‘Ford V. Ferrari:’ Male Bonding, ‘Fast and Furious’ Style, in the ‘Mad Men’ Era
After attending the PJ Media reunion in Orange County last week, Nina and I flew up to San Jose, both for Nina to visit her longtime legal clients, and for us to revisit our old Saturday night stomping grounds, the mixed-developed Santana Row. There, we saw Ford V. Ferrari, which as veteran film critic John Nolte of Breitbart.com wrote in his review last week, is a brilliant exercise in male bonding through massively souped-up American race cars:
Director James Mangold has delivered 152 minutes you never want to end. His screenwriters, Jason Keller and brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, crafted one scene after another that qualify as brilliant and brilliantly entertaining short films. FVF is beautifully structured. The story flows effortlessly. The dialogue is sharp and oftentimes hilarious (“They said I’d have carte blanche this time. I looked it up, it’s French for ‘bullshit.’”) The relationships between the characters are all believable. The cinematography is gorgeous. The production design is so flawless you forget it’s 1965. The characters are well defined. And the acting… Wow.
Bale is simply superb as an eccentric artist brimming with confidence, desperate to do what he was born to do, but only on his terms. He’s also a devoted family man with a bottomless love for his wife and son.
Damon is his equal, a proud and ambitious Texas man dealing with his own disappointments as he navigates Los Angeles and the buttoned-up corporate world of Ford in his cowboy boots and hat.
There is some CGI in the film, mainly to replicate the massive crowd scenes at its various race tracks. But the intense racing sequences were for the most part filmed on tracks with replica race cars, giving those scenes an intense physicality and realism:
While they feature very different cars and are paced very differently, Ford V. Ferrari reminded me very much of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1988 film, Tucker: The Man and His Dream. Both films were directed by or starred men who, at the heights of their careers were two of Hollywood’s biggest Lear Jet leftists, and yet, both made quintessentially all-American films about wild-eyed mid-century entrepreneurs fighting to overcome Detroit’s massively bureaucratic corporatist behemoth industries. (And in Ford V. Ferrari, overcoming snooty Continental poseurs as well.) And Ford V. Ferrari contains not a hint of a leftist sucker-punch to advance radical feminism or the Green Nude Eel, an all the more impressive achievement in 2019. While Ford V. Ferrari will no doubt be a massive hit in streaming and on Blu-Ray, it’s very much well worth seeing on the big screen for its amazing cinematic racing action. And to cheese off SJW leftists such as Hannah Elliott of Bloomberg News, who whinges in Canada’s National Post, “Ford v Ferrari depicts a ‘car guy’ generation best left dead and gone.”
Picture this: During all 152 minutes of the film–which, for those who love vintage racing cars, will feel as good as an ice cream sundae on a summer afternoon, and you can read all about that here–men dominate the screen for 98% of the time, by my unofficial count. They are in the executive suites at Ford and Ferrari, in the workshops and garages in Venice, on the track out at Willow Springs Raceway. (And when I say men, I mean white, straight men.)
No fraction of the storyline is devoted to parsing the thoughts and feelings of any female who appears, even peripherally, on screen. Instead, Caitriona Balfe, who plays Miles’s wife, Mollie, is presented as the doting mother: She smiles mildly and nods her head indulgently as her husband struggles to gain traction in the race world. She clucks and scolds like a schoolmarm when Miles and Shelby come to blows on her front lawn–then brings them each a soda pop.
You get the picture. Elliot’s scolding review has given Iowahawk, Twitter’s legendary vintage car fanatic, an epiphany: “I demand Hollywood produce a female-centric reboot of the LeMans '66 story, with Betty Friedan & Germaine Greer beating the Ford/Ferrari patriarchs in a solar powered Feminista GT, designed by Rosie the Riveter, at the Mount Holyoke Women's Racecar Collective & Action Center,” adding, “And don't even get me started on that phallocentric ‘Saving Private Ryan’ sausage fest.”
Elliot’s review is a reminder that for the rest of us who aren’t SJW wokescolds, the film works surprisingly well, and, astonishingly for 2019 Hollywood, is free of what the aforementioned John Nolte has dubbed “the liberal sucker punch.” While in the rest of the world, the film was dubbed Le Mans ‘66, the alliteration of its American title works in its favor. Ford V. Ferrari rolls off the tongue like the film was a Fast & Furious sequel. Of course, “Chevette versus Corolla,” “Peugeot versus Prius,” or “Ford versus Yugo” probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as interesting as movies, particularly if they featured the stars of the Batman and Bourne franchises behind the wheel.