Name: Coach Carter
Director: Thomas Carter
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Rick Gonzalez, Robert Ri'chard
Genres: Drama, Sport
Country: USA, Germany
In 1999, Ken Carter, a successful sporting goods store owner, accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA, where he was a champion athlete. As much dismayed by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal play performance, Carter sets about to change both.
If you're sick of inspirational-type movies, then don't see it, but otherwise I highly recommend it. This is also not a movie about the sport. While basketball is used as the backdrop for the movie, Coach Carter really isn't about basketball. The real heart of the movie is in the way Coach Carter begins to turn the lives around of the players on his basketball team by showing them that someone actually cares about what happens to them after high school. Coach Carter is trying to instill values that he thought would help an entire community.
At one point in the movie Carter (played perfectly by Samuel L. Jackson) asks a player why he plays basketball and he responds with "to win the state title" - which of course gets him high fives from the rest of the team. Carter then asks the team who won the state title last year and nobody knows the answer. Carter tries to show his players that high school basketball is not about winning, but about discipline, respect and the confidence to accomplish any goal. He offered resolutions to his team's behavior and left it to them to make the right decisions.
The breaking point of the movie is when Coach Carter gets the academic results of his players. He closes the gym and had to face the rage of players, parents, fans and media. By surviving this pressure he drives his players to understand that they are to decide what course their life will take, and it is easy to give in to the opinion of the majority, but they should carry the responsibility of their own action and deeds. When they make the right decision, they are able to see the positive consequences. When they make the wrong decision the players are faced with negative consequences and had no one to blame but themselves. Coach Carter teaches his players that they must be committed and work hard to excel.
Name: McFarland, USA
Director: Niki Caro
Cast: Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez
Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport
Language: English, Spanish
A struggling coach and teacher who has had to move around for different incidents in his career finally comes to one of the poorest cities in America: McFarland, California. He sees that some of the students are worth starting a cross-country team and turns seven students with no hope into one of the best cross-country teams.
McFarland USA is much more than the regular good sports movie. Kevin Costner plays Jim White, a coach whose anger forces him to move to McFarland, California, where he begins a job teaching science and gym. In this predominately Latino town Jim and his family experience a culture shock. White joins a school that isn't the best in the world. He sees potential in a few students and forms a cross country team, much to the frustration of colleagues, his and runners' families.
What I like is that the movie that it doesn't contain a crazy amount of over dramatizations. It is quite simple: there are no unexpected fancy twists. The acting is straight up and solid. The ethnic background of the movie adds to the movie lots of diversity. I enjoy a few of the scenes that involve the interactions between the coach or his family and the locals. They demonstrate how cultural interaction and familiarity can eliminate fear and break down the walls that divide us.
Since this is a Disney movie, acute topics are rounded off. Crime, discrimination, politics, racism, and poverty are present, but are not signified or looked upon in depth. A nice work is done by the director Niko Caro in keeping the story grounded and focused on the individuals. We get a feel for the skepticism and family obstacles faced by this first group of runners. More importantly, we witness the pride and involvement as the boys begin to have some success. It is actually nice to see when such a sensitive topic as the racial theme is turned into a positive and inspiring story.