His Dark Materials
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The best sports movie ever made!
To Absorb Humility Over Art.
Ritchie's eerie camera work and sharp editing manages to keep the drama enthralling as much as the chills of the race does. And with stunning locations and clean rich production design, the film endorses the quality to its peak. Even though the entire script is directed towards the build up of the nail biting competition, personally, I feel the dramatic bits of the film oozes more energy. With stillness projected like never before, Redford charges you with his cold inhuman looks to fabricate his persona as more human. Frankly, his character isn't likeable. There is very little skin for Redford to sugar top the senses, but his conviction on his deep dark intuitions is something that we all connect to easily.
The first act is undoubtedly one of the wittiest weaved out sequence by the writers in here. Without uttering much verbal sparring, the daily routine and the places our protagonist visits, is depicted with a smoothness of "documentary" in here, it does feel real. After such a boost, the film denses up with multiple complex equations of Redford with others and milks out the three dimensional aspect out of them. The film is way too mature for its genre, or it definitely is the "first" of all, for things never do go as anticipated, and armed with such intentions, Ritchie fiddles with his viewers subconsciously.
There is no doubt on performance level, Redford on the front is a charming flawed ambitious boy that is sculpted as a man over this almost hundred minutes of journey. His persuasion on keeping the stats accurate is what attracts you even though the figures are misleading. And Hackman as the mentor, does not follow your usual arc of sweet and bitter relationship of his, his methods are effective, always. Downhill Racer is Redford surfing over eye popping locations and jaw dropping realizations of nature.
This film was almost good.
It was ok, hard to really get into.
Basic sports film finds a young hotshot skier trying to break a new record. He does. Its a very straight forward sports film with some good actors in it. That is all.
If ANY film I have ever seen comes the closest to taking a sophisticated look at what most of the world would consider to be the spoiled-rotten, prima donna, mega-talented amateur athlete (I would add 'American', but I believe they would be like Redford's characterization even if they weren't), Michael Ritchie nails it. Way underrated. And it makes you wonder, especially with the poster pictured here, if the title's a double entendre (and not just slickly-marketed sex-advertising), not merely for various OTHER curves Redford's character wants to/succeeds in navigating, but also the possible crash-and-burn Chappellet may have, if he continues his wild, burn-the-candle-at-both-ends lifestyle while participating in quite a dangerous sport. Sonny Bono-jokes aside, this kind of thing happens.
Simply marvelous work by Redford, Gene Hackman, Ritchie and cinematographer Brian Probyn. Essential purchase and rewatches for sports fans and the work of Redford, Hackman and Ritchie especially. Easily my favourite of Ritchie's work, next to, sentimentally, 'The Bad News Bears' (which is a whole different kettle of fish altogether).
I didn't love the film, but thought it was ok. It felt fairly realistic, and Redford is good in it as is Gene Hackman. The directing and look of the film felt pretty dated, but I could live with it. I must say that I have never seen another film about skiing so it had that going for it. I was surprised that Criterion Collection chose to release it though. In any case, I found it at least worth a watch.
Downhill Racer is an incredible film. It is about a quietly cocky skier who U.S. ski team as downhill racer and clashes with the team's coach. Robert Redford and Gene Hackman give fantastic performances. The script is well written. Michael Ritchie did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama. Downhill Racer is a must see.
Downhill Racer doesn't seem to be about anything particularly important, yet there is an aura of importance surrounding its emphasis on winning and use of the Olympics as an end goal. David Chappellet (Robert Redford) is an arrogant, self-righteous, play only to win racer, but not the boisterous in-your-face type of athlete that we get in the modern era of sports-entertainment. Rather quite the opposite; quiet, often emotionless, not much to offer the world except his overdeveloped profession of downhill skiing - he's not acting in Hollywood films or demonstrating an aptitude for hosting television. Along the way he meets Carole (Camilla Sparv), the hottie in the room everybody wants a piece of - she brings the most emotion out of him we'll see, more than his coach Eugene Claire (Gene Hackman).
Other critics are taken by the imitation of life in this movie, by Redford's intention to make a film about the American ideal of winning, how well it captures it. I am not so fond of its emptiness and find it has less of a place on film. However, if you're coming just for the skiing, you won't be disappointed, there's an abundance of it. Some are going to try looking past it and see it as a movie about something beneath the skiing, that 'downhill racer' is metaphorical for... yada yada, cut the BS. We spend the majority of time looking at ski races, so no matter how much writer James Salter says he was uninterested in sports, director Michael Ritchie ultimately put out a movie that showed a majority of sports, and nothing about the context it was shown says it was anything more than competition and the suspense of competition, particularly the ending, which felt like an emptier Rocky conclusion, which also has more substance in human drama than this film.
Undoubtedly, the third act really brings things together where the first failed and the second was good, just good. In fact that's what really intrigued me most about this film - when the first 30 minutes of a movie don't do it for me, the rest usually doesn't - Downhill Racer gradually becomes more interesting. Chappellet has an in-house rivalry with teammate Johnny Creech (Jim McMullan), and before the big showdown at the Olympics, they settle their score amongst one another, resulting in the clearest personification we get of Chappellet and what this whole competitive business means to him. It's also worth noting a certain level of competition felt between David and his father in select quiet scenes, with not much more than an expression of fatherly disconcert, 'how yah gonna make money doin' this?' Though Chappellet seems less thrown off and more frustrated.
The final race for the Gold Medal is everything you could hope for, nail-biting suspense. I wouldn't be surprised if William Friedkin admitted to getting his speedy influence for POV shots in The French Connection from this film - between that and the disorientation of the editing, the audience is left helpless to imagine what difficulty it is controlling high speeds, and hoping to some degree that the racers make it to the finish line. Early on, Ritchie, DP Brian Probyn, editor Richard Harris, and the stunt skiers establish a visual style that signals to the audience when the racer is losing control; we see the road is bumpy, skis coming off the ground, cuts quick, shots tight. A solid race to the finish line looks smoother with less turbulence. How this affects the psyche of the final race is everything a film student should focus on - subtle, long-term, effective planning.