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Entries in sports (45)

Tuesday
Jun282016

Doc Corner: 'O.J.: Made in America' a Compelling Success

Glenn here with our weekly look at documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. This week we're looking at ESPN's much-buzzed five-part documentary about O.J. Simpson.

Even more coincidental than the release of ESPN’s O.J.: Made in America so soon after Ryan Murphy’s star-studded FX mini-series, The People v. O.J. Simpson, is that the rise to fame of their subject coincided so precisely with the rise to prominence of the African American civil rights movement. The irony was not lost on Simpson with the handsome man who everyone thought “had it all” never being able to out-run the shadow that his own meteoric ascent cast over seemingly the United States’ entire black population. Nor is it lost on director Ezra Edelman who makes the parallels the structural spine of this exceptionally thorough, exquisitely compiled, and exhaustively compelling five-part documentary. It’s not called “Made in America” for nothing – another coincidence it’s worth noting, Made in America is also the name of a pretty good 2008 documentary about the Crips and Bloods war in L.A. by Stacy Peralta – and across 463 minutes, Edelman and his collaborators have crafted a powerful demonstration of the dichotomy of race, fame, and justice in America.

Starting in the 1960s with Simpson’s rise in college football, Edelman’s film wisely doesn’t focus exclusively on the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman and the trial that followed. In fact, it takes until the third episode to even bring it up, instead preferring to spend time examining these early passages of his life for clarity and for clues. Unlike the FX series, O.J.: Made in America is more concerned with attempting to find out how a man like Simpson and the country came to be. [more...]

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Thursday
Apr142016

First Look: Battle of the Sexes

Murtada here. So you have a new movie about a very popular internationally recognizable person, what to do to announce that your film has started shooting? Why get Billie Jean King herself to tweet a photo of your two stars, right next to the two real life people they are playing. Get everyone talking about the uncanny likeness. Easy peasy, the internet ate it up!

Battle of the Sexes is about the 1973 tennis match between King and Bobby Riggs that made headlines worldwide and still stands in the culture as encapsulation of 1970s changing social attitudes about sport and feminism. Emma Stone is King and Steve Carrell is Riggs and boy do they look the part. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) are directing, the supporting cast includes Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue and in a Birdman reunion Andrea Riseborough as Marilyn Barnett, King’s girlfriend at the time. It was surprising to see Danny Boyle's name as a producer, although not so much when seeing his Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours partner Simon Beaufoy as the screenwriter.

Barnett during the alimony trial.

Riseborough’s casting hopefully means that the movie will explore the tumultuous relationship between King and Barnett. Their relationship became public in 1980 when Barnett sued for alimony, outing King and putting her in the path of LGBT rights advocacy. That was 7 years after the battle of the sexes, so we are keeping hopes tempered.

The film just started shooting, so we have a long wait before we can see it, perhaps in the second half of 2017. However since this is an awards site, it’s never too early to speculate. We know that playing a real life person - with that person making the campaign rounds alongside the actor - is a surefire way to win an Oscar. The movie has to be good of course, this one at least has the pedigree. Will this be Emma’s moment? 

Wednesday
Apr062016

Beauty Break: Olympic Actors

As Google reminds us today is the anniversary of the very first Olympic games way back in 1896. What better time than now then for a beauty break featuring actors (this is the Film Experience after all) with Olympic history. Know this going in: Hollywood was OBSESSED with swimmers for a long time.

Let's kick it off with the original Flash Gordon Buster Crabbe. Here are eight Olympic Beauties with acting careers after the jump...

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Wednesday
Mar092016

HBO’s LGBT History - Back on Board: Greg Louganis (2015)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at Remembering the Artist: Robert de Niro Sr. which looked at the father of the Oscar winning actor who, in case you didn’t know, was a well-regarded visual artist and a gay man. The doc was (sadly) more interested in the former assertion than the latter, despite sexuality having been central to his art—his most curious muse? Greta Garbo in Anna Christie. This week, we’re taking about another doc portrait though one clearly more centered on its subject’s sexuality.

“Who is Greg Louganis? What kind of question is that?!”

Louganis, still considered the greatest Olympic diver in the history of the sport balks at even having to answer such a question for Cheryl Furjanic in the opening minutes of Back on Board: Greg Louganis. But as he mulls over the question he has to admit he’s not quite sure who Greg is. After all, he retired from diving in 1989, spent much of the 90s coming to terms with himself—he publicly came out ahead of the release of his best-selling memoir, Breaking the Surface (which was later made into a TV movie starring Mario Lopez), disclosing at the same time his HIV-positive status—and finds himself at the start of shooting this HBO Sports documentary fighting with his bank over his mortgage. Yes, Louganis, once a household name synonymous with Olympic glory currently faces the prospect of losing his house and he hopes auctioning off his medals and memorabilia will be enough to keep him afloat. more...

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Friday
Feb262016

Review: Eddie the Eagle

Eric here for the new Hugh Jackman. Eddie the Eagle tells the true-life story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, who became the first skier to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping in 1988.  The comic spin:  Eddie is not really an athlete, or a particularly good skier.  But he’s a dreamer!  And tenacious!

Even if this weren’t a true story, you’d know from the first few scenes where it was headed.  Director Dexter Fletcher doesn’t have any aspiration higher than to make you feel good, but he has a just-pluckier-than-sitcom sensibility that feels predictably right for this genre.  He delivers the kind of film that studio executives love, where nothing is challenging and all the characters fall into their respective stereotypes (including groan-inducing taunting foreign competitors and the horny middle-aged female bar owner.!)

Where the filmmakers got it right, and very very lucky, is with their two leads. Externally, Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) overplays the comedy with a bit too many Zellwegarian face scrunches, but internally he has a surefooted instinct for the joke and knows how to keep things surprising with his captivating capriciousness. For this film the latter goes a long way. Jackman has essentially no character on the page, but he plays it as if nobody told him he’s in a mediocre movie.  One of Jackman’s secret weapons as a movie star is that he always knows exactly what is required of him in any given film.  Here he just needs to loan out his star wattage to add credibility and look great in jeans; he supplies both with sweet aplomb.   

Even though this movie has low ambitions, which it achieves with low success, it’s tough to be mad at it.  There are enough bright lines of dialogue to make you wish there were more, plus a bouncy score that salutes 80s comedies (until it veers towards standard, Feel-This-Way scoring).  The film may be as subversive as a Norman Rockwell painting, but when Egerton and Jackman walk towards each other flapping their wings, there’s a pleasant little high.

Tuesday
Dec082015

Interview: Ivan Ostrochovsky on Directing the Slovak Oscar Submission 'Koza'

Jose here. As Creed gains popularity in the awards season, it would be fascinating to juxtapose it with Ivan Ostrochovsky's Koza, the Slovak Foreign Language submission which also happens to be about a boxer. The main difference with both films is that in the very American Creed, boxing is a noble enterprise used by the hero to reclaim his position among the "gods" (it's no accident that in such an Oedipal drama, the leading character's name is Adonis). In Ostrochovsky's film, boxing is the means by which the leading character (played by real life boxer, and former Olympian, Peter Balaz) who goes by the nickname Koza (which means "goat") is trying to raise money to prevent his wife from having an abortion. 

Formally exquisite, and with a running time of a little over an hour, showing how great editing proves that less is indeed more, Koza is an exemplary work of art that combines documentary filmmaking and drama. Its un-romantic look at sports might prove revelatory to some (it certainly did to me) and Ostrochovsky's deep humanism should place him as a director to keep an eye on. He was also kind enough to answer a few questions I had about the film, including how he directed Balaz, and what an Oscar nomination might mean for his career.

Read the interview after the jump...

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Wednesday
Dec022015

Can "Creed" Go 12 Rounds With Oscar?

In the past 48 hours I've screened The Revenant, Joy, and Creed. Since the first two are still under embargo we're not allowed to speak of them yet. I will say these non spoilers that The Revenant continues the tradition of Inaritu's love of miserable arguably suicidal men, and Joy continues in the tradition of David O. Russell sandbox like playgrounds for actors eager to play with their new parts. But...embargo!

As movie buffs well know, the original Rocky was a smash hit when it premiered in December 1976, becoming the biggest box office hit of that year, making a star of Sly Stallone, charting a #1 single ("Gonna Fly Now"), and earning an incredible 10 Oscar nominations. It eventually won Picture, Director, and Editing on the big night. And against unreal competition too: Network, Taxi Driver, Bound for Glory, and All The President's Men. The Rocky series spawned a few popular sequels but eventually exhausted its welcome as film franchises do. Creed, smartly plays like both a straight sequel (VII) and a spinoff or rebirth with Rocky Balboa passing the franchise torch to Apollo Creed's son Adonis (Michael B Jordan).

So let's talk Creed and Oscar and the ways it could well factor into the Oscar race after the jump...

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