This is it. This is the pinnacle of baseball movies. As it is the pinnacle of baseball movies, it is the pinnacle of sports movies. Not in a sports way but in a movies way. This, like THE SANDLOT (which you listened to that episode, right? It’s back in season 2 or whatever), has no big game. It’s about more than baseball but baseball is both the frame and the delivery mechanism. Baseball teaches us about life so often–as a sport where succeeding 1/3 of the time is hugely successful will–and it has more than just baseball. This is BULL DURHAM.
There is a lot going on in this movie. There is a lot that I talk about–it’s one of the longer episodes that I’ve recorded and that’s that I already know that I should never record longer episodes. And there is just a ton that I left out. I’ll look at some of that here as is my way.
Ron Shelton slaps. That’s that. Dude is a gangster and lives in a similar space as Linklater. I don’t exactly know how to communicate it but I would say it’s the writer/director that fully understands their niche and understands themselves and, regardless of whatever copious life experience they may have, understands how to distill these concepts to something that really works in a movie. For more, you can check out my episode on DAZED AND CONFUSED.
Sarandon, Costner, and Robbins were almost picture perfect. Costner does this sarcastic chuckle thing that I’m sure seemed cool on paper but it’s a little less successful in practice. Other than that he was made for this role. I’ve heard that Costner is not necessarily the best person to be around while being a mere mortal but you cannot fault him in this role whatsoever. This was also “before he was famous” and that’s weird to me because fuck Untouchables or whatever–this is what made Costner for me. Robbins knocks it out of the park. I love watching Tim Robbins–like everyone with cable I’ve seen THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION only a few dozen times and I still eat it up every time. But he was always that Tim Robbins–even in BULL DURHAM. Even in HIGH FIDELITY.
Susan Sarandon was aces in this. She goes on from here to do THELMA & LOUISE which co-starred Gena Davis (yeah, you thought she was going to come up but I said this was the last baseball movie…. for the moment) and was directed by Ridley Scott. She’s top-tier. She’s stellar. She’s in peak form at all points in time–there is zero phoning it in. Sarandon’s performance was my favorite as a character in this movie. I only say that because Costner is 100% an actual baseball player while playing a baseball player and knowing the mind of a baseball player because he is an actual baseball player while playing a baseball player ad nauseam.
Yes, this movie does have some exploration into homophobia of some sort. It’s not as bad as this might make it sound but it does happen. It’s probably better than average for a movie coming out in the 80s and is not outright hostile. There is a point where a character questions their sexuality and that’s actually interesting–not offensive. This is all relating to the academic paper that I mention in the podcast (at the end). I think it comes from a very reasonable place where the ideal set for masculinity isn’t complete domination but instead security and support. The characters themselves are trying to figure things out at times. There’s another time where it’s just an insult but, to quote Ralph Maccio–politics aside because his views are bad–“hey, it’s the 80s”. That’s actually quoting his character, Daniel LaRusso, who isn’t the bully but becomes able to defend himself. I realize that COBRA KAI might take that view a little differently when extrapolated however I’m reading from the text of THE KARATE KID and haven’t watched COBRA KAI because, when I tried to cast it to my TV, YouTube wouldn’t let me watch it fully. When you watch BULL DURHAM just think of that statement. Not about Ralph Maccio but the statement about masculinity.
I’ve seen several ways to present the titles of movies but my favorite is in ALL CAPS. I’m trying that out. Does it lend me more credence… clearwater? Revival? Lookin out my back door?
I’m sure I’m leaving things about but I 100% apologize for all of the wikipedia scholastics about religions. Journalism (if you can call what I do that), or academic research (if you can call it that), takes a lot of time and these people deserve a living wage like so many others. The economy for that is so upside-down that it’s ridiculous. I don’t know the answer to solve that problem–IF I have an answer for a problem then that problem is probably dumb as fuck and y’all politician-ass motherfuckers need to sort that shit out because I’m a guy that watches movies and waxes pedantic about them in his spare time. I have no business having solutions for any social problems.
I’d be eager to understand what Crash Davis’ life might look like in the era of Sabermetrics and the all-knowing internet. Would he have been passed over? There is no telling because, somehow, the story feels the same. You work really hard in the minors and maybe fortune smiles upon you.
I think that Chris Carter was a baseball player as well. He was also an author of flowery speeches. Was this influence from Bull Durham and Ron Shelton or was this direct action? Was Ron Shelton a ghost writer for The X-Files? Probably not, but I’m trying to manufacture some type of actual relationship there. Their stories don’t feel too different. Perhaps, if I had just been better at baseball, I’d be a screenwriter now. That’s overly simplistic and reductionist and I don’t know where I’m going with it. Nowhere, most likely.
Actually, I think I’ve narrowed down where I’m going with it. I throw out these half-assed theories and it’s not that I want to be right, but that I want the people to read or hear the theory and be like “yeah, that’s the one” in their own vacuum. Perhaps that is a bit forward but if that happened I’d just be totally OK with it.
So there’s a YouTube comment in there from 8 months ago saying that the music will go to Broadway. I may actually bend that motherfuck of a corner to go see it if that’s the case. My wife will not understand. But I am compelled.
Realistically, that’s the only link. The academic paper mentioned is behind some type of paywalls so walk into your local public college or university’s library and search for it there. You can likely print it out or save it to a USB drive. This is what public institutions are all about and I’m 100% for it. You can also potentially rent movies and music from the library. That’s intense. Support your public universities and support your libraries.
I’m sure I left things out. I’ve spent enough time working on this that I’ve lost notes that I’ve taken. I’m not angry I’m just angry at myself but it’s not going to stop this show. It’s happening. The file is already uploaded before I even begin typing this. You’d think I’d feel liberated by this loose format and you’re correct@! I do. It’s great. I recommend bucking the system and just being yourself to everyone who can afford to do it because, the reality of the situation is, not everyone can just be themselves and continue living their lives. There are 100% people who should not be able to be themselves and also live their lives and they’re mostly falling under the banner of racists so fuck them. Be nice. Check out the paradox of tolerance. Play some baseball. Watch some baseball. Watch a movie. Do something nice for someone. Contemplate existence. Actualize yourself in a way that elevates everyone around you. Tap that untold power of the ever-expanding cosmos. Play Dungeons & Dragons, or another tabletop RPG that allows you the freedom to create and inhabit a character–it’s great! Try at something you think is pointless because it probably isn’t.