Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lazy Sunday #156: "I'm Keith Hernandez"

I'm a little sports fixated this week. There's all the hype for the Superbowl and NHL All Star Week, not to mention TMZ  issuing alerts every time some hockey player gets into a bar fight.

I guess that's news in LA -- or it at least fills space while Charlie Sheen is in rehab.

But I think the whole thing started with seeing "The Fighter" (Run, don't walk) just a great biopic with astonishing performances from all involved, a tight little script, terse direction and great music by "The Mahones", "Dropkick Murphys" and -- um, maybe I'm showing my true colors here -- "Whitesnake".

Mark Whalberg deserves some kind of special award for both the kind of understated bedrock performance that allows everybody else in the cast to go into full fireworks mode -- and the similar quiet dependability of a producer who can carry a project like this through the obstacle course of past sport movie clichés and current Hollywood market-think to fruition.

A lot of people dismiss sports movies because they can usually only end one way if the audience is going to go home happy and you can therefore see that ending coming a mile away.

But like the sports they profile, movies in that genre succeed not because of the outcome but through the unexpected human insight and revelation of character they exhibit along the way.

Anybody can make a sports movie. But it takes a cinematic master to make one you want to see more than once.

John Ford, a cinematic master who transitioned from silents to talkies with a wrestling movie called "Flesh" once famously said, "You can put anything you want into a movie as long as it's interesting." (You kids at Telefilm should write that down and pin it up in your cubicle).

That quote may explain the thinking behind the other sports movie I saw this week, Rob Perri's "I'm Keith Hernandez" described by The Village Voice as an " unauthorized, unlicensed, gonzo pastiche".

I'm not sure how else you'd label a film that mixes baseball footage with anti-drug commercials and 80's porn while alluding to a connection between the 1986 NY Mets and the Iran-Contra scandal.

What's also interesting here is Perri's theory that pop culture heroes have become our surrogates for real experience.

He's also quite protective of his work, so if it disappears from this post, you can find it here -- or maybe even better, buy your own copy from the filmmaker himself here.

This is the kind of sports movie you're going to want to see more than once and one that'll be rolling around in the back of your head the next time you begin to admire or buy after shave from some guy who can mostly just throw a ball or run fast.

Which I think makes Rob Perri some kind of cinematic genius. Enjoy your Sunday.

I'm Keith Hernandez from water&power on Vimeo.

1 comment:

Rusty James said...

Is he the pitcher that threw a no-hitter on Acid?