Okay, so I realize that for some of you, Breaking Away won’t count as an “obscure” movie. I mean, it won an Oscar for Best Writing, and it got nominations for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, and Music. But that was back in 1979, and I’m willing to bet good money that almost none of you reading this have heard of the movie. Which is a shame–it’s a good flick. (Best Picture material? I don’t know about that . . .)
It’s the story of a group of friends just graduated from high school. They live in a college town in Indiana and don’t see themselves as college material. Their fathers all worked in the stone quarry, relegating them all to the social class of “Cutters” (rock cutters–get it?) The main character is Dave, a teen obsessed with bike racing and Italy. He’s so nuts about it, he speaks Italian to his parents. There’s a big bike race in town every year, and this year they’re finally letting a group of locals compete (before it’s always been for the university types).
It’s well acted and directed, and the music is fantastic. An inspirational, uplifting movie whose main problem is a tendency to meander through the story instead of streamlining things a bit better. Really, I would have adored it had it had more of a direction the first third of the film. As it was, it came across as more of a slice of life movie that morphed into a sports movie halfway through. Even still, it’s a great flick and worth checking out. 7 out of 10 stars.
The other movie I’d like to highlight for you is The Concert, a French/Russian movie that was a great surprise for me. It’s the story of a former conductor of the Bolshoi orchestra in USSR days, now forced to be a janitor for the same organization. He dreams of returning to glory one day, and when he intercepts a request for the Bolshoi to come to France and perform, he leaps at the chance. He gets a group of musicians together and decides to impersonate the Bolshoi orchestra. The movie is funny and unpredictable from start to finish. Yes, it’s in French and Russian, but come on–give it a shot. Really, my one critique of the film is that there were several times when it was very clear the musicians weren’t actually playing their instruments. That’ll probably not be an issue for most of you, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. At least take the time to know where your fingers should be going depending on the notes coming out of that thing you’re holding. 9 out of 10 for this one.
Anyone already seen either or both of these? Got something to add? Chime in!