By Robin E. Simmons

Nothing is a sure thing, especially movies and horse racing. It’s fun to discover a sleeper that comes out of nowhere and connects with a wide audience. But movies that are about long shots and underdogs almost always satisfy, even when we’ve seen the same story played out many times before. We love to root for the underdog and those that believe in him or her.

50-1_1-Sheet_77.indd50 to 1

In many ways it is a familiar story, but the specifics make it fresh and fun. 50 to1 is a heart warming true story about a misfit group of New Mexico cowboys who find themselves on the journey of a lifetime when their crooked-footed racehorse qualifies for the Kentucky Derby. However, a series of mishaps on their way to Churchill Downs make them — and their horse Mine That Bird — the ultimate underdogs in a final showdown with the world’s horse racing elite.


Co-writer director Jim Wilson, who also produced, is a long time racehorse breeder as well as the Oscar© winning producer of DANCES WITH WOLVES. He also produced of THE BODYGUARD, WYATT EARP and MESSAGE IN A N BOTTLE with partner Kevin Costner. This passion project for Wilson stars William Devane, Skeet Ulrich, Todd Lowe, Christian Kane, Madelyn Deutch and Hall of Fame jockey Calving Borel — who plays himself. When Mine That Bird won the big one in 2009, it shocked the racing word and as perhaps the most remarkable come-from-behind victories in Derby history.

Mine That BirdNOTE: At Cinemas Palme d’Or on Saturday September 6 there’s a special Q&A after the 6:45 show with co-writer Faith Conroy and director Jim Wilson.50 to 1 Skeet







Life of CrimeLIFE OF CRIME

Elmore Leonard’s 1978 novel “The Switch” is the basis for writer-director Daniel Schechter’s faux prequel to Tarantino’s 1997 hit Jackie Brown (from Leonard’s novel “Rum Punch”). Leonard, who passed away last year, supposedly gave his blessings to Schechter and his screenplay.

The plot is about Louis and Ordell, two small time hoods, who have a hare-brained plan to make a quick million by kidnap Mickey (Jennifer Aniston), the wife of Frank (Tim Robbins), a rich Detroit real-estate tycoon. When Mickey is safely in their custody, they call Frank and demand a $1 million ransom for her release. Only glitch in the plan is Frank does NOT want Mickey back. In fact, he’s already filed for divorce and has another squeeze. The basic plot may remind you of 1986’s RUTHLESS PEOPLE starring Danny DeVito and Bette Midler. A lot of attention has been lavished on the 70’s vibe and the dialogue remains true to Leonard’s quirky mix of odd jargon and unexpected rambles and personal side trips.

Aniston Life of CrimeThe character driven comedy is diverting and a few times laugh out loud funny, but there’s a familiarly and rather worn feel to the whole enterprise and the twists are not exactly a big surprise. The cast is great, but Aniston has little to do but parade around in a bad 70’s wardrobe. She excels in dark dramas, but I’m guessing this is not how her fans want to see her.

In JACKIE BROWN, Samuel L. Jackson plays Ordell. In LIFE OF CRIME, Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, is Ordell and he steals every scene he’s in with a sly charisma. John Hawkes plays Louis, his partner in crime. Isla Fisher is fine as Frank’s mistress with ideas of her own.

I like movies that allow me to identify with, care for, or root for someone. But there weren’t really any good guys here. I guess I kind of wanted Ordell and Louis to succeed in their ever-morphing plan, but that says more about me than the movie. Now playing.

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