With basketball season already in full swing, I have been glued to the TV watching my favorite match ups of the day while also keeping up with my fantasy team. In addition, I along with two of my friends are creating a basketball league for teenagers in our community, because we realized there weren’t any competitive basketball leagues at the high school level that were outside of playing for the high school or travel ball. Thus, we decided to work together and create one for kids who for whatever reason couldn’t play for their high school or they couldn’t afford travel ball. We have decided to name it the ABA, to bring back the notion of “let’s just play basketball and have fun” that was what kind of characterized the ABA back in the day where it rivaled the NBA. I will be posting a link to my basketball league’s page and videos in posts and be sure to keep all of you updated. However, to celebrate the launch of the beginning of our setting up process, I have decided to compile my favorite basketball movies.
1. Teen Wolf-1985
This classic 80’s movie stars one of the most iconic actors of the decade, Michael J. Fox. In Back to the Future, he played Marty McFly on his adventures through time with Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd. In Teen Wolf, Fox plays an average teenager who happens to be on his school’s not so great varsity basketball team. On his team he isn’t a star but it is more like he’s just there (and the tension between the team doesn’t help). Along with the troubles of his basketball team, he is also troubled by average things like not being popular, school, girls, and oh yea being a werewolf. One night when he gets home, he starts getting a really funny feeling and rushes to the bathroom. Upon looking in the mirror, he discovers he is turning into some sort of monster and soon discovers it runs in his family, as his father is also a werewolf. Now, he isn’t like a new “Twilight” werewolf or savage by any means, in this movie he just becomes furry and also becomes more athletic. You can imagine there are few werewolves in your typical high school, so Scott (his character’s name) suddenly gets launched into stardom when in a game he fails to hide his alter ego. He gets angry during a basketball game and suddenly transforms into a high flying werewolf. This movie doesn’t focus so much on basketball the sport, but uses it as a medium to tell the story.
This is one of the quintessential basketball films as it is a story on not only the competitive aspect, but the philosophy behind the game. As far as the plot, it is similar to a more recent movie, Remember the Titans, in the sense that there is the plot development between a community and a new coach being brought in for the high school team. Similarly, the community at first is uneasy about the new basketball coach, Dale, and also that the town basketball star, Jimmy, refuses to play for Dale due to how he was so attached to the old coach. Dale introduces a new playing style that doesn’t quite yield the results the community hoped for and threaten to get rid of him. However, Jimmy decides to play and this turns things around for the team. The team ends up going to to the state championship and wins it all with everyone on the team stepping up along the way. This movie is an excellent movie, as to not butcher the beautiful messages and inspiration in the movie, I highly suggest you watch it if you haven’t.
3. Coach Carter-2005
This movie is an inspiring sports drama about the struggles of inner city youth and trying to balance basketball along with their other priorities. In this movie, the great Samuel L. Jackson plays Ken Carter, an alumni of Richmond High School, is newly coached to run the school basketball team. He is disappointed in the activities and behavior of the team and before he can teach them basketball he must team them about life. He forces them to study and has them sign contracts to make sure they wouldn’t neglect their studies. The movie really focuses on how life and sports are interconnected in both values and responsibilities. However, when drama occurs in some of the players’ lives and Carter’s son joins the team things get much more complicated. Carter is so serious about changing his players’ lives for the better that he closes the gym until the players improve their games. This movie is an excellent example of how sports relates to life and how it can be a medium for self-improvement.
Innovation is something that doesn’t just come out of no where, ideas do but real innovation doesn’t. What sets innovation apart is that it’s the process of taking an idea and making it happen. As I have heard time and time again: coming up with ideas is easy but bringing them to life is the difficult part. In the context of the film industry, Pixar is a perfect example of how creativity can yield an idea worth taking the extra mile and making it happen through perseverance.
Pixar Animation Studios is the brainchild of John Lasseter and his team, in the early Lucasfilm animation department, and they wanted to propel animation to what they think it could be. They saw it is a new medium for expression and something that was undervalued at the time. The creators of what would be Pixar wanted to expand animation and experiment with it through the use of computer software. They desperately sought funds to get their project off of the ground and after many denials they eventually ran into Steve Jobs. Jobs would fund Pixar and also gave them access to whatever technology they needed. Pixar nearly lost everything and Jobs kept investing money to try and save the company. In fact, Pixar would get its name from one of the computers they developed. The idea that computer generated animation would cut production costs fascinated Pixar and it also intrigued buyers of their computers and software, such as Disney. Walt Disney Animation Studios was looking to computer animation and eventually made a $26 million dollar deal with Pixar for three films. Before this deal, Pixar was lucky enough to create a few commercials for companies like Tropicana. One of Pixar’s earliest ideas for their partner was about toys, yes Toy Story.
While pitching the idea for Toy Story, Disney had specific mandates it wanted Pixar to adhere to, mainly that it would be a little edgier so it could appeal to more than just kids. Pixar, trying its best to please its bigger brother, followed these directions and the resulting film was a disaster. Aside from landing Tom Hanks and Tim Allen to voice Woody and Buzz, the movie was not what Pixar envisioned for their idea and Disney wanted to stop all production of it. However, Lasseter decided to just make the movie how he originally wanted to and ignored all of Disney’s prior advice. The resulting movie is now the beautiful masterpiece we call Toy Story. It was a a milestone in animation as it was the first computer generated animated feature film. Animators in the industry gave a lot of heat to Pixar because they felt threatened that their jobs as animators (those who drew by hand) were in danger. However, Toy Story was a huge commercial success and only strengthened the partnership between Disney and Pixar. Pixar allowed Disney to distribute touching tales to captivate fans and also new merchandising opportunities. After the overwhelming success of their first movie, Pixar was given full artistic license with their next project, A Bug’s Life. The pressure was on Pixar to deliver with yet another commercial hit and they did not disappoint. The rest was history as Pixar continued to deliver hit after hit with the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters Inc, the Incredibles, Finding Nemo, the Cars franchise, Up, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Brave. Here is a tribute video to Pixar:
The inception of the movie industry not only invokes a sense of nostalgia but shows the expressive spirit of mankind. In 1912, Carl Laemmle founded Universal Studios, what would be one of the leaders of cinematic innovation for years to come. He set up the entire enterprise from just a few nickelodeons and revolutionized the movie industry. A new medium was introduced, film, and it brought the world to its knees. He encouraged people to explore and innovate, the rest is cinematic history.
Growing up, my father owned a chain of movie theaters and I was very interested in the industry. I would always try to help my father in whatever way I could and frequently watched films in the theater. To this day, one of the most awe inspiring and impressionable things I have seen is the introduction to every single Universal Studios production. Yes, the iconic, trumpeting music playing while the shimmering, radiant Earth revolving while the words “Universal Studios” appear. I always felt it was a testament to the creative nature of man and how the world is our canvas for innovating ideas and to ultimately share them. The success of Universal didn’t just come from luck, it came from the hard work of aspiring individuals. From Steven Spielberg to Ron Howard, innovators have helped to shape not only how cinema has progressed through the years, but how people think. Thinking big. Expressing sentiments and ideas.