Sling Blade

This review was originally written as part of my USA Road Trip series for French Toast Sunday.

Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) was sent to a correctional facility at the age of twelve. He grew up living in a shed out the back of his parents’ property, sleeping in a hole in the ground he’d dug himself and being picked on by pretty much everyone, especially his father and a local boy named Jesse Dixon. One day, Karl saw Dixon apparently trying to rape his mother, and killed Dixon with a sling blade but, when his mother seems distressed and angry, Karl kills her too, and is thus locked up. Some years later, Karl has grown up and served his time, and is due for release into the world. The only problem is, he doesn’t know anyone willing to take him in. His doctor sets him up with a minimum wage job and limited accommodation, but can Karl make it on the outside, and does he even want to?2
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Princess Mononoke

A young prince, Ashitaka (Billy Crudup), defends his home by killing a giant boar-god that has been corrupted by a monstrous force and turned into a demon, but in the process Ashitaka finds himself infected on his right arm. His only chance at survival is to be exiled from his city – to which he can never return – and seek the Spirit of the Forest and ask for forgiveness. However, when Ashitaka finds the forest, he uncovers a war between a nearby town, led by Lady Eboshi (Minnie Driver) and the animals and gods of the forest, led by the wolf-goddess Moro (Gillian Anderson) and her adopted human daughter San (Claire Danes), who is known to the townspeople as Princess Mononoke. In order to achieve the help of the Spirit of the Forest, Ashitaka must help resolve the conflict between the two factions, neither of whom seem to want his help.
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Friday Night Lights

I’ve heard before that this is one of the better sports movies and, though I know very little about American football (or women’s rugby, as I like to call it), the games shown here were well shot and captivating. But, a good sports movie is still just a sports movie, and is therefore about nothing. I didn’t play sport in school. I dabbled in cricket a little, very briefly played football but then gave up when I saw the little benefit that could be achieved with the maximum effort put in. So instead I studied hard, did my homework and did OK in school, and from there went to college and university on my academic qualities, got a job and now make a living. I’m not a natural genius, I worked hard to get what I have, so when a film tells me that these kids playing football aren’t the brightest, and their only way out of their backwards hick town is via throwing a bag of air across a line or between two posts or whatever the hell they do over there, I just have to sit back and try not to throw everything to hand at my TV. I don’t care how committed the rest of your town is to a game, and it is just a game after all, if you don’t have yourself a backup plan when you’re relying on not damaging that oh-so-fragile body of yours to secure you’re future, you’re even dumber than anyone could have predicted.

Anyway, rant over, as you can guess, I’m no sports guy, so good luck to this film. Billy Bob Thornton is the football coach to a high school football team in a town full of meat sacks that shuts down every Friday night come game time. Every man, woman and inbred child in this town has an opinion they’re only too willing to share as to how the game should be played, and generally a different one after to the event as to how it should have been played. Local radio shows take call-ins from fans, on suggesting that they’re “doing too much learnin’ in this school,” and the kids themselves are under more pressure than is healthy from all around, particularly in the case of Garrett Hedlund’s Don Billingsley, whose father was a star in his day, yet Don is playing third string (I think this is a bad thing). Meanwhile current star quarterback Boobie Miles enjoys a celebrity lifestyle and just has to show up to training, with all the plays centred on him, so guess which players going to receive an unrecoverable injury? This true story from director Peter Berg, helmer of least anticipated film of 2012 Battleship, follows the Permian Panthers, for that is their team name, from the play-offs to the final, and though the outcome of the final match isn’t inherently obvious, everything else in this film is.
Choose life 4/10