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Kyla’s Movie Review

DRAFT DAY (PG-13) - Starring Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Chadwick Boseman and Josh Pence. Directed by Ivan Reitman. Costner stars as Sonny Weaver, general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Apparently the Browns are a team that hungers for a Super Bowl victory the way the Red Sox used to crave the World Series. It’s the day of the NFL draft where teams get to select new players from a pool of college athletes. Sonny, who has the top first round pick, is under a lot of pressure over what he should do with it. To give you an idea: the head coach (Leary) wants a player who will fit in with the strategy he’s been building for the team, while the owner (Langella) wants a star who will fill the stadium. Sonny’s mother (Burstyn) wants Sonny to drop everything and come to a memorial service for his father–the former manager whom Sonny fired. There are players who see their future with the Browns. There are rival managers willing to trade draft options with Sonny to get what they want. And there’s Ali (Garner), who’s part of the Browns organization and lives and breathes football… and who has been having a private relationship with Sonny that’s about to get more complicated. This is a sports movie that’s almost entirely about the business of sports, as opposed to what transpires on the field. The film looks at the 12-hour span immediately preceding the NFL draft, taking us into the back rooms of several franchises and exposing their moves and motives from a strategic perspective. You don’t have to like sports to enjoy sports movies and you don’t have to know the first thing about football to enjoy “Draft Day.” RATING: B

CESAR CHAVEZ (PG-13) - Starring Michael Pena, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, John Malkovich, Wes Bentley, Michael Cudlitz, Gabriel Mann and Eli Vargas. Directed by Diego Luna. This is a bio-pic about Cesar Chavez (Pena), the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association. Chavez was a 1960s/’70s Civil Rights activist and the movie gives him his due, attempting to fuse together elements of his public persona with his uneven home life. The film takes a “highlight reel” approach to the main character’s life. When we first encounter him in the early 1960s, Cesar is just beginning his crusade. Over the years, he and his co-worker, Dolores Huerta (Dawson), emerge from obscurity to capture the attention first of a local sheriff (Cudlitz) and estate owner Bogdanovitch (Malkovich). Cesar and Dolores threaten picket lines and work stoppages; then, after those are broken by Bogdanovitch by busing in illegal immigrants, they move on to other measures, such as boycotts. When members of the organization advocate fighting violence with violence, Cesar embarks upon a 25-day hunger strike until everyone in the National Farm Workers Association signs a non-violence pact. Cesar’s advocacy captures the attention of Robert Kennedy, but it loses traction during the early days of the Nixon administration before Cesar takes the struggle overseas. Portrayed with quiet intensity by actor Pena, Cesar comes across as a caring, decent individual whose primary concern is for the workers he represents - migrants who toil in the fields of California’s vineyards for poverty-level wages. The film hits all the right notes but never attempts anything rash, daring or extraordinary. RATING: B-

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