Friday, March 30, 2007

DVD Releases - March 27

“Children of Men” (R) - Director Alfonso Cuaron brings an adaptation of a P.D. James novel to the big screen that depicts an infertile population where near anarchy reigns in the streets. Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine star in this critically-acclaimed film that also managed to garner several Oscar nominations.
Extras: Deleted scenes and multiple featurettes.
Official Web site

“Happy Feet” (PG) - Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, “Happy Feet” follows a penguin named Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood), who’s got dancing fever. Problem is, emperor penguins are supposed to be able to sing, which makes him a bit of an outsider. Robin Williams, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Brittany Murphy are among those lending their voices to this film from George Miller, the director of “Babe.”
Extras: Two new animated sequences, two music videos, a classic cartoon and a private dance lesson with Savion Glover.
Official Web site

“The Pursuit of Happyness” (PG-13) - Will Smith stars as Chris Gardner, a real-life success story who struggled for a time to make ends meet, while taking on an unpaid internship at a San Francisco stock brokerage firm. The film also stars Smith’s actual son, Jaden, and Thandie Newton, but the proceedings are really fueled by Smith’s Oscar-nominated performance.
Extras: A featurette on the Smith father and son combination, commentary with director Gabriele Muccino, a making-of featurette, and a conversation with Gardner.
Official Web site

“The Shield: Season 5” - Anyone who’s followed this gritty cop drama from its first season should be pleased with how well the show’s overall quality has held up. The fifth season almost takes on the feel of a Shakespearean tragedy by the time it all plays out, with much of the show’s focus landing on a cat and mouse pursuit between Det. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and a determined Internal Affairs investigator (Forest Whitaker, in a riveting performance) who’s not above bending the rules himself.
Extras: Tons of deleted scenes, as well as commentaries on all 11 episodes, along with multiple featurettes.
Official Web site

“Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” (R/Unrated) - In this sequel (pretty much by name only, since the stars of the original, Ryan Reynolds and Tara Reid are no shows), Kal Penn takes over as the star, playing Taj, Van’s sidekick, who heads to England to attend a snooty grad school. There’s probably some drinking and sexual situations to follow, don’t you think? This movie was in theaters for about 10 minutes, but now it’s yours to keep on DVD.
Extras: Deleted scenes, a gag reel, music videos and a couple of featurettes.
Official Web site

Monday, March 26, 2007

Box Office Report: March 23-25

It was a very crowded field this past weekend, with six new movies making their debut on the charts. But with the possible exception of two (“TMNT” and “Shooter”), their stays look to be brief. “TMNT,” better known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was able to knock off two-week champ, “300” by earning around $24 million. However, “300” still finished a strong second, and is approaching $250 million in worldwide receipts.

Look for “Blades of Glory,” the new Will Ferrell/Jon Heder comedy to make a strong push for the top spot next weekend.

1. “TMNT”
(Weekend domestic gross - $24.3 million)
(Worldwide gross - $24.3 million)
(Budget - $34 million)
2. “300”
(Weekend domestic gross - $19.9 million)
(Worldwide gross - $241.3 million)
(Budget - $65 million)
3. “Shooter”
(Weekend domestic gross - $14.5 million)
(Worldwide gross - $14.5 million)
(Budget - $61 million)
4. “Wild Hogs”
(Weekend domestic gross - $13.9 million)
(Worldwide gross - $130.6 million)
(Budget - N/A)
5. “The Last Mimzy”
(Weekend domestic gross - $10.0 million)
(Worldwide gross - $10.0 million)
(Budget - N/A)
6. “The Hills Have Eyes 2”
(Weekend domestic gross - $9.7 million)
(Worldwide gross - $9.7 million)
(Budget - $15 million)
7. “Premonition”
(Weekend domestic gross - $9.6 million)
(Worldwide gross - $33.6 million)
(Budget - $20 million)
8. “Reign Over Me”
(Weekend domestic gross - $7.5 million)
(Worldwide gross - $7.7 million)
(Budget - $20 million)
9. “Pride”
(Weekend domestic gross - $3.5 million)
(Worldwide gross - $3.5 million)
(Budget - N/A)
10. “Dead Silence”
(Weekend domestic gross - $3.4 million)
(Worldwide gross - $13.2 million)
(Budget - $20 million)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

DVD Releases - March 20

“Blood Diamond: Special Edition” (R) - Nominated for five Academy Awards, director Edward Zwick’s action-filled picture dramatizes the controversial diamond mining practices that take place in various parts of Africa. One worker (Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou) finds a large jewel that becomes a bargaining chip in a reluctant partnership forged with a diamond smuggler (Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio).
Extras: Commentary by Zwick, a documentary tracing the journey of a diamond from the ground to the store, featurettes focusing on DiCaprio’s training, and co-star Jennifer Connelly’s discussion on women journalists at war, and a music video.
Official Web site

“Eragon: Special Edition” (PG) - The discovery by a farm boy (Ed Speleers) of a dragon’s egg leads him on an adventure as a Dragon Rider who must lead a kingdom against a wicked king (John Malkovich). The film co-stars Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Irons and the voice (only the voice?!) of Rachel Weisz.
Extras: Commentary by director Stefan Fangmeier, extended and deleted scenes, a making-of featurette and original storyboards.
Official Web site

“Everyone’s Hero” (G) - In this CGI animated feature originally directed by the late Christopher Reeve, a young boy travels a thousand miles to help Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees win the World Series. This pet project of Reeve’s features the voices of Rob Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, William H. Macy and Mandy Patinkin, among others.
Extras: Commentary from various crew members, a making-of featurette, and a tribute to Christopher and Dana Reeve.
Official Web site

“NewsRadio: Season 5” - The fifth and final season of this great sitcom was unfortunately a little bittersweet, as cast member Phil Hartman was killed following the fourth season. Producers brought on another SNL alum, Jon Lovitz, as a new cast member. But the show, always ratings-challenged, would be axed by NBC by season’s end.
Extras: A gag reel and deleted scenes.
No official Web site.

“Rocky Balboa” (PG) - After the disappointment of the somewhat silly “Rocky V,” most people, myself included, were cringing at the thought of another chapter of the Italian Stallion (Sylvester Stallone) – especially 16 years later. But the general consensus from critics and audiences was that this is the film the series should end on, a better than expected effort that is very respectful of the path the first couple of films laid. Stallone wrote and directed this effort, which co-stars Burt Young, Milo Ventimiglia and Antonio Tarver.
Extras: Commentary by Stallone, deleted scenes, boxing bloopers, a making-of featurette and more.
Official Web site

Monday, March 19, 2007

Box Office Report: March 16-18

Despite having to deal with a large portion of the male audience tuned into the annual college basketball tournament ritual known as “March Madness” over the weekend, the action-packed “300” managed to hold onto the top spot, pulling in more than $30 million. Worldwide, it’s already surpassed $150 million and is an unqualified success, as is this weekend’s number two pic, “Wild Hogs,” which has now surpassed $100 million.

The top debut of the week belonged to “Premonition,” the Sandra Bullock film about a wife who’s having a really wacky week. The thriller pulled in more than $17 million, easily holding off “Dead Silence,” a horror film that was basically DOA at the box office. I guess creepy ventriloquist dolls just don’t draw in the crowds at theaters.

1. “300”
(Weekend domestic gross - $32.9 million)
(Worldwide gross - $154.4 million)
(Budget - $65 million)
2. “Wild Hogs”
(Weekend domestic gross - $19.1 million)
(Worldwide gross - $107.0 million)
(Budget - N/A)
3. “Premonition”
(Weekend domestic gross - $17.6 million)
(Worldwide gross - $17.6 million)
(Budget - $20 million)
4. “Dead Silence”
(Weekend domestic gross - $7.8 million)
(Worldwide gross - $7.8 million)
(Budget - $20 million)
5. “I Think I Love My Wife”
(Weekend domestic gross - $5.7 million)
(Worldwide gross - $5.7 million)
(Budget - N/A)
6. “Bridge to Terabithia”
(Weekend domestic gross - $5.2 million)
(Worldwide gross - $85.6 million)
(Budget - N/A)
7. “Ghost Rider”
(Weekend domestic gross - $4.2 million)
(Worldwide gross - $197.6 million)
(Budget - $110 million)
8. “Zodiac”
(Weekend domestic gross - $3.3 million)
(Worldwide gross - $29.1 million)
(Budget - $65 million)
9. “Norbit”
(Weekend domestic gross - $2.8 million)
(Worldwide gross - $112.2 million)
(Budget - $60 million)
10. “Music and Lyrics”
(Weekend domestic gross - $2.3 million)
(Worldwide gross - $104.6 million)
(Budget - N/A)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

DVD Releases - March 13

“Bosom Buddies: Season 1” - Look who’s making its debut on DVD – it’s that show about the couple of average joes (Tom Hanks and the other guy, aka Peter Scolari) who out of desperation (or secret desire), dress up as women to secure a place in an all-women apartment building. Dozens of women, save for a few who keep their secret, are fooled on an everyday basis. Let the hilarity begin!
Extras: Nothing! What a drag!
No official Web site.

“Casino Royale” (PG-13) - Daniel Craig, the latest incarnation of James Bond, got more than his fair share of criticism when it was announced he would be taking over the role from Pierce Brosnan. But after a big box office haul and a warm embrace from movie critics and fans alike, Craig is sitting pretty. The franchise’s producers were taking a big risk with Craig and the decision to relaunch the series, by showing a more reckless and violent Bond. Fears of the franchise’s death can be put to rest.
Extras: A music video and several featurettes, including ones looking at Craig, as well as the “Bond Girls.”
Official Web site

“The Holiday” (PG-13) - Between this and “Something’s Gotta Give,” her last feature film, director Nancy Meyers is becoming quite the expert in the romantic comedy. This time out she gets quite a cast, including Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Edward Burns and Rufus Sewell. You could do a lot worse than spending time in the company of these folks. But isn’t a 138-minute running time a bit bloated for a romantic comedy?
Extras: Commentary by Meyers and “guests,” and a making-of featurette.
Official Web site

“Without a Trace: Season 2” - This hit CBS show just keeps on plugging away, picking up pretty big ratings, even as it seems to fly under the radar. Perhaps because there are no real big names in the cast, save for Anthony LaPaglia. Then again, most people probably don’t know who he is either. Regardless, the special FBI unit that seeks out missing people is back for a 24-episode visit.
Extras: “Missing Evidence,” also known as deleted scenes.
Official Web site

Monday, March 12, 2007

Box Office Report: March 9-11

It was No. 1 – easily – for “300,” director Zack Snyder’s action-packed comic book adaptation of Frank Miller (“Sin City”), as it stormed into theaters, leaving with more than $70 million in its opening weekend. Surpassing box office expectations, its huge debut makes it the largest March opening ever and is more in line with what Hollywood usually sees in the summer movie season.

Last week’s champ, “Wild Hogs,” dropped to second but still managed to draw in another $27.6 million, as it nears $80 million in total box office receipts.

1. “300”
(Weekend domestic gross - $70.9 million)
(Worldwide gross - $77.4 million)
(Budget - $65 million)
2. “Wild Hogs”
(Weekend domestic gross - $27.6 million)
(Worldwide gross - $77.0 million)
(Budget - N/A)
3. “Bridge to Terabithia”
(Weekend domestic gross - $6.8 million)
(Worldwide gross - $74.7 million)
(Budget - N/A)
4. “Ghost Rider”
(Weekend domestic gross - $6.7 million)
(Worldwide gross - $179.2 million)
(Budget - $110 million)
5. “Zodiac”
(Weekend domestic gross - $6.6 million)
(Worldwide gross - $23.6 million)
(Budget - $65 million)
6. “Norbit”
(Weekend domestic gross - $4.3 million)
(Worldwide gross - $107.6 million)
(Budget - $60 million)
7. “The Number 23”
(Weekend domestic gross - $4.1 million)
(Worldwide gross - $38.0 million)
(Budget - $30 million)
8. “Music and Lyrics”
(Weekend domestic gross - $3.7 million)
(Worldwide gross - $88.0 million)
(Budget - N/A)
9. “Breach”
(Weekend domestic gross - $2.5 million)
(Worldwide gross - $29.0 million)
(Budget - N/A)
10. “Amazing Grace”
(Weekend domestic gross - $2.48 million)
(Worldwide gross - $11.4 million)
(Budget - N/A)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Movie Review: "Zodiac"

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch, Dermot Mulroney
Directed by David Fincher

Official Web site

When director David Fincher’s “Se7en” opened in 1995, it seemed to inspire so many copycat movies that the serial killer storyline became a sub-genre all its own. So the marriage of Fincher with the true-life story of the Zodiac killer who terrorized northern California in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s would seem to be a natural fit. Indeed, the director has shown a propensity of building his career filming dark stories with tortured characters. So his selection of material here is hardly a surprise. But what is the real surprise is in his presentation of “Zodiac,” choosing to tone down his typical visual flair behind the camera, while serving up a story that is his most developed and cerebral to date.

Based on a book by Robert Graysmith, a former cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle during the Zodiac’s reign of terror, Fincher and screenwriter James Vanderbilt have crafted a compelling and gripping movie that keeps only a peripheral vision on the killer himself. Its primary focus is on those that were left to piece together the aftermath of the Zodiac’s crimes – namely San Francisco police detectives David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards), along with reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Spanning a time frame of more than 20 years and filled with a huge cast, “Zodiac” is meticulous in its depiction of the crimes, which were recreated according to police reports. Yet, Fincher (who certainly knows a thing or two about depicting violence on screen) shows a measured amount of restraint in filming the murders, demonstrating the swiftness such violent action can have. For all intents and purposes, the movie’s violence quotient essentially drops off the charts by about a third of the way through its expansive two hour, 40-minute running time.

By the time detectives Toschi and Armstrong report to the seemingly unexceptional crime scene of a murdered cab driver in the Presidio Heights section of San Francisco, the Zodiac has already been involved in the attacks on at least four other people, killing two of them. To this day, the number of murders the killer is actually responsible for is a source of disagreement between various law enforcement agencies and the press.

The San Francisco media was already on the trail of the Zodiac by this time, as the killer wrote several letters to local newspapers, urging them to run them along with cryptic ciphers that he said would reveal his identity. Graysmith, while not directly involved with the case, becomes obsessed with discovering the Zodiac’s identity, choosing to hound crime reporter Avery to pick up any clues he can. Played by Downey with a jaded weariness fueled by alcohol and drugs, Avery is at first amused and even impressed with Graysmith’s tenacity at helping. But as time passes and the leads in the case grow cold, Avery’s temperament becomes increasingly sour.

Of course, that description could apply to more than one person connected with investigating the Zodiac case, as an endless number of potential suspects, false leads and a general lack of physical evidence at the crime scenes conspire to keep the case open. The movie has no qualms at jumping ahead in time, moving weeks, months and in one visually arresting sequence, years into the future (depicted with a time lapse construction of the city’s Transamerica building). Characters move in and out of the picture with the passage of time, as the failure at cracking the case take its toll.

Graysmith obsession with the case eventually breaks up his marriage and ends his employment at the paper, as he spends all his time pouring through old press clippings and police reports about the crimes. Meanwhile, Tocci (who was the basis for Steve McQueen in “Bullitt”) has to fend off Graysmith’s persistent questions, as he realizes the odds the case will ever be closed shrink with each passing day.

It’s as much a credit to the actors involved, as it is with Fincher and Vanderbilt that any kind of suspense can be generated from a movie in which a criminal investigation is burdened by frustration and disappointment. Imagine an episode of “Law and Order” that never gets to the “order” part and you can see the difficulty involved. That’s not to say that the case has no forward momentum, as “Zodiac” clearly makes a case against Arthur Leigh Allen (John Carroll Lynch), a hulking pedophile with a calm demeanor. But the investigation’s lack of any evidence beyond circumstantial poses endless amounts of roadblocks.

The cast is uniformly excellent, providing strong, but not showy work, in keeping with the low-key style of the film. Ruffalo and Edwards both are quite convincing in their roles as the dutiful, but increasingly frustrated cops (who actually never draw their guns in the movie – what a genuine surprise), while Gyllenhaal demonstrates a man in true tunnel vision, practically leaving common sense and his own safety in his rearview mirror.

“Zodiac” is a film that can frustrate, to be sure, but it also can stimulate the mind. It’s a movie approaching three hours in length that actually didn’t feel quite long enough. And no, it doesn’t really have a satisfying conclusion, but considering the actual state of the case today, it’s an ending that’s as true to life as you can get.

Grade: A-
(Rated R for some strong killings, language, drug material and brief sexual images.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Box Office Report: March 2-4

Surpassing even the most generous of projections, the buddy road trip comedy, “Wild Hogs” brought in close to $40 million in its opening weekend, easily holding off the crime drama “Zodiac” and knocking off the previous champ, “Ghost Rider.”

The movie also marked the best opening ever for both John Travolta and Tim Allen, a rather surprising accomplishment. So I guess we can expect the sequel sometime in 2008?

The only other major release, “Black Snake Moan,” was only able to climb to the eighth spot. So there’s not a huge audience for blues musicians chaining up sexaholic girls to a radiator? Well, color me surprised.

1. “Wild Hogs”
(Weekend domestic gross - $39.7 million)
(Worldwide gross - $39.7 million)
(Budget - N/A)
2. “Zodiac”
(Weekend domestic gross - $13.4 million)
(Worldwide gross - $13.4 million)
(Budget - $65 million)
3. “Ghost Rider”
(Weekend domestic gross - $11.6 million)
(Worldwide gross - $157.1 million)
(Budget - $110 million)
4. “Bridge to Terabithia”
(Weekend domestic gross - $8.9 million)
(Worldwide gross - $62.0 million)
(Budget - N/A)
5. “The Number 23”
(Weekend domestic gross - $6.5 million)
(Worldwide gross - $29.8 million)
(Budget - $30 million)
6. “Norbit”
(Weekend domestic gross - $6.4 million)
(Worldwide gross - $92.3 million)
(Budget - $60 million)
7. “Music and Lyrics”
(Weekend domestic gross - $4.9 million)
(Worldwide gross - $71.1 million)
(Budget - N/A)
8. “Black Snake Moan”
(Weekend domestic gross - $4.1 million)
(Worldwide gross - $4.1 million)
(Budget - $15 million)
9. “Reno 911!: Miami”
(Weekend domestic gross - $3.9 million)
(Worldwide gross - $16.9 million)
(Budget - $10 million)
10. “Breach”
(Weekend domestic gross - $3.6 million)
(Worldwide gross - $25.8 million)
(Budget - N/A)

DVD Releases - March 6

Having taken off last week (sorry about that), the DVD releases are back this week...

“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (R) - Everybody’s favorite gypsy-hating Kazakh journalist (Borat Sagdiyev, played by the versatile Sacha Baron Cohen) can now come to your house on DVD, having taken theaters by storm this past fall. (Nice!) This outrageous comedy is certainly not for the easily offended, but Cohen’s fearlessness at pursuing a laugh is truly amazing. Cue the sequel!
Extras: Deleted scenes, a Kazakhstan spoof of “Baywatch,” a rodeo news report and a world promotions tour featurette.
Official Web site

“Fast Food Nation” (R) - Led by an ensemble cast including Greg Kinnear, Wilmer Valderrama, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ethan Hawke and Bruce Willis, writer-director Richard Linklater and co-writer Eric Scholsser collaborate on a fictional take of Schlosser’s bestselling nonfiction book of the same name. The movie spreads its focus on the fast food industry, following various characters on different levels of the corporate food chain, as it were.
Extras: Commentary with Linklater and Schlosser, a making of featurette and multiple animation shorts ominously titled “The Meatrix.”
Official Web site

“Hawaii Five-O: Season 1” - This show is just now making it debut on DVD? Well, anyway, the elite branch of the Hawaii State Police headed by Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) is in action in 24 episodes this first season.
Extras: “Cocoon,” (no, not the Ron Howard film) the original pilot movie, as well as a retrospective with James McArthur (you know, Danno).
No official Web site

“Peter Pan: Platinum Edition” (G) - OK, forget those other versions of the Disney animated adaptation of the J.M. Barrie book, as this is the one to own. And Disney really means it this time too. And just so you don’t sit on those wallets or purses, this two-disc edition will only be out of Disney’s vaults for a limited time. Then they’ll seal it up to deprive future generations from a classic. Real nice, Disney.
Extras: Quite a bit, actually. An all-new digital restoration, deleted songs, a DVD storybook, several multi-level games, an “In Walt’s Words” featurette and a never-before-seen alternate opening.
Official Web site

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Movie Review: "Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos"

Directed by Paul Crowder and John Dower
Official Web site

It’s long been considered the world’s most popular sport, but few may remember that there was a brief time when soccer looked like it just might maintain a foothold in the American sports landscape.

In the mid- to late-1970s, the New York Cosmos, part of a fledgling professional soccer league, was the toast of the Big Apple. Containing a roster peppered with superstars and deep pockets among its owners, the team seemed destined to bring soccer to a new peak of popularity in America.

Then, almost as quickly as it seemed to be built up, the Cosmos and subsequently, the league itself, collapsed spectacularly in the 1980s. How these corresponding highs and lows were met are the central focus of “Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos,” a fast-paced and entertaining retrospective on the team and those who remember its impact on the sport of soccer and the city where it played.

In the mid-1970s, the North American Soccer League was struggling to gain attention in the U.S. But one team in the league would get a huge boost when Steve Ross, then Warner Communications Chairman, decided to buy the Cosmos with the help of Atlantic Records founders Ahmet and Nehui Ertegun. As explained by Ross’ son, Mark, his dad really hated to lose. So knowing that the team he purchased was mediocre at best, Ross set out to find the best players available to improve its fortunes.

That led to the signing of Pelé, considered by most to be the greatest soccer player of all time. In one of the more amusing segments of the documentary, a number of people reflect on the struggle to sign the superstar, with none seeming to agree on just how much money Pelé’s contract was actually worth. Even then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (a big soccer fan himself) was enlisted to help in the negotiations with Brazil, Pelé’s home country.

Following the signing, the team’s fortunes quickly improve, establishing a huge fan base for the team, with attendance records being set just about every place Pelé would play. The spending would continue, with Ross snagging Italy’s Giorgio Chinaglia, then Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, which would lead to huge crowds and back-to-back league championships for the team.

Like any team that becomes hugely popular, especially in New York, the potential for distractions was great – a point the film doesn’t shy away from documenting. Whether it was some of the player’s propensity for attracting the ladies, or frequent partying at the social hotspot, Studio 54 (where the team had its own table), the Cosmos had seemingly become as popular, if not more so, than the hometown Yankees.

Blending a steady stream of great soccer footage (you certainly don’t need to be a fan to appreciate the skill involved) with a huge ‘70s soundtrack, co-directors Paul Crowder and John Dower keep the action on screen lively and interesting. Granted, they are certainly helped by the assortment of characters interviewed in the documentary, particularly the egotistical Chinaglia, who makes no apologies for his actions during that time. Perhaps unfairly, a decent amount of the team’s eventual collapse is laid at Chinaglia’s feet, as some believed him to be a negative influence on Ross and a cancer in the locker room.

But there were plenty of other factors involved, including Pelé’s retirement, the rapid overexpansion of the league, and a disastrous first (and only) season of network television broadcasts by ABC. If anything, there would seem to have been so many reasons, that placing blame on any one person plays out a little bit as sour grapes.

There’s a lot of nostalgia and a certainly a little bit of regret from those interviewed in “Once in a Lifetime,” as soccer has seemingly never come close since then to achieving true popularity in America. Still, one only needs to look at the huge amount of soccer leagues operating on spring and summer weekends to know that there’s still life in this country for the sport. But achieving true lasting popularity on a professional level would seem, at this time, to remain a difficult goal to score.

Grade: B+
(Rated PG-13 for language and some nudity.)

(On a side note, a screening of “Once in a Lifetime” was recently held at the Show-Me Missouri International Film Festival in Springfield, where editor and co-director Crowder appeared for a Q&A session. He addressed the conspicuous absence of recent footage of Pelé in the film, as he was the only major player who did not participate in the film. The reason? Money, of course. Crowder said many attempts were made to involve Pelé. Crowder himself said he spoke with him on e-mail a couple of times. The first time, Pelé asked for $100,000. The second time, the amount went up to $150,000. He then asked Crowder if he would like to make a third attempt. No thanks, Crowder replied.

He also answered my question regarding the licensing fees involved with all the music contained in the film. He said getting the rights to use the music was surprisingly easy, yet it was far from cheap. Crowder said each song basically cost $5,000 to use, of which there was a whopping 65 in the film. You do the math. The use of the music was a very important part of the film, yet took up a big chunk of the budget, he added.

In fact, the only song he said he was unsuccessful in obtaining was Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” as he said they weren’t able to get Steven Tyler to release the rights to it.)