This strangely enchanting documentary catches up with the actors who appeared in Troll 2, a 1989 film that is fondly acknowledged to be one of the worst movies of all time. I predict that this movie will soon have the same cult-like following as The King of Kong.
Set in a British housing project, this bleak but beautiful movie traces the impact on 15-year-old Mia when her mother brings home a new boyfriend (the menacing yet mesmerizing Michael Fassbender). Katie Jarvis, the nonprofessional actress who plays Mia, very convincingly portrays the perils of modern adolescence.
Well, this is certainly one of the most aptly titled autobiographies I’ve ever read. Andre Agassi has a tremendous recollection of detail (almost too much sometimes) as he lays out his life from the early days as a precocious tennis hustler through the cortisone shot-taking veteran still out there battling in the big events.
As an avid tennis fan and player I enjoyed this book.
I was never a huge Agassi fan, although I admired his tenacity and fight rather than his brash flashiness. In this almost painful autobiography he lets us all in on how he got to where he did, from his father’s (an ex Iranian Olympic boxer) obsessive drilling (with a charged up ball machine known as The Dragon), to days at Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy, where his rebellious side flourished, through his marriage to Brooke Shields and some years where he squandered time and began using crystal meth (and finally shaving his head, doing away with the – surprise – hairpiece he wore). His years with coach Brad Gilbert are expertly and often humorously recounted (Bud Ice drinking Brad’s nickname for the hated Boris Becker, who Agassi said was an “overgrown farmboy” was “BB Socrates”, for his frequent intellectual musings) and there is obvious respect shown for his trainer/bodyguard/main man, Gil Reyes. Not so much for chief rival Pete Sampras, who is repeatedly put down (His own classier book Champion’s Mind is quite a good biography and reflected his unpretentious, non-flamboyant style) in the book.
The wooing of Stephie Graf seemed to give this story (and Andre’s life) momentum and purpose, although his coverage of the last few years are not nearly as detail packed as the first few chapters were, which I found most absorbing. Many stories about his early days with best friend Perry Rogers were quite interesting. His later tussles with some of the best contemporary players, including Nadal ( “a tennis freak” ) and Federer ( “has no weaknesses” ) are recounted but it’s clear he is winding down.
A fascinating, captivating, completely personal tell-all like I’ve never read, this book caused quite a stir upon release and after reading it I can see why. Very worthwhile and from someone who maintained he always “hated tennis”, I also found the ending to be very satisfying.
When I noticed pristine new (2005) copies of three Bruce Lee dvds arriving at Madison I decided to check them out and watch them over a weekend. They are still somewhat like Twilight Zone meets Kung Fu, but they have a certain undeniable staying power. Bad dubbing aside, The Big Boss may have been my favorite. In Lee’s first starring role this 1971 movie showcases some tremendous athleticism in a plot involving Cheng (Lee) working in an ice factory to avenge the thugs that kidnapped some family members. It’s twisted – drugs in ice blocks, then people in ice blocks then Lee having to break his vow not to fight. He is amazing in these scenes. There is also a love interest (Maria Yi) and a bit of nudity so this would probably deserve it’s R rating. This movie has the Chinese title of Fists of Fury – not to be confused with Fist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection) – the second film I watched. That one is crazy, over the top with large-scale martial arts battles breaking out frequently as Lee’s Chinese teacher is killed (poisoned) and a Japanese school and it’s instructor become rivals. Points off for the incredibly annoying “translator” character and his devious laugh. It’s satisfying to see him get his as Lee dons several disguises and later surprises him in a rickshaw. Humorous but maybe a shade less enjoyable than the debut film.
Lastly, I watched the 1973 film (Lee’s last – he died shortly after this was made, of a cerebral edema at age 33 – his legend firmly in place!) called Gameof Death with a convoluted plot involving a crime syndicate that exploited actors, an early appearance of Chuck Norris, some demented motorcycle gang activity and a huge flourish toward the end with Bruce Lee fighting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (You heard me right) in quite a scene. Bruce may have sacrificed himself in the final dramatic ending in a hail of bullets – or did he?
These movies were really vehicles for Bruce Lee’s incredible, self-taught martial arts skills and certainly laid the ground work for such later movies as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with his acrobatic, near impossible flying maneuvers. His charismatic presence and somewhat low key but never wooden acting is often charming. His fighting, with nunchucks, the odd sword and mostly flying feet and fists (of fury) is the stuff of legend!
Rest in peace, Bruce Lee.
No, this is not a novel by Richard Yates, but a novel titled Richard Yates. Trickery continues on the first page when discover the two central characters are named “Haley Joel Osment” and “Dakota Fanning.” “Haley” is a hipster novelist who starts a relationship with the underage “Dakota.” Their infatuation is going great until it has a collision in the Whole Foods parking lot with “Dakota’s” high-strung mother. What I first thought would be 200 pages of the deep black satire slowly segues into a chamber piece about shoplifting, bulimia, co-dependency, and suicide. Suburban angst is decidedly not my thing, but there are some hilariously moments between the two most dislikable characters I have ever read this side of, uh, Richard Yates. Lin’s mantra-like use of “Haley Joel Osment” and “Dakota Fanning” over and over entrances you while the humanity of the story slips underneath the formalist surface. Not for everyone, but subversive enough to part the oil slick that is contemporary fiction.
Be nice. Be on topic.
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