Nov 20, 2009
Nov 18, 2009
Will Star ever regain his spirit?At last, Wonder's Star has recovered from the illness that halted his promising racing career so suddenly. The vet says he'll be back on the track in no time. But Christina Reese is convinced the colt has lost his spirit. She can't seem to communicate with him like she used to. Christina needs help.When Lyssa Hynde offers to work her magic with Star, Christina takes the colt to Lyssa's ranch in Montana to rehabilitate. But Montana is worlds away from the track, and Christina and Star are lost there. Will Christina and Star learn to take risks and trust each other again?
Lyssa tries to placate Christina by saying that Ray doesn't know any better. He is, after all, from Arizona, where jerks come from. Ray continues to try to win Christina over, using common forms of conversation starters that Christina construes as "creepy" behavior. When she's not avoiding Ray, she's on super defensive mode with Lyssa, because despite the fact that she trailered Star all the way to Montana with heifers she ultimately wants nothing to do with Lyssa's supposed advice. Also despite being totally about Lyssa's training techniques back in Close Call.
So this is what they do. Star gets loose up in the mountains, and Christina speeds off after him. Eventually they all get lost, Christina finds Star predictably injured, and winds up spending the night with him out in the wood somewhere. The next morning, Christina rides Star (sans tack, of course) into a river, where Star completely flips out and does his fight the water deal that brings his old personality back. And then they both climb out of the river and die of hypothermia.
Or not. Lyssa finds them, and all is well. Christina gets to put a checkmark next to Montana on her list of states that she has visited, and Star is set to win the Kentucky Derby. Surely he will not finish, you know, last. Or anything. That would be entirely too unjust.
- There is one thing I liked about this book: Christina never really admits that Lyssa's advice helped or did anything positive at all. By the end, she's really had it and starts to freak out at Lyssa about how it is entirely useless to train horses to open gates. And Lyssa actually does manage to look a little sheepish about it, because her horse was the one that let Star out to begin with.
- I really don't buy Parker telling Christina to take Star to Lyssa. I would accept this plot if Christina had dreamed up this idea, and then gotten totally overwhelmed when she finally gets there because she is a mother hen when it comes to her horse.
- Ashleigh, you suck so much. When Christina calls her mother up to tell her about this round up she's taking Star on, the very round up in which she loses Star, the only thing Ashleigh says is, "Sounds like it will be an adventure." Right about here is when you put your foot down and demand that your daughter bring her damn wonder pony back to Kentucky, because if the magical trick is thrashing around in water, I'm pretty sure you could have done that at home.
- Three days! She only waits three days before taking Star to Montana. Seriously.
And that was a Thoroughbred book.
Nov 9, 2009
The First Saturday in May
Tagline: Two minutes can last a lifetime.
Documentary time! Again!
So here's the deal: two brothers drop everything for over a year to follow these guys (and these horses): Michael Matz (Barbaro), Dan Hendricks (Brother Derek), Bob Holthus (Lawyer Ron), Dale Romans (Sharp Humor), Kiaran McLaughlin (Jazil), and Frank Amonte Jr. (Achilles of Troy) on the trail to the Kentucky Derby.
It's interesting to watch this a few years removed from the 2006 Kentucky Derby, knowing the stories of what happened to these horses after the Triple Crown trail. For instance, Barbaro and Lawyer Ron are both deceased, Jazil won the Belmont Stakes and that was pretty much all, Brother Derek and Sharp Humor suffered injuries and faded into stud duty, and Achilles of Troy probably has the saddest story of them all. Poor Achilles completely disappeared, and only rumor puts him in poor condition at Aqueduct days after the 22 counts of abuse were filed against his owner in April of this year.
But those stories could not be part of The First Saturday in May, although I think it would have been fascinating had they touched more on why Frank Amonte Jr. got the head trainer job with Achilles of Troy just before the Gotham, considering it was the last race Achilles of Troy was ever in. The only story they follow up on is Barbaro, for obvious reasons.
The documentary itself is much better than I thought it would be. In short, it isn't an overlong, overproduced montage in the same vein of the kinds you see during the Triple Crown broadcasts. It's realistic. Some of these guys are the type to drink whiskey straight from the bottle while playing golf, some of them curse up a storm, and some of them really are just straight-laced family guys. It was sweet to watch Michael Matz teach his son about approaching a horse with confidence (plus, I am sort of in love with Michael Matz), and I did enjoy watching Frank Amonte accost his son for complaining that the dirt they're standing in might ruin his new shoes.
What with the 2006 Triple Crown being so tragic in the case of Barbaro, I was curious to see how they handled the aftermath of the Derby. I am a person who went on Barbaro overload about two and a half years ago. Granted, I always kept up with what was going on with him, but now I just want to move on with my life. If this documentary had been made any other year, it would have skipped straight to the "here's where they are now" section and called it a day. Because it happened in 2006, they give us a two minute Barbaro clipshow that I am almost certain could have felt less pieced together. However, for the purposes of showing how important the Kentucky Derby winner is to American sport, I suppose it works.
In all, I thought it was well done. I sort of want to buy it, but I'm restraining that impulse.
(Next: books! I promise.)
Nov 5, 2009
Nov 3, 2009
Tagline: The greatest story of friendship ever told.
My reaction: lies!
Weirdly, this movie managed to get Zombie by The Cranberries stuck in my head. The only reason this happened is because the old man character tells the annoying young girl character something about someone bringing "their tanks and their bombs" somewhere to maybe blow something up. And I narrowed my eyes at the television and cried bitter, awful tears. It is stuck in my head now. It is truly horrible.
Anyway, I don't know why this movie was made. Quite frankly, it is bad. It was like a mash up of The Black Stallion and The Black Stallion Returns done in forty-five minutes, and let me tell you, the length of this movie is the only thing good about this. That, and maybe it's pretty occasionally. The rest of it is awful. Awful! Yes, with an exclamation point!
First things first: the main character is a girl. And wow, is she irritating. Plus, she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag, even if she was given a map and a flashlight and verbal cues. She wouldn't be able to find the light of day. I don't care if she is a child, damn it, she was wasting mine and everyone else's precious time. Actually, no one in this movie could act their way out of a moderately large trash bag. I am pretty sure they would all get lost somewhere and die in a desert of dehydration after having convinced themselves they've escaped and are actually successful. The only good actor in this bunch is the horse(s). And even then I feel that someone overdid it with the rearing.
Moving on, the voice dubbing that was mainly used to insert lines of dialogue such as "go, Shetan, go" and "you're such a good boy" and "wait!" I...sort of wanted to smack someone after a while. My favorite: "No, it's really me in person, see?" Shut up, really? You're here in person? Like, right in front of me? People, she was only gone for maybe a day or two. A month, tops. Or however long it takes to tame a wild yearling, which in this movie looks like it took a handful of water and two seconds.
And now, the plot, which is The Black Stallion meets The Black Stallion Returns meets the most annoying girl on the planet. This girl almost immediately gets lost in the desert, and is saved by the Black, who is a yearling and is off roaming the Arabian countryside because some mean man caught his mom. As we know from this movie's bonus features, the Black is really the son of some celestial Friesian (I have heard this is actually supported by the book, much to my horror), and this little girl's grandfather's mare named Gina. Or something. Whatever. The important thing is that the Black led the girl to water, and then she gives him water, which means that they are now super fabulous lifetime friends!
Only she randomly stumbles across her house (goody!) and the Black books it out of there, abandoning her to her grandfather and this small boy who was maybe her brother. Or cousin. Or someone. The Black is gone for a year, only to magically come back because I suppose it took him a year to get over this spooking episode. No matter! Little girl rides out to the Black, hops on his back because he is now tame for some reason, and decides that she's going to ride him in the upcoming festival race a la The Black Stallion Returns and win all the best mares and restart their family breeding stable, which I guess went to shit.
But Grandfather forbids it! This horse is like the devil! The little girl does the most shockingly predictable thing and decides to disguise herself and enter the race anyway, putting Shetan on the line. Her grandfather is too busy cuddling with Gina to really notice what's going on. I have a feeling he was drunk, because he sort of got weird halfway through the festival and abandoned the kids to find a hookah tent somewhere. Ah, parenting.
They race, the girl wins, they bring all the mares and Shetan back to the old homestead, and Shetan kisses his mom because of course he remembers her!
Of course this is not what the book is actually about, because I remember paging through it one day out of boredom and I remember it being much darker, but almost as ridiculous, and it actually was a prequel to The Black Stallion. I am not quite sure what this movie even is.