I was six years old when the real ‘Battle of The Sexes’ tennis match happened so I do not have much recollection of it. So I went into this movie not really knowing a lot of the ‘back story’ behind the historic tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, ‘Battle Of The Sexes’ is pretty much a straightforward retelling of what happened before the match, with a lot of rom-com thrown in, on Billie’s side anyway.
I did not mind the movie, and have to admit that I was taken along its sweeping journey (I truly did not know who won) and I look at this film kind of like a snapshot of a time. It’s 1973, and women’s rights are just starting to be bandied about, and of course, gay rights are still a lifetime away. I looked at it as an interesting story commenting of how things were back then, more than three decades ago. This has great performances from both Emma Stone and Steve Carrell (playing Billie and Bobby) and you can marvel at both.
I wish it stayed with me, though. I saw it, and I kind of forgot about it right away. While essential, it did seem that the story seem dated, and a lot of what they were fighting for before is no more. But am I just being complacent? Now more than ever, these rights are slowly being taken away by the Trump administration. I just wish the movie inspired me more, it just all seemed so bland and vanilla.
I will always be fascinated with movies about Wall Street because I used to work in the industry (and will probably even go back at some point) and I was excited to hear about “The Big Short,” which is based on Michael Lewis fascinating non-fiction book. Do we need another film about the housing market crash of 2008? There’s the excellent “Margin Call,” which explained Lehman Brother’s collapse, and earlier this year, 99 Homes (my thoughts here, ) dealt with a more personal look at the homeowners which caused it.
Adam McKay (he directed the Anchorman movies with Will Ferrell) starts off with a comic approach, drawing characters as almost cartoon-like characters – the metal head broker who wore flip flops, the neurotic New Yorker trader, zany investing BFFs – but, as things get more serious, we see these characters as more humanized versions of themselves. It all works great, thanks to great ensemble-piece acting by Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, and Finn Witrock, among others. I know and recognize these characters, based on my years of working in the industry. I have to make special mention of Brad Pitt, who lost himself in his character that I did not even realize it was him until after a couple of scenes. And I was pleasantly surprised by Ryan Gosling, who is fine here. (I have almost given up on him)
All in all, the film succeeds. It gives us a reason to root for the “good guys” her, though we ask ourselves if we should be rooting for these people who basically bet against the US economy. And it explains how it all happened to most folks who normally who would not take the time to understand how it did, and did it in a very entertaining manner.