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The evolution of sport is a fascinating thing. In some ways, the games we love are trapped in amber. The size of the court or the field stays the same. Certain distances haven’t ever really changed – 60 feet from home to first, 10 yards for a first down, 10 feet from floor to rim.

But in other ways – the ways the games are actually played – have seen significant alterations over the years, even as most sporting stalwarts are staunch traditionalists with regards to how things are done. “We do them this way because that’s the way we’ve always done them” has long been the rallying cry of the athletic establishment.

But there will always be players who challenge the status quo. Players who, for whatever reason, deem it necessary to do things in a different way. Players who see the opportunity to find success by way of something new.

Players like Kenny Sailors.

You’d be forgiven for not recognizing that name, but as you’ll discover in the documentary “Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story” – written and directed by Jacob Hamilton and available for rental at altavod.com – you are almost certainly familiar with his work. You see, there is a sizeable contingent out there that believes that Sailors, a man born nearly 100 years ago, is the inventor of the modern jump shot.

The doc itself is a brisk run through a remarkable life, one that features some names and faces you absolutely will recognize – NBA legends such as Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry (who also serves as an executive producer on the film) – as well as a number of other NBA figures, former players and league historians. Through archival footage, photographs and interviews, “Jump Shot” presents a strong case that in many ways, Sailors is the progenitor of how modern basketball is played.

Published in Sports

Documentary filmmaking is at its most effective when it finds a way to both educate and entertain. Bringing real people and places to the big screen in service to a message is important, but the reality is that if an audience isn’t engaged – isn’t entertained – that message may well go unheard, no matter how important it is or how skillfully relayed.

It has been a long time since I saw a documentary that so successfully struck that balance as “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution.” Currently streaming on Netflix, the film – directed by James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham – tells the story of a summer camp for the disabled back in the early 1970s and the huge impact some of those campers would ultimately have in the decades-long fight for civil rights for the disabled.

It’s no surprise that the film is good – it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and actually won the Audience Award – but I wasn’t prepared for HOW good it was going to be. This is a razor sharp, poignant and wickedly funny film, one that delves deep into a part of our nation’s history that is likely unfamiliar to many. It has as colorful a cast of characters as you could hope to find, as well as a message of struggle and speaking truth to power that resonates just as fully today as it did when the story it tells unfolded.

Published in Livin'
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 12:41

Chill out with ‘Disneynature: Penguins’

There are a lot of different ways that movies can captivate us.

This is an important notion to keep in mind as the shadow of Summer Blockbuster Season begins to loom over 2019. For the next few months, bigger might not be better, but it will definitely be ubiquitous.

It’s also a reason to pay attention to a movie like “Disneynature: Penguins.” We’re about to be overwhelmed by a sea of cartoons and CGI explosions for weeks on end – why not sit down and enjoy a quiet, well-made nature film that just happens to be stunningly beautiful and surprisingly funny.

Producer-director Alistair Fothergill has played a huge part in the Disneynature process, having served in one or both of those roles for something like half of the 13 films Disney’s indie nature doc arm has produced over the past decade or so. He’s as visually gifted as any nature documentarian out there, with a willingness to invest the time and effort necessary to create films that tell compelling stories; “Penguins” is another feather in his cap.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 17 July 2018 15:50

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

We live in a world filled with sharp divides. So many lines that see so many people on either side. Common ground and understanding are in short supply. But there’s at least one thing on which the vast majority of us can agree.

Mister Rogers. Fred Rogers was a good man and his neighborhood was a good place. No matter how you feel about literally anything else in the world, you are almost certainly onboard with that sentiment.

He’s the subject of director Morgan Neville’s new documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” It details the life of Fred Rogers through an exploration of his iconic children’s TV show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and interviews with many of the people who knew him best both personally and professionally – although it rapidly becomes clear that knowing Mr. Rogers in any capacity meant knowing him personally.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 29 May 2018 14:21

‘RBG’ notorious indeed

One wouldn’t necessarily expect an octogenarian Supreme Court justice to become a celebrated pop culture touchstone, but hey – you can’t go predicting what people are going to do.

So it is with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose life and career are brought to the big screen in “RBG,” a documentary directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West. It’s an engaging work, albeit somewhat introductory. That’s not a slight – for those many people whose knowledge of her springs primarily from internet memes, this film will prove to be an educational experience.

Published in Movies

How do you tell the true story of a man who seemingly sprang forth from the mists of myth? How do you ground in reality a man whose life seemed in many ways like fantasy?

How do you do justice to a giant?

That was the daunting task laid before director Jason Hehir when he agreed to make “Andre the Giant,” the very first documentary project springing from the partnership between Bill Simmons’s The Ringer and HBO. And through well-curated archival footage and a host of interviews with people who both knew and cared deeply for the world-famous wrestler, Hehir executed that task to perfection.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 20 April 2016 11:42

Jackie Robinson' goes deep

Ken Burns documentary a thorough portrait

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 06 April 2016 11:39

Fastball' brings the heat

Baseball documentary seeks the fastest of the fast

Published in Sports

It was a horrific crime that made national headlines in 1989; a young woman, jogging late at night through New York City's Central Park, was brutally raped and left to die. After a media-fueled public furor, five young black and Hispanic boys were arrested and interrogated for 30 hours.  Four of the boys confessed to the crime but in a shocking twist 12 years later, the actual rapist, already serving a life sentence for other crimes, admitted that he committed the crime alone which was confirmed with DNA evidence.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 11:58

Green Acres hosting dog documentary

BANGOR - Green Acres Kennel Shop will be hosting the first Maine screening of the new documentary 'Tough Love: A Meditation on Dominance and Dogs' on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. Seating is limited, so please pre-register by calling 945-6841.

It's a commonly accepted idea that dogs are 'man's best friend.' We give them a special place in our lives and they are, in turn, loyal companions. At the same time, many modern dog owners also believe that they are meant to establish themselves as the 'alpha dog' in relation to their pets. This is a status supposedly achieved through attitudes and acts of domination, varying by emphasis on physical restraint and disciplinary 'correction.'

Published in Happenings
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