NBFF Recommendations of the Day: Don't Quit: The Joe Roth Story; Mary Poppins; SlingShot

Joe Roth was a Heisman Trophy favorite in 1976. He died shortly after that season ended.
Joe Roth was a Heisman Trophy favorite in 1976. He died shortly after that season ended.
JR12 Productions
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The love family, coaches and teammates have for a quarterback who died of cancer three months after his last game for the Cal Golden Bears is apparent in Don't Quit: The Joe Roth Story. That love will be on display this afternoon when several talking heads from Bob Rider and Phil Schaaf's documentary--including Roth's coach Mike White of Balboa Island--are expected at the Newport Beach Film Festival screening at the Lido.

That Roth had suffered from melanoma was no secret. He had come to Berkeley from a community college as a cancer survivor, which made him the reluctant subject of several newspaper and television stories, included one hosted by the former voice of college football on ABC, Keith Jackson, who also narrates this movie.

But Roth wanted to be known for what he did on the field, and it was something special indeed as he went from non-starter when the 1975 season began to leading the Golden Bears to the Pac-8 co-championship. Among those seen raving about Roth (besides Mike White) are Steve Bartkowski, Tony Dungy, Vince Ferragamo, Chuck Muncie, Barry Switzer and Dick Vermeil.

Big things were expected in '76 from Roth, who was thought to be cancer-free. Events from that disappointing season would prove otherwise. And yet, Roth never let anyone know what he was going through during the season. Even when his cancer was known and he was bedridden shortly thereafter, he'd ask visitors how they were feeling, without giving an indication he was dying.

There are some repetitive moments near the end of the film that should be trimmed, and I never thought I'd say this but I got sick of hearing Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star." As much as I loved hearing the now-retired Keith Jackson call football games, his broadcaster voice sounds out of place here.

But don't let those minor knocks keep you away from Joe Roth's remarkable story. It could just be the Trojan fan in me talking. (2 p.m. at the Regency Lido in Newport Beach.)

More recommendations on the next page ...
 

Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Retrospective
"I can never remember where I parked."
"I can never remember where I parked."
Walt Disney Co.

After attending the Orange County Film Society sneak preview screening of Saving Mr. Banks last December, I had to pull ol' Mary Poppins up in the Netflix to give the old girl another spin. The five-time Academy Award winner is as delightful as ever, justifying the chestnut, "They don't make them like they used to."

But that's not why I'm recommending this retrospective showing of director Robert Stevenson's 1964 Disney classic. If you saw Saving Mr. Banks, you'll recall author P.L. Travers, whose book was the source material for Uncle Walt's adaptation, constantly clashed with the songwriting duo, the Sherman Brothers. Richard M. Sherman, a longtime friend of the Newport Beach Film Festival, is scheduled to share his remembrances at today's Poppins retrospective. I now take you to Amy Nicholson's Saving Mr. Banks review in the OC Weekly:

Audiences who love Disney's Mary Poppins are forced here to dislike its author, who loathes everything about it: the musical ditties, Dick Van Dyke, even Mr. Banks's mustache. [Emma] Thompson's Travers is as unpleasant as a pine needle pillow. In reality, Travers was a feisty, stereotype-breaking bisexual--a single mom who adopted a baby in her 40s, studied Zen mediation, and published erotica. Now that's a character worth slapping onscreen, instead of this stiff stereotype. In a Hollywood where men still pen 85 percent of all films, there's something sour in a movie that roots against a woman who asserted her artistic control.

Me-yow! Let's go see Mr. Sherman today and ask him about the real P.L. Travers. (4:30 p.m. at the Lido)

SlingShot
Sure, but now try to get it home without spilling.
Sure, but now try to get it home without spilling.
Focus Forward Films

If you only knew Dean Kamen invented the Segway, you'd consider him one of the most-successful inventors in the world. But besides the two-wheeled scooter, Kamen--the holder of more than 440 patents--brought us the portable dialysis machine, insulin pumps and a wheelchair that climbs stairs. Chagrined that young people look up to athletes and entertainers but not engineers, he also started the first robotics competition for youths.

However, his greatest gift to mankind is the SlingShot, which produces clean drinking water from any unfit source. Paul Lazarus' eye-opening documentary, which screens as part of the film festival's Environmental Film Series, really takes you into the mind of a remarkable man. We also see and hear from the many people he has touched, including his parents.

Kamen, who has been interested in inventing things that help solve every-day problems since he was a child, has a wall in his home with portraits of great men of science like Edison, Einstein and da Vinci. As Lazarus shows over 97 minutes, a framed Kamen belongs up there as well. (8:15 p.m. at South Coast Village in Santa Ana; also 2:30 p.m. Monday at Fashion Island Cinemas).

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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