If you want to remember the Alamo, the latest feature film version of the Texas fort's famous last stand may not be much help.
A beautifully produced but relatively bloodless (literally and figuratively) Hollywood rendering of the 1836 siege on San Antonio by tyrannical General Santa Anna, who was determined to recapture the territory for Mexico, it's a movie more concerned with details like Jim Bowie's terminal case of consumption than it is with the historical context of its story and its legendary characters.
In this movie, Bowie (Jason Patric) the frontier adventurer and volunteer army colonel is presented as little more than an infamous "knife fighter" haunted by his wife's death. Newspaper publisher, lawyer and militiaman Lt. Col. William B. Travis (Patrick Wilson) is just a determined dandy with questioned military skills (questioned mostly by Bowie) who rises to the occasion as temporary commander of these now-fortified grounds surrounding an unfinished mission. David "Davey" Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) is a fiddle-playing former senator made famous by a stage play written about something he once did while wearing a coonskin hat -- and why he's even at the Alamo isn't entirely clear.
Continue reading: The Alamo Review
"Friday Night Lights" takes place in a dismal West Texas suburb where society revolves entirely around high school football and the "winning is everything" philosophy is considered an All-American value.
Director Peter Berg ("The Rundown") vividly captures life here beginning with the opening shot -- an aerial view of sagebrush, oil pumps and dust rising to a hazy horizon as a pickup barrels down a dirt road, an AM radio sports show blaring out its windows with boorish, pejorative fans calling in for a round of Monday morning quarterbacking.
But the film seems to endorse the hardcore sports-junkie attitude that obstinately forgives arrogance, misogyny, substance abuse, narrow-mindedness and bullying in any star athlete just as long as he produces results on the field. The movie's principles are seriously out of whack, even as it angles toward a Big Life Lesson about learning to live with falling short of greatness.
Continue reading: Friday Night Lights Review
Take a look back at October's inaugural event.
The film is expected to continue without Mendes' involvement.