Monday, February 22, 2010

Tyson (2008)

Thoroughly captivating, uniquely humorous doc about former Heavyweight champion "Iron" Mike Tyson. The entirety of James Toback's portrait of the man is contained within Tyson's luxurious home as he spends the running time reminiscing about his career, his love life, and his spirituality. I thought that the film would be patronizing, given Tyson's larger than life stage persona and less-than-flattering fall from grace before he retired. However, Toback once again surprises me with his outsider's respect, and gives Mike a fair shake; he does not make Mike out to be a role model of any sort, but he allows us to understand the trajectory of his story, beginning with the root of his hyper-aggressive fighting style (he has weak lungs, and his fear of running out of breath forced him to end the fights as early as possible). The greatest compliment I can give the documentary is that I did not feel manipulated as Mike defended his more controversial actions (such as his rape conviction), but rather like I was being given a glimpse at the other side of the story that the media en masse had very little interest in. Toback really reveals the sensationalist nature of the modern media culture, and how they jump on and exacerbate any moderately striking event until their response outweighs the instigating action. Tyson was demonized by many, and it took him a long time to regain his sense of self-worth as a result, but if the doc is any indication, he is smarter, and more comfortable than he was at the beginning of his journey, and his values and priorities exist completely out of the realm of boxing, women, or substance abuse.

Highly Recommended for fans of Tyson's persona, well made one-on-one documentaries, and boxing. The humor in this piece is strong enough to warrant giving it a chance even if you're not sure if it's your bag; archived quotes include the classic gem, "I want your heart, I wanna eat your children, praise be to Allah!"

No comments:

Post a Comment