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Fall Movies - Dodging Blockbusters: Flash Of Genius And The Express, The
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Reviewed on 2008-10-22
Based On a True Story
Fall Movies - Dodging the Blockbusters

Studios seem to have only a few brief periods during the year to release “small” films. Otherwise these films of quality and merit might well become box office roadkill at the hands of much hyped, high visibility, pre-sold franchise features.

As the summer blockbusters fade away, but before the onslaught of Halloween horror and holiday flicks, is such a time. Into this quiet zone Universal has sent out two fine offerings.

I told the screening audience that “Flash Of Genius” was the most exciting film ever made... about a windshield wiper. And that probably will remain so. Greg Kinnear stars as Bob Kearns, inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. When Ford steals his design he tries to fight back the “properly,” all the way to a breakdown. Finally he decides, take on the auto giant on his own. The ten year battle costs him much, but he won't take ever larger, with no admission of guilt, settlement offers.

Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls) portrays Kearns' long suffering wife. The excellent cast also includes a small platoon of young performers who play the Kearns children at various ages. I think the audience left the theater with a sense of satisfaction after seeing this well made feature.

Director Gary Fleder's “The Express” is a much more action packed movie, but that's the nature of football vs windshield wipers and patent courtrooms. Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) is another David against a much less gentile Goliath. The story of the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy focuses both on Davis and the wider Civil Rights struggle of the time. I expect to see a lot more from Brown and Darrin Dewitt Henson who plays Jim Brown.

Among older cast members Dennis Quaid, playing the coach, gets the higher billing, but Charles S. Dutton, as Davis' grandfather, also turns in yet another fine performance. The football action is excellent, but so is the portrayal of what America looked like about fifty years ago. The screening audience gave the film a well deserved round of applause. As do I.

Two factual stories worth telling. Two stories well told.

Review by Erwin K. Roberts


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