LFG (HBO Max):
While the focus of Story Talk is stories, and by stories I’m thinking of fiction, I watched LFG and felt compelled to include a review.
This film is about the women’s national soccer team and its battle with the US Soccer Federation over equal pay. It is a struggle that is still going on. The story is told from the women players’ perspective, and it recounts their ups and downs, their emotions, their struggles, and their on-the-field triumphs. The film doesn’t purport to give an unbiased presentation of the issue or the court case. It’s about the women, what they feel, what they believe, what they want, and why they do what they do. This is actually the film’s strength. There are no talking heads, no “expert” commentators, no
journalists, and mercifully few lawyers.
If you really want to understand what the women’s soccer team is asking for, why they’re so pissed off, this is a masterful and powerful film. I highly recommend it.
Honestly, I’m surprised at some of the backlash this film has received in the short time it’s been out. I don’t think it’s terribly controversial to say that the women’s soccer team is undercompensated compared to the men’s, rather grossly so, and that something should be done about it. Yet, this still seems to be a hard pill to swallow for so many. Several bad reviews of the film I've read are hard to explain other than as the result of a deep-seated view on the part of the reviewers that the women are way out of line to ask for equality. Oh well. Shrug it off. Reviewers can dislike a film for whatever reasons they want. What really shocked me, though, were the many, many comments to the reviews that gleefully bashed the women’s team. So many of the comments were dripping with overt prejudice and even misogyny. Wow.
Like other inequalities and prejudices in society, this bias against women athletes seems so deeply ingrained you wonder if meaningful change is even possible. Well, it’s clear that progress certainly won’t happen without a long, hard fight. The first step in waging that fight is to stand up and say something and not let the status quo shout you down. The women’s soccer team has done that, and LFG is a great chronicle of them doing it.
Wolfgang (Disney+, 2021)
Wolfgang is about Wolfgang. Wolfgang Puck in case there is any doubt. The movie is a friendly telling of the celebrity chef’s rags to riches story. Everyone loves those kind of stories, and lots of people love shows about food, as evident from how many food shows there are on TV nowadays. Not to date myself too much, but growing up, cooking shows were few and far between. You had Julia Child’s The French Chef on WGBH and the Galloping Gourmet. But I digress.
Wolfgang is a pleasing watch. It’s fun listening to Wolfgang talk, watching all the great food (word of caution: be careful about watching it on an empty stomach), and hearing about his meteoric rise to fame. While it's interesting to listen
to his friends and colleagues wax on about his greatness, really the most enjoyable parts of the movie are listening to Wolfgang talk about himself and his life. He does have charisma.
To be clear, this is really a paean to the man, not a critical biography. Wolfgang does open up about himself, his struggles and triumphs, and he is honest and frank about his life. But there are a lot of details about him that are absent or glossed over. If you only want to know the basic facts about his career and personal life, you might do better to just read Wikipedia. Nobody has an unkind word to say about him here—we came praise Caesar, not to bury him.
So, who should watch this? Everyone, I think, but especially foodies. Also, you should watch it if you just like Hollywood and Hollywood celebrities. There aren’t a lot of A-list celebrities, and Wolfgang Puck is that, who will sit down for an hour and half and open up about themselves and their life. My advice is to consider watching the show as part of a dinner and a movie night. Start out with a reservation at a really nice restaurant and then come home and watch the documentary.