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FLICKS: Opening: Chuck, The Wedding Plan & Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

Posted on 18 May 2017 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


As predicted, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 dominated the big screen box office. As much as the film is a visual treat on the big screen, it is the 1970s soundtrack that has enhanced the big screen experience. For those that want to continue strolling down Amnesia Lane, Chuck opens tomorrow and features songs frequently played on AM Pop radio.

Liev Schreiber plays Chuck Wepner, a heavyweight fighter who fought Muhammad Ali and lasted 15 rounds. The fight inspired an unknown writer/actor Sylvester Stallone, who wrote his screenplay Rocky in three days.  While he promoted himself as “the real Rocky,” Chuck Wepner’s private life was not as noble as Rocky Balboa’s fictional life.

An old school brawler like Tony Galento, and Jake La Motta, a New Jersey journeyman whose nickname was “the Bayonne Bleeder,” Galento is also a husband with a wandering eye, despite loving his daughter. As his fame grows, so does the temptations of sex, drugs and disco music.

The story of an athlete succumbing to temptation is common. What makes Chuck special is the nostalgia. Growing up, Chuck’s favorite movie was Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight, which starred Anthony Quinn as a fighter who was “…almost the heavyweight champion of the world.” Throughout Chuck, scenes from Requiem are used to accent the similarity between Wepner and Anthony Quinn’s character, Mountain Rivera. There is also a subtle nod to On the Waterfront in which Chuck meets with his brother, John (Michael Rappaport), which echoes the famous scene between Marlon Brando and Rod Stieger. The fine line between fantasy and reality is examined throughout this film.

This theme is never more apparent when Wepner has an audition for Rocky II, which is a disaster. Fortunately, he gets a dose of realty when he takes solace with a bartender named Linda (Naomi Watts), who has both street smarts and can quote Requiem for a Heavyweight verbatim.  Chuck is a worthy diversion.

An Israeli film with English subtitles, The Wedding Plan opens tomorrow.  With only a month’s notice, a groom calls off their marriage plans. Feeling like an old maid at age 32, the bride saves the date and goes on a series of blind dates so she can have a groom on the wedding date. A romantic comedy on one hand, this nearly two-hour movie examines the concept of faith and religious values.  

Last but not least, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent opens tomorrow. Co-produced by CNN, this documentary is about the celebrity chef who created/promoted California cuisine. From his privileged childhood to his Ivy League education, Tower forms alliances with California chefs. It is worth seeing for the visuals alone.

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