Crappy week ahead, huh? Well, you’ve got a decision to make. You can spend Sunday bitterly fuming about all the things you don’t want to deal with this week, or you can milk it of every deliciously relaxing moment it holds. Put your phone on silent, sink back into your bed, and treat yourself to another Denzel double feature.
Last Sunday, we sought to educate you with the films American Gangster and Malcolm X. This weekend, we’re going to make you cry with our next two choices: Remember the Titans and Man on Fire.
Remember the Titans (2000)
T.C. Williams High School is a desegregated school in Washington D.C. Coach Herman Boone is hired to train the school’s football team, the Titans. The challenges of leading the Titans to victory is complicated by tensions between the white and black players of the recently integrated team. Boone comes to win, and employs a tough-love approach with the players insisting that while they may not like each other, they had better learn to respect one another. This transition from dislike to mutual respect is highlighted by the evolution of the relationship between the team’s two alpha dogs Gerry Bertier, the white captain, and Julius Campbell, a black player. It is certainly a story about racial politics in the United States, but it is also a testament to the almost godly status given to athletes. In Remember the Titans, football is presented as the force that manages to forge a sense of community between blacks and whites.
NOTABLE MOMENT: It’s difficult to pick one, but in order to avoid spoilers the winner is the locker room scene that starts off as a roasting session and ends in a sing-a-long to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Yo mama jokes are a tricky thing: they can either end in murder charges or male bonding.
Man on Fire (2004)
I’ve loved Denzel Washington since I was a child, so it should come as no surprise that I hated Dakota Fanning after watching Man on Fire for the first time. Fanning plays Pita, the daughter of a businessman working in Mexico who hires ex-Marine John Creasy (Washington) to protect her. Suffering from depression and alcoholism due to his dark past, he is initially distant but eventually warms to Pita becoming not only her protector-for-hire, but a father figure as well. When Pita is kidnapped, he embarks on a murderous mission to find her and punish her abductors. Man on Fire was Taken before Taken was Taken. Although my resentment towards Fanning has abated with age, my eyes still narrow with jealousy at certain points in the film.
NOTABLE MOMENT: I could pick any number of touching scenes between Creasy and Pita, but instead I will leave you with two words: butt bomb.