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Sunday, May 13, 2012

MMA Documentary Movie Review – Jens Pulver: Driven

Jens Pulver is a former mixed matial arts (MMA) fighting champion trying to hang onto his career. He is a family man, has bills to pay, and wants to keep on fighting.

“Jens Pulver: Driven” is not a film about the violence in the ring. If you are looking for a blood and guts MMA documentary, you won’t find it here. This movie is more about Jens Pulver the human being, rather than Jens Pulver the fighter.

At first, I liked that this was not some head bashing romp. It is a very human documentary that even those who detest the MMA might have enjoyed. A man comes, tragically, from a broken home, an abusive father, a beaten mother and manages to find guidance and discipline through sports. The problem is it’s the same story we’ve heard before. I’m not taking anything away from Pulver when I say this. He endured a lot as a child and deserves to have his tale told. The story just isn’t fresh.
Victims of abuse might find inspiration in “Driven” though I say that with caution. Pulver’s rise from hardship, while heroic, isn’t the path for everyone. To suggest that the abused are somehow equipped for violent careers might not be the best message. The message to be taken here is that by all accounts, Pulver seems to be a kind and responsible man now (albeit one who breaks heads for a living) in spite of his difficult childhood.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Great 1935 Film The Informer John Ford Victor McLagen

The year is 1922 and there is conflict between the Irish that want their independence (Sinn Fein) and those loyal to Britain. Gypo Nolan (Victor McLagen) is a big, dopey, brute that used to operate with Sinn Fein’s Irish rebels but he was expelled when unable to kill an innocent man. Desperate for money, he dimes out a Sinn Fein member wanted for murder and is awarded the bounty. People are looking for him now.

You know the rest of the story. You’ve seen this plot before. Betrayal, action, romance, revenge, money, etc. What makes “The Informer” different is that this film is made in 1935 before such thematic cliches and in many ways, this John Ford movie still feels like it could hold its own today.

Shot in 1930’s black and white this film is thick with atmosphere. There is a foggy, ethereal darkness to this movie that gives each scene a somber, intimate thickness.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tous les Matins du Monde (All the World's Mornings) Review

Tous les Matins du Monde is based on a true story. Monsieur De Sainte Colombe in the 1600’s was arguably the world’s greatest Viola De Gamba player. He certainly was considered so in France where the King repeatedly asked for his services as a musician, which often Columbe refused.

Colombe’s wife dies and he becomes a complete recluse. He practices and composes fifteen hours a day and has an emotionally distant relationship with his daughters who he also trains to become master Viola De Gamba players.

Along comes a young, eager, musician, Marin Marias who is played as a by Guillaume Depardieu, then as an older man by Guillaume’s real life father Gérard Depardieu. Marias asks Monsieur De Sainte Colombe to train him on the Viola De Gamba. He reluctantly agrees and this begins a long, awkward and tumultuous relationship between Columbe, Marias, and Columbe’s daughters.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Informant

“The Informant!” is based on a true story. During the mid 1990’s, ADM (Archer Midland Daniels), one of the largest corporations in the United States at that time, consipired with a number of other competitors to control the pricing of a product called Lysine. I don’t anything about Lysine but according to the film, it is used in a tremendous amount of products such as vitamins, soda and others consumed by many people every day.  Keeping the prices high adds up to millions of dollars in greater profits and huge executive kick-backs.

I’m not sure where to begin on this film. It is both a dead pan and zany film dominated by Matt Damon who plays Mark Whitacre, the real-life whistle blower who exposes the price fixing scheme to the FBI.