“THE DROUGHT IS OVER AS STONE, CARELL AND CRUISE WELCOME YOU BACK TO THE MOVIES”
BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017)
Rating: PG-13 for some sexual content and partial nudity with a running time of 121 minutes
To say that there was a drought of good films over the months of summer would be an understatement. Shame on Hollywood for all the mediocrity that we had to endure. But I am happy if not excited to report that there are two wonderful new movies to go and see this week. And there is both a beautiful love story and one of the most anticipated fall movies both being released next week.
We begin this week with BATTLE OF THE SEXES.
Great buzz. Great first reviews. However, realizing that we are living in what some now call the “Divided States of America” — not everyone is going to love the lesbian scenes found in this film.
When the on-screen battle was over, I began asking a group of husbands and boyfriends sitting directly behind me in the auditorium what they really thought of the film. There response “across the court” was — “I liked the tennis scenes!”. As well they should have. The tennis scenes including the return of Howard Cosell are terrific. But for some (and I have to be honest), the intimacy of two attractive women making love could be considered out of bounds.
There are so many good things about this film that was directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. The script by Simon Beaufoy should be Oscar nominated. The great photography credit goes to Linus Sandgren and his team. And the production design by Judy Becker is outstanding.
BATTLE OF SEXES especially works because of two movie stars that are at the top of their game. If you loved Emma Stone last year in her Oscar winning performance in LA LA LAND, wait until you see her playing 29 year old Billy Jean King. If you loved Steve Carell in so many different projects from THE OFFICE, to FOXCATCHER and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, he brings a depth of craziness playing 55 year old Bobby Riggs. He was the tennis world champion before Billy Jean King was even born!
The supporting cast is equally strong. Andrea Riseborough plays Billy Jean King’s hairdresser who she falls in love with. Elisabeth Shue plays Bobby’s wife. Bill Pullman plays the tennis promoter. And Sarah Silverman plays the founder of Tennis World Magazine. What great performances all across the court. In real life, tennis star Margaret Court played by Jessica McNamee was strongly against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The themes of this film resonated in the 1970’s and still should be top of the mind awareness today. We need to fight for Equal Rights on and off the court. We need to fight for Equal Pay for Equal Work. Bottom line: BATTLE OF THE SEXES is one of the best films of the year.