honor of his achievements.  42 is a bit old-fashioned, but thankfully Boseman anchors the film with leading man acting prowess to lift the film beyond being merely sentimental.

harrison-ford-in-42   42-movie-poster

The story covers Robinson’s rookie year only via Rickey’s selection of Robinson from a file of African-American candidates, through Robinson’s move to the farm team the Montreal Royals, and then to his promotion to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and finally winning the league championship in 1947–stopping short before the Dodgers lost to the Yankees in the World Series that year.  The lack of nuance, an often dragging recitation of events, and lack of visionary artistry in the editing and cinematography prevent the film from being as inspiring as baseball fans may hope for.  Quality acting makes up for some of this from Boseman and Ford and an interesting supporting cast including Sleepy Hollow’s Nicole Beharie as Robinson’s wife, Law and Order: SVU’s Christopher Meloni as Dodgers manager Leo Durocher, and a surprise appearance by Barney Miller’s Max Gail as kindly replacement manager Burt Shotton.

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By Elizabeth C. Bunce

It’s no secret that we at borg.com are big fans of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.  The longtime writing partners have found success reimagining classic stories from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys to Star Trek.  It looks like the two have brought us another hit in a similar vein with Fox’s new spooky drama Sleepy Hollow, which premiered last night.

Featuring a cast of familiar favorites like Clancy Brown (Starship Troopers, The Shawshank Redemption), Orlando Jones (Drumline, Office Space), and John Cho (Star Trek 2009, Hawaii 5-0), along with relative newcomers Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, Sleepy Hollow brings back to life (ahem) Washington Irving’s classic characters of Ichabod Crane and the headless Hessian horseman, now terrorizing modern day Sleepy Hollow, New York (Salisbury, North Carolina).  Mison plays Crane, and in Kurtzman’s and Orci’s hands, Irving’s awkward schoolteacher has become a history professor turned Revolutionary War soldier who shoots and beheads the faceless mercenary in battle, before falling himself.  As the show opens, Crane awakes in a cave, claws his way out of his grave, and finds himself dodging traffic on a 2013 highway. It’s a well done nod to the eerie roadway traversed by Crane in the classic story.

Sleepy Hollow cast photo

Over the next hour, we follow Crane and Sleepy Hollow cop Abbie Mills (Beharie) as they unravel a mystery that begins with the beheading of Mills’s partner, Sheriff August Corbin (Brown, alas) and grows into a centuries-spanning supernatural conspiracy.  Beharie shines as the ambitious lieutenant eager to graduate to the big leagues of the FBI, willing to take risks and defy orders to get to the bottom of a mystery that’s plagued her since childhood.  But the standout performance is undoubtedly Mison’s.  With his worn frock coat and disheveled hair, he just looks the part of a slightly mad time traveler desperately trying to find his feet in an altogether too strange–and ultimately too familiar–new world.

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