Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Tyson: The Movie

Here I have the first movie for assessment in my reviews explosion, Tyson: The Movie. For the sake of a little background context, Tyson is a documentary which is based upon the idea of taking interviews with the former world heavyweight boxing champion "Iron" Mike Tyson, and editing footage together so that he in many respects is the narrator of his own story and journey. It is an interesting concept that is really a make or break idea, and director James Toback pulls that off rather well. The moments that I felt that Tyson works best is whenever he is speaking frankly about his career and when editor Aaron Yanes expertly splices together the footage of his career with these often powerful and emotional interviews. In the interviews with Tyson, Toback as the interviewer manages to extract information from "Iron" Mike like no one ever has before, effectively destroying his persona as a ferocious and despicable human being as he has been portrayed in the past. In a manner which is thoroughly consistent throughout the piece, Tyson is portrayed as an animal, more a product of his troubled upbringing than anything, and is a human being who is completely out of touch with his own and other human's emotions. I think for me the most shocking and harrowing scene in the film is whenever Tyson is speaking of the death of his trainer and surrogate father figure "Cus" D'Amato. In this scene, in which most human beings would well up and cry, Tyson does not do so. He instead makes these very shocking noises which infrequently cause him to hesitate as he attempts to convey his emotions into words. Structurally as a documentary, the film is very sound and smooth, is not overly long, and seems to put all of the correct pieces in the right places. However, unfortunately, and this is rather unfortunate because what is good in this film is great, the film is knocked off balance by some inherent flaws. For starters, as an interviewer, Toback does not bother pushing Tyson for further scrutiny on some of the more challenging material which has brought his behaviour to question in the past. Instead, he lets Tyson merely pour everything out. Call me coldhearted, but for me, if this is to be the real inside view of "Iron" Mike Tyson, then I would prefer some stronger scrutiny. Also, because of this, the film instead decides to take the perspective of sympathising more with the subject, rather than offering a neutral perspective and letting the viewer decide their opinions on Tyson, so for me, the direction of the interviews is at times very flawed. Final problem with this film also ties in with the fact that this is called Tyson: The Movie. Now, if this was a feature length film with an actor portraying Mike Tyson, then this would be excusable. Also, the fact that the film leans more to one side of the story on Tyson would be excused more if it was a film and not a documentary. A documentary should remain neutral, offering both sides of the coin for viewer opinions. Also, the film is credited as having been "written" by James Toback. This altogether could lead one to question the credibility of the film altogether. The example is taken particularly with these horrible snippets of scenes in which it focuses on Tyson's face with dialogue such as "I am a monster, I am a beast, I will destroy you," and you are thinking, this is either fighting talk taken from previous interviews, or he has been coaxed by Toback into saying this. There done. Despite it's numerous problems with regards it's scrutiny by Toback, the film is saved greatly by the frankness and honesty of the interviewee and the editing work of Aaron Yanes, giving us a thoroughly interesting, if one-sided outlook on the person that is Mike Tyson.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.0/10

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