Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Million Dollar Baby|
Actors: Ned Eisenberg, Brian Finney, Ted Grossman, Bruce MacVittie, Margo Martindale
Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 04/14/2009 Rating: Pg13
Powerful, believable performances fuel this moving film
Jonathan Appleseed | 12/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hillary Swank (Margaret Fitzgerald), who proved her athleticism in her first major role, The Next Karate Kid, demonstrated it again, pummeling a heavy bag with a power left on which I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end. She's very convincing in this movie - both as a young woman from humble beginnings who wants to make a better life for herself, and as a boxer. In Million Dollar Baby, she returns to the visceral emotional range that left us so deeply moved in Boy's Don't Cry.
Clint Eastwood (Frankie Dunn), who has proved himself repeatedly, has perhaps turned in the best performance of his career. At times irascible, intellectual, mournful, instructive, reflective, passionate - in every manifestation, he reaches you. He was brilliant.
And Morgan Freeman is, well, Morgan Freeman. As the narrator of the story, and an actor within it, he lends a soft-spoken touch that ameliorates some of the film's darker elements. He also lent the film a certain amount of boxing sagacity, as he spoke in non-technical and sometimes quasi-technical terms of the basics of boxing.
This film ain't no Rocky. It has an intelligence and compassion that Rocky (and virtually every boxing film ever made, save perhaps Raging Bull) couldn't think to have. Beyond that, it actually has better fight sequences. More often than in most boxing films - certainly the very poor choreography of the Rocky fight sequences - the punches looked and felt real, or as real as "fake" can make them.
Margaret introduces herself to Frankie after a fight and asks him to train her. He turns her down flat, saying that he doesn't train girls. Given her pluckiness, she appears at his gym the next day, punching a heavy bag with all of the skill, style and fluidity of Pinocchio. Finally he agrees to train her ("finally" takes a while, and watching it come to fruition, the subtle changes in Eastwood's character, is a real treat to watch), and soon she is ready for her first fight.
Here's the only similarity to Rocky: she turns out to be a natural, with a wicked left hook and overhand right (at least that I could see) and is knocking out all of her opponents in the first round. Some might think that this is, perhaps, a bit much. However, in the sport of women's boxing, such a thing isn't uncommon. PLEASE don't think that I'm saying women are not good boxers or don't have the same abilities that men do. It's simply that the increasing popularity of the sport hasn't quite yet led to the kind of talent that exists in men's boxing (although, frankly, talent on that side isn't exactly at it's apex). Her superiority over lesser opponents isn't unheard of.
There's so much more I want to say about this film, because from this point forward it moved from being one of the best films of the year - purely on the strength of the writing, and the performances of Swank and Eastwood in particular - to one of the best films I've seen in several years. I'm so grateful that reviewers didn't give away the ending. I'll just say that the ending is layered with surprises, and that it's been a very, very long time that I haven't seen a single cell phone being used (how annoying is that, even with all of the polite requests and warnings?), and also seen so many in the theater remain in their seats long after the movie ended.
It's a brilliant, brilliant film, the kind that makes me want to go back and change the number of stars I've given most movies that I've reviewed, simply so that this 5 star review means more. I recently gave Sideways, Closer, and Finding Neverland 5 stars, and while they are all very, very worthy films - I'd like to give this one six.
6 Stars: Maggie May
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 01/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is "the best cut man in the business' intones the narrator, Morgan Freeman in "Million Dollar Baby." Frankie can clean up a cut in seconds so that a fighter can get back in the ring and at the very least finish the fight and at best, win.
Yet Frankie can't heal the emotional wounds of his life even though he spends 365 days a year at Mass and writes letters to his estranged daughter every day asking for, I assume forgiveness. But the letters come back marked "Return to Sender" and Frankie files them away in a box and his life returns to the needs and wants of his Gym for Boxers and to his best friend, confidant and former fighter, Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman).
And then Maggie Fitzgerald walks into Frankie's Gym, pays her Gym dues for six months and asks Frankie every day to train her. And everyday he turns her down: "you're too old, too skinny...and you're a girl," he says.
Until one day she wears him down, he concedes to her wishes and there begins a Cinderella story of fights won, money earned and glory attained. And then it's all taken away.
Eastwood has made some great, even unforgettable films: "The Unforgiven, "Bird" to name a couple. But he has done nothing to match the guts, emotional power and poignancy of "Million Dollar Baby." And Hillary Swank, pretty much floundering after "Boys Don't Cry," is as sunny, thoughtful and real as she's ever been.
There is a scene towards the end of "MDB" between Frankie and Maggie in which Frankie explains the meaning of a Gaelic nickname that he has given Maggie that grabs at your heart and is so beautifully realized that you are galvanized with emotion. It's so real and so true to the tone of the film that you can't help but gasp.
"Million Dollar Baby" is Eastwood at his most emotionally aware and naked. This film comes from the deepest areas of Eastwood's heart and soul. It is a brave and honest film from one of the best purveyors of our Hopes and Dreams.
flyguy | 03/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An instant classic. This was not only the best picture of the year, but could be the most emotional film I have ever seen. Freeman's narration performance was even more moving than in Shawshank. If you think you know where Clint is going with this film, you don't. One of my top 10 favorites of all time. I loved this movie, and I hope you do too."
Million Dollar Movie
Sean M. Sullivan | NJ | 02/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like others, I went into this movie knowing the basics. Clint Eastwood trains Hilary Swank to be a professional boxer. I only saw this movie because it is nominated in the Best Picture category, among others, & I felt to need to see it. I went into this movie with no expectations. I really thought I would think it was ok. Well, it FAR surpassed my expectations. After seeing this movie, I can finally understand what all the hype is about it! If you havent seen it, GO NOW! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Million Dollar Baby is a little bit of everything. A little drama, a little comedy & alot of heart tugging moments. I'm not going to give away the ending. .. that's for you guys to go see for yourselves. I will say however, that it will be money well worth spent. I have seen all 5 nominated films & I will be pulling for this Million Dollar Movie to take home the Best Picture Oscar!"