Author Topic: ESPN Films Presents: 30 for 30  (Read 13066 times)

Corndog

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2011, 10:41:26 PM »
A buck a movie would be an incredible deal.
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Antares

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2011, 09:54:21 AM »
I wish lived during his reign as king because I am sure it was a sight to see, even if he was an arrogant annoyance to some.

I can tell you as one of the many who couldn't stand his arrogance, that I always relished the fights where he got his clock cleaned, but this fight should never have happened. I remember the weeks prior to it, and Ali's usual bravado, but there was something different this time. He spoke much slower and almost as if in a daze. I remember telling my father after watching an interview on Wide World of Sports, that I felt he was going to get crushed because there's something wrong with him.

It is hard to point directly to this fight to blame for a lot of what happened to Ali afterward, but it is also hard not to say it was a major player in his decline as a boxer and as a functioning person.

This fight wasn't the cause, but more of a compounding to what he had suffered in previous bouts, with the fight against Ken Norton being where the seed was planted. Look at some of the headshots he receives from Norton in the 10th round. There is no doubt that he should have never continued this fight, especially with a broken jaw. .


jbissell

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2011, 11:19:27 AM »
Muhammad and Larry (Albert Maysles & Bradley Kaplan, 2009)
If I had one gripe about the film it's that I wish it had been longer than an hour because I wanted to spend more time with and learn more about these two. Easily the best of the series so far.

For sure. I think it could've easily been 30 min. longer and just as good, if not better.

Corndog

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2011, 03:59:06 PM »
Without Bias (Kirk Fraser, 2009)

I was first introduced to the person of Len Bias in High School health class. The class was very lazily taught by the head basketball coach at the time and as such I never really learned anything that has stuck with me. In fact, the instance of Len Bias is only memorable for Dick Vitale, as we watched a clip of a speech he gave at a basketball clinic. In the speech Vitale spoke very fondly of the person and talent of Len Bias. He spoke of it all being taken away to the careless use of the "Big C", cocaine. He spoke with great passion and emotion. I would have never have done drugs anyway, but a video of someone speaking 10 years ago is the only thing I ever took from that Health class, and even then I didn't really learn who Len Bias was.

Bias was a basketball superstar to be. He was a local treasure in Maryland and attended the University of Maryland for four years where he brought his coach Lefty Driesell an ACC championship. He was described as a raw talent who over his college years developed into a potential NBA all star. He played alongside North Carolina's Michael Jordan and was even compared to the greatness of the greatest basketball player ever, arguably. But soon after being drafted #2 overall to the reigning NBA champion Boston Celtics, Bias died. The report was that his death was caused by intoxication from cocaine.

The problem with the documentary is that I'm not too sure I know very much more now than I did going into the film. Director Kirk Fraser presents a very straight forward approach to the story of Len Bias, opening with an examination of Bias as a phenomenal player, calling in all the current ESPN guys to prove his point. Then he goes on to the chronological timeline of events that lead to his tragic demise. He graduates, gets drafted, dies, ripple effect in the world of sports and beyond. But as an hour long documentary every thing seems truncated and glossed over. Len Bias was a sensational player and his story is so huge that I cannot imagine this being a testament to that story or that person.

For such a heartbreaking tragedy, there seems to be little in the way of emotion, even from the Bias parents, but that has to be from the presentation and interview methods taken by Fraser because I know it was startling, especially after they lost their second son Jay to a murder just four years later. But again, that story seems added on and bears no effect on the film. Fraser just fails to add anything to an already great story. He has every opportunity to make a great film here given the material, but instead chooses to give us a bland and ineffective film.

The series to this point has done a nice job of mixing stories, sports and styles and for that I applaud the ambition of ESPN Films. However, it has stumbled on a couple of occasions and both times it seems to have come from a lack of passion and just downright laziness by the filmmakers. That is a bold statement and one that assumes more than I can possibly know. Ad quite frankly it is probably not fair to the filmmakers to say that, but I also can't help but think under more steady hands something more could have come of this material. The Bias story is great, but what lead to what happened to him? What came of it? And I don't just mean a couple minutes on some vague law against cocaine possession. But all of this should not detract to the reality of the story and just how tragic those few days were.

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Antares

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2011, 07:39:10 PM »
At one time in my life, I really enjoyed watching NBA games, and I remember this tragedy like it was yesterday. I grew up in Massachusetts and was a big Celtics fan and when Auerbach pulled off his heist of Bias we all thought that the dynasty would live on for at least another decade.

I was playing in a charity golf tournament and a guy I used to work with, who had season tickets to the Celtics, came onto the first tee just as we were about to tee off and told us that he was inside the pro shop, buying a new golf glove, and saw the report on the news about Bias overdosing earlier in the day. We all stood there dumbstruck.

george96

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2011, 01:01:41 PM »
Of the ones I've seen:

Very good:

The Band That Wouldn't Die
Silly Little Game
The U

Good:

The Dotted Line
Guru of Go
Once Brothers
Pony Excess
Straight Outta L.A.
Without Bias

Average/Not that hot:

Kings Ransom
Run Ricky Run
Small Potatoes

Corndog

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2011, 11:32:13 AM »
The Legend of Jimmy the Greek (Fritz Mitchell, 2009)

My knowledge of betting and gambling is very limited. I have never been in a casino or the Las Vegas, but when I was about 14 I did make it out to the local race track with the family. Through my parents I was able to place a little bet and lucky me, I won! It was a great thrill and I can see where people would becomes addicted to it, but I have used extreme caution and not bet since. Well, unless friendly poker games and football pools count. See? Even the people that claim they are not gamblers, are. I am a perfect example of this, and as such it can be assumed that America is a country of varying degrees of gamblers. And during his reign on top, Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was perhaps the most successful gambler in the country.

Born in Steubenville, Ohio, Snyder grew up in a town where vice was overlooked and almost accepted. Soon he found that by asking the train conductors to bring the newspapers from every city they had been in, that he could use that local information to gain an edge in wagering. He made lots of money quickly and soon moved to Las Vegas where he continued his success by opening a business, but his real success came when CBS hired him for their Sunday morning football program The NFL Today. By hiring The Greek, CBS had legitimized his profession. And Jimmy was the perfect personality for television. The network was coy about their use of Jimmy, avoiding betting terminology and betting lines on the show. But soon, Snyder made racial comments that got him in hot water which he could not get out of.

I was not very surprised to learn that Jimmy the Greek was from Steubenville, Ohio. I'm not sure how many people are familiar with the little Eastern Ohio town, but being from Ohio myself I have heard my fair share of stories about mob fronts and mob connections. So for a famed gambler to come from that town was none too surprising. The life of Jimmy the Greek was also definitely an interesting path for such a man to take. He was massively successful, both financially and int he public eye once he gained his job on CBS. He was chastised for making the Colts 17 point favorites in the Super Bowl Joe Namath's Jets upset them, but little did they know his job was to set the line for equal betting on both sides. His street smarts is what made him great, but his street sense may have also been what brought him down.

The film takes a fairly straightforward approach to telling the story, much like in the previous installment Without Bias. I am beginning to see what the goal and direction of this series is going to be. After six episodes I have only been overly impressed by two of them, but with the experience of these six I have been educated about certain events that I did not know about before. The series is simple and with hour long episodes it is hard for it not to be. But for what it sets out to do, it is accomplishing its goals. For that it should be applauded, but from a filmmaking perspective there is nothing very impressive about the series. So from this point on I know what I can expect, and I don't want to confuse anyone, I am still having a good time with the series.

One of the main strengths of the film was how it dealt with the fall of Jimmy. While I cannot say that the film intentionally did this, or even touched on it with the interviews, but it certainly gave me something to think about when it comes to forgiveness in this society. Jimmy Snyder made a mistake and made some unfortunate comments. They were racial and uncalled for, but I would not call them racist, as they were actually saying that black athletes were superior to their white counterparts. The inability of America to forgive him for his words is sad and the result was Snyder looking dirty, living in Las Vegas, and asking his former producer for money. He went from the top straight to the bottom with no chance at redemption. I can't help but think that society picks and chooses who to forgive for their wrong doings. What will the documentary on Tiger Woods look like in 10-15 years?

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AAAutin

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2011, 12:38:51 PM »
For that it should be applauded, but from a filmmaking perspective there is nothing very impressive about the series.

Wait until you get to NO CROSSOVER; it's a Steve James doc first and a 30 FOR 30 installment second. And while that may not necessarily be a good thing--I, for one, thought that the Jamesian flavor was to the film's detriment--it is, at least, a change of pace.

(Apologies for jumping ahead.)

Corndog

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2011, 01:47:08 PM »
No problem. That is one of the ones I am looking forward to because of James. And the series does have a few longer episodes which I am interested to see how the extra time can add to the formula thus far. The U is next and has a runtime around 100 minutes.
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jbissell

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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2011, 02:00:00 PM »
The biggest shakeup in any formula is definitely Brett Morgen's June 17, 1994. The U is also at least a little stylistically different and fits well with its subject matter.