In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_ylxcdc106ikiarfthkcacasaacb

La La Land

This is a beautiful film about love and dreams, and how the two impact each other.

Thumb_jackie

Jackie

There are two movies in "Jackie." One of these movies is just OK. The other is exceptional. The first one keeps undermining the second.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

The Perfect Game

The Perfect Game Movie Review
  |  

Once in a very long time, a film “based on a true story” is both true, and almost too good to be a story. Perhaps anticipating any suspicion, William Dear intercuts newsreel footage from 1957 with “The Perfect Game,” frequently piping into the past for black and white, and then segueing into the color of the present day. These players really lived, and this game was really played.

Advertisement

The film begins in Monterrey, Mexico, seen here as an impoverished town with many baseball fans, who follow the Brooklyn Dodgers on the radio with nearly religious intensity. We meet young Angel Macias (Jake T. Austin), who aims at a bucket fastened to a wall as a strike zone and dreams of greatness on the mound. His father is not so enthusiastic.

The setup is traditional. The town's boys have time on their hands and need an activity to keep them out of mischief. Enter wise, gentle Padre Esteban (Cheech Marin), who thinks a baseball team might help. Newly returned to town is Cesar Faz (Clifton Collins Jr.), who was a prospect for the St. Louis team but was devalued and shunted aside, possibly because he was Mexican. Unable to take more of St. Louis management's racism, he returned home and is recruited by Padre Esteban, not without difficulty, to coach the kids' team.

Because the film is titled “The Perfect Game,” you expect one to be pitched. You do not expect it to be pitched in Monterrey. You sort of know how these underdog sports movies turn out. Doesn't matter. “The Perfect Game” so expertly uses the charisma and personalities of the actors, especially the young ones, that it's thrilling anyway.

The scenes at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., make the contrast seem so dramatic between the teams in the final game — the Mexicans seemingly a foot shorter on average than their American counterparts. The director Dear cannot, by the very nature of his story, avoid certain cliches, but the way he orchestrates the big game is sure and confident, and there's that life we often feel at the end of an underdog story.

In the years since, the Little League World Series has become blown out of proportion, verging on the exploitation of the players. They're trained within an inch of their lives, placed under enormous pressure and subjected to punishing media scrutiny. It's not a game anymore. In 1957, these kids were playing. And it was a perfect game.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Why Critics Should See Bad Movies

A piece on the experience gained from seeing bad movies.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part 36: "Lisztomania"

For the 36th installment in his video essay series about maligned masterworks, Scout Tafoya examines Ken Russell's "L...

The Power of Fear: Reflections on "Pan's Labyrinth"

Jessica Ritchey on the personal power of Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus