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Ford V. Ferrari

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Mark Suszko
Ford V. Ferrari
on Nov 17, 2019 at 10:47:33 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Nov 18, 2019 at 12:58:35 am

Saw "Ford V. Ferrari" today and enjoyed it. A lot. But Ron Howard's "Rush" is still better. "Days of Thunder" probably a close third, though DOT, being entirely fictional, is not technically in the same league. I left out "Grand Prix", because I'm only talking about more recent movies.

Impressions:

Acting: great, no complaints. Good work all up and down the line.

Script/Plot: serviceable. Maybe a little too on-the-nose on developing Ken Miles as so iconoclastic as to be self-destructive. The overall theme of Shelby's and Miles' relationships I was getting was: "When you compromise on a personal principle for expediency, or even to show you are part of team, it always ends up screwing you somewhere down the line." And yet this is also a movie about team efforts, and how nobody does it all by himself. I think you have to look at what you personally bring to an interpretation of Bales' performance, as to whether you think he's portraying just a person with an uncompromising, singular vision... or just a troublesome, temperamental outsider with talent but a quasi-autistic lack of ability to relate to others. That would be an easier call, except for the significant development of Miles' relationship to his wife and son. People are complicated.

What you get from Matt Damon's portrayal of Shelby is a guy that has been forced to re-invent himself and learn to live with compromise and negotiation, while constantly regretting the need to play that game... which i'm not sure is true - but also a total "rules lawyer" who specializes and delights in exploiting every possible nook and cranny of the rulebook, in ways others might not expect or anticipate... and that part I know is historically true to form.

One of the my favorite sequences in the movie isn't even a race scene, but an office scene, one that's likely to end up in hundreds of management and "Lean Manufacturing" seminars this year. Look for the red folder.

I felt I really wanted to see a design/building sequence on the car, rather than to just unveil it as; "well, here it is, now, let's perfect it". Maybe it was shot but cut for time. The build though is a significant part of almost any car movie I can think of. Maybe the director thought that was a stereotype that needed breaking, I dunno, but I personally miss it.

Cinematography: I'm of two minds. It was highly realistic, with much of the camera work at eye level - maybe too much. I was so impressed with the 3-d mix of CGI and live camera movement in "Rush" that I was expecting more of that. But maybe not as much as "Speed Racer" had, lol.

Direction/editing: good, especially on the driving sequences, but a little languid in places. I was impressed with an imaginative shot/ lighting effect involving shadows cast on a hangar wall - it really called attention to itself but it also was highly evocative in the way it reinforced a particular sequence's emotional line, and well-constructed.

What was glaringly missing: "Gimme Some Lovin'". This song was in the soundtrack and montage sequences of ALL the other three race car movies I listed. I think it must be a law. It should be. Here, the most attention-grabbing theme is an instrumental of "Poke Salad Annie", which might be an inside joke linked to Miles' first impression of Shelby's Mustang as a "pig in a poke". Ron Howard's movie has the way better sound track by far.

Should you go see it? Um, yeah. This is one that plays better on a big big screen.


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Chris Wright
Re: Ford V. Ferrari
on Nov 18, 2019 at 4:42:43 am

ouch, i was only going to see it for the thought, design, and fabrication of the car....my heart just sank.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Ford V. Ferrari
on Nov 18, 2019 at 5:54:11 am
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Nov 18, 2019 at 3:56:08 pm

Well, there's quite a bit on the post-construction *tuning* of the car... but it is at core a story of the principal characters.

I was feeling a little cheated when they just unveil the car. but I can understand the time pressure to keep the running time shorter, and they had to make a choice as to where to invest the audience's emotional connection: to the machine, or the men..

Here's how it was in DOT:







There's another scene, couldn't;t find a link to it, but Duvall is again talking to the car, almost praying with it... "I set you up for cold weather... but if that sun breaks... the track will get loose... Cole isn't ready for that. You have to stay with it..." (looks under car; sees an oil leak dripping from the engine into the floor, makes disgusted expression)


Then there's a fabulous movie: Coppola's "Tucker: The Man And His Dream"







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Scott Roberts
Re: Ford V. Ferrari
on Nov 19, 2019 at 6:03:27 am

I also liked it, and I also agree that Rush was a more interesting movie. I think I personally liked Rush more, because I didn't really know where it was going, as the film had two opposing protagonists. Ford v Ferrari, on the other hand, even though I know nothing about the history of cars/racing, I just kind of figured Ford would win in the end and they would overcome all of the obstacles in their way (spoiler? [no pun intended {I can do car jokes too}]).

Even at a bruising duration of 2 and 1/2 hours, I thought it flew by decently quick. I think the good acting helps get through some of the slower expository scenes. And I did like the relationships with the wife and kid. I think the only time I really felt the film's length was during the Daytona race (I think? the second to last one), which had the intensity of a grand finale in any other racing movie; that was when I went "Holy cow, I've been sitting here for like two hours, and they still haven't done the big 24 hour showdown with Ferrari yet!"

Overall, I would definitely recommend it. In sort of a backhanded-compliment kind of way, I think this is the kind of generic, fun, not-too-much-to-think-about kind of movie that most people will like. And that's not to say it also isn't smart in places, but it felt like a formula we've all seen and enjoyed before in one way or another. It's good, well-rounded entertainment.

I did like the red folder part a lot, too. ☺


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Mark Suszko
Re: Ford V. Ferrari
on Nov 19, 2019 at 5:25:00 pm

It didn't have a scene quite like this, though:







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