Documentary film: The Curious Case of Curt Flood This film examining the life of St. Louis Cardinals player Flood unfolds into a tale that only gets curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might say.
One the one hand, Flood is a heroic figure for challenging baseballs infamous reserve clause all the way up to the Supreme Court (and losing but still paving the way for free agency) as well as being a pioneer for civil rights.
He was a star player, family man, entrepreneur and painter. On the other hand, he went bankrupt, abandoned his family, was revealed as a fraud in the paintings he sold as his own done by another artist, and for a while a tax exile from the United States. But within his many and massive contradictions there was the soul and spirit of a brave man and great crusader. This HBO Sports film takes a sympathetic but unflinching look at a pivotal figure who for all his flaws and foibles still emerges in the final analysis as heroic and yet tragic at the same time, making it a fascinating study of human complexity.
Documentary/concert film: Fats Domino: Walkin Back to New Orleans In the first days following Hurricane Katrina, the fate of rocknroll pioneer Antoine Fats Domino was unknown.
A devoted son of New Orleans, he stayed in his home in the citys Ninth Ward, which was devastated by flooding. Domino managed to emerge unscathed although he lost his home. Two years following the disaster, Domino played what may be his final public performance at the famed Crescent City club Tipitinas. Interwoven with that concert, which shows Domino still in peak form as an artist, is the story of his life that illuminates the modesty and grace of a musician whose influence is monumental, and whose art and presence are symbolic of what it means to truly love New Orleans.
Documentary film: Bobby Fischer Against The World Arguably the greatest chess player in history, Fischer was also a case study in the frequent reciprocal relationship between genius and madness.
Best known for his 1972 match against Russian Boris Spassky that captured the attention of the globe, he rose from an odd childhood to become a chess icon and then suffer a downfall that found him exiled and suffering from paranoid delusions. This HBO film traces his singular life with depth and compassion through to his sad demise in 2008, never shying away from the troubling truths while still making a case for Fischers greatness as a chess player.
Rob Patterson is an entertainment and political writer in Austin, Texas. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From The Progressive Populist, November 15, 2011
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