Daily Archives: December 24, 2004

Beyond The Sea

Kevin Spacey spent more than a decade trying to build a biopic around reptilian pop singer Bobby Darin, and his determination paid off in this glorious mess of a movie (2004). The production numbers and nightclub showstoppers are impressive not only for Spacey’s impersonation of Darin but for their skillful evocation of musical moments from the golden age of Hollywood, which are a world apart from postmodern exercises like Chicago and The Phantom of the Opera. Spacey also directed and cowrote the disjointed script, which adopts the self-referential mode of All That Jazz as it puzzles over Darin’s confused parentage, loyal entourage, and marriage to Sandra Dee. This sags in the middle, and Spacey overlooks some of Darin’s more interesting films (John Cassavetes’s Too Late Blues, Hubert Cornfield’s Pressure Point). But as long as Spacey is singing, the movie soars. With John Goodman, Bob Hoskins, Kate Bosworth, and Brenda Blethyn. PG-13, 121 min. (JR) Read more

Million Dollar Baby

For all his grace and precision as a director, Clint Eastwood (like Martin Scorsese) operates at the mercy of his scripts. But this time he’s got a terrific one, an unorthodox love story and religious parable adapted by Paul Haggis from stories in F.X. Toole’s Rope Burns. Eastwood plays a gym owner who reluctantly agrees to train and manage a 31-year-old hillbilly woman (Hilary Swank) who wants to box, while Morgan Freeman, as an ex-fighter who helps him out, supplies the voice-over narration. Eventually this leads to a few awkward point-of-view issues, but the past-tense narration enhances the sense of fatality. Haggis’s dialogue is worthy of Hemingway, and the three leads border on perfection. As grim as The Set-Up (1948) and Fat City (1972), as dark and moody as The Hustler and Bird, this may break your heart. PG-13, 132 min. (JR) Read more