Brian Helgeland

42

Baseball hall-of-famer, social activist, and boundary-breaker Jackie Robinson has long been due a full-scale feature film to chronicle his many achievements, and while Brian Helgeland’s 42 wisely sticks to telling the remarkable story of Robinson’s burgeoning Major League career as anchored by uniformly great performances, it’s an otherwise stale portrayal of one of America’s greatest heroes. 42 will likely be hailed as some manner of crowd-pleaser, but the film’s frequent lack of emotional punch and linear sense of history leave it far more suited for sharing within a classroom setting. Helgeland’s film feels safe and stagey, a bizarre take on Robinson’s bold and brash life story, and it only occasionally allows moments of true emotional impact to fly out of the park, seemingly beyond Helgeland’s control. 42 picks up with Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) in his post-collegiate and -military life, as a star player on the Kansas City Monarchs, part of baseball’s Negro leagues of the 1940’s. Unbeknownst to Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ club president and general manager, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), had his eye on then-shortstop, as he was cooking up a plan to drive revenues (and, apparently, his own good sense) by bringing on the first African-American baseball player in the major leagues. He wanted that player to be Robinson, and 42 centers on Robinson and Rickey’s dual struggle to overcome all manner of prejudice, hate, and stupidity to give Robinson his quite well-deserved place on the Dodgers and in the majors.

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42 Trailer

The historical drama, the meditation on race relations, and the inspirational sports story: separately they’re all crowd-pleasing film genres that tend to do well at the box office and earn plenty of recognition during awards season. But put them all together and you get some kind of unstoppable super movie. Or, at least, that’s probably what writer/director Brian Helgeland was hoping when he made 42, a biopic of baseball player Jackie Robinson. For anyone out there whose nerdom doesn’t travel over into the sports world, Robinson was the first black player to cross the color line and play in Major League Baseball during the modern era. Which, you might imagine, was something that a number of tobacco-spitting ballplayers and drunken fans in the stands didn’t take kindly to back in the late 1940s. 42 seems to focus on the struggle of going somewhere you’re not wanted, so that you might pave the way toward opportunity for those who come after you; a noble goal that’s ripe with dramatic potential.

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42 Movie

A young boy stands between two sets of train tracks, bat in one hand, the other pointed out toward the Heavens. It’s a simple twist on a classic image and just one of many found in the first trailer for Brian Helgeland’s 42. The film tells the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, and with carefully crafted shots and a booming reminder from Jay-Z that Brooklyn goes hard, it’s a hell of a way to introduce a movie. Although, you might be thinking, “A Helgeland period piece with modern music? Is this A Knight’s Tale with an infield fly rule?” If you are, that’s an oddly specific reference to go to, nerd, and the movie itself probably won’t feature anything but mid-1900 jams. So keep heart. Without a doubt, this will be a break out chance for Chadwick Boseman, who plays Robinson, but it’s Harrison Ford who’s nearly unrecognizable here as Branch Rickey, the man who signed Robinson to the Dodgers. Check out this exciting trailer for yourself:

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Ever since Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” got picked up to be adapted into a feature film, there has been a rush to make movies where supernatural elements get inserted into inappropriate places. This is no problem for me as I’m a big fan of both supernatural elements and inserting things into inappropriate places. With “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” Grahame-Smith himself moved the venue from classic literature to historical events, and now Legendary Pictures is looking to keep that trend alive with their new film Here There Be Monsters. Legendary CEO Thomas Tull has come up with the concept for the film, and he has hired Brian Helgeland to write the script. Helgeland is the guy who wrote L.A. Confidential, but don’t get too excited because he’s also the guy who wrote the 2010 version of Robin Hood. Whether he’s the right choice for this project or not will remain to be seen. The focus of the film follows around Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones. You know, the guy who said that he had, “not yet begun to fight.” Everyone knows that Jones captained the USS Ranger during his time fighting against the British, but what this film presupposes is that he was also grappling with giant sea monsters at the same time. Revolutionary War naval battles and sea monster wrangling are two concepts that could make two great movies. Smoosh them together and you get some sort of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of a movie. […]

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as SecretWindowNotSoSecret and iDuddits in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the question of who exactly made the movie gets front and center treatment. Why do we treat directors with authorial authority when it comes to assigning ownership to a film? Why not the writers? Why not the gaffers? Who really is the true author of a movie and has the auteur theory ruined everything?

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This project just keeps sounding better and better. The Legendary Pictures take on the life of Jackie Robinson just cast Robert Redford in a major role – that of Branch Rickey, the man who signed Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers and made history by helping to tear that color barrier down. It’ll be great to see Redford back in uniform, even if he’s not busting out stadium lights. According to the LA Times, the original draft of the script is back to square one with writer/director Brian Helgeland in the driver’s seat. How he can type while driving is beyond me, but the guy wrote L.A. Confidential, so I don’t question it. With this, and a Sam Cooke movie, the biopic world looks on healthy ground right now. It’s a shame that Paul Greengrass’s Martin Luther King, Jr movie Memphis got axed, but even without it, the trend seems to be taking on the stories of famous black Americans. There are plenty of stories to mine there, and plenty of other fascinating figures from American history as well. Hopefully these films come out swinging because as it stands, they’re both off to a great start.

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. This week, Print to Projector presents the story of an old shipmaster found stabbed to death, a fortune left untouched, and a mystery that would inspire the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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Porter has been double-crossed by his wife Lynn and partner in crime Val Resnick. The duo left him for dead and took off with his share ($70,000) of their latest score, but six months later he’s back and wants only one thing… his money. That motivation is one of the few things the two distinct cuts of Payback have in common.

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There’s a new brand of historical fiction emerging that fictionalizes what we’ve just seen in our 24-hour news cycle. The Green Zone stumbles in the genre’s early baby steps.

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Ever fantasized about Salma Hayek with a giant beard? Of course you haven’t (wink), but if you’re still curious about it, check out the new trailer for The Vampire’s Assistant.

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TheVampiresAssistant

Casting off one of the worst names I’ve seen in a while, The Vampire’s Assistant has gotten a late-October date with audiences who are hopefully not completely burnt out on vampires just yet.

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taking-of-pelham-1-2-3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is basically Deja Vu 2: Pelham 1 2 3, but that’s not such a bad thing.

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