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MOVIE REVIEWS

Love & Basketball: more than just a game Love & Basketball pretty much sums up what the movie is about: two individuals who have known and loved each other since childhood, who both envision playing basketball professionally, who encounter different paths in achieving their dreams. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s directorial debut delivers an excellent plot and actors… Read more »

Love & Basketball: more than just a game

Love & Basketball pretty much sums up what the movie is about: two individuals who have known and loved each other since childhood, who both envision playing basketball professionally, who encounter different paths in achieving their dreams.

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s directorial debut delivers an excellent plot and actors to go along with it.

As children, Quincy McCall (Omar Epps) and Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) have a relationship that is awkward, competitive and cute. Their first kiss in the backyard is immediately followed by a fight on the front lawn because she refused to ride to school on the back of his bike after his insisting that a girlfriend is supposed to do what her boyfriend tells her. Their relationship lasts only a day, but they remain buddies and courtside supporters, until the film’s “Second Quarter.”

During the “Second Quarter,” Quincy (Q) and Monica are grown up and a classic high school moment occurs. They see each other at the Spring Dance, where Monica wears a sizzling white dress and her grandmother’s pearls, getting rid of the usual tomboyish look. Q quickly becomess jealous and interested when she arrives with a college boy.

They dump their dates to be with each other and hook up after the dance. When they return home, Q shows his romantic side by crawling through her window and greeting her passionately.

Both are admitted to USC on full scholarship (the film’s “Third Quarter) and go through different experiences their freshman year. Monica has to prove her worth to the team; she is chastised by the coach and told by other players on the team that a freshman will never receive playing time over a junior or a senior.

On the other hand, Q earns instant respect from his teammates and coaches and attention from the many “groupies” who flock at his doorstep.

Monica receives her big break when the starting point-guard injuries her leg and is forced to sit out the season. Monica is quickly inserted into the starting lineup and reaps dividends for herself and the team. She becomes an impact player and leader, and the team rolls off a string of victories. But there’s one problem: Q becomes jealous of all the attention he had that falls to her, and is upset that she isn’t there for him when he suffers from family problems. His downfall occurs when he finds out that his father (Dennis Haysbert) falls victim to the NBA “lifestyle,” cheating on his mother (Debbie Morgan). But the sad part is that Q’s father lies to him, while Q has to find out the truth from his mother.

Against his father’s wishes, Q decides to skip the final three years of college basketball for the NBA, while Monica finishes school and moves on to play ball in Italy. They distance themselves from each other for several years, but when Monica returns home, she visits Q in the hospital after he tears his ACL in his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The best part of the movie is that they always did love each other, but it took a late-night one-on-one basketball game in Q’s backyard to prove it.

In a game of five, Monica grabs a quick 3-0 lead but Q comes back with three quick buckets. Monica quickly scores again, but Q ends it with two consecutive to win the bet. Monica thinks she loses the bet that if she won, Q would have to admit that he always did love her, but tables are quickly turned. He dumps his fiancŽe (Tyra Banks makes a quick and forgettable cameo) the night before he is supposed to marry her and stays with Monica.

Monica goes on to play professionally in the WNBA, while Q and their newborn daughter cheer on as Monica’s biggest fan during the games.

Love & Basketball is a must see, preferably with a date. Basketball complements the plot line, but is not the main focus. Gina Prince-Bythewood delivers a smash debut and shouldn’t struggle for work in the future.

Grade: A

Omar Branch

U-571

(Universal)

A great film about the forces of war and how they affect who fight will bring a tear to your eye and a lump in your throat. This film won’t.

U-571 is a film more concerned with giving the audience special effects jam-packed with great sights and booming sound. In respect to this part of the film, it definitely deserves an A+, but sight and sound are not what make an Oscar-winning film.

Most major films dealing with WWII, most notably Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line, have been candidates for Academy Awards before they even came out. These films were so great and critically acclaimed because they combined exceptional special effects with great acting and directing. For the audience to connect with the characters, they must developed along with story. Character development never happens in U-571. Thus, this film will not be regarded as the best of 2000 or even the best of April.

From the very first scene, everything is blown to pieces, both above water and below. The story is pretty simple, probably because it is based on facts. The crew of an American submarine must infiltrate an enemy U-boat, hence the name U-571, and remove a top secret coding device that is enabling the Germans to hold the upper hand in the war of the sea. The American submarine successfully takes over the German U-boat, trouble is right around the corner and they must put aside all their differences in order to savethe world from being dominated by the evil Nazis.

This could have been a great story. But the script does no justice for what could have been the best film of the year. U-571 definitely has enough good actors to make one hell of a movie, but they have nowhere to go. With Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel and Bill Paxton, you would think that it would be just as good as any other star-studded movie event, but it’s not. These three great actors are basically typecast into roles that audiences have grown accustomed to seeing them in. McConaughey is the guy everyone loves. Keitel is the wise old man everyone trusts, much like his character in Pulp Fiction. Jon Bon Jovi dies in a hurry, a path most people would like his acting career to follow.

There is one reason everyone should go to see this film: special effects. No other submarine film has been able to capture the suspense of battle in a submarine. Hunt for the Red October came nowhere close to U-571. The underwater scenes are excellent, because you can actually tell what is going on at all times. Unlike most underwater films that are one big, murky mess. The pictures are all clear and the sound of the explosions is astonishing. You feel every jolt the sailors felt. The camera work inside the sub is also astounding.

Unfortunately, the acting and story were nowhere close to the special effects. This film is eye candy and nothing else. You won’t feel any differently about your life and you won’t call that grandparent who fought in World War II. But you will have seen an enjoyable film with breakthrough special effects in underwater warfare — at least the movie has one redeeming quality.

Grade: B

-Matt Searer

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