Thursday, October 17, 2013

Field of Dreams ★★★★

    "I'm thirty-six years old, I love my family, I love baseball, and I'm about to become a farmer, but until I heard the voice, I'd never done a crazy thing in my whole life." These are the iconic words of Ray Kinsella--the central character in the 1989 film entitled "Field of Dreams." This picture is based on the book, Shoeless Joe, written by W.P. Kinsella, and it is directed by Phil Alden Robinson.

    "Field of Dreams" introduces us to Ray, and his family, through a nostalgic montage of vintage home movies and pictures. Accompanying this scene is the voice-over work of  Kevin Costner, who stars as the main character. He has a wife, a lovely daughter, and works as a corn farmer in the beautiful state of Iowa. His life is routine mostly, and he never involves himself with spontaneity. This all changes, however, when a voice from above whispers these words to him: "If you build it, he will come." This event turns Ray's life upside down, and it will send him on a magnificent and spiritual journey to fill the void in his life--a void that he never had the strength to confront otherwise.

    This film exhibits a star-studded cast with spectacular performances all around. Kevin Costner shines as Ray Kinsella and proves to us why he is one of the greatest actors of his time. He plays this role with a sense of quiet passion and urgency, even though his character has no idea what's in store for him. Costner is a naturally gifted actor that displays wonderful continuity in his mannerisms and facial acting. This is a character that he was born to portray, and one that we are meant to remember.

    To aide Ray in his quest is his loving and supporting wife, Annie, played by Amy Madigan. Madigan is very good in what appears to be a smaller and somewhat bogged down role. She is undoubtedly confined to being the supporter of Ray; even in her most explosive scene, she again takes a back seat to the plot. Yet, Madigan breathes life into this loving family and brings beauty to a cast that is dominated by male actors. Rounding out the cast are veteran actors Burt LancasterJames Earl Jones, and Ray Liotta. Liotta stars as "Shoeless" Joe Jackson who, even with limited dialogue, becomes an integral part of this magnificent story. Jones plays the reclusive and brilliant writer named Terrance Mann. Mann works directly with Ray and, even with his short time on-screen, we see him transform from a cold and distant individual to a character with a loving heart. (Jones has a prominent speech in the last half-hour that will simply blow you away.)

    Lancaster steps into the role of an ex-baseball player named Archibald "Moonlight" Graham. Although a secondary character, Lancaster brings true emotion to this film. He is a man of integrity, who has seen his dreams brush past him, "like a stranger in the crowd." Graham will attempt to recapture his long and forgotten dream through Ray and this magical field. Lancaster ultimately reminds us all that you don't have to be the star to steal the show.

    This movie revels in its brilliant performances, which spawn from a very well-casted group of actors. Although they should get most of the credit, the director and crew executed their jobs in honorable fashion. Phil Robinson, who doesn't have the greatest resume for a director, should get recognition for his role here. The direction was excellent, and the film had numerous strikingly gorgeous shots. In my opinion, the camera must help tell the story that the actors are depicting. (The camera in this particular instance followed their lead and ran with it.) Robinson executed long shots and close-ups when needed and didn't over-extend himself, which can be very important.

    There is one particular scene, involving Doc Graham, that shows you how something very small, and seemingly insignificant, can enrich a film. Chirping birds and a subtle breeze make it into this wonderful scene, which not only stimulates the senses, but it gives you a feeling that you are actually there. Robinson also deserves credit with regard to the screenplay. He, and the author of the book in which this movie is based, W.P. Kinsella, completed a wonderful script, which consists of smooth and warming dialogue.

    "Field of Dreams" is a remarkable story, and it is even more breathtaking when etched into the medium of film. It did receive high recognition among many film critics, and the film was nominated for Best Picture. If you judge this book solely by its cover, then you will probably just dismiss this movie for another baseball-themed film. Although baseball links these characters together, this film adds up to much more. It is a film that comments on guilt, happiness, and not being afraid of reaching out and grabbing onto your dreams.

    The last half-hour of this film is emotionally charged, and it excels in bringing out the emotions of the viewer. Purposely, I did not divulge too much into the plot, so that if you have never seen this movie you might give it a try. For those of you that have seen this film, I hope you would agree that those particular moments that touched your heart are still with you and that you haven't forgotten the magic.

    "I best be getting on home, before Alicia begins to think I have a girlfriend."


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