Battle of the Sexes reviews

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7140
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby Sabin » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:22 am

I was more impressed by what this film does right than by what it does wrong. Actually, that's not fair. I was more impressed by what it achieves than by what it doesn't. And it's impossible to discuss what it achieves without mentioning Emma Stone.

Quick personal aside: I had hoped that after La La Land's defeat, tempers would cool down towards this charming little film. The opposite has proven to be the case in my life. In my circles, there continues to be an animosity towards this film, even referring to the opening number as "the most racist thing ever" which baffles and concerns me for a handful of reasons. But one character in particular, a girlfriend of a dear friend of mine, has a tendency to get drunk and make the same point again and again "Are we REALLY...going to give the SAME...HONOR...we give to MERYL...STREEP...to EMMA STONE?" Again and again, I hear this refrain. This isn't a person who has seen Elle or knows who Isabelle Huppert is, or is aware that Florence Foster Jenkins is a movie, so it's kind of pointless to argue. But on a very regular basis, I hear a lot of shit-talking about the talents of Emma Stone...

Goddamn, she's great in this film. 'Battle of the Sexes' is nowhere near the film that 'Birdman' or 'La La Land' is, but this feels like the most vulnerable work of her career. For an actor who has thus far coasted on her entirely enjoyable persona, here she is with fake hair, fake teeth, unsightly glasses...and she's never looked more like herself. It would be a shame if there wasn't room in the Best Actress lineup for her if only to stick it to all the doubters. These moments definitely front-load the film, but they're enough to carry through the film.

And she is not working from great material either. Simon Beaufoy's script has three problems: 1) there isn't much of a story here to begin with, 2) one half of the story couldn't be less interesting than the other, and 3) this guy is NOT the person to bridge these two gulfs. The best I can say for Beaufoy is he's a craftsman. His stories start up swiftly and spins their wheels for the cheap-seats. At some point, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are going to find a script worth their talents. But for the first time, I am convinced they are a directing talent. The way they film the queer awakening of Billie Jean King through shot and editing rhythm is conceptually something we've seen many times before, but they do a beautiful job of it. They're aided by La La Land DP Linus Sandgren and Moonlight composer Nicholas Britell.

This is a handsome production, a harmless film, and an important chapter in such an impressive career.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

danfrank
Temp
Posts: 369
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby danfrank » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:53 pm

Margaret Court's comments have made the press here in the US as well, at least in the gay press. Though it doesn' change my overall impression of the movie, I did take some pleasure in the unflattering portrait of Court in Battle of the Sexes. It's well-earned.

User avatar
Precious Doll
Tenured
Posts: 3034
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Sydney
Contact:

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:03 am

I saw Battle of the Sexes and really enjoyed it. As B.J. stated it's second-tier stuff but there was so much to enjoy about it. Acting across the board was fine with Emma Stone the standout. She's such a magnetic actress and a joy to watch, handling all aspects of the story extremely well.

I don't like sports though over the years various sports have provided backdrops to some pretty good cinema. I wonder if the fact that I was not familiar with the story helped it engross me from beginning to end. I knew who Billie Jean King was. That she was a very famous U.S. tennis player and had come out in later years as a lesbian. On the other hand I had never heard of Bobby Riggs and was amazed at just how much Steve Carrell looked like him in the photographs displayed at the end of the film.

The directors have never made anything of note before and they didn't really bring anything to this. Excellent period details, with the costumes and art direction being spot on but the cinematography was too strong, too colourful. It got me thinking later that it may have been a braver choice to have film the story in black and white which we don't see much of these days.

Whether deliberate or by design I couldn't help but think of the Trump/Clinton 'contest' last year. Whilst the level of abuse that Billie Jean King encountered was bad enough the things that Clinton underwent by the media and some members of the public were beyond disgusting. It looks like we are going backwards when we should be going forward. Really the insults and comments made in the film were so benign compared to what is dished out now. Clearly and indication there is still along way to go.

Something else the film got right was the portrayal of Australian tennis champion Margaret Court. She is portrayed as a small minded bigot and her attitudes in 2017 are even more appalling than they were in 1973. The audience I saw the film with snickered at her character when she made her little speech about lesbians - Margaret Court was and still is a nasty woman. Earlier this year she started receiving a lot of press coverage in Australia with her attitudes to homosexuals. There was such a public uproar she has since retreated back to her cave (the threats to rename Margaret Arena probably had something to do with that). It also could be a case of the press deciding not to feed the troll that craves attention. Billie Jeans Kings legacy as a great tennis player and important person to LGBIT people everywhere will be long remembered. Margaret Court will only be remembered as a small minded bigot.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

danfrank
Temp
Posts: 369
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:19 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby danfrank » Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:46 pm

I was fairly disappointed in this. In fact, I thought it was a pretty crappy movie. This is too bad, as Billie Jean King is one of my heroes. My husband was one of the earliest players in formal gay tennis leagues (the one in San Francisco was formed in 1980), and throughout the late 80s and 90s I would see Billie Jean come out to support these tournaments. She has walked the walk for social justice issues long after her tennis career was over. So, I was hoping for a movie that would do her justice. Unfortunately I found it formulaic, unimaginative, visually ugly (this guy just won an Oscar?), and edited poorly. That last segment moving from tennis court to locker room and then eventually back was incredibly awkward and anticlimactic. I thought that Emma Stone was quite good (as usual) and the only real bright spot in the film, though Carell is always interesting to watch. BJ, I think that tennis could have been made significantly more cinematic if they had done anything other than hold the camera in one (awkwardly angled) place for every single one of the tennis scenes. If a camera can get into a boxing ring it can certainly get onto a tennis court.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4015
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:11 pm

Mister Tee wrote:
Greg wrote:
The Original BJ wrote:. . . and I can't say this made me eager to see any more movies about tennis, which is about as un-cinematic a sport as they come. . .


Except for golf.

Hey, don't neglect bowling.


Perhaps one reason Battle of the Sexes is a better movie than Caddyshack and The Big Lebowski.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6192
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:08 pm

Greg wrote:
The Original BJ wrote:. . . and I can't say this made me eager to see any more movies about tennis, which is about as un-cinematic a sport as they come. . .


Except for golf.

Hey, don't neglect bowling.

Greg
Tenured
Posts: 2638
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 1:12 pm
Location: Greg
Contact:

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby Greg » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:52 pm

The Original BJ wrote:. . . and I can't say this made me eager to see any more movies about tennis, which is about as un-cinematic a sport as they come. . .


Except for golf.
Bankers don’t like budget deficits because they compete with bank loans as a source of growth.

James K. Galbraith

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4015
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Sep 28, 2017 1:32 pm

I enjoyed Battle of the Sexes, though definitely in a second-tier way. That said, I think this is a considerable step up for Dayton & Faris, whose earlier effort Little Miss Sunshine left me thoroughly unimpressed. (I didn't see the one film they made in the interim.) This movie is obviously in crowd-pleasing territory -- it explores gender and sexuality in the '70's at about the same level of depth that Hidden Figures explored race and gender a decade prior -- but I found its sense of humor and good-hearted amiability appealing.

I think much of the movie's buoyancy rests on the charm of its cast. Is there an actress around who projects sheer likability as much as Emma Stone? She's delightfully radiant throughout, and sells the movie's most dramatic subplot -- Billie Jean's awakening to her own sexuality -- with real poignancy. And is there an actor around who makes sheer repulsiveness endearing as much as Steve Carell? His half of the movie is definitely the weaker of the two, but it's to his credit that he doesn't make his oafish character into a completely hateful villain. I also think Sarah Silverman is fun, in a classic second banana character role.

Ultimately, this isn't a movie that's surprising in any significant way -- and I can't say this made me eager to see any more movies about tennis, which is about as un-cinematic a sport as they come -- but it's a solid enough warm-up to the grown-up movie season.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7140
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby Sabin » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:27 pm

Looks as strong as the trailer. The flaws in the film seem like the kind Oscar voters overlook all the time.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15324
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:20 pm

Bobby Riggs is a name out of the past I never wanted to hear again. He was, in his way, as obnoxious to the times as Donald Trump has been to the last three decades or so. But, the Variety review makes the film sound something that might be worth seeing after all.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6192
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Battle of the Sexes reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:13 pm

Last edited by Mister Tee on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.


Return to “2017”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Mister Tee and 2 guests