Films featuring
Rance Howard

Cinderella Man

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Ron Howard has a reputation for excessive sentimentality in his films. I’ll reserve judgment on whether this is deserved for another time, but if it is true, Howard was the perfect director for Cinderella Man. This mostly accurate story of real life boxer James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) needs a filmmaker willing to yank on the heartstrings like a team of Clydesdales. This film is so consciously old fashioned that it really ought to have been filmed in black and white in the old 4:3 Academy aspect ratio.

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Apollo 13

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Don’t come into Apollo 13 expecting a deep, acutely insightful portrait of the inner lives of astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon are basically playing stock Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon characters, and this is probably a good thing for a big budget summer movie like this one. Real astronauts are invariably cool, hard-to-ruffle, by-the-book kinds of people. Sometimes it seems you could set their pants on fire and it would barely raise their pulse. This makes for successful space missions but not for a particularly exciting movie.

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Chinatown

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Take a screenwriting class, any screenwriting class, and I almost guarantee you that, before the first session is over, your teacher will mention Robert Towne‘s script for Chinatown in a tone that grown men usually reserve for talking about their first crush. The screenplay for this film has been held up as an example of near perfection of the screenwriting craft and, if I were more cynical, I might look hard for a reason to find fault with that opinion. I probably wouldn’t find it, though.

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