CHALLENGERS: Love from the Tennis Movie Playbook – Jennifer Green comments

The final climactic scenes of Luca Guadagnino’s new film Challengers track an epic court battle between two professional tennis players, Art (Mike Faist) and Patrick (Josh O’Connor). The story follows them as childhood best friends coming up in the world of pro tennis whose relationship is complicated by their love for the same woman, frustrated tennis star Tashi (Zendaya). Their own obvious mutual attraction adds another level of homoerotic friction. You’d expect nothing less from the director of Call Me by My Name. But that doesn’t mean Challengers is entirely new as far as tennis movies go. In fact, the film pulls quite a few ideas from the existing tennis movie playbook.

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CHALLENGERS – Review by T. J. Callahan

Director Luca Guadagnino, known for his wildly emotional, erotic and shocking films, has gone full soap opera as he serves up a tennis “love” triangle drama of the most steamy proportions with Challengers. Zendaya stars as Tashi, a teen tennis phenom. After suffering a career ending injury she turns to coaching her husband, a well known tennis champ on a losing streak. Tashi enters Art in a low level Challenger tournament to boost his confidence — until he finds himself in the finals pitted against his former best friend and Tashi’s former boyfriend.

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CHALLENGERS – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Early in Challengers, Zendaya as a young tennis prodigy leans back on a motel bed, watching a situation unfold. Her smirk is both amused and aroused, turned on by her power more than her company. Director Luca Guadagnino’s hot and heavy sports drama pumps up the sensuality, with sweaty closeups of eyes, glistening torsos, and plenty of grunting—and that’s just on the tennis court. What the film mostly explores is a menage-a-trois—not the one hyped in the trailers but the complicated relationship of three competitive people who can’t stay out of each other’s business. Challengers offers a messy contest of wills and connections with a lot to unpack.

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THE BIKERIDERS – Review by Serena Seghedoni

Writer-director Jeff Nichols (Mud) is back, seven years after his last picture, with The Bikeriders, a film that will take the world by storm when it opens in theaters in December. Inspired by Danny Lyon’s 1968 book of the same name, containing a series of photographs and interviews with various member of a 1960s motorcycle club, the film immerses us into said Midwestern club’s world – or rather, that of a fictional one, where we get acquainted with its bikers’ daily routines, desires, and hardships.

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WEST SIDE STORY – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

It’s hard to imagine what cinema would be like without remakes. From the lowliest programmers to the most bizarre arthouse films, no producer, director, or film star seems immune from thinking, “I wonder what I could do with that.” But taking on a remake of a film as beloved and revered as Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story (1961) is another matter.

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WEST SIDE STORY – Review by Pam Grady

The most curious alteration director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner make to the American musical classic West Side Story in their hotly anticipated remake is to take away from the central couple Tony and Maria their tragic theme, “Somewhere,” a song of longing for a brighter future when all seems lost. Instead, they give it to Valentina, the elderly owner of the drug store, where Tony’s gang, the Jets, hang out.

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WEST SIDE STORY – Review by Diane Carson

Director Steven Spielberg makes so many good choices for his remake of the iconic West Side Story. First, he respects the legendary, celebrated songs, showcasing their presentation through remarkable singing and dancing. Second, Spielberg infuses the 1957 story with serious contemporary issues, notably and always at the heart of the story, ethnic racism, plus rape, gang violence, and gentrification.

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