Archives for posts with tag: Forest Whitaker

The “based on a true story” film genre is often a worst-of-both-worlds purgatory that mixes fact and drama to the point that both are weakened. “City of Lies” (2021), a dormant film about the even-more-dormant murders of rap icons Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, would have been better either as a documentary or as a completely fictionalized police procedural with “names changed to protect the innocent,” as they used to say on the old LAPD television shows. Conspiracy theories surrounding the unsolved murders have reduced Biggie and Tupac to abstracts, like Amelia Earhart. This film clouds the narrative even further.

In the 1980s, high school was actually more boring than we remember, but “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982) has been adopted as one of the definitive stories of my generation. So many scenes have been permanently absorbed into pop culture, they are too numerous to list (everyone my age has their favorites). The abortion and stoner subplots made it a controversial film at the time – and not worth an argument with my mom – so I didn’t see it in its entirety until several years after it came out. By then, I’d heard all the spoilers, but it didn’t matter.

There’s not much to boxing. It’s a sport where two people agree to punch each other until time runs out or one of them is rendered unconscious. Such a blank canvas allows writers and those in the performing arts to add their own flourishes. That’s why there are so many boxing movies, but also why they all end up seeming the same. “Southpaw” (2015) is the latest to glorify the down-on-his-luck pugilist fighting for honor and family. Director Antoine Fuqua and star Jake Gyllenhaal provide modern edginess, but it’s still the same old story, told well, but the same nonetheless.