Saturday, October 18, 2014

Two Bloody New Olympic Films

Two major motion pictures with Olympic connections will enjoy silver screen debuts in just a few weeks. Both films portray Olympians in competition before their life journeys took them each down dark roads.

Sadly, one of these journeys ended with a tragic early demise.

With "Foxcatcher" starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Vanessa Redgrave, viewers will learn more about Olympic wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz (Tatum and Ruffalo, respectively), the 1984 gold medalists who were training as contenders for an Atlanta Olympic berth when Dave was shot dead by his coach and patron John E. du Pont (Carell).

"Foxcatcher" earned outstanding early reviews through screenings at major film festivals, and I'm currently reading an advance copy of the same-titled book (Mark's autobiography penned with David Thomas for Dutton Books) on which the movie is based.

A one-word "Foxcatcher" trailer description: Creepy.

The film's title comes from the Pennsylvania du Pont family estate at which the Schultz brothers and other wrestlers lived and trained.

Also based on a nonfiction book, the upcoming film "Unbroken" -- based on the best selling "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption" by "Seabiscuit" chronicler Laura Hillenbrand -- portrays the life of Louis Zamperini, a 1936 Berlin Olympian for Team USA.

Five years after running on the Olympic track in Germany, in 1941 Zamperini enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces. During WWII, he endured an epic list of horrific events, first surviving a military plane crash at sea only to remain adrift for weeks in the shark-infested Pacific before his capture by Japanese soldiers who held him in POW camps for years.

Fortunately, Zamperini survived to tell his story of survival and inspiration (as with the book "Foxcatcher" I am currently reading Hillenbrand's book for a future review on this Olympic blog).

In spite of the NBC/Universal touches that over dramatize an already compelling story (right out of the NBC Olympic broadcast playbook), the new "Unbroken" trailer does entice.

It will be interesting to see how the Coen brothers' (of "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski" fame) screenplay contributions sync-up with Angeline Jolie's directing.

"Foxcatcher" opens November 14 and "Unbroken" debuts on Christmas Day.

Film poster for "Unbroken" via this link. Film poster for "Foxcatcher" via this link.

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