‘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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Interview with David Walsh, reporter first suspicious of Lance Armstrong

Several documentaries on Lance Armstrong have been produced, so I don’t know how much interest there is in ESPN’s two-part “30 For 30,” Lance.

But I’m intrigued because I had an opportunity to review a 2016 feature film on Armstrong, titled The Program (starring Ben Foster as the controversial cyclist), for Awful Announcing a few years ago.

As part of that, I also interviewed David Walsh, the British Times journalist who was skeptical of Armstrong’s success after recovering from cancer. As heroic as Armstrong seemed, the story was too good to be true.

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The Way Back review at Awful Announcing

Releasing a basketball movie in March, when so much real drama and joy is on TV with college hoops, seemed kind of risky. But The Way Back isn’t entirely a basketball movie, which may surprise some viewers.

Sports movies — portraying sports in pop culture and media — fit solidly into Awful Announcing’s beat. So I reviewed the movie for the site. Here’s an excerpt:

Some viewers might prefer a more predictable, more conventional sports movie with an uplifting message. But director Gavin O’Connor and Ben Affleck know life isn’t that simple and a tidy resolution doesn’t often make for a good story. What feels more gratifying is that viewers can determine how this story ends. Maybe it goes exactly as you would’ve predicted. But maybe not. Being trusted as an audience to deal with the many possibilities at hand makes it worth seeing. This isn’t the movie you think it is.

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