Kids of my generation all had the same heroes, astronauts. We watched the launches and splash downs on television both at home and at school. Everyone knew who John Glenn was and the Moon landing in July of 1969 seemed like the greatest day in history. A lot of kids followed test pilots and experimental aircraft like they were ball players with statistics. By the time the Vietnam War was finally run out, and Watergate had drained us of much of the respect we had for our government, the space program had shriveled in size and Skylab had tumbled back to Earth. Astronauts had become at best technicians in the sky and often faceless. In 1979, Tom Wolfe published “The Right Stuff” which reminded us all of what it took to be an American Hero in the Space Race. The rights to the book were snapped up and plans for the movie began. Four years later emerged a film that would be called by many one of the finest films of the decade. It is not a forgotten film, but in many ways it is a neglected film. Readers on a site like this might know the movie intimately, but casual movie audiences are often unfamiliar with movies that lack a cult following or came out before they were born. Let’s see if we can work on that.
Based on an unbelieveable, appalling true story, “Pain & Gain” is a tale of three meat-headed bodybuilders who kidnap and torture a local businessman until he agrees to sign over all of his assets. Even more shockingly, they almost get away with it.
In Bay’s hands, it becomes an indictment of the American dream, especially the obsession with strength, size, status and success. He’s the perfect director to make a bigger, stronger, dumber movie about big, strong, dumb men who want it all and are willing to go to any lengths to get it.
With the successful landing of the rover “Curiousity” on Mars this past week, my thoughts have turned to Space and the Space program, and that naturally led me to think of Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13”.
With an emphasis on authenticity and cast laden with Oscar winners and nominees, “Apollo 13” brings to life the nerve-wracking true tale of determination, ingenuity and courage that occurred on the 13th mission of the Apollo program.