Sunday, September 28, 2008

#74: Game 6


Game 6
Directed by Michael Hoffman
Written by Don DeLillo
Released 2005

"I could've been happy. I could've been a Yankees fan."

Damn it. Another very good movie pretty much spoiled by a sour, ridiculous and rushed final act.

This one had some great things going for it: a screenplay by novelist and playwright Don DeLillo, with a score provided by one of my favorite bands (Yo La Tengo, whose atmospheric instrumentals give the film a nervy edge), starring greats like Robert Downey Jr., Catherine O'Hara and Michael Keaton. Throw in the fact that it features the Boston Red Sox and their infamous game 6 loss in their run at the 1986 World Series, and this Yankee fan was sold.

Keaton and DeLillo were my two biggest reasons for wanting to check out Game 6. Keaton because it's sometimes good for an actor to get knocked down a few pegs so they can go back doing work for the love of their craft. It's nice to be able to brush aside dreck like Multiplicity and Jack Frost and see him act again in something respectable. DeLillo, an exceptional writer, brings some great, realistic (if sometimes flowery) dialogue to the table.

The flowery dialogue is forgivable because most of the main characters in the movie are playing actors and writers. Keaton plays successful playwright and lifelong Red Sox fanatic Nicky Logan, whose newest work premiers the same night as the World Series game that has consumed him to the point that his own life seemingly hangs in the balance between the Sox's chance at winning or losing. Downey is Steven Schwimmer, a Broadway critic so eccentric that he prays to Buddha and yet carries a gun, and so hated that he lives in an abandoned building with no plumbing because he's afraid of his subjects seeking revenge. To show the power of what a scathing review from Schwimmer can do to a writer's career, Griffin Dunne plays Nicky's friend Elliott, a once talented man whom, in the wake of one of the critic's reviews, has turned into a crazed street urchin.

Taking place over an approximate 12 hour period, Game 6 shows Keaton's Rogan as the tension slowly rises prior to his play. Already just as worried about his premiere (one of the lead actors has just discovered a parasite in his brain that is literally chewing through his short term memory), he also becomes overly consumed with the knowledge that Schwimmer will be attending -- and probably lacerating -- his work.

The downturn for me comes at the point where Keaton goes a bar to watch the game (instead of his premiere) with his cab driver and her son. The endless advice and positivity this woman lays on a character whom she has confused as a murderous gangster is incredibly annoying. Keaton's response to the outcome of the Red Sox/Mets game is somewhat over the top, and the events that transpire between him and Schwimmer are even more ridiculous.

There's a somewhat cliched Hollywood notion that has always bothered me... (skip this part, as it may contain spoiler hints): why the hell are people in movies so forgiving about being shot at? You've got one character opening fire on another, and then when they realize they have something in common, they just cool the hell out. I'm all for bygones being bygones, but give me a fucking break. Especially when they fire multiple shots! I don't give a shit how much we might find we share; if you have tried to kill me SIX TIMES, you're getting thrown out of my apartment the second that hammer goes "Click."

For a film made for under $500,000 in less than 3 weeks, Game 6 is still a fairly impressive and mostly fun piece of work. Don't worry, if you're not a fan of sports movies, the game in this movie is the backdrop and not the main focus. It primarily exists as a symbol of failure, disappointment and the way that we avoid our own problems by becoming deeply attached to things outside of ourselves.

For more on Game 6:
- Movie information at IMDB and Wikipedia.
- Buy the DVD.

The Game 6 trailer:

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