Sunday, October 28, 2018

Seen in… September 

Emma Stone as Billie Jean King. Image via The Movie DB.

Between work, volunteering, house repair, dental visits, sketching and reading I’m not sure how I saw anything much in September. I completely missed the film festival and attempts to recreate one in my own home fell flat. In fact, two shows I'm writing about here are ones I saw ages ago and forgot to add (Battle of the Sexes and Mr. Robot) so clearly I’ve been not only too busy to watch stuff but also to busy to write about it. Lately it seems I start these posts with "I'm so busy I can't believe I watched anything" which sounds like some kind of woeful, pathetic brag, which it definitely is not. That said, I'm going to rededicate myself to watching some real quality stuff, right after I finish this Marvel series I want to catch up on.

Battle of the Sexes
A fictionalized account of the actual event of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Emma Stone plays Billie Jean King while Steve Carrell plays the ex-pro and aging hustling, self-promotional Bobby Riggs. This is a rare thing. A bio-pic set around a real event that doesn’t suck. The context of both King and Riggs is vital to the story. Billie Jean King, who was the number one female tennis player at the time was part of a women’s tour that was fighting both for survival and equal pay at a time when women were burning bras and protesting societal misogyny. Bobby Riggs was a retired tennis pro and serial promoter who also had a gambling addiction which had led to the demise of his marriage. Riggs saw a moment and proposed a match between himself and King to determine whether a female player in her athletic prime could defeat a male player, even one well past his prime (Riggs was 50-ish at the time). It should be noted that not too long ago former pro John McEnroe, 59, has claimed that he thought he could still beat Serena Williams. The difference is that McEnroe was probably serious whereas Riggs depicted himself as a lazy, vitamin swallowing, middle-aged chauvinist pig (going so far as to pose for photos with a young pig). That he wasn’t vilified for such showmanship, was a testament to the times and the charm of Bobby Riggs. What no one knew however was that Billie Jean King was struggling with her own marriage at the same time. The stress of life on the road had put distance between King and her husband while she was discovering her homosexuality with an affair with Marilyn Barnett, a local stylist she had met on the tour. Barnett is played by the amazing English actor Andrea Riseborough who by some unknown alchemy has the ability to portray women of immense sexiness or incredible dowdiness merely by how she wears her hair or by how she carries herself. The scene between Riseborough and Stone when they first meet is unbelievably erotic despite it being a simple moment in a barber’s chair at a salon.

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