Coon's Age Blog Post/Review of 'Searching for Bobby Fischer

Coon's Age Blog Post/Review of 'Searching for Bobby Fischer

May 13, 2011, 11:59 AM |

Hello, my fellow chess fanatics:

I haven't posted in awhile--a coon's age, as my post title suggests.  I am sure that the thousands upon millions of fans following my blog posts noticed the absence.  In fact, I think I noticed a story on CNN International that was expressing shock, outrage and then mourning over my lack of posting in the last year or how ever long it has been. But here I am with some input and a movie review.  Which movie?  Which one do you think? 

It's actually kind of suprising that as of yesterday, I have never seen "Searching for Bobby Fischer."  Apparently, it was made in 1993, and 18 years later I finally get around to seeing it.  Additionally, the reason for finally watching it has more to do with the Coen brother film, "Fargo," than it does with chess.  So, I'm watching "Fargo," which is a masterful film, btw.  Even though the story is profoundly tragic, the incredibly solid performances hold you captive for the length of the film.                                  Both,Frances McDormand and William H. Macy are amazing as their respective characters.  If you haven't seen it, and can handle the completely tragic storyline, I definately recommend it.  Thanks to Netflix, I was able to search for other William H. Macy films. As it turns out, he has a small role in "Seaching for Bobby Fischer."  In the credits he is listed as "Tuna Fish Dad,"  which is hillarious that the film's writers couldn't even give this guy a name, just "Tuna Fish Dad."  I'm sure that the Coen brothers based their selection of him to play Jerry Lundegard solely on the strength of his Tuna Fish Dad performance. 

My rekindled passion for chess started a little more than a year ago, and from then until now, watching "Searching for Bobby Fischer," never entered my mind.  However, when I came across it yesterday I figured, what the heck; as a minor chess fanatic, I should give it a viewing.  Of course, I have heard of Bobby Fischer and the film, but even now I can't really say I know that much about him.  To be honest, I'm not that sure I want to know that much about him.  My interest in chess has very little to do with him.  None, as a matter of fact.  I hear his name, hear he was good at chess, I hear some concerning his approach to the game and that's about it.  I give him props for his mastery of the game, but with all due respect, I'm kind of done with him.  I get that he's kind of this mysterious character who liked to disappear, making him a little bit eccentric, which always plays well in a mysterious, kind of cool way.  But I am unwilling to set any flesh and blood man on a pedestal.  We're all fallen creatures and I am not going to elevate any fallen man into a god-like status:  sorry, Bobby... you are just a man, no matter how many chess games you win.  Okay, there's my soapbox for the day, now on to the film:

I thought "Searching for Bobby Fischer," was done well.  You have to wonder, it is a rather risky proposition to even make a film that is primarily about chess tournaments, so I have to give the director (Steven Zaillian) some credit for keeping the material interesting.  The boy who plays Josh Waitzkin (Max Pomeranc) does well as a sympathetic character. To be honest, I thought he was a little annoying at first, but he quickly grew on me.  Until the end of the film, I had no idea that Josh Waitzkin was a real guy, but whatever. The film seemed to strike a balance between taking chess seriously, but not taking it seriously at the same time; it's just a game, but hey, let's try to be good at it anyway and not treat it like life hangs in the balance of a single match.  I really would have liked to see the dad go back to the teacher he berated and apologize, because she dared to say that chess wasn't the most important thing in life.  Perhaps she was out of line a little by calling it a, "chess thing," but he was out of line A LOT by telling her that his son was better at chess than she would be at anything in her entire life.  That wasn't called for & I don't think he ever fully redeemed himself over that. 

I liked the Laurence Fishburne character, but for the life of me, I could not keep from thinking of 'Morpheus.'  He was pretty much born to be in 'The Matrix.'  It's hard to consider so much as a single cast change for 'The Matrix.'  Well, except for Tank & Dozer; those guys were weak actors; and that mousy looking guy. 

My main test for me as to whether a movie is really good or not is:  would I watch it again & under what circumstances?  Yes, I would watch it again.  I don't necessarily feel compelled to own a copy, but if I were with someone who had not seen it, I would stream it again on Netflix.

If I think of anything else to say about "Searching for BF," I'll add it later on.  To my 20 million readers, good luck with your games, we'll see you on the chessboard.  I'll try to be more dilligent with posting stuff, but my consistency until now hasn't been that great.