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Sports, Val Kilmer featured at Magic Lantern on Friday

Dan Webster

Above: The sports movie "12 Mighty Orphans" opens Friday at the Magic Lantern Theatre. (Photo/Sony Pictures)

Of all the variations that movie genres offer, one of the most enjoyable is what my wife calls – with all due respect – the “cheesy sports flick.”

The range of quality in this genre is particularly wide. At one end you have, say, “Rocky,” “Field of Dreams” and “Raging Bull.”

At the other end? Choose your poison. My money’s on “The Ringer,” a movie that features Johnny Knoxville pretending to have a mental handicap so that he can compete in the Special Olympics.

Or you could go with one of the “Rocky” sequels. Your choice.

I bring up sports films because the Magic Lantern Theatre is opening two new films on Friday, and one of them is, indeed, a sports film. The other is a documentary portrait of the actor Val Kilmer.

First the sports flick:

“12 Mighty Orphans”: Luke Wilson stars as Depression-era football coach who leads his rag-tag team of parentless boys to a state championship – and do I even need to add that the effort supposedly inspires a nation? Anyway, the reviews are mostly complimentary.

Cary Darling, Houston Chronicle: “It's an up-from-struggle story tailor-made for an old-fashioned, family-friendly, earnest, feel-good movie, and that's exactly what (director Ty) Roberts delivers.”

Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News: “If you're looking for an old-fashioned sports drama, this is it.”

Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times: “A plodding football drama in which the characters talk to one another like folksy social workers.”

And now the documentary:

“Val”:  Co-directors Ting Poo and Leo Scott meld 40 years of film footage to create a portrait of the actor Val Kilmer. It’s scoring a 91 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which adds the following descriptor: “This raw, wildly original and unflinching documentary reveals a life lived to extremes and a heart-filled, sometimes hilarious look at what it means to be an artist and a complex man.”

Anthony Lane, The New Yorker: “Watching this documentary is like having Dorian Gray give you a guided tour of his attic.”

Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter: “[A] film that's agile and alive – fitting for a portrait of a man who is driven to make art, however he can.”

Owen Gleiberman, Variety: “For most of the 40 years covered in ‘Val,’ Kilmer comes off as a creature of obsession, one who could be his own worst enemy.”

That’s it for the moment. I’ll report later on the week’s mainstream openings.

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