Friday Night Lights

  • Directors: Peter Berg
  • Producers: Brian Grazer
  • Writers: H G Bissinger, Peter Berg, David Aaron Cohen
  • Genres: Action, Drama, Sport
  • Actors: Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, Tim McGraw

Bissinger followed the team for the entire 1988 season, which culminated in a loss in the State semi-finals against Carter High School from Dallas, who eventually went on to win the championship game but would have their title stripped for playing an ineligible player. However, the book also deals with — or alludes to — a number of secondary political and social issues existing in Odessa, all of which share ties to the Permian Panthers football team. These include socioeconomic disparity; racism; segregation (and desegregation); and poverty.

The coach, Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton), is constantly on the hot seat. Tied into the successes and failure of the coach and the team in general are the conflicts the players struggle with on and off the gridiron. The coach overuses his star player, running back James “Boobie” Miles (Derek Luke), who gets seriously injured (Miles tore his ACL, missed the playoffs, and had a limp for the rest of his life). When this happens, sports radios are flooded with calls for his resignation. Miles’ once-arrogant attitude vanishes as he sees his once promising chance of playing big-time college football disappear and starts to question his future after he notices his not-so promising academic standing. Quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black) struggles with being able to play consistently, and his inability to make decisions for himself. Fullback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) has a rocky relationship with his father (Tim McGraw), who won a state championship at Permian and carries on a feud with his son for not performing on the level he’d like to see, despite the fact that Don doesn’t do anything to light his father’s temper. Third-string running back Chris Comer (Lee Thompson Young), who takes the spot of Miles after his injury, attempts to get rid of his fear of being hit and getting injured, especially when the player who last occupied his spot suffered a season ending injury. His obsession with fame and recognition also comes at a high price that he is at first not ready to play. Safety Brian Chavez (Jay Hernandez) is easily the smartest player on the team, and the most confident in his future after high school football. One of the themes of the movie depicts the coach as a father-type figure for the players.

Coach Gaines triumphs and struggles with winning football games and connecting with his players a number of times during their tremulous season. His job depends on the Panthers making the playoffs, and his team is in a three-way tie with two other teams at the end of the regular season. Under Texas rules for ties, the tiebreaker is a coin-toss. In an effort to prevent a riot, the location of the coin-toss is kept under wraps. Permian gets a spot. They make it to the finals, where they narrowly lose to a powerhouse Dallas high school team.The movie ends with the coach removing the departing seniors from the depth chart on his wall. Notably, the depth chart has “Case” at quarterback. This refers to Permian’s real-life backup quarterback in 1988, Stoney Case, who would go on to lead Permian, along with Chris Comer, to the 5A state title the following year, and still later made it to the NFL. The final scene consists of Winchell throwing a football to a bunch of pee-wees playing pick-up football before leaving with Billingsley and Chavez.

The Kingdom

  • Directors: Peter Berg
  • Producers:
  • Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan
  • Genres: Action, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Jamie Foxx, Ashraf Barhom, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler, Richard Jenkins, Jeremy Piven, Ali Suliman

The opening scene of the movie explains the origins of U.S.-Saudi diplomatic relations and how energy exploitation has transformed the Middle East through a timeline sequence. It portrays the conflicts that have risen since the late 1940s for the rightful ownership of the oil industry. This includes the Gulf War in Iraq and al-Qaeda’s growing network of terrorism. Eventually, it explains the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how the majority of the hijackers were Saudis. This raises serious questions on the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States. The plot begins with the current struggle of Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s efforts to stand control of their country against terrorist extremists.

During a softball game at an American oil company housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda terrorists set off a bomb, killing many Americans and Saudis in the process. The terrorists impersonate members of the Saudi State Police. While one team hijacks a car and shoots up residents of the area, another runs out onto the softball diamond, pretending to aid the Americans, but then reveals that he is a suicide bomber and blows himself up, killing everyone near him. Sergeant Haytham (Ali Suliman) of the Saudi state police, disables the stolen Saudi Police vehicle and kills the terrorists. A short time later, the FBI Legal Attache in Saudi Arabia, Special Agent Francis Manner (Kyle Chandler), calls up his colleague Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) to tell him about the attack. Shortly afterwards, a second bomb explodes in the compound killing Manner and more people.

At Al-Ghazi’s house, Fleury and Haytham meet his family. Fleury tells his son that al-Ghazi was his good friend, mirroring a similar scene earlier in the movie where he comforted Special Agent Manner’s son. Fleury and his team return to the U.S., where they are commended by FBI Director James Grace (Richard Jenkins) for their outstanding work. Afterwards, Leavitt asks Fleury what he had whispered to Mayes (earlier in the film) to calm her down. The scene cuts to Abu Hamza’s daughter asking her son what his grandfather whispered to him as he was dying. Fleury recalls saying, “We’re gonna kill them all,” while the grandson tells his mother, “Don’t fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all.”

Hancock

  • Directors: Peter Berg
  • Producers: Akiva Goldsman, James Lassiter, Michael Mann, Will Smith
  • Writers: Vince Gilligan, Vincent Ngo
  • Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime, Fantasy, Thriller
  • Actors: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman

John Hancock (Will Smith) is a drunkard with superhuman powers, including supersonic flight, invulnerability, immortality, and super-strength. Although he uses his powers to rescue people and stop criminals, his activities inadvertently cause millions of dollars in property damage due to his constant intoxication and cynical attitude. As a result, he is routinely jeered by the public and is considered a nuisance by the LAPD. Hancock frequently ignores court subpoenas and lawsuits from the city of Los Angeles to address the property damage he has caused.

When public relations spokesperson Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) departs from an unsuccessful meeting pitching his All-Heart logo for corporations that want to be seen as charitable, he becomes trapped on railroad tracks facing collision with an oncoming freight train. Hancock saves Ray’s life at the cost of derailing the train and damaging other cars. Hancock is jeered by other drivers for causing more destruction, but Ray steps in and thanks Hancock for saving his life. Ray offers to improve Hancock’s public image, and Hancock grudgingly accepts. Ray convinces Hancock to turn himself in for his outstanding subpoenas so they can show Los Angeles how much the city really needs Hancock when they miss him fighting crime and saving lives. When the crime rate does rise following his incarceration, Hancock is contacted by the Chief of Police to help stop a violent bank robbery. With a new costume from Ray, Hancock is released from jail and makes a triumphant return by rescuing a wounded police officer, and foiling the robbers lead by Red Parker (Eddie Marsan).

Hancock meets Ray and Mary back at their house. Mary explains that Hancock is technically her husband, explaining that they were built in twos, and that they are drawn to each other over time and great distances. When later intervening in a liquor store robbery, Hancock is shot and wounded. Visiting him at the Hospital, Mary explains that when a pair of immortals get close to each other physically, they begin to lose their powers. She also tells him that she and Hancock have been attacked as a couple many times throughout history, most recently being in an alley in Miami 80 years ago. His skull was fractured during the attack, causing amnesia. To save his life at the time, Mary deserted him, allowing him to recover from his injuries. After her explanation, the hospital is raided by the bank robber Red Parker and two other criminals that Hancock had encountered when imprisoned. Mary is shot trying to defend Hancock as he is able to stop the two men, but is further wounded in the process. When Red attempts to finish Hancock off, Ray comes to the rescue and stops the bank robber with a fire axe. With Mary dying, Hancock uses the last of his strength to flee from the hospital so that their parting would allow them both to heal with their powers. Hancock is now living in New York City, working as a superhero there. As gratitude to Ray, Hancock paints Ray’s All-Heart logo on the moon, giving worldwide advertisement to his cause.