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42 - Review

These days, there are many less flattering things you could say about a movie than that it's enjoyable in a square, uncomplicated, stirringly old-fashioned way. 42, a sports drama about how Jackie Robinson broke the color line in professional baseball, is in some ways a film that could have been made 30 years ago, or 50 years ago. (In fact, it was made 63 years ago: 1950's The Jackie Robinson Story starred the legendary second baseman himself.) The film depicts Robinson, played by the dazzling, little-known actor Chadwick Boseman, as a fearless, noble athlete-crusader — which, of course, is just what he was, though 42 scarcely spends three minutes trying to find any flaws in him (surely he must have had one), or even giving him a sprinkle of idiosyncrasy. Is the writer-director, Brian Helgeland (who wrote L.A. Confidential and directed A Knight's Tale), worried that we wouldn't admire Robinson enough? Helgeland works in what I think of as a conservative — or maybe it's just really, really basic — neoclassical Hollywood style, spelling everything out, letting the story unfold in a plainspoken and deliberate fashion, with a big, wide, open pictorial camera eye. It's like the latter-day Clint Eastwood style, applied to material that's as traditional as can be. READ MORE...

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