Monday, January 1, 2024

True Stories

We recently watched two films that are based on true stories -- The Iron Claw and Maestro.

The Iron Claw tells the dramatic story of a wrestling family that I had never heard of before.  Apparently, this family is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.  I heard of some of the bigger name opponents they faced in the film but I don't recall ever hearing of them.  The story is at times difficult to watch, and the family faces a lot of hardship and tragedy.  Much of it is self-inflicted and largely the fault of the strict father who wanted his sons to fulfill his own dreams which were never accomplished in his youth.  By pushing them all so blindly toward his goal, many of them develop a skewed sense of what is important in life.  I thought the film was well done and I thought Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White gave strong performances.

Maestro is probably better known to most people as the story of composer Leonard Bernstein and his wife.  It was written, directed and stars Bradley Cooper who gives a strong performance but it felt a bit one-note to me.  Bernstein comes off as selfish and indulgent and we don't really have clear understanding of what drove the decisions that he made.  Did he really love his wife?  In all of the interviews, Bradley Cooper and Bernstein's children say that he did.  That this was a unique love story.  However, there were many gay people of the same era who married spouses of the opposite sex to "fit in" and seem more acceptable to others.  Was this story so unique?  For me, a good biopic offers a deeper understanding of its subject, revealing layers that may not be known to the public.  I guess this film felt a little distant and didn't really leave me with the feeling of learning so much that was new.  I'm sure it will get a lot of nominations when they come out and it was certainly a well-produced film.  Note that the lead producers were Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

As this is our last blog for the 2023 Christmas season, I wanted to say thanks to those of you who have read along with us.  New blog entries everyday for the month of December (and Jan 1) are tough to maintain and I give my family a lot of credit for everyone's contributions.

Happy New Year to all and here's to a year of happiness, health and success!


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