Thursday, February 26, 2015

V 5 N. 12 We've Seen "McFarland"

Sometimes the hype just doesn't do the job. Well, I guess the real job of hype  is to sell an idea along with a ticket.   Any film is an investment with the goal to return investors' money  in multiples of 3 or better.   So we read the promises and saw that a faded star was appearing in an upcoming film.  It was about a subject we love and already knew as a wonderful story.  The question becaqme, "Will the filmmaker be able to convey that story to us in a way that we will be inspired, thrilled, proud of who we are and what our sport can achieve?"   Earlier reviews gave McFarland C+ as a movie.   We didn't want to believe it ,  we wanted a higher rating, and we wanted to judge for ourselves.    So far McFarland hasn't come to my corner of the world, but my colleague Roy Mason, who knows the story more intimately than most has been to the film and sends us this report.

It was good and bad.  Good from the standpoint that the sport was exposed to the general public but bad if you know anything about running.  Too many points to discuss.  Some of the kids looked like runners but the "best" kid was about 5'8 175 and ran a flat out 50 yard dash throughout the races.  They win the state championship because the last kid, the fatty that goes about 220 lbs is "inspired" by the coach's pre-race comments and passes about 100 kids in the last 50 yards.  The opposing teams and their coaches are arrogant, racist assholes, taunting the McFarland kids with lines like, "I didn't know beaners could run unless a cop was chasing them".  Of course distance runners are anything but arrogant.  We are humble because if we could play QB, dunk or throw a 95 mph fastball, we would be doing that instead of running distance.  In Sept.  the school didn't have a team, but then they throw one together that win state in November, beating schools with kids who have been training through the summer.  Also - don't get me started - the opposing kids, yes, most of them could run but they also looked to be 22-25 years old.  Probably worth seeing from a sociological standpoint but don't expect much in the way of athletic realism.  

Okay,  so Roy is from the short and succinct Hemigway school of reporting.    I've also heard a lot of disappointment about the Louis Zamperini film  Unbroken which I have not seen.  Let's face it, making a movie based on a true story is not easy.  Fantasy is a piece of cake, because nobody has been there.  But when we know too much, we become much more jaded and aware of the flaws.  Time gets compressed, events get out of order, and actors don't resemble or interpret  the actual characters accurately.      I watched the film about Stephen Hawking, but not knowing anything about Dr.Hawking and his theories and just a little about his life, I was able to be thoroughly entertained.  How much was true, how much was fantasy doesn't matter now.   No one was trying to sell me going to war on a bunch of half truths and juxtaposed events.  

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