Fastball. As a primer for the upcoming season, Major League Baseball and Thomas Hull (42, Straight Outta Compton, The Dark Knight Rises) produced this new documentary about the greatest confrontation in sports: The battle between pitcher and hitter with the one pitch that determines the success and failure of its participants. Written and directed by Jonathan Hock and narrated by Kevin Costner, the film traces the evolution of the pitch, the science and psychological behind it and tries to answer one of the game’s greatest questions: Who had the best fastball of all time? With contributions from some of the greatest to ever play the game (Henry Aaron, Derek Jeter, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Rich ‘Goose’ Gossage), this documentary gives new insight into one of the most difficult things to do in professional sports. Fastball opens in theaters and on demand on March 25th. You can also go to http://www.fastballmovie.com/ for more information.
I Saw The Light. Hank Williams was only 29 when he died of heart failure, but the incredible work that he left behind left a permanent mark on country music, pop, rock and soul. Now, director-producer Marc Abraham’s look at Williams’ short but brilliant career hits the big screen this weekend. Based on the biography by Colin Escott, George Merritt and William MacEwen, the film stars Tom Huddleston (Thor, The Avengers, Only Lovers Left Alive) as the iconic country singer and Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy, Captain America: Winter Soldier) as his long suffering first wife, Audrey. The film traces Williams’ meteoric rise from local bars and clubs to a mainstay at The Grand Old Opry. It also deals with Williams’ long struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, life on the road and how it strained his personal and professional relationships. But ultimately, it shows how Williams was about to channel his pain into his art and create songs that still have a resounding effect on singer-songwriters today. Huddleston was a controversial choice to play Williams, but he delivers a powerful performance, channeling the singer’s spirit on stage and off. Olsen more than holds her own as Audrey, who also dreams of a singing career, but gives it up to give Williams the family he never had, only to have to deal with his addictions and his infidelities. A solid biopic on a musical icon. I Saw The Light opens in theaters this Friday. You can also go to http://www.sonyclassics.com/ for additional info.
Born To Be Blue. A new docudrama on the life and turbulent career of jazz great Chet Baker rolls out this weekend. Ethan Hawke portrays the trumpet great, whose matinee idol looks and chops helped define the cool jazz scene that came out of California in the 1950s. But after drug addiction costs him his freedom, his career and for a short time, his ability to play the trumpet at all, Baker must start the long climb to get his career – and life – back on track. Carmen Ejogo portrays Jane, an actress who falls in love with Baker and tries to fight the demons that derailed his career. Director Robert Budreau wonderfully captures the moody, misty and often dream like state of America in the mid 50 and 60s that Baker has to navigate through to reclaim his artistic vision. Hawke is terrific as Baker, a man wrestling with his talent, insecurities and addictions while desperately trying to keep the one person who truly loves him for walking out on him for good. Ejogo is all heart as Jane, the one constant light in Baker’s dark world. Backed by a Baker heavy soundtrack, this is a a film that transcends your run of the mill biopics. Born To Be Blue opens in theaters this weekend and on demand March 31st. You can also go to http://www.ifcfilms.com/ for more information.
New York City: Blue Velvet. David Lynch’s surreal trip into the dark side of small town life gets week long revival at Film Forum. The story, which was jokingly dubbed ‘The Hardy Boys Goes To Hell’ stars Kyle MacLaclan as Jeffrey Beaumount (Kyle MacLachlan) who returns home from college and finds a severed ear in a field. When he decides to find out who it belongs to, it puts him in contact with a damaged nightclub singer (Isabella Rossellini), the daughter of a police detective (Laura Dern) and Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), a sociopath with a love for nitrous oxide. 30 years after its release, it still a cinematic shock and awe as Lynch & Co peel away the thin layers of suburbia and the psyche. Nothing is quite as it seems and the journey to find out what’s real is a crazy ride. Gloriously restored to bring out the rich colors and textures, this a great chance to see a master filmmaker’s masterwork. Blue Velvet will be screening at Film Forum March 25th through the 31st. You can go to http://www.filmforum.org/ for tickets and more information.
The Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival. This long time Easter tradition has taken on a move avant garde approach in recent years. Yes, the parade still captures the majesty and the essence of the holiday. But the Bonnet Festival is a chance for ladies to show off the best headwear, which has taken creativity and design to new heights. Whether you celebrate Easter or not, this is not just one of the city’s best parades, you also get to see some trippy fashion displays. The Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival happens Easter Sunday from 10am-4pm on 5th Avenue between 49th and 57th Street.
Los Angeles: Bugs Bunny Cartoon Classics. You got your Easter eggs, you have your Easter candy, and American Cinematheque is upping the ante with a screening of Bugs Bunny cartoons at The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. This matinee will include free Easter candy and handpicked classics of everyone’s favorite rabbit. A cool way to spend Easter Sunday with the entire family. Go to www.americancinematheque.com for tickets and more information.