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Randy's Review - Gritty cop drama and aging baseball scout score
If I told you there's a new cop drama and a baseball film in theaters, and Clint Eastwood stars in one of them, which one would you assume he's appearing in?
A few years ago, Eastwood would have hands down been the butt-kicking man of the law, but this time around, he plays an aging baseball scout who is losing his vision and losing the job he loves.
In "Trouble with the Curve," Eastwood stars as Gus Lobel, a legendary Atlanta Braves baseball scout who is credited with scoring some of the club's top prospects for decades. Relying on his instinct and knowledge of the game, Gus can pick out the tendencies and talent of upcoming high school and college players, but he is suddenly struggling with vision loss. The administration is looking to phase him out as his contract expires in three months.
Gus's daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), is on the verge of earning her partnership in a large Atlanta law firm, when her father's longtime friend, Pete (John Goodman), a member of the Brave's front office, encourages Mickey to join her father on the road as he attempts to scout a projected No. 1 draft pick.
The awkwardness between Gus and Mickey, who spent years on the road with him as a child before he sent her away to be raised by relatives and boarding schools, is great. She's all about business, but cares for her dad, who would prefer she remain at a distance for the most part. The two spend time traveling about the Carolinas pursuing the prospect. They are joined on the journey by Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), a former prospect of Gus's who is now a scout for the Boston Red Sox organization. Johnny wants to explore a relationship with the reluctant Mickey, and their time together on film is great.
Matthew Lillard is enjoyable as the upwardly mobile and slimy Tom Silver, looking to move into a general manager position with the Braves. He chooses computer statistics and technology over actual on-the-road scouting techniques. He sees Gus as out-dated and wants him out.
Nobody does grumpy old man better than Eastwood. Most of his answers start with a growl. Adams perfectly conveys the daughter who desperately wants the attention and love of her emotionally challenged father; and Timberlake is fantastic as the young scout who looks up to Gus and is working hard to earn a shot with Mickey.
There's just something about the romance of baseball on film. I don't know what it is, but I think I actually enjoy baseball on the big screen more than the game itself. Can't explain it so don't ask me to.
The nightcap for my review double-header was "End of Watch."
This is probably the darkest look at the South Central Los Angeles rift between the police and street gangs since "Colors" brought the issue to the forefront in the late 1980s.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as rock-and-roll L.A. street cops Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala. They work the toughest streets on the west coast, in the midst of ongoing gang turf wars and flying bullets.
As Taylor puts it, officers on this beat see more action in one shift than officers in other areas of the country see in a career.
After being cleared following a "good" shooting, the two officers return to the streets.
A portion of the movie is shown through Taylor's video camera, as he is working on a film class project. Other angles come from the in-car cameras, and still other portions of the movie come from regular camera angles.
Taylor is single and looking for the right woman. Zavala is happily married and expecting his first child when the film begins. As the movie rolls along, Taylor meets and begins a relationship with Janet (Anna Kendrick), and Zavala becomes a first-time father.
Inter-mixed with the personal lives of the two is regular interaction with their colleagues, those they protect, the service they provide, and the dangerous elements they deal with while on duty.
Among those dangerous elements, a Latino street gang and a large front for a Mexican drug cartel. When the two decorated officers stumble across a cartel house for human trafficking on their beat, they become the target of the cartel, and make their fellow officers vulnerable to the retribution as well.
As the two officers proceed with their normal family lives, they find themselves in constant danger on the streets.
Violence abounds and is very graphic in this realistic look at the tough life of a Los Angeles law enforcement officer working in one of the country's most dangerous areas.
Look for America Ferrera in a breakout roll from her "Ugly Betty" TV character as tough officer Orozco.