Movie Trailer for: Rising Phoenix
Subjects: Tatyana McFadden Para Athletics, United States; Matt Stutzman Para Archery, United States; Jean-Baptiste Alaize Para Long Jump, France; Bebe Vio Wheelchair Fencing, Italy; Ryley Batt Wheelchair Rugby, Australia; Ellie Cole Para Swimming, Australia; Ntando Mahlangu Para Athletics, South Africa; Cui Zhe Powerlifting, China; Jonnie Peacock MBE Para Athletics, Great Britain
Riley Stearns’ new film ‘The Art of Self-Defense’ could be seen as untoward, almost depraved, because it’s so wicked. Don’t get me wrong with the words I’ve chosen to describe it. It’s wicked good! It tells the story of a thirty-five-year-old dog owner. I’ll stop there a moment. When you see the movie, you’ll see why I did. Read more
Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Andre Ward, Florian “The Big Nasty” Munteanu, Dolph Lundgren, Russell Hornsby
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Producers: Irwin Winkler, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, Kevin King-Templeton, Sylvester Stallone
Executive Producers: Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, Guy Riedel
Distributor: MGM, Warner Bros. Pictures
Tonya Harding always wanted fame and wanted to be a household name but not from being a criminal. She wanted to be known for her skills on the ice. She wanted the world to know she could perform one of the most difficult jumps on a pair of ice skates ever. At the time, she was the only woman to be able to perform, the nearly impossible to land triple axel jump. Only a few people had been able to master it when she discovered she could. The jump is well described in the film by a proud Tonya.
This film is shown in more of ‘mockumentary’ style, such as ‘Best in Show’ and ‘Spinal Tap.’ It bounces back and forth between showing you Tonya’s life, characters talking about ‘the incident’ and about Tonya herself who was played with measured empathy by Margot Robbie. To be honest, by the end of the film, you want to stand up and applaud Tonya for having made it through childhood.
Her trash mouthed, chain-smoking mother, LaVona Golden, is played remarkably and frighteningly well by Allison Janney. She was always frigid and never lovingly supportive, but don’t say that to her face. She was never going to be the parent of the year so Lavona embraced the challenge fully to see how bad she could be… or so it seems in the film. She put tiny Tonya on an ice rink when she was only four years of age.
An abused child, Tonya tried her best to please her mother but never really could. Her coach knew she was too young but did accept the child, however, acceptance only went so far. Being that LaVona worked as a waitress and didn’t have much of an income, Tonya was never fully welcomed in the ice-skating circles, not by the other skaters and certainly not by the judges who prefer the girls look like princesses and not paupers when they’re on the ice. Try as she might to get people to like her and grade her on her talent, not on her wardrobe, they never did. This rejection was something that followed Tonya from day one through her last day on the ice in competition.
LaVona treated her daughter with as little kindness as possible so that she got used to it. Life wasn’t going to be easy and she didn’t want her daughter to be weak and unable to handle anything that came her way, so instead of giving her words of encouragement in a loving manner, she emotionally injured her with words that pained and hurt her. Listening to her convey her thoughts about Tonya was uncomfortably amusing and Janney made the situation almost laughable; that a mother would speak such things of her daughter was unfathomable. Watching her treat Tonya so horribly through the years, in the flashback scenes, was shocking but not really funny.
Instead of making her tough, it made Tonya bitter and sent her into the arms of the first man who would have her, Jeff Gillooly (Stan), who was mentally and physically abusive, which was exactly what Tonya knew. Theirs is a volatile relationship, with bigger downs than ups, but he supports her dreams, as much as a narcissist can. When he gets violent enough to make her leave, he always sweet talks her into going back.
I don’t want to give away exactly how we find out Jeff is involved in the incident and how involved Tonya is in taking skater Nancy Kerrigan out of the picture for the Olympics, in case you don’t know. I will say that actor Paul Walter Hauser’s, Shawn Eckhardt, has to be one of the biggest boobs in the history of film, and you’ll love his character.
Watching this all play out, Jeff and his goons complete incompetence and inability to keep a story straight, is well worth the purchase price, as is all of the acting and the CGI involved in creating the jumps. There’s not much you won’t like about the film.
It’s a tragic story presented as a comedy much like Tonya’s life itself. In the end, she didn’t like being famous. In the end, she was a punchline. The deck was always stacked against her… she never stood a chance.
*Stay at the end for some real footage.
The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs.
Directed by: Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Austin Stowell, Jessica Mcnamee, Natalie Morales and Fred Armisen
Chuck is based on a true story. Interestingly enough the film is based on the man who Sylvester Stallone based his Award Winning film Rocky on and that is Chuck Wepner (Schreiber) of Bayonne, New Jersey, who was a humble yet moderately successful prizefighter… and liquor salesman. His nickname was the ‘Bayonne Bleeder.’ This came from his childhood and stuck with him because one thing he could do almost better than anyone was take a punch. It didn’t matter how many times a fighter hit him, he took it and kept coming back for more. He and his manager, Al Braverman (Perlman), had a ‘Never stop the fight!’ agreement. Wepner seemed also to be a self-centered narcissist, though he’d never see himself that way… putting himself above all others was his style and only when he needed help did he truly allow people into his life.
In 1975 he was going to get his big break. He was given the chance to fight George Foreman but suddenly, Muhammed Ali beats Foreman and the fight is off. He’s crushed as his future depended on a match of this size. At what seemed like the final hour, his manager gets a call from promoter Don King. Since Chuck is a white fighter with stamina, King has the idea that he’d be ideal for a fight with Ali. Odds of Wepner winning are Forty to One.
Only someone like Chuck would love those odds. Then we’re in the ring where it’s a much different story. It’s a good match where Chuck admits to liking to ‘wear him down with my face.’ The crowd loses its mind for the butt kicking he’s taking, but he sends a surprised Ali (Pooch Hall) to the mat once and the crowd loves him even more. Chuck’s inner dialogue during the fight is insanely comical and shows how erratic his thinking was and how unstable his mind was at the time. If you don’t want to know the outcome, don’t read this part (skip to the next paragraph) but at the end of the fight, and much in the same way that Balboa ends his fight with Creed, he almost ‘Goes the Distance’ with Ali. Just nineteen seconds shy of making it the entire fight, the fight is called and it’s a technical win for Ali.
I enjoyed this film. The 70’s music and the styles are represented incredibly well; the overall look of the film itself shouts another time. The characters are great. Chuck shows you who he is before this fight and who he becomes after the fight… neither guy particularly pleasant but somehow still loveable. When he’s depressed he looks for women to make him feel better… which doesn’t go over well with his wife, Phyliss, played by Elisabeth Moss who should get recognized for this performance. She’s frightening as she approaches Chuck sitting with his latest conquest. Her performance is excellent. She has to hold the family together by herself because her husband, who desires to get knocked out for a living, can’t take the beating once it’s over. She alone is worth seeing this movie.
I really liked Chuck. It’s perfect for both men and women; not at all just a guy film, despite the subject matter. It’s interesting to learn that this boxer was the inspiration for Rocky and intriguing to watch him interact with Sly before the making of Rocky II. It’s also a fascinating look at the relationship between men and women. A quote by Chuck at the end of the film sums up his views flawlessly. ‘Sometimes life is like a movie… and sometimes, it’s better.’ He has enjoyed being Chuck as Rocky enjoyed being who he was. Winning or losing, it didn’t matter, as long as he was in the ring.