Episode 390: Gran Turismo

For our conversation this week about Sony’s newest (and perhaps boldest) film adaptation of the beloved simulation racing video game series, we called in our friends Logan and Micah from The Reformed Gamers Podcast. Neill Blomkamp’s film incorporates many of the tropes we are familiar with in sports dramas while balancing reverence for the exciting video game that spawned this incredible story and still managing to succeed at pulling the right heart strings.

* Note – full spoilers in effect for entire episode *

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Episode 388: Nyad

With fantastic energy, a rousing Alexandre Desplat score, two incredible central performances, and nifty documentary-esque use of archival footage/audio by the first-time narrative directors Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, Diana Nyad’s remarkable story of swimming from Cuba to Florida in her 60s is told. It’s the kind of extreme sports, crowd-pleasing, inspirational biopic formula that is focused on the individual more than the accomplishment in a way we love.

* Note – full spoilers in effect for entire episode *

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Episode 363: Air

This week we are joined by Paul Keelan and Jordan Puga from the Cinematic Underdogs Podcast to discuss Ben Affleck’s story of how Nike got into the basketball business by way of an industry-changing partnership with Michael Jordan. We questions whether this can even be considered a sports movie, talk about the romanticizing of big business, and give Mrs. Jordan her flowers for the critical role she played, plus much much more.

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Episode 362: Bang the Drum Slowly

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently chose this 1973 film as the best baseball movie ever in a blog post, and with it being the opening of MLB season and ourselves big fans of the sport, we decided to watch this new-to-us picture and see for ourselves. While we can’t get onboard with Kareem’s lofty praise, there is an interesting story with a beautiful central relationship and plenty to discuss.

* Note – full spoilers in effect for entire episode *

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Episode 360: Creed III

For the first time, the Rocky franchise moves on without Sylvester Stallone’s iconic character as a part of the story, centering this tale around the recently retired Adonis Creed, his family, and an old friend turned new antagonist whose explosive presence creates a dilemma that can only be dealt with one way – in the ring, of course. We mostly think it’s a mixed bag that doesn’t live up to the exquisite storytelling level of the first two entries, but explosive fight sequences and solid drama are there in spurts.

* Note – full spoilers in effect for entire episode *

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Episode 359: Rocky IV/Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago

Only one man can get revenge for his best friend’s death and stop the Cold War dead in its tracks during a single boxing match, and that’s exactly what Rocky Balboa does. We discuss our enjoyment of this entry in the famous fighting sport franchise not only by talking about ROCKY IV but also Stallone’s recent Director’s Cut version, ROCKY IV: ROCKY VS. DRAGO, through comparison and contrast.

* Note – full spoilers in effect for entire episode *

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FF+ Sports Movie Draft

We are joined by two very special guests, Don Shanahan of Every Movie Has a Lesson and Cinephile Hissy Fit Podcast and Paul Keelan of Cinematic Underdogs Podcast, for a cut throat draft of sports films between four lovers of the genre. Who had the best draft? Be sure to find us on social media or in the Feelin’ Film Facebook Discussion Group and let us know.

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Episode 221: A League of Their Own

We return from a brief break before the end of the month to deliver the Patron-chosen March Donor Pick episode. Timing couldn’t be better because while we’re crying over the loss of what would have been baseball’s opening weekend, we can instead discuss a movie that celebrates the sport and the women who once upon a time played it professionally. Penny Marshall’s comedy is a fan-favorite and we have a great time chatting about what makes it special.

A League of Their Own – 0:04:06

The Connecting Point – 1:02:20

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Episode 198: Ford v Ferrari

We love biopics, and this week we’re excited to chat about director James Mangold’s newest that tells the story of the events leading up to and including the 1966 LeMans 24-hour race. With strong relationships throughout, the film gives us plenty to connect with and talk about in addition to just geeking out over the exhilarating racing sequences. 

Ford v Ferrari Review – 0:01:56

The Connecting Point – 1:02:20

 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Ford v Ferrari

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious endurance races in autosports. Conducted on an 8.5-mile circuit in the sleepy French town of Le Mans, the race travels over countryside roads throughout the course of an entire day, requiring teams to swap between three drivers regularly, relay-runner style. Drivers and cars must be prepared for the elements as it rains frequently, and within each lap lie both a challenging 90-degree turn and 200+ mph straightaways. Even beginning the race is dangerous, as drivers uniquely line up on the track opposite their cars and at the drop of the starting flag sprint to their vehicles, rushing to take off in a flurry of chaotic action that is as exciting as it is insane. Winning the race isn’t easy, but accomplishing the feat against fellow manufacturing giants of the industry brings the victorious automotive team great glory and often heavy sales. In 1963, Henry Ford II decided that he wanted a piece of this action, and after a failed bid to purchase Ferrari (including its racing team that won the Le Mans in 1958 and every year from 1960-1965), he decided that if he couldn’t own the Italian sports car manufacturer, he would do everything in his power to beat them where it would hurt most – on the track at Le Mans. And in doing so, a rivalry was born.

“Ford v Ferrari” is a biographical action-packed drama from Director James Mangold (“Logan”, “3:10 to Yuma”, “Walk the Line”)  that tells the story of Ford Motor Company’s journey to beat its Italian rivals. The key to this project was automotive designer and former Le Mans driving champion Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), who is brought on by Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) to build a car that could compete with the racing titans of the world. Shelby knows that a car is only as good as the man steering its wheel, though, and despite consistent pushback from Ford marketing man Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), he eventually brings on his close friend, the sometimes difficult but brilliant English engineer and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), to hopefully pilot this new machine to victory lane.

Surprisingly, “Ford v Ferrari” has less racing action than you might expect in its 2.5-hour runtime. Mangold really leans into the drama of Ford’s capitalistic motivations and how it complicated the achievement of its own goals due to control issues and typical business-driven decision-making. There are two standout racing sequences, however, that are exactly the edge-of-your-seat, heart-pumping, adrenaline-boosting, high-speed affairs that audiences desire. Expertly crafted and shot, then combined with the delightful roar of racecar sounds and backed with a propulsive score by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, these scenes are intense as can be and evoke a rousing response. Character investment plays a big role in this, as audiences are easily drawn to rooting for the Shelby and Miles racing team due to their depiction as wholesome, driven men of integrity who are navigating a challenging business landscape to chase their dreams.

The cast is full of wonderful supporting performances, but lead actors Damon and Bale play brilliantly off of each other as both longtime friends and similarly-obsessed colleagues, with the latter being especially noteworthy for his portrayal of a devoted and loving family man who treads the line between egotistical and confident when it comes to his skill with a car. Both bring a great deal of humor to their roles, as well, and deliver a script full of wit and technical terminology with talent worthy of awards recognition. Letts is also a highlight as “Deuce”, the Ford Motor Company President determined to live up to his grandfather’s legacy and keep Ford at the top of the automotive world.

Mangold is in top-form, directing with a confidant, fine-tuned precision, and though long, “Ford v Ferrari” is so full of energy and so expertly edited that you never feel its length. Its legendary, wholesome central characters are full of charm and watching their journey is an exciting and joyful treat. “Ford v Ferrari” is undoubtedly one of the best films of 2019, a gripping biopic with thrilling action and smashing performances that is sure to satisfy both fans of human drama and autosports alike, and it will go down as one of the definitive race-car movies ever made.

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Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.