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Facing Ali (2009)
A beautiful, honest film
I wasn't sure what to expect with this film. I had not heard anything about it and when I was able to get a copy I figured it would be a puff piece, but it is much much more than that. Interviews with several opponents of Muhammad Ali reveal a lot about both the interviewees themselves, and their lives, and their almost unanimous love for Ali. Footage of each fighter's bouts with Ali is plentiful and exciting, and watching it will make you cry when you realize how much he has lost over the years. Something else that will make you cry is what one of his greatest opponents--I won't say who it is---cries openly for Ali and calls him "a great guy...and I hope he gets to live the way we all live...he's earned it." This film just knocked "Tyson" out of the top spot in my best sports documentaries of the year list.
Excellent little movie
Briefly, this is a surprising little movie. When I first started playing my little illegal download, I thought I would be deleting it right away--the beginning reminded me of Juno, and when I saw Hilary Duff''s name I reached for the mouse, but something made me keep watching after I saw Ellen Burstyn's name. I ended up watching the entire thing, and loved it. A shame fine little film's like this one don't get the recognition they deserve. It's quirky and well written, and well acted by all involved. Duff is quite good but for me the actor playing Julie really deserves special praise---he captured the reformed and formerly troubled teen perfectly, winning over not only me but Great's grandparents as well. I agree with one of the other reviewers in that there is one resolved situation Only gripe: what happened between Julie and Greta???
One of the best documentaries in recent years!
I was fortunate (?) to have been in the Catskill (later Cus D'Amato) Boxing club with Mike in the early to mid 80's and as such got to see him just as he was starting to get the acclaim that would later get ridiculous. I remember that he was still like a little kid in a lot of ways---pushing his friend's motorcycle on Main Street in Catskill for him to pop start it, walking around with a NY paper's cartoon showing a drawing of him holding the world in his hands, and exclaiming to anyone who would listen "This is so fly!" And much more. He was happy, healthy, and on a course for greatness. Then Cus died, and after an incredible series of fights that left him with all the belts, Mike threw it all away. He doesn't shy away from telling the world how foolish he was, and it is heartbreaking to see him on the verge of tears as he seems to relive it in his memory. Director Toback does a brilliant job in letting his subject do all the talking, and it is riveting. One star off for not making it clearer why he let Don King take over and basically destroy his career. While he does acknowledge the piece of crap that King is, he needed to go a little further, since King was sort of the anti-Cus, if you will. I know Mike knew that he was always welcome to come back to Catskill, where Cus's knowledge is still being imparted even today.
Glory Road (2006)
Equal to Hoosiers
Other than a few anachronisms, like calling rebounds "boards" this movie was enthralling from start to finish. Though it has plenty of clichés, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it is the true story of the first college team to start 5 black players in a game , and the success that they achieve. Josh Lucas really shines as the coach and shows his skills as one of the finest actors in film. Set in 1966, it actually seems to be a logical progression from Hoosiers, which took place in the 1950's. One should make sure to stay for the credits, which feature some of the real players offering their memories. There are also some film clips from the actual final game. I hope the entire game is on the DVD release. This movie is highly recommended to film and basketball fans alike.
The Woodsman (2004)
Powerful...and very real.
I had read about the scene with Robin but was unprepared for the impact it had on me. Another reviewer above commented that there were too many molesters in one film. Wake up. I personally know over 25 or 30 women who were molested when younger, and I live in a small town. It is a secret crime and the actual statistics are only a tiny fraction of the reality, since, like Robin, many of the victims are related to their molesters. I could find no real flaws in the film, although Eve's character seemed a bit obvious and stereotyped, maybe. The role was necessary to advance the trouble at work scenario, but could have been done a bit more subtly. A film I would see again.
One of the highlights of my past
As stated, this film was one of the reasons I am such a movie buff now, I think. I was about 12 or 13 when I first saw it, and I got to see it twice because it was rerun a couple of months after its initial showing, and then that was it. It has resonated for all these years, leaving me with that funny feeling inside that only happens when a movie has really made a powerful impression. I have been looking to see it and have my wife (I won't , however, tell her that this movie also made me develop a crush on Bonnie Bedelia that survives to this day!) see it and have been unable to find a copy, 'til recently, via eBay, where I am hoping to be the winning bidder so I can validate what I have just written. Just writing about it now makes me long to see it again.