Monday, February 1, 2010

a dark horse

I just watched most of Seabiscuit for the first time the other night. It was on cable and the end time was 4:40am. I made it to 3:45am and through all kinds of obstreperous ten-minute commercial breaks then conked out. Watching movies on cable is a bumpy ride. You get into a quiet, focused groove, then suddenly you are hit with the smarting switch of noisy, endless, commericials, man-handling announcers, and discernibly on-the-juice television volume.

Even so, I still got into the movie. And I still fell asleep.

Mostly, it made me want to revisit another horse drawn coming-of-age film, 1979's The Black Stallion. As I remember it, it is a touching, visually striking feature with a gripping performance by young actor Kelly Reno as Alec Ramsey. Save for a few opening scenes, the first half of the film is nearly wordless—just a boy trying to survive on a deserted island and befriending his cast away companion: a black stallion. The score is elegant—carefully, quietly navigating with Alec around this totally unfamiliar environment. I am glad it is never on cable because interrupting that mood would be criminal.

There are some beautiful horse riding scenes in the first half and competitive horse racing in the second half. And, oh yes, Mickey Rooney shows up half way through, delivering a really solid performance—and not as a horribly offensive caricature of an Asian landlord (see: Breakfast at Tiffany's).

I just watched some footage of The Black Stallion on youtube and was instantly swallowing tears. Kelly Reno is amazing. Like, Justin Henry in Kramer Vs. Kramer forgot-the-plot-is-not-actually-happening-to-this-child amazing. Mr. Mom's Terri Garr as Kelly Reno's worried mom does a pretty admirable job, as well.

Why am I writing home about this film? Well, last post I covered what I appreciate in a short film. Today I offer that this feature length film has everything my blog could ask for: A coming-of-age tale featuring an animal, a desert island, music as dialogue, a sporting event, and an actress who was in Mr. Mom.

In related news I just found a website featuring a list of animal idioms. Am I in heaven?

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