Friday, November 25, 2011

Worth Mentioning - Friends Divided

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Jay discusses football rivalries and machete maidens introduce Cody to a one mama massacre squad.


Directed by Kevin Rafferty
Starring Don Gillis (voice) and the Harvard and Yale football teams from 1968

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 takes its title from a headline which proclaimed "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29", even though the score had obviously resulted in a tie. It was an article in the Harvard student paper, and even though it makes little sense, it's completely accurate.

This documentary, directed by Kevin Rafferty, finds key players from the 1968 Harvard squad and 1968 Yale squad sitting down to talk about their lives, and of course, the 1968 matchup between the two rivals on the football field.

This is a very enjoyable watch for fans of football, but also for anyone wanting a great perspective on the 1960s lifestyle and how much things have changed. Here we are learning about two different groups of people, both who attended Ivy League schools, but seemed to mostly be from different economic backgrounds and upbringings.

This piece isn't flashy at all-- the interviews are very blandly lit and photographed, and the only other real escape from the interviews is footage from the 1968 matchup. It works though because the interviews are, for the most part, very engaging, and the game footage is perfect. The interviews range from talk about life during the '60s to actual gameplay conversations. It's a nice balance.

To make sense of the title you would have to understand that Harvard was a huge underdog going into the game. No one gave them much of a chance, and for over three quarters, they were completely outplayed by Yale. Late in the game, Yale was still playing for more points, and it is because of their desire to completely embarrass their rival that they actually allowed them opportunity to get back into the game. The final two minutes of this game, and the end of this documentary, are definitely the highlights. Once the big plays start, the interviews get very intense and much more interesting. I was surprised at how funny some of the interviews are as well. The players have great perspective and it's wonderful to see how some of them view such huge moments in the game. Even all these years later you can still see the shock, excitement, and sometimes even fear in them as they relive those moments all over again. 

Worth noting: Tommy Lee Jones is featured throughout this documentary as he was a Harvard football player, and one of the Yale football players dated Meryl Streep during college.

ROLL TIDE/WAR EAGLE (TV Documentary - 2011)

Directed by Martin Khodabakshian 
Starring Charles Barkley, Nick Saban

This documentary recently aired on ESPN and documents the hatred displayed in one of college football's most well known rivalry games, the Iron Bowl, played between Alabama and Auburn.

I am mentioning this now, as well as Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, because it's rivalry week in college football, and because I am an Alabama fan. The documentary features a highly condensed recap of the history of both programs and the rivalry itself. Former players and coaches, as well as current coaches, from both schools sit down to recap some important moments in their respective history. As a younger fan, my knowledge really picks up when the documentary starts to talk about the Gene Stallings coached Alabama teams of the 1990s.

The Iron Bowl is a story and a rivalry that is currently at its peak in popularity and importance. Since 2008, and including this year, the Iron Bowl has featured a team in the hunt for the National Championship. Being the last regular season game for both teams, this game has even more at stake than ever before, so much so that it spurred a despicable act by an Alabama fan after last year's game saw Alabama blow a 24-0 lead. Auburn went on to win the National Title, their first since 1957, and it affected Alabama fan Harvey Updyke so much that he poisoned two trees on the Auburn campus. These trees represented a ritual for Auburn fans after victories, they would toilet paper the trees in celebration and it is a long standing tradition for their program. This act led to Updyke becoming the most hated man in Alabama, and he now faces prison time for his actions. His actions have added more gas to the fire of an already ugly rivalry that some feel has finally slipped into a truly dark place.

The documentary covers the Harvey Updyke saga as well as the action on the field, but also touches on the deadly tornado outbreak of April 2011 that did major damage to Tuscaloosa, home of the Alabama campus. This is definitely a very informative documentary for those who may not have a firm grasp on the history of both schools and what the rivalry means to the people in the state of Alabama. I think it does a good job of highlighting key individuals on both sides, but maybe lingers a bit too much on Updyke (giving him a prominent on screen role) for this Alabama fan's taste. I understand why, but I'd hate for any outsiders to get the idea that the lot of Alabama fans are like Updyke, which they aren't, even if Auburn fans have started to refer to Bama fans as "Updykes." I think both fanbases would agree that the Paul Finebaum radio show is also featured a bit much as well. It should be noted, and is documented here, that during the Updyke scandal and during the tornado aftermath, both programs and fans came together and donated tons of money or helped out in relief efforts.

The production values are great and some classic moments from both schools are documented in what is overall a very fine-looking documentary. If you're already a football fan or just someone who wants to try to understand what this game means to the people of Alabama, then I highly recommend this one. I believe it is replaying on one of the ESPN channels from time to time, but it's also currently available on YouTube for free.

Cody's mentions:


This documentary takes a look at the exploitation movies of all types - horror, women in prison, blaxploitation, martial arts pictures, a little person action hero - that were in constant production in the Philippines from the late '60s through the early '80s.

Filmmakers and actors including Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Joe Dante, Eddie Romero, Eddie Garcia, John Landis, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Dick Miller and many more are on hand to discuss this wave of grindhouse awesomeness, covering everything from the Blood Island trilogy to the massive production of Apocalypse Now.

I always enjoy hearing stories about filmmaking from this era and of the production/budget level that these films (aside from Apocalypse) were made on, and this documentary from director Mark Hartley is very well done and interesting. It might even inspire you to go out and make something crazy yourself.

T.N.T. JACKSON (1974)

With that dynamite bod, she's a jet black hit squad

This was one of the films produced by Roger Corman and shot in the Philippines, and of the movies featured in Machete Maidens Unleashed! that I hadn't seen yet, T.N.T. Jackson landed on the top of the list of those that I had to seek out as soon as possible. A movie about a big-haired black woman kicking ass, with taglines like "T.N.T. Jackson, she'll put you in traction" and "She's a one mama massacre squad", that's right up my alley.

The set-up for this blaxploitation martial arts revenge film is quite simple: Diane "T.N.T." Jackson's brother got mixed up with some American heroin dealers in Hong Kong and disappeared, so she's come to China to figure out what went down.

Treat her fine or she'll shatter your spine

Directed by Cirio Santiago from a script rewritten by the great character actor Dick Miller, this is a fun flick that doesn't mess around, filling out its under-72-minute running time with an action scene every 5 minutes or so. Our titular heroin ring busting heroine is played by Playboy Playmate Jeanne Bell, who was actually the first black person to ever be on the cover of Playboy. She does a fine job carrying the film and beating up the bad guys, even when she has to fend off attackers while wearing nothing but her panties, as she does in the film's most popular scene.

You'll know you've been kissed by her ebony fist when the blood from your face stains your diamond necklace

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