Field of Dreams

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

Ray (Kevin Costner) was brought up a baseball fan, but after falling out with his father and heading off to college, he’s now found himself owning a farm in Iowa with his wife Annie (Amy Madigan) and young daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffmann). All seems to be well, until Ray hears a voice in the cornfield, and has a vision of a baseball field in its place. So begins a story of faith, family and ambition, that will lead Ray down paths he never knew existed – or were even possible.All 1If I were to lay out the entire plot of Field of Dreams – which I’m not going to do because that’s an insane level of spoiling, and it’s already been done on Wikipedia – the story would read as a wildly fantastical one, with many unexpected supernatural elements. It would also probably come off as deeply unsatisfying. You see, within this movie that is ostensibly about a man not wanting to throw his life away – as he believes his father did – there lies a lot of questions, and precious few answers. The origin of the mysterious voice Ray hears in the field, how it is talking to him and where exactly the owner is are all plot strands never entirely tied up, and many more have been added by the end of the film, yet if you’re searching for answers you’re not only looking at the wrong film, but you’ve entirely missed the point of this movie.Ray and Joe 1 Continue reading

Quiz Show

The year is 1957, Sputnik has just launched, Eisenhower has died and Nixon is president. The quiz-based game show Twenty One, hosted by the reptilian Jack Barry (a tremendously smarmy Christopher McDonald) has swept the nation and every week John Turtorro’s nerdy know-it-all Herb Stemple defeats his new opponent. The only problem is, Stemple’s ‘freak with a sponge memory’ appearance, all bad teeth, terrible glasses and ill-fitting suit, isn’t playing well with the shows bosses and sponsors, who’d much rather Ralph Fiennes clean cut intellectual Charles van Doren takes his place. Showing an obvious disdain for quiz shows, Robert Redord’s assured directorial style, flitting between the stories of Stemple, van Doren and Rob Morrow’s personal investigator Richard Goodwin keeps the largely talky sections enjoyable and entertaining, whilst still grounding them into the seriousness of the issues at hand. This, with a great cast that also includes Hank Azaria, David Paymer, Martin Scorsese (!) and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearances from the likes of Calista Flockhart, William Fichtner and the West Wing’s Timothy Busfield, makes a film far superior to the programmes it holds a mirror up to.

Choose film 8/10