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 Post subject: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 8:47 pm 
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We have talked about these documentaries on other threads but I decided to start this one so we can discuss now the new 30 for 30 films coming later this falland the short films that are being done now like the one on Pete Rose. The good thing about these new 30 documentaries is that they are not being restricted to stuff that happened during the first 30 years of ESPN. For those of you who have not seen the first 35 films, I recommend watching "Once Brothers", "The Two Escobars" and "The Announcement".


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 8:50 pm 
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I was going to make an Other Lists thread for this soon so I'm glad to see some enthusiasm for the project here. I'll throw in capsule reviews of he ones I've seen when I have time. The Blu-ray set is a very worthwhile investment.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 8:56 pm 
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Completely agree with you and would love to see some of your reviews posted here. I'm betting that the Blu-ray set will be again on sale when the new documentaries start again this fall.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 9:00 pm 
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There's an add-on mini-set with Catching Hell among others but it's a Wal-Mart exclusive, so I'm holding out


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:46 am 
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Once Brothers is just gut wrenching. It and Catching Hell are both highly recommended, as is the lighter toned (and frequently hilarious) one about Reggie Miller and his tempestuous rivalry/affair with the NY Knicks and their fans.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 7:43 am 
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A thread on sports documentaries in general would be cool, I think. HBO has done some pretty good ones recently, and I'm not even a big sports guy. But for some reason I get hooked on some of these.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 5:58 pm 
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My favorite of the series was actually No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, simply because it really explored what type of social, economic, and demographic circumstances within our society help to create the personalities within this new-era of sports media. It also felt like an unbiased examination of Iverson as a public personality and private person, and really exhibited how self-destructive, enigmatic, and incapable of success Iverson was before his departure from the NBA. It was a rare entry within the series that felt impartial and unflinching and yet still personal and emotional. In fact, watching Iverson struggle while admitting his own responsibility for his failures might have been one of the most difficult scenes to watch within the entire series, simply because it was painfully obvious to everyone else for so long. Yet, as the scene persisted, it gradually became apparent that it wasn't a sudden realization for Iverson after his career was cut-short, but instead something he also appeared to have a comprehension of for some time, and it seemed almost like compulsive behavior he was incapable of controlling.

Some of the strongest entries were The Best That Never Was (I might have mentioned this before, but it was kind of awesome to watch Barry Switzer admit that Dupree was too talented to manage), Once Brothers (seriously, as a basketball coach, it's absolutely mesmerizing how well those Yugoslavian national-team members moved on the court without the basketball), and The Two Escobars. I think June 17 -1994 was slightly over-hyped for its style, but it really is fascinating to watch how well it captures the moment when the 24-hour news cycle began to meld and warp sports-culture and pop-culture. Actually, Catching Hell functions in a similar manner. I thought they could have avoided spending so much time on the Red Sox anguish, but the success of Catching Hell is when it concentrates on how quickly and easily media warps perceptions and events get magnified within modern sports-culture. It's almost like the JFK of sports docs.

I enjoyed Into the Wind a great deal, but some of that is based largely on the topic and the fact that it makes me - a sports fan who grew up in Canada - rather nostalgic for a number of reasons. Same could actually be said for Kings Ransom, though it’s far more straight-forward and little less successful. I can't believe Berg & Co. left out the fact that Janet Jones advised Wayne to go to Detroit instead of LA, since that is a significant shift from what the generally accepted rumors regarding the reasons behind the trade were at the time - and it really alters the perceptions of Janet Jones.

I thought Little Big Men was interesting in terms of the material it covered, though the documentary isn't very engaging in terms of execution.

Meanwhile Run Ricky Run was fascinating because of the personality it attempted to examine, though Williams proved too perplexing and aloof to actually have the documentary accomplish much. However, it did include one of the strangest scenes within the series, when Pamphilon confronts Williams with his theory for why Ricky decided to leave the NFL and spend a year in the CFL. The confrontation and the subsequent evasive banter is really one of the fleeting moments where Williams appears exposed, even though he still remains cagey and uncooperative. If anything, the doc really makes it obvious that certain personality types cannot actually function within professional sports.

Considering the tragic circumstances outlined in each film, I'm probably more ambivalent towards in Without Bias and Guru of Go than I should be. Unfortunately, Fraser's film kind of avoids confronting the fact that Bias appeared to be abusing drugs quite frequently and did so over a long period. Maybe it just annoyed me that they merely mention the frequent drug-abuse and then discard this fact as if it's a minor detail. In any case, the magnification of the tragedy seems disproportionate and strained when you consider the poor choices that Bias was constantly making. Meanwhile, Gathers death was far more tragic, but Guru of Go seems more captivated with Westhead's offensive philosophy than is really necessary. As a coach, I wanted to know more about his tactics and training techniques, but as a film enthusiast, I was kind of wondering if Couturié should have spent more time on Gathers.

In terms of pure entertainment, I have to say I really loved watching The U, if only because its style perfectly captured everything entertaining and despicable about that football program in those years. It was kind of weird that they distanced themselves from the Miami football teams that won in the 2000s considering they were possibly one of the most talented teams/programs of all-time and were also guilty of many of same practices that became common under Johnson/Erickson. I have to agree that Winning Time was also really entertaining even if its central subject matter (Reggie Miller and the 90-era Knicks) was kind of overblown in retrospect. Of course, you can't really beat the spectacle of Miller's shocking the Knicks at MSG while Spike Lee freaks out. If anything, the doc is a really great time-capsule of that era. Slightly less successful, but just kind of intriguing in its subject matter was Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL, if only to appreciate just how the NFL is able to maintain its influence and success within western culture, while so many others have found ways to fail at something that seems so easily marketable. Plus, I can never have enough proof of how Donald Trump is a complete waste of oxygen.

I can say without any hesitation that the absolute worst entries in the series were Marion Jones: Press Pause, Unmatched, and The Band that Wouldn't Die. Press Pause was just so incredibly weak in every aspect, whether it was aesthetics or substance, especially with Singleton's awkward attempts to redeem Jones, and with both filmmaker and subject being hesitant to really dig deeper into their subject. It felt like a documentary where Marion Jones' publicist and lawyer had final-cut, since it wasn't engaging on any level other than to update us on what Marion Jones is up to nowadays. It honestly felt like it could have been a concluding "where are they now" human-interest piece for a Sunday evening newscast.

Perhaps the only series entry that was worse in terms of aesthetics, was Unmatched, which made me feel like I was trapped in an extended infomercial for some combination of Activia, Stayfree, or medication for Menopause. It was astoundingly boring and almost depressing considering how much I was actually emotionally invested in this rivalry when I was a kid (it wasn't Becker vs. Edberg/Lendl, or Anyone Else vs. Sampras, or Seles vs. Graff, but it was in the same realm of rivalry for me). Plus, it was also difficult to shake the notion that Evert was mildly passive-aggressive, somewhat self-centered, and excessively/subtly bitter about the rivalry, considering she seemed to constantly want Martina to admit that she (Evert) deserved more credit than she received.

As for, The Band that Wouldn't Die, I was actually intrigued by the subject matter before watching the film (remember when they had a CFL team?), but Levinson's execution was just so bland and ordinary. While the Press Pause and Unmatched were somewhat frustrating, Levinson's entry was just spirit-crushingly boring.

Of the films that have been made subsequently, I thought the Fab Five doc was surprisingly enthralling and entertaining despite the noticeable absence of Webber from the interviews. I really appreciated how blunt the players were about their spiteful and immature nature. However, once again, nostalgia for the era makes me an excessively biased observer. As with anything involving college programs, when recruiting plays a large role in success, it never feels as though everyone is willing to be completely honest about the events that transpired.

I haven't been able to catch many of the other films that have been released, though I do want to track down Renee and The Marinovich Project (if only for the legend of what a messed up sports-family they were). I thought The Announcement worked well as a time-capsule of a strange era within our culture, but I just wish they didn't spend so much time on letting us know how awesome Magic Johnson was, since it was kind of unnecessary and started to feel more like a way to stoke his ego. Meanwhile, Unguarded worked magnificently for me since I still remember flipping through that issue of Sports Illustrated a few years after I bought it and wondering what ever happened to Chris Herren. It does begin to feel like an After-School Special or a High-School-Drug-Prevention video at times, but it's like the best After-School-Dangers-of-Drug-Abuse special ever. Plus, the highlight footage of Herren rivals the footage of Bias in terms of impressive displays of single-handedly taking over a game.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:23 am 
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Don't exactly know what is the difference between this and the old set, but the reissue is now up for pre-order for $55.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:37 am 
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Hat


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:55 am 
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Hadn't noticed the ESPN cap until you pointed out.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:01 pm 
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Groupon has the Blu-ray set for $39. Limited quantities available.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:36 pm 
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Not part of the ESPN doc, but the Dream Team documentary on NBA TV was really good and shows how great that team was. Really recommend that you guys watch it if you get the chance.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:20 am 
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dx23 wrote:
Not part of the ESPN doc, but the Dream Team documentary on NBA TV was really good and shows how great that team was. Really recommend that you guys watch it if you get the chance.

GQ has an oral history of the Dream Team. It's not anything shocking, but it's just fun to read for the sake of nostalgia.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:17 pm 
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Andre Jurieu wrote:
GQ has an oral history of the Dream Team. It's not anything shocking, but it's just fun to read for the sake of nostalgia.

Thanks for the link. That GQ article and the 10 minute ESPN retrospective are really good companions to the doc from NBA TV. The only thing that I still find unanswered is why the committee decided to go with Christian Laetnerr instead of Shaq or Alonzo Mourning as the college representative. Was it because of Coach K?


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:56 pm 
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dx23 wrote:
The only thing that I still find unanswered is why the committee decided to go with Christian Laetner instead of Shaq or Alonzo Mourning as the college representative. Was it because of Coach K?
From what I can remember, Coack K had some influence over the decision, but I believe the rationale being offered at the time was that they wanted a senior (which took Shaq out of the running) because they felt they required a "mature" personality to represent the US at an international tournament. I had also remember that they were hoping for a mobile forward who could extend defenses with his shooting because the FIBA game allows zone. I believe a few analysts were saying that if they were to pick Shaq or 'Zo, neither of them would be able to contribute at the center position behind Robinson and Ewing. I'm not really sure that rationale stands up, since I have no idea how Laettner was expected to contribute with Barkley and Malone in front of him, but maybe they were thinking of also playing him at the 3 (SF), where Bird and Mullin were a little less dominant at the time (though Pippen swallowed up most of the minutes anyway).


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:23 pm 
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The thing is that Shaq was so dominant even in college that I was surprised on his omission. I remembered that Laettner was the college golden boy, yet his body wasn't as NBA ready as Shaq. Funny thing is the Isaiah Thomas non-selection overshadowed the selection of college player and I was even more surprised that Joe Dumars would have been the next player selected if Stockton couldn't make it. I thought that they would have picked Dominque Wilkins regardless of their need for a second PG.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:03 pm 
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Those interested in watching the Dream Team documentary can see it here in this free Youtube link. It is complete and in HD.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:13 pm 
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I liked Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks, on a kind of home-team level. It captured that moment in time when Indiana was optimistic one of our pro teams would finally win the big one.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:51 pm 
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Arnold's Blueprint, the first of the shorts coming out. One with Pete Rose is out too. There are also new full-length docs coming out from through 2014.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:52 pm 
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The Pete Rose one is linked in the first post. I'm really excited to see the series come back. The one I'm looking forward the most is the one about Bo Jackson.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:33 pm 
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As someone who could relate to parts of it, Unguarded was very moving. I really identified with his older brother, for reasons too deep to get into here.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:13 am 
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The BD boxset for the first 30 films is until October 6 for $44 at Amazon.com. And a reminder that 30 for 30 returns tonight with the film "Broke" about pro athletes going broke.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:42 am 
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Is the intermediary Blu-ray set (with Catching Hell, etc) still Wal-Mart exclusive? :(


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:31 pm 
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So far, that's the only place to get the Blu-rays of those 5 films.


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 Post subject: Re: ESPN 30 for 30
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Man, so expensive compared to the set of 30 films.


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