Saturday, December 8, 2007

cinderella man

Cinderella Man is a 2005 American Academy Award-nominated drama film by Ron Howard, titled after the nickname and inspired by the real life story of former Heavyweight boxing champion, James J. Braddock. The film was produced by Howard, Penny Marshall, and Brian Grazer.

1 Primary cast
2 Plot synopsis
3 Filming
4 Reaction
4.1 Timing
4.2 Depiction of Max Baer
5 Exhibitors' refund offers
6 Nominations
7 References
8 External links

[edit] Primary cast
Russell Crowe - James J. Braddock
Renée Zellweger - Mae Braddock
Paul Giamatti - Joe Gould
Craig Bierko � Max Baer
Paddy Considine - Mike Wilson
Connor Price - Jay Braddock
Angelo Dundee - Angelo the cornerman
Bruce McGill - Jimmy Johnston

[edit] Plot synopsis
James J. Braddock, an Irish-American hard-nosed boxer, formerly a light heavyweight contender, is forced to give up on boxing after losing a number of fights. As the United States enters the Great Depression, Braddock worked at a variety of menial jobs to support his family, but still dreams of somehow returning to boxing and making it big. Thanks to a last minute cancellation by another boxer, Braddock gets a second chance to fight but is put up against the number two contender in the world by the promoters who see Braddock as nothing more than a punching bag. Braddock stuns the boxing experts and fans with a third round knockout of his formidable opponent. Fighting with permanent injuries to his hands, Braddock continues to win and before long he comes to represent the hopes and aspirations of the American public coping with the Depression. Dubbed the "Cinderella Man," in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, he would eventually defeat the seemingly invincible Max Baer to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

[edit] Filming
During filming in Toronto, several areas were redressed to resemble 1930s New York. The Richmond Street side of the The Bay's Queen Street store was redressed as Madison Square Garden, complete with fake store fronts and period stop lights. A stretch of Queen Street East between Broadview and Carlaw was also made up to appear to be from the 1930s and dozens of period cars were parked along the road. Maple Leaf Gardens was also used for all the fight scenes. Many scenes were filmed in the Distillery District.

The TTC's historic Peter Witt streetcar and two more Witts from the nearby Halton County Radial Railway were used for the filming (in the opening scene if you look closely you can see the TTC logo on the streetcar), travelling on Toronto's existing streetcar tracks (photo of a streetcar repainted for the film).

The filming was done at night, so these important streets could be used during the day.

[edit] Reaction
Although the movie received very good reviews from most critics [1] and audiences, it fared relatively poorly at the box office during its first several weeks. During its North American theatrical run, the movie (which cost $88 million) had earned only approximately $60 million.[2] There are several theories as to why ticket sales were so low:

[edit] Timing
The film was released in summer, the season of the blockbuster. Would-be Oscar nominees are usually released from autumn onwards, culminating around the Christmas holidays. It also coincided relatively closely with Million Dollar Baby, another boxing movie that was extremely popular and well-reviewed.

[edit] Depiction of Max Baer
Max Baer is portrayed as a brutal character who behaves inappropriately outside the ring and viciously inside it (to the point of killing two opponents in the ring). Baer's relatives and boxing historians have criticized the film's depiction of him, arguing that he killed only one man in the ring, Frankie Campbell, not two (in the movie, it is stated that he also caused the--slightly delayed--death of Ernie Schaaf, something commonly claimed by the press at the time, but never proven), and was considered by many to be a gentleman. This is supported by historical evidence which shows that Baer's demeanor, both within and outside the ring, was much less brutal than the film portrayed, and he often cracked jokes.

The author of the book on which the movie was based has asserted that Baer was kind, charismatic, loved and respected, and pointed out the emotional pain that Baer endured the rest of his life following Campbell's death, and the fact that he gave purses from his bouts to Campbell's family to help give Campbell's children an education.[3]

The depiction of Max Baer in the film is no different from his depiction in the press at the time, and this image was often used by promoters to attract interest in his fights. Also, the Max Baer on screen never actually boasts about killing Campbell or Schaaf, although he does warn Braddock that he may die if he fights him, and offers to "take care" of his wife once he is gone, blowing a kiss to her as he does so. The real Max Baer (who was also an actor) starred as a much more negatively depicted, hostile boxer in the movie The Harder They Fall, which holds many similarities to him in real life.

Max Baer was actually a Jewish activist, he wore a large Jewish Star of David on his boxing shorts in fights.

[edit] Exhibitors' refund offers
In a campaign to boost ticket sales after the film's disappointing opening, AMC Theatres advertised on June 24, 2005 that in 30 markets (about 150 theaters nationwide), it would offer a refund to any ticket-buyer dissatisfied with the film.[4] The advertisement, published in The New York Times and other papers and on internet film sites, read, "AMC believes Cinderella Man is one of the finest motion pictures of the year! We believe so strongly that you'll enjoy Cinderella Man we're offering a Money Back Guarantee." The promotion moderately increased box office revenue for a short period, while at least 50 patrons demanded refunds. Following suit, Cinemark Theatres also offered a money-back guarantee in 25 markets that did not compete with AMC Theaters. AMC had last employed such a strategy (in limited markets) for the 1988 release of Mystic Pizza,[5] while 20th Century Fox had unsuccessfully tried a similar ploy for its 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

[edit] Nominations
HOW many ways can a man be manly in the movies these days? The film historian Robert Sklar once wrote that "each generation exaggerates its own crises of masculinity." If this is true, we must be in a doozy of a crisis right now.

There hasn't been this much industrial-strength machismo, both as cause for celebration and denunciation, since the post-Vietnam Reagan '80s superhero heyday of Rambo and Gordon Gekko. Consider, for starters, that the "Superman" and "Die Hard" franchises, long dormant, were recently revived; a sequel to "Wall Street" is being readied; a new Indiana Jones movie is in the pipeline; and that, come January, Sylvester Stallone, having already revived Rocky, will once again be wearing the Rambo muscle suit. Not one to press his luck, Rambo will be touring Myanmar, not Baghdad.

Photo Gallery
Return of the mustache
I don't want to overplay the parallels between the Reagan and George W. Bush years, but might the backwash of a colossally unpopular war have something to do with the fact that so many of our movies are -- how can I say this politely? -- atavistic?

On the far side of the blood-and-biceps "Beowulf," consider the gallery of actors today who represent throwbacks to a relatively uncomplicated male mystique. When Russell Crowe or George Clooney are talked about or written about, the tone is often almost strenuously adulatory, as if they stood for an old-style Hollywood machismo that must be preserved at all costs. Crowe was on the cover of "Men's Journal" last month as "Our favorite S.O.B." A new Colorado magazine called Shine featured Clooney on its inaugural cover and inside announced that he "embodies the courageous John Wayne spirit of the Westerns" (which is probably the last thing Clooney wants to hear).

Still, it can be deeply satisfying to watch these actors preen. A little masculine confidence goes a long way in the movies and, in the right roles, these men remind you of what you loved about, say, Bogart or Mitchum or McQueen. Crowe can be sluggish and inchoate in a Depression-era retread like "Cinderella Man," he can be thuddingly heroic in "Gladiator," but at his best, in "L.A. Confidential" and "3:10 to Yuma" and, to a much lesser extent, in "American Gangster," he has the bully-boy insolence of male privilege down pat.

Clooney, in particular, is associated in the public imagination with Golden Age Hollywood icons. In his self-deprecating savoir-faire he is seen as a burlier version of Cary Grant, while his Danny Ocean routine has some of the Sinatra finesse. In films such as "Syriana" and "Michael Clayton," he plays the standard Bogart cynic turned do-gooder. It's easy to imagine Clooney fitting into any number of Hollywood classics, from "Casablanca" on down. (Clooney is a godsend to all those women who, during the pre-"Departed" reign of Leonardo DiCaprio, despaired of ever seeing a leading man on the screen who looked to be past the point of his first shave.)

But a retro-ness clings to Clooney that, especially for a younger generation, may ultimately work against him. He's a new movie star in an old mold as opposed to, say, Johnny Depp, who has a satyr's pansexual appeal and the shape-shifty genius to fully inhabit, even unify, mind scapes as disparate as Tim Burton's and Jerry Bruckheimer's. Depp is the most original male presence in the movies in large part because he is the most original sexual presence.

By comparison, actors such as Clooney and Crowe, or Denzel Washington, rarely get to play out their sexual dynamism. Is it because Hollywood thinks there are no women who are their match? Despite their high whammo quotients these men have starred in alarmingly few erotic dramas, let alone romances, and that's a deprivation for us all. The Golden Age icons may have been men's men, but they were overwhelmingly defined by their maddening/ornery/blissful relations with women. The sullen gravitas of Clooney, Crowe and Washington in "Michael Clayton" and "American Gangster" represents an overvaluation of the strong-and-silent mystique, and it reminds me of what Gore Vidal once wrote about the humorlessness of American society: "What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke?"

Muscle men

IF atavism is truly your meat, you'll find it most blatantly on view in the brawnfest "300," where Spartan beefcake enthusiastically disembowels wounded Iranians -- oops, Persians -- before expiring valorously at Thermopylae. It's there in "Beowulf," where, thanks to motion-capture technology, the hulky, ovoid Ray Winstone is transformed into a warrior with miracle abs. Brad Pitt must be wondering why he spent all those months buffing up to play Achilles in "Troy." No more is it necessary for an actor to put in quality time with a personal trainer. In the future, all the personal trainers in Hollywood will be CGI technicians.

These big-screen blam-pow epics tap the same market that caters to World Wrestling Federation smackdowns and male-niche TV shows such as "Lost" and "24" and all-testosterone, all-the-time cable channels like Spike TV. They appeal to men who tune out regular box- ing but tune in to extreme boxing. This he-man swagger, of course, takes in a lot more than the movies these days: It's also the preferred stance in our presidential politics, where the candidates who come out swinging get the most ink. (Now that "Invasion U.S.A" '80s action star Chuck Norris is soldered to the Huckabee campaign, who's waiting in the wings? The Rock? The Hebrew Hammer?)

The "actors" in "300" and "Beowulf" fly the banner for a movie business that may one day rate the annual Comic-Conconvention in San Diego as highly as Cannes. But they're not the only screen stars who seem like replicants these days. Matt Damon in the "Bourne" movies is a heat-seeking missile who incises his way into mayhem with an almost preternatural velocity. The new James Bond, as played by Daniel Craig, is a feral assassin who doesn't blink an eye while electroshocking himself back from the dead. Craig doesn't have the suaveness or the square-cut facial planes of his immediate predecessors (and that's a good thing). In the past, the Bond movies were never really about violence; they were about how stylish you could look while being violent. "Casino Royale" changed all that.

The nauseating uptick in carnage on display in "Saw IV" and all the rest is a low-rent manifestation of the same hyper-violent syndrome often found in big-ticket "Bourne"-style action pictures. In both instances, we are witnessing a worst-case scenario of male aggression -- maleness and murderousness are twinned. (In the case of a lurid art film like "The Brave One," Jodie Foster's Charles Bronson-ish vigilante is the Frankenstein monster created by male murderousness.)

It's easier to dismiss this scenario in the slasher cheapies, which were also quite big in the '80s, than in the more serious current fare. In many of the Iraq-themed films, the psycho soldier, so familiar from Vietnam-era movies, is once more a featured player. The traditional all-American good guy is the bad guy again. In the centerpiece to Brian De Palma's "Redacted," which is inspired by a real incident, American soldiers in Samarra rape and murder a 15-year-old girl and then kill her family. In Paul Haggis' "In the Valley of Elah," also inspired by a true story, a recently returned American soldier who served in Iraq -- the son of a Vietnam vet played by Tommy Lee Jones -- is ultimately discovered to have been murdered by men in his own unit. In both movies, the perpetrators are portrayed as hollow-eyed thugs. The implication is clear: These men were zombified by an unjust war (or conversely, an unjust war attracted zombie recruits). Instead of going after the policy makers who put these men into that war, the filmmakers demonize the soldiers themselves.

If there is a more all-American male icon than the fighting soldier, it's the Westerner, and he too has undergone an extreme makeover. Traditionally Jesse James has been touted in the movies as a mythic hero in much the same way that he once was in the dime novels. In "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," Brad Pitt's Jesse is a sociopath whose antennae are tuned to the tiniest quavers of betrayal. His murders are swift and remorseless. In one sequence, seeking vengeance, he savagely beats an innocent boy. This Jesse James is one of the very first casualties of the American fame industry and, as such, Pitt, who has a sly knowingness in the role, is perfectly cast. The legendary Westerner has been transformed into an icon deranged by his own celebrity. His murderer, Casey Affleck's Robert Ford, is ultimately also annihilated by his own notoriety.

Modern masculinity

JOEL and Ethan Coen have said that in their "No Country for Old Men" -- which is set in Texas in 1980 but feels contemporary -- the classic Westerner is split into three archetypes at war with one another. Josh Brolin's hunter Llewelyn Moss is the scruffy Everyman who makes off with somebody else's millions from a drug deal gone wrong; Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh, whose massive head looks like a carved chess piece and whose weapon of choice is a cattle stun gun, is the sagebrush Terminator who pursues him. Tommy Lee Jones' Ed Tom Bell is the local sheriff who tracks them knowing full well that a new malevolence has entered into the West that he cannot survive. Bell may be Old School, but Chigurh is Old Testament.

It's significant that even people who admire this movie feel cheated by its fatalism. They want a happy ending. (Don't they know Cormac McCarthy, who wrote the novel, doesn't do happy?) These are the same folks who complained that the killer wasn't captured at the end of "Zodiac." Without Chigurh's rampant, unpunished depravity, which is so ghoulish it's comic, the movie has no meaning. He represents the sheer animality of male aggression. His triumph in this most masculine of genres certifies his ascendancy in a terrifying modern world a fancy hotel overlooking New York's Central Park.
It's late on a Sunday afternoon and the actor, who has spent the past two days promoting his latest film, is behind schedule.
Still, somehow, fans knew he would be emerging at exactly that time. As soon as they saw him, they swarmed.
"It's like that in New York," he says later, adding that he doesn't get anywhere near as hassled back in Sydney, where he's on first-name terms with the paparazzi.
Five minutes of genial banter and scores of flashbulb flares later, we're cruising down a Manhattan avenue in a blacked-out four-wheel-drive. Crowe's window is down and he lights a cigarette.
With his eyes hidden behind sunglasses and dressed in his Rabbitohs baseball cap and trackie gear, he's almost invisible.
A few blocks later, confident we've given anyone following us the slip, the car stops and Crowe and I are on foot, striding through Central Park.
"We're going to the best pub in town," he says. "It has beer and some great New Zealand wines."
He's referring to his suite in an old, established and discreet hotel on the ritzy Upper East Side of Manhattan, where he says his wife, Danielle, will most likely be preparing dinner for their boys, Charlie and Tennyson.
"I'm just going to pop in and say hello and then we can go up to the balcony and have a drink," he says.
Twenty minutes later, we round the corner to the hotel and, boom, flashbulbs explode as a herd of paparazzi who have been lying in wait yell, "Give us a smile, Russell," "Take off your glasses" and "This way, Russell, over here."
"G'day fellas," he says, and we keep moving. So this is what it's like to be famous? "Yeah," he shrugs.
Crowe is sanguine about the daily intrusion of the paparazzi, having worked out a strategy to deal with them: he wears similar clothes to reduce the value of his image and is pleasant to the photographers while not exactly stopping to accommodate their requests.
"It becomes this thing where I am not running from you. I am not going to be aggressive towards you.
"You're not chasing me out of this f***ing town, mate. You're not going to do a Heath Ledger on me � I feel for Heath because that sort of thing should never have happened.
"Quite frankly, I despise the people who set the agenda that created that situation � you know, paparazzi spraying water pistols at Heath Ledger.
"You deserve a kick in the arse, mate. Who are you to make a public humiliation out of him � the guy who is giving you your living? Anyway, that's all bulls**t and not even worth talking about."

The suite where the Crowes have temporarily set up home looks like, well, home.
Kids' toys are scattered over the floor and Danielle is indeed in the kitchen, preparing the boys' dinner. Crowe gives her a warm kiss. Seventeen-month-old Tennyson, strapped in a highchair, gets one, too.
Charlie, who turns four later this month, is playing with a book and calls with excited enthusiasm, "Dad, you're home from work!" before making a joke about the name of the hotel where his father has just been flogging his film.
"He has a great sense of humour," the proud father says.
Crowe is relaxed and visibly happy. Spending five minutes chatting quietly with Danielle, it's impossible to ignore their genuine affection and chemistry. Then we're out the door.
"I'll be back to read the bedtime stories," he informs the boys.
Despite having a reputation for being a demanding, impatient, hard-to-handle perfectionist, and a history for being a Hollywood hothead who's not afraid of a bit of biffo when he feels slighted (as evidenced by the telephone throwing incident at another New York hotel, but more on that later), Crowe looks like, and is, a besotted husband and father.
"I love it," he says when asked about married life.
"It has all its ins and outs, but some people you talk to always give you the negative end of the stick. The thing is, every week, every month that goes by, our connection is just deeper, and it's cooler and it's more complete. And when you have babies and you create that family of your own, the reason you do that is because it's symbolic of that closeness."
I ask if fatherhood and marriage have changed him. He pauses, and cracks open a Budweiser.
"I'm the same bloke, but things change within your life in terms of emphasis. Touring (with his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts) is probably in the past because, if I tour, I have to take time away from my kids. I have my job (acting) and I have my family, and I just don't have space for that any more.
"Doing a gig in San Diego as opposed to reading Charlie a bedtime story � I'll take the bedtime story, mate. Any day."
Crowe and Danielle Spencer met in a cafe in 1990, five months before they started filming the small Australian film The Crossing, in which both starred.
The meeting was organised by the film's director. Crowe was 25, Spencer, 19, and he remembers it clearly.
"It was just one of those odd things. She walked in and I was like, she's very interesting, a very interesting person," he says with one eyebrow raised and a faint smile.
It was more than a year before they got together, by which time Crowe's acting career was taking off.
He was about to be cast in Romper Stomper, which would launch him in Hollywood. The relationship ultimately faded to black after a few years.
"It was one thing to be away for 12 weeks in Adelaide, but it's a different thing being away for six months in LA. We never broke up, as such, it was just logical.
"We never really had the conversation that put brackets around it. But I remember saying to her on the phone one night that I felt I was being really unfair on her."

In the ensuing years, he famously hooked up briefly with his Proof of Life co-star, Meg Ryan, and reportedly dated several Hollywood ladies. But, it seems, he always held a flame for Danielle.
"Yes. She was my friend, first and foremost. I had actually told her brother in 1994 not to take any sort of break-up seriously because this was the woman I was going to marry. And he's always remembered that."
Spencer and Crowe reunited in 2001 when his band was on tour in America and her first album, White Monkey, had just been released.
"It was getting a lot of really good attention and I had seen her a little bit. I knew she was in a relationship, so I just used my influence to get her on the tour as a support act."
By the time they hit the road, Spencer's relationship had ended. One thing led to another and, as Crowe recalls, "it was just so natural and simple" to get back together. They married two years later.

Crowe's latest role in American Gangster couldn't be any more different to his real life. He plays personally louche but professionally honest cop Richie Roberts, opposite Oscar winner Denzel Washington.
Washington plays real-life Harlem crime boss Frank Lucas, a heroin dealer who makes a fortune by running his death-peddling job as a smooth, unimpeachable small business, until he meets his nemesis.
The Ridley Scott epic is already generating an Oscar buzz for its stars and director.
The gritty, blood-soaked film premiered at No 1 in the US last month. "I think what people actually like about this film � the reason they're comfortable coming out and liking it � is the big cat gets caught, and he gets caught on the weight of evidence through investigation," says Crowe.

Scott, who directed Crowe to an Oscar in Gladiator, is not backward in coming forward about his Academy Award aspirations for American Gangster.
"These two guys (Crowe and Washington) � it could go either way," he tells me. As for his chances for Best Director, the Englishman is pleasingly straightforward: "I don't know, I live eternally in hope."
Does it matter? "Yeah. It's similar to being a tennis player and never getting to Wimbledon. I've been to Wimbledon every year and I've never won. Of course it matters."
Gangster reunites Crowe with Washington, with whom he first worked in the 1995 science fiction thriller, Virtuosity. Washington says that in the intervening 12 years, he's noticed a change in his co-star that has nothing to do with acting.
"Between then and now, I've seen his work and, obviously, he's a brilliant actor. I knew that then. You know that now," says Washington.
"The thing I like is the way he lights up when his children walk in the room. He hadn't become a father back then. He's a good man. He's a good father, I see myself in him � the way I related to my kids � and it's nice to watch."
While Crowe has a full year of acting ahead of him (including his fourth film with Scott, Nottingham), he's also about to roll into his second year as joint owner (with Peter Holmes a Court) of Sydney's rugby league Cinderella team for 2007, South Sydney.
This year's on-field successes were a bonus and have had an unexpected result. "All (the players') mates who play for other teams want to play for South Sydney.
"For however many years, Souths had to go out and drag people by the scruff of the neck and pay them double. Now we don't have enough people answering phones from player managers. And we're talking about the biggest


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