Videos I Love: The ‘Ali’ movie trailer

Love it or hate it, no one can deny Will Smith’s evident determination to at least evoke ‘The Greatest’ in all his cultural and egomaniacal glory, standing up to the Vietnam-era war machine, ravishing beautiful women and inspiring millions of fans.

I’m occasionally sharing some light thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

Michael Mann’s thrilling 2001 docudrama on world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was celebrated by many for the accuracy of its fight scenes and criticized by many more for its vivid portrayal of its complicated hero. I tend to forgive some its historical flaws out of admiration and respect for the film’s overall accomplishment: powerfully illustrating Ali and his era for younger Americans to ponder.

“Ali” carries extra favor with me because it introduced me to incredible music from Sam Cooke, Mighty Joe Young, and Johnny Farmer.

Love it or hate it, no one can deny Will Smith’s evident determination to at least evoke “The Greatest” in all his cultural and egomaniacal glory, standing up to the Vietnam-era war machine, ravishing beautiful women and inspiring millions of fans.

Smith can also be commended, if nothing else, for refusing to be eclipsed by the dazzling constellation of movie stars from one end of the film to the other — without a doubt the best cast Michael Mann ever assembled, an assertion this trailer beautifully confirms.

Full disclosure: I’m easily entranced by anything that includes Michael Michele.

Videos I Love: The ‘Blow’ trailer

The biopic starring Johnny Depp explores the tragic rise and fall of George Jung, who built a U.S. cocaine empire in the 1970s, at the cost of everything most important to him.

I’m occasionally sharing some light thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

I have tried really hard to be a fan of Johnny Depp’s work. His droll, smoldering style would seem perfect for my own skeptical and cynical outlook on the world. I was never drawn to his oddball Tim Burton roles or the whole “Pirates” thing. To me, the best Depp work has been in “Donnie Brasco” and in one his most underappreciated films, “Blow.”

The biopic explores the tragic rise and fall of George Jung, who built a U.S. cocaine empire in the 1970s, at the cost of everything most important to him. It’s no masterpiece, but some sequences are truly beautiful, and the soundtrack is excellent. Star turns include Ray Liotta as Depp’s father, Penelope Cruz as Depp’s psychotic wife, the strangely gorgeous Franka Potente as Depp’s girlfriend, and Paul Reubens as a Jung drug connection.

But the film’s real star was director Ted Demme, whose brisk, inventive style emulated P.T. Anderson’s and Martin Scorsese’s best work. He died of a heart attack months after “Blow” premiered, and fans and critics alike speculated on the interesting film directing career Demme may have had.

Videos I Love: The ‘Casino’ trailer

Friday night. You’re in the mood for a good movie. Here’s my suggestion, with the luscious trailer to whet your appetite.

I’m occasionally sharing some light thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

Friday night. You’re in the mood for a good movie. Something substantive but not wearily pretentious. Something ambitious and sweeping in scope but not mentally exhausting. Something grand and maybe a little trashy. Something with a great story, great music, great acting, all in a great location.

Here’s my suggestion, with the luscious trailer to whet your appetite.