Monday, April 27, 2009

Five Points on Tyson

1. I've enjoyed every James Toback movie I've seen, but he does tend to make some questionable (his defenders might say "bold") artistic decisions. I'm thinking of Harvey Keitel naked on a piano bench in some sort of fetal-y position at the end of Fingers or the repeated docu-hacky shots of Mike Tyson meditatively strolling along the beach in Tyson.

2. Toback does not bore you. Tyson held my attention for the full 90 minutes, in spite of (or more likely because of) the movie consisting mainly of interviews with the titular subject. Toback is fascinated with sex, violence, and a good line of B.S. (Tyson might say "skulduggery"), which goes a long way toward explaining both his friendship with Tyson and his (relative) success as a writer and director.

3. The accidental poetry of Mike Tyson - a sample: "I might be scum and trash, but I'll be angelic scum and trash" (hope I'm quoting that correctly - I almost got out a pen and wrote it down)

4. I'm sure there's going to be debate about whether this is a whitewash by Toback on behalf of his buddy. While he's clearly biased to an extent (their friendship is no secret), he certainly leaves in plenty of unflattering footage. Still, there's plenty of fodder for critics (beyond the obvious and aforementioned beach shots). It certainly isn't a "balanced" portrait as Tyson is given the last (and on some subjects, only) word, but Toback gives the audience enough raw (and in some cases, very raw) material to make up its own mind, or at least to have a good discussion after the movie.

5. Bottom line: the fight footage is fun to see if you're a boxing fan, and I now know that my limit for listening to Mike Tyson talk about himself exceeds 90 minutes. A troubling self-revelation, to say the least.

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