Off the Black
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Top Customer Reviews
Within seconds, literally, we are introduced to young Dave Tibbel (Trevor Morgan). He's standing on the pitcher's mound, sweat beaded on his brow, studying the catcher's signals. His face completely fills the screen, as if the director is saying, "here you go. If you don't like what you see, this will be tough for you. If you do, sit back and watch the story develop." The story is that of a relationship between Dave and someone else, of course. But that someone is no blonde bombshell or voluptuous vixen. The other half of that relationship is Ray Cook (Nick Nolte), the ump standing behind home plate. But this is not "Brokeback Baseball," no, although surely that may enter your mind. It's something else. It's something rarely explored in American cinema, and it's bold and daring. It's a love story -- a good old-fashioned romance between two individuals who just happen to be male, and it's totally platonic. "Is this possible?" you may ask. It sure is, and "Off the Black" will prove it to you.
This film is made with passion and care. The soft, natural lighting of the interiors allows the full mystery of the characters to flourish. Single point lighting allows interplay of light and shadow which echoes the bright and dark sides of Dave and Ray, as well as the family members who surround them. Dave's father Tom (Timothy Hutton), withdrawn and distant. Sister Ashley (Sonia Feigelson), on the cusp of adulthood, gawky and afraid. All have secrets to tell, but don't, or won't, or can't. Cinematographer Tim Orr manages to find beauty in every little thing -- contrails, dripping gutters, siding and eaves and gently sloping roofs.Read more ›
Also worthy of mention are a very natural performance by Trevor Morgan, an understated Timothy Hutton and a surprise (to me) appearance by Sally Kirkland. A very nice movie for fans of indie films or character studies.
It is Nolte who carries the entire film, really. And it probably wasn't that much of a stretch for him to play the drunken Cook character considering Nolte's past notices on the local news. Which, of course, made him the perfect casting choice. His gravelly voice and fading good looks matched Ray Cook's persona to a tee. When Ray finds a bunch of team members toilet-papering his home, he's able to catch one of them and, of course, it's Dave Tibbel. They strike up an interesting relationship. Dave needs something more of a father figure (which he's not getting at home), while Ray needs to connect with someone from the outside world in a meaningful way.
The two bond in father/son fashion one night after Ray takes Dave to his 40 year class reunion posing as Ray's son. It is here that Dave learns much about this enigmatic patriarchal man. Ray has a real son that he sends video recordings of himself to, only to have most of them returned unopened.Read more ›
Nick Nolte plays an old-school Baseball Umpire called Ray Cook - a 57-year old drunk by night barely holding it together on the field by day. At the very beginning of the movie, Ray makes what most of the town considers is a 'bad call' on the pitch of a minor Leagues game. The recipient of this gaff is a young baseball hopeful called Dave Tibbel (played by Trevor Morgan - he looks like the son of Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurley) and it changes both of their lives forever.
In revenge for the sending off, Morgan and two of his mouthy team-mates shower Nolte's home that night with toilet rolls, spray paint his driveway with a dick drawing, break his car window and generally vandalize his property. But the young and inexperienced Morgan gets caught in the act by a boozed-up Nolte who vows that Morgan will have to pay for his actions - in short - clean up the mess. Morgan's character David - being essentially a nice kid - agrees - and over the next few days, they enter into an unexpected and unlikely bond - David slowly becoming the son that loser Nolte never had.
While this is going on, David's real father, Timothy Hutton, offers little help to either him or his lost little sister at home. David's sister is played by Sally Kirkland - who looks like a young Natalie Portman - just as beautiful and an actress that's definitely one to watch. Hutton's character is a man who's lost his wife two years back for inexplicable reasons (possibly mental illness, maybe drink) and seems to have mentally checked-out ever since. He offers his kids mumbles at the breakfast table, distant platitudes that have no teeth.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a great indie gem, I love the brother sister relationship and nick nolte is wonderful, even if the movie is a little predictably, it still wonderfulPublished 2 months ago by Anthony H.
Nick Nolte has had a roller coaster acting career and nearly stereotyped himself into repeating the same character, but in different movies. Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Jim Altfeld
movie came on time and was in great condition. not nick noltes best work but an okay story. movie was a little slow and drawn out.Published on January 20, 2013 by david starks
If your a nick nolte fan this is a great movie
Great story line and good all around movie
Had seen it a long time ago and still hasn't lost
This is a pretty laid-back, slow-moving film with a lot of depth.
It has a lot of heart and shines a light on the fears and uncertainty we all face in life. Read more
Let's get something straight. I rented "Off the Black" because of Nick Nolte. No other reason. This beautiful and touching 2006 film was a fine surprise. Read morePublished on December 27, 2008 by Chris Wilson
I started watching this move on the cable and i could not change it. I found it to be an exceptional drama with Nolte giving a remarkably beliveable performance. Read morePublished on October 5, 2008 by pierce
This film is an excellent independant film and is very underrated. The story basically has Nick Nolte as Ray Cooke, a baseball umpire and Dave Tibbel as Morgan, a player on one of... Read morePublished on September 26, 2008 by barry