‘Tiger’ review at Awful Announcing

I’m not certain why HBO scheduled the premiere of Tiger, its two-part documentary on Tiger Woods for Jan. 10, at the end of a big NFL playoff weekend (and up against the last of six Wild Card games, Browns-Steelers). Not to mention it’s on the night before the College Football Playoff national championship game.

Perhaps the network figures it can be alternative programming for viewers who weren’t plugged into football all weekend. And a non-sports audience might be more interested in the ugly details of his many affairs and his 2017 DUI arrest when he had several opioids and sleep aids in his system.

But Tiger is definitely worth watching and warrants being split into two parts. I reviewed the documentary for Awful Announcing:

Yet watching one and not the other avoids the full story. His childhood, relationship with his father, training to achieve at the highest level, and struggles with fame are prevalent themes that inform the entire film. They — along with insights from family friends, rivals, and media — create a deeper portrayal of a fascinating figure in sports history and make Tiger worth watching.

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‘Jungleland’ review at Mountain Xpress

I’m not certain Jungleland is a sports movie, though it does take place in the world of underground bare-knuckle boxing. The story ultimately depends on the outcome of a sporting event, however. So it probably fits into that category.

Regardless, you might not guess that this was directed by Max Winkler, who’s mostly known for comedy work on TV shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

I reviewed the movie for Asheville’s Mountain Xpress:

Jungleland follows brothers Stan (Charlie Hunnam, FX‘s “Sons of Anarchy”) and Walter “Lion” Kaminski (Jack O’Connell, Unbroken) as they pursue success in the underground world of bare-knuckle boxing. Lion was a promising Golden Gloves fighter, but any hopes of a professional career were ruined when Stan tried to bribe a referee.

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‘Nomad’ review at Mountain Xpress

Thanks to his recent acting performances in The Mandalorian and Jack Reacher, Werner Herzog has become something of a cultural meme. His dour expression, dry narration, and nihilistic philosophy makes for great parody when applied to absurdity.

But it can’t be forgotten that Herzog is still a fascinating, distinct filmmaker. His latest documentary, Nomad, is a powerful tribute to writer Bruce Chatwin, whose work and approach to life Herzog admired.

I reviewed the movie for Asheville’s Mountain Xpress:

“‘Chatwin was a writer like no other,’ Herzog says. “He would craft mythical tales into voyages of the mind. In this respect, we found out we were kindred spirits. He as a writer, I as a filmmaker.’

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My Spy review at Mountain Xpress

Dave Bautista is officially a movie star. He demonstrated his comedy talents in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and in Blade Runner 2049, he showed he could be good with dramatic roles.

But successfully headlining a family-friendly action-comedy will take Bautista to another level and he’s done that with the surprisingly fun My Spy, available on Amazon Prime.

I reviewed the movie for Asheville’s Mountain Xpress:

My Spy wouldn’t be nearly as fun without Dave Bautista carrying the entire venture on his formidably muscled shoulders. Any doubters who dismissed Bautista as another pro wrestler trying to be a movie star like Dwayne Johnson were likely silenced by the comic timing he showed in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.

Bautista has continued to use that talent for deadpan humor in comedies like Stuber, and with My Spy, he’s taking the step to family-friendly action star, which elevated the careers of Johnson, Vin Diesel and John Cena. (Bautista is also a producer here, showing he knows this is the right move, balanced with his roles in upcoming spectacles such as Dune, Army of the Dead and a third Guardians movie.)

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Looking back at ‘Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story’

With the premiere of Bao Nguyen’s Bruce Lee documentary, Be Water, on Sunday (as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series), I thought it would be worth revisiting 1993’s Lee biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.

I’ve always been a Lee fan, though couldn’t call myself a diehard. But I certainly remember watching his movies on TV as a kid and marveling at an Asian guy kicking everybody’s ass (including Chuck Norris). Even my mother sat down to watch with me, and she never had much interest in the stuff I enjoyed.

However, my memory of Dragon — which I saw in theaters when it was released in 1993 — is that it wasn’t very good. My rewatch confirmed that opinion, maybe even more so now that I often watch movies with a more discerning eye.

I wrote about rewatching Dragon for Awful Announcing. An excerpt:

The kindest description of Dragon is that it’s a fairy tale telling of Lee’s story which takes significant dramatic license with real-life events and essentially turns his biography into a Bruce Lee action movie. That’s not to say that the film isn’t entertaining. But it strains believability to think that Lee (played by Jason Scott Lee) engaged in major action set pieces throughout his life.

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