Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tyson (2008)

Boxer, animal, convicted rapist, lost, bamboozled, womanizer, soft-spoken, egotistical, wounded. Regardless of whether you admire or dislike Mike Tyson, he’s a provocative figure. This gripping documentary is the man himself reflecting on his life. He’s worked hard, coming from his humble beginnings in Brooklyn as a thug and not knowing his father (or even being sure who his real father is) to finding his way out of juvenile delinquency through boxing. He found a father figure in Constantine “Cus” D’Amato, who trained Tyson but died before seeing him crowned the youngest heavyweight champion. As Tyson details his life’s highs and lows, he displays vulnerability, seething rage, disappointment and joy. His delivery is monotone, whether it’s rich with underlying anger or whether he is holding back tears. He doesn’t censor and his monologue is vibrant and authentic. It’s like you are watching a domesticated animal describe his taming process but you get snippets of the parts that cannot be kept down. Several times, I verged on tears. Tyson covers  describes meeting and marrying his first wife, Robin Givens; the rape accusation by Desiree Washington; his prison experience; finding Islam; his relationship with Don King, and the ear-biting incident with Evander Holyfield. You get archive footage ands clips of Tyson and and those who played key roles in his life. Prime conditionTyson mumbles fast and softly. You don’t miss much but a few times, what he says isn’t immediately clear.

My dad is a boxing fan. Growing up in our household, big matches were anticipated and prepared for. The beat-downs were difficult to watch and I mourned for the losers. This movie is Tyson cracking open his insides and offering the world a compelling view of the winner and the loser. Not to be missed.

Writer/Director: James Toback

Country: US

Genre: Documentary

Run time: 90 minutes

Scale: 4

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