18 December 2009

Blind Sided

Some years back, I read an interesting book, "Liar's Poker", by Michael Lewis, a former Solomon Brothers bond salesman. Even then he knew the Wall Street geniuses were anything but. He followed up with an eclectic string of books about baseball ("Moneyball"), computers and the internet ("New Thing"), and he has just written one about being a father. He is an intelligent, articulate guy, who writes simple declarative sentences that are i) sequentially related, ii) informative, and iii) interesting. Hence his success.

I loved "Liars Poker" and "Moneyball", and when his book "Blind Side, Evolution of a Game" was published in paperback 2-3 years ago, I was eager to read it. It did not disappoint. The book was heavy on football tactics. The title related to the fact that almost all quarterbacks are right-handed, and therefore turn their heads and shoulders to the right when cocking their arms and throwing the football. Defensive ends and linebackers who rush the quarterback from his left, his "blind side," are in a position cause him much grief. So the game evolved, and coaches recognized the need for a big, fast, athletic offensive left tackle to defend against those blind side marauders. The job calls for a highly skilled athlete with muscle, speed, agility, and football smarts. As shown by the coach's diagram of x's and o's on the cover, the offensive left tackle needs to be prepared to block the defensive end who rushes from his outside (to his left) as well as the defensive tackle who makes an inside move,(to his right). And that's if they come straight in, no stunts. Hence the need for speed and smarts, as well as beef and power.

Lewis's book is about a homeless black kid, Michael Oher, who was taken in by a white southern family, and tutored so he could get passing grades and play football in high school. The family also helped him get a football scholarship to Old Miss, and upon graduation, Oher was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. A great football story, woven into a great human interest story of selflessness and courage on the part of the white family who took him in. The book had it all.

I was really eager to see the movie, starring Sandra Bullock as the good mom. I love Sandra Bullock, and admire her smarts as well as her tush.

Pinks and I saw the film the other night. We each did our thing: I watched while Pinks slept. I need a role reversal.

The film is a rip-off. That ain't the book I read. Not even close.

There was indeed some football in the film but this is far from a football film. This movie has nothing to do with the "evolution of the game", unless the "game" is suckering book-readers into seeing the film. The lead figure is, duh, Sandra Bullock. Michael Oher is portrayed not as a fast, skilled, athlete, but just an overweight giant. For the male football fans who were misled by the title and assumed the film tracked the book, there was some compensation: we got to see a lot of Sandra Bullock. And I mean a lot. The views of her from the back are every bit as interesting as the views from the front. And when Ms. Bullock leaves the room or walks away from the camera, you can believe that camera stays on her. All the time. Everything she wears is skin tight. Everything. Talk about physical conditioning. If Michael Oher went to the gym as often as Sandra Bullock, he would have been drafted as first pick instead of twenty-third. While I did not clock it, I would estimate Ms. Bullock is on screen 75% of the the time, be it in bed (with her handsome husband, of course), lunching with the ladies, talking down to school and government officials, threatening to shoot armed and dangerous ruffians, sitting in the stands making cellphone calls to tell the coach what plays to run, walking onto the field telling the coach how to run practice sessions, etc. Her three inch spike heels never sink into the turf, her shoes do not get dirty, and nothing she does, nothing, ever produces so much as a wrinkle in the revealing sprayed-on clothing. And on the field or off, never a hair out of place. Fantastic.

At bottom, this is an annoying chick-flick. The fact that it is the highest grossing current film in the U.S. shows how little I know about the movie biz. I am sure I would not have been so disappointed had I not read the book. Gotta cut that out.

On the other hand, had I not read the book, I would not have dragged Pinks to see the film. Oh, well. Where do I go to get my money back? Staggering economics at play here: many hours of pleasure reading the book, at $8.95, hour and a half of fidgeting in my seat while I watched the movie and Pinks slept, at $25.

Btw, "New Moon", the vampire chicklet film, was number two in box office receipts last week. I sure can pick em. But I will recover. In three weeks, we return to Paradise.

There, I have saved you another $12.50, unless it is too late. Sorry about that.

In Paradise, I never go to the movies. There is no movie theatre on the island. Once a week they project a french language film onto the side a building in L'Orient and people watch while sitting on plastic chairs on the adjacent tennis court. Not my thing.

A bientot.

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