Reviews Of Broke, No Mas, Pumping Iron, To Be Takei, And The Pervertís Guide To Ideology
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 2/12/16
I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were about people who were incredibly shallow, selfish, and narcissistic. They were Broke, No Mas, Pumping Iron, To Be Takei, and The Pervertís Guide To Ideology.
The best of the sports based films I watched is actually not really a
sports film, although it is often mislabeled one. 1977ís Pumping Iron
documentary, following the mid-1970s emerging Ďsportí of bodybuilding
introduced, most famously, Arnold Schwarzenegger to the world, as Mr. Olympia.
More s than his later leading role in The Terminator, this film featured
all of the things that Arnold would become known for- the vanity, the ego, the
shallowness, the drive, the appeal, and other things that led to being a film
star, a politician, as well as a bad husband and father.
But this 85 minute film also did more, and addressed more than
Schwarzenegger, although, in retrospect, few would know that. One gets to meet
Franco Columbu- a smaller bodybuilder whose career would, eventually, outstrip
even Schwarzeneggerís in terms of awards won. Then there is Lou Ferrigno- a
larger man with a bit less definition than Arnoldís body, but who would later
go on to play The Incredible Hulk on television. Despite deafness and a
speech impediment, he comes off as a nicer and more interesting person, and the
tales of his family and their support make for an interesting subplot.
But, other bodybuilders also get seen. One such is a balding blond
ex-professional football player for the New York Jets, named Mike Katz, whom we
see fails to finish in the top three during a 1975 competition. He talks about
being picked on as a kid for being Jewish, for being poor, for being nerdy and
four eyed, and how all of this drove him. Of all the people featured in the
film, his tale cuts the closest to relatability, especially after his rise to
pro football player, and its being cut short because of injuries.
But, of course, the star of the film is Arnold- by then a legend in the Ďsportí- whose only real activity comes not in competition but preparation. The actual contest consists of posing and staring by the audience and judges. Over the nearly four decades since the filmís release, the sport has only grown, and to the point that even Schwarzenegger would likely have a rough time competing. The he-men of yesteryear seem rather tame by comparison. One of the best portions of the film comes at the end, when Ferrignoís family drives Arnold away, and the two men joke together, with Arnold claiming Louís mother will set him up with Louís sister. Itís one of the few real moments in a film all about flash and fakery, and makes it the best of the three films watched to this point.
Then came the worst. The pits, the bottom of the- well, you know what. Itís hard to believe, sometimes, the level of garbage that is put out on film or spoof, but then I watched 2012ís The Pervertís Guide To Ideology. At first, it seems that this 135 minute mess of a film might be a straight documentary about philosophy, for its main speaker is a supposed well known Eastern European philosopher named Slavoj Zizek, and he is supposedly taken seriously, even if people call him unorthodox. And, supposedly, this isnít even his first film with director Sophie Fiennes (that was The Pervertís Guide To Cinema), although I had no interest in even reading up on any earlier efforts after this mind numbingly dumb, stupidly presented, egocentric trip through the mind of anÖ. idiot.
Thereís simply no other way to describe Zizek. Heís an idiot, who spouts banal apothegms that would have made him a natural for Oprah Winfrey to endorse a few years ago, and how she missed out on this fraud is amazing. But, I go on as if one is to take this mess of a mind and mess of a film seriously. But, I donít think one should. If one takes it as a comedy film, as example, itís bad, but not so staggeringly bad as if seen as a pretentious piece of pseudo-philosophy.
Itís a supposed lecture on all thatís wrong with human belief systems, but, after the usual stuff- that thinking for oneself is best, the film does nothing. All we do is get what amounts to skits, sketches, and comedic (well, would be comedic) scenes of Zizek doing this or that. Heís in a badly wrought bought on fake water. Heís at a dumpster talking garbage as a bum ambles by- or is it a garbageman? One cannot be sure and one does not care. People look at Zisek, they gawk. Heís lying on a bed, clearly not caught in a moment of realism, and heís talking. But nothing is said, nothing registers.
Wait, thatís not so. What registers is Zizekís ego, his astounding self-centeredness. More so than Takei or Schwarzenegger or Roberto Duran or Sugar Ray Leonard or the array of loser former athletes from the earlier films I reviewed, none can compare to this utterly superfluous and meaningless man. How can the director even stand to be around him? How can anyone? I could go into some of his points, but none of them are deep, and, frankly, just an hour or so after I finished the film, and started typing up this essay, not a single cogent point (of the three or four dart tosses that were successful) remains. At least not a one that I even feel like commenting on. And why should I? I mean, the condescending and faux naÔf presentation of these banalities doesnít even deserve comment beyond this- right here.
Is this a spoof? Maybe. Zizek is like a Noam Chomsky if he removed his finger from his ass and overdosed on something. But, I donít care if itís a spoof or not, as it fails on that and every other conceivable level- comedy, depth, cinematic appeal, etc. The Pervertís Guide To Ideology is an abomination of a film, and the worst of a generally bad lot of documentaries about selfish people.
Overall, the only film of the lot worth watching is Pumping Iron, because, while the people seen there are selfish and narcissistic, at least they were captured in a time when documentaries had a bit of reality in them.
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