‘Won’t Back Down’ gets a barely passing grade

Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal in 'Won't Back Down'
Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal in ‘Won’t Back Down’

[rating=2]Starring: Maggie Gyllenhall, Viola Davis, Oscar Issac, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez, Emily Alyn Lind, Dante Brown, Lance Reddick and Ving Rhames
Director(s): Daniel Barnz
Writer(s): Daniel Barnz and Brin Hill

“Malia Fitzpatrick” (Lynd) is in the 2nd grade at John Adams Elementary school in Pittsburgh, and she has a problem. She can’t read very well. The fact that she has dyslexia just exacerbates the problem. So does the fact that she was forced to leave the private school she had been attending due to her mother’s financial problems. Her mother, “Jamie Fitzpatrick” (Gyllenhaal), loves her daughter very much, but she’s a single mom working two jobs just to make ends meet. Even if she wanted to help her daughter with her studies, her own education is lacking. This is evident in some of the words she seems to make up that aren’t part of the ordinary English language. But she’s willing to do anything to help her daughter, which includes going to a lottery to get her daughter into the Rosa Parks Charter School, where “Principal Thompson” (Rhames) has done an incredible job and urges the parents of the children who don’t get into his school to keep fighting.

Read more‘Won’t Back Down’ gets a barely passing grade

‘When Billie Beat Bobby’ is a well produced, true life story with strong performances

[rating=3]Starring: Holly Hunter, Ron Silver, Matt Letscher, Bob Gunton, Jacoueline McKenzie, Elizabeth Berridge, Fred Willard
Director(s): Jane Anderson
Writer(s): Jane Anderson

Ron Silver and Holly Hunter in 'When Billie Beat Bobby'
Ron Silver and Holly Hunter in ‘When Billie Beat Bobby’

I actually wasn’t too jazzed about watching this movie. Looking at the DVD cover, and the goofy artwork and look of Holly Hunter and Ron Silver in their 70s looks was really silly. But the film actually turned out to be quite interesting, even though the ending is pretty well known — and heck, its in the darn title.

When Billie Beat Bobby isn’t about the suspense of who wins, even though I think it may have benefited had they tried a little, it’s about how this simple tennis match affects women all over the country. Sure, the match was laughed off by many as nothing more than a gimmick. A mere publicity stunt, perhaps, but at the time the idea of a woman athlete beating a male athlete really meant something. Women’s liberation was at its apex, and the aroma of “revolution” was still sweet in the air.

Read more‘When Billie Beat Bobby’ is a well produced, true life story with strong performances