Tuesday, May 26, 2009

superfluous and belated movie review of the month: tyson

so i consider "fresh air" with terry gross to be a major source of news. as in, breaking news. i know c4ts and sugarpockets despise terry gross, and i get that to a certain extent. i think she's much better when she is focused on a particular subject (e.g., health care) than when she's interviewing someone as like a character study. did you happen to listen to her interviews with either james franco or drew barrymore? those two actors were as moronic and inarticulate as i thought they would be. a good interviewer would direct these dolts to speak coherently, one would hope. or at least be funny. or brief. anyway, despite her shortcomings and her complete inability to understand humor (e.g., her interview with stephen colbert--mystifying. foreal, did she really think the "wriststrong" bracelet thing was that hilarious?), i continue to listen to her and find her snorting laughter to be more than a little bit amusing.

back to the subject at hand. terry gross recently hosted the creators of the documentary "tyson," about the boxer mike tyson, who were obviously sympathetic to their subject. she also interviewed others who had followed tyson's career as a sort of point-counterpoint. based on this episode i decided to check out the film. i mean, i watched a decent amount of boxing as a kid with my dad and i knew some of the major players: mike tyson, evander holyfield, lennox lewis, etc. like other casual boxing fans in the 90s, i watched in amusement/horror as mike tyson married and divorced robin givens, was convicted of rape, had several half-hearted comebacks, and disappeared disgracefully after biting off a chunk of holyfield's ear.

so i don't know what i expected out of this movie, and i still don't know what to make of it. is the intent to elicit sympathy? is it supposed to serve as some sort of apologia for a man of boundless brute force? is it supposed to be funny? now, i know the answer to that last question is a decided "no," unlike those snickering kids at the theater in cambridge who probably attend a school i shall not name (whose name rhymes with "harvard").

for those of you who may need a refresher, here's the gist of tyson's biography: he grew up more or less as an orphan with only an alcoholic mom in a very poor part of brooklyn. he was fat, lispy and bullied (one particularly sad story involves some local bullies snapping the neck of a pigeon tyson kept as company). after a few run-ins with the law and a stint in juvie, the legendary trainer cos d'amato--whose name tyson pronounces like "customato"--takes tyson under his wing and grooms all the rage and despair into a sort of fighting machine. sadly, d'amato, who is the closest approximation of a father figure in tyson's life, dies when tyson is 19 and...you know the rest.

there are some seriously brutal moments in this movie, and i am not limiting that statement to the boxing scenes. i guess since anyone who has ever watched a boxing match knows the level of aggression involved, the blood and physical force shown in those scenes were not unexpected. but man, some of the things tyson said and some of the interviews...this was some of the most depressing shit i've ever seen. for example, this infamous interview in which robin givens tells barbara walters--in front of mike tyson!--that tyson is out of control and that she fears him at times. unlike the crazy commenters on that youtube page, i don't doubt the veracity of her statements. to me, it's more like, is any of this surprising? i guess the reason why i found this movie so profoundly depressing is that it seems a foregone conclusion that someone without any guidance in his life who has only been taught to express himself through force (which also is the only source of validation and reward) will not know any better. no, this is not to absolve him by any means. still, the inevitability of it all was almost too much to watch.

i don't think the following is a spoiler, but if you don't want to know what tyson says at the end of the movie, skip the following paragraph. basically, tyson declares that he's been through rehab, he's reformed his old ways and that he's ready to be a father to his six kids. mind you, this prompted another chorus of snickers from my fellow theatergoers. assholes. i was just left wondering whether he could overcome his limitations.

anyway, apparently tyson's 4-year-old daughter recently died of a freak accident. that's some sad shit, man. foreal.

omg, what a friday downer. umm...here's some nostalgia for you:


cold4thestreets said...


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