American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Ever wonder why we invest so much time and money cheering the highly repetitive exploits of comic-book superheroes these days? My guess is that all too often, real-life heroes can’t help but eventually disappoint. They are only human after all. And humans are deeply flawed, as likely to commit selfless acts of kindness as they are self-serving crimes of cruelty.
Nowhere is that truer than when it comes to our sports idols. All you need to do is to turn on FX’s deeply addictive series “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” to be reminded of that fact.
But the movies have always preferred the upbeat “you can do it!” exploits of underdog athletes. From the pigskin propaganda of 1940's “Knute Rockne, All American” to the recent portrait of Olympian ski jumper Eddie the Eagle, theater screens often double as inspirational posters that bolster the belief that anyone can achieve the impossible if you only believe in yourself.
Alpha dog tales? Not so common. That is why “The Program,” about the steroid-induced rise and public plummet of road-racing cyclist Lance Armstrong, at least attempts to stand out from the swarm of unlikely competitive triumphs caught on film.