Tag Archive: billie jean king

‘Battle of the Sexes’



‘Battle of the Sexes’ sits in a weird spot.  It’s a fun movie while not a straight up comedy; it covers a serious topic while also not being too heavy handed about it.  I think that’s why I enjoyed a lot of its individual parts more than I liked the movie as a whole.

Emma Stone puts another notch in her ‘serious actress’ belt, playing feminist icon Billie Jean King, at the exact moment in time when multiple stars were aligning.  Professionally, women’s tennis players weren’t even being offered half of what the men were making (in terms of the purses of major championships), and Billie Jean King was in the center of rectifiying that wrong.  On a more personal level, Ms. King was ‘married to a good man’, but her desires were being awakened in another direction (Alan Cumming is brilliant as the gay costumer who sees the writing in the wall before Billie Jean is ready to fully comes to terms with it, privately or publicly).

Steve Carell is equally great as Bobby Riggs.  Movies are made a year out, but even with unpredictable outcomes in real life, it’s interesting to watch Carell play Riggs as this showman/hustler who doesn’t seem to completely believe the things he says publicly, but he knows its what his benefactors want to hear, and he knows it will make headlines.

Not a Hall of Fame movie per se, but a story that surprisingly hasn’t been captured as a movie until now.  Worth seeing for the performances alone.





Just finished the premiere of the new ESPN 30 for 30 doc, ‘Venus Vs.’, directed by Ava DuVernay.  It’s a good doc; all of this happened in our lifetimes, but I know I’m not the only one who kind of takes for granted now how much ground Venus broke within our generation.

The main storyline of the doc is how (kind of shockingly since tennis has traditionally been the one sport where the female stars can be equal or bigger than the men) the women’s single champion earned less than the men’s single champion at Wimbledon.  Not shockingly Billie Jean King was one of the first people to rattle the cages about the discrepancy, and in time the gap closed until it kind of become insulting in the other direction (you’ll make 95% of what the men make.  See, you’re almost equal.)  As the title of the doc suggests, Venus is credited for using her star power to get that gap completely closed.

What was most compelling to me (and many others I’m sure) was reliving Venus’s journey from tall lanky kid from Compton to #1 tennis player in the world.  I’m guessing the timing is purely coincidental, but there’s another, much more sinister story about a black kid ‘being somewhere he didn’t belong’ (Trayvon) that already doesn’t have a happy ending and is touching the ‘less than equal’ nerves of a lot of the people who probably watched this doc.  And I won’t get any further off track but I’ll throw this out there to for a later conversation: Voting Rights Act.  OK, back to topic…

‘Venus Vs.’ is a clean, efficient hour of filmmaking that’s worth your time.  Props to Ava for another good film!