The Gridiron Gang, mentioned immediately below, is a very good film, by the way, well worth seeing. Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson," the film is based on the true-life story of a juvenile-home worker who put together a football team that helped some of the young men learn good character and thereby find a way out of the gang life which sucks in so many young people today and destroys their lives.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson arrives at the premiere of 'Gridiron Gang' in Hollywood, September 5, 2006. Hollywood is counting on 'Gridiron Gang' and 'The Black Dahlia' to provide a much-needed lift at the box office, which dropped last weekend to levels unseen in several years. REUTERS/Max Morse 

Watching the film, one feels great sympathy for the boys even while seeing that their choices are indeed choices and are appallingly stupid and destructive of both others and themselves. The key is that the boys don’t believe they have a choice in life until their coach shows them that they do.

This is a truth we can all benefit from remembering at times. Our overall circumstances are indeed largely outside our control, but how we react to them and what we make of them and ourselves are left up to us.

The belief that we don’t have a choice is the thing that most certainly cripples us, far more powerfully than circumstances ever can.

Hence the film is about much more than football, touching on issues of race and class and the question of how much of our behavior is determined by circumstances (including genetics) and how much we choose. It’s a good deal more serious and thoughtful than the general run of movies this year, and I recommend it highly.