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THE BOYS IN THE BOAT: 2023 (Seen in a movie theatre.) The movie is about Nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (The ninth man is the coxswain and I never realized how important he or she is.) George Clooney, a traditionalist at heart, directed this old-fashioned movie, which didn’t get much critical acclaim, but is a crowd-pleaser. It’s reminiscent of Chariots of Fire, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1981. The Boys in the Boat won’t win the Oscar today, because, as Owen Glierberman said in his Variety review, “Who would have guessed that the Oscars would now be far too hip for a movie like this one?” (He liked the movie. He titled his review, “George Clooney Directs His Best Film in a While, a ’30s Rowing Saga That’s an Old-Fashioned Movie Daydream.”) Joe Rantz (Callum Tuner) is one of “the boys.” His character has been on his own since he was 14, living in a tin-roof encampment in Seattle during the Depression. When he tries out for the college rowing team, it’s strictly to make some cash; he’s studying to be an engineer and is about to run out of tuition money. Joe establishes the fact that these ”boys” were  mostly from the working class,  and they became a championship team because they had a moxie that wasn’t there in the teams from Harvard and Yale — the traditional upper-crust crew teams who’d been rowing since they were kids. The coach, Al Ulbrickson  (Joel Edgerton) tells the recruits “Eight-man crew is the most difficult team sport in the world,” but if they are perfectly in sync they’ll fuse into one machine. Along the way, Joe bonds with the assistant coach (Peter Guinness) who builds the hand-made boats. Then, there’s the way coach Al has to maneuver politically with the college brass to let the superior junior varsity team compete in place of the varsity for it was the JV team that won the gold. It’s a credit to the director that he maintains suspense through all the races. Jesse Owens appears briefly when the USA delegation is waiting for their place in the procession of nations He has one line but it’s an important one. He says he is racing for the country! Gary and I thought the movie well-done, and the crowd-pleaser very much pleased us. GRADE A

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