Monday, April 03, 2006

#14 (Film in Review 2005)

Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's Murderball (#14) is that it makes me want to watch a quad rugby game with the film's featured players. If that does not sound particularly commendable, consider that I am a self-proclaimed member of the "athletically challenged". I have spent my entire life resisting others' attempts (usually those of adult males) to get me involved in playing a competitive sport or compulsively watching one. The more they pushed me into doing so (either by concerned prodding - "Why isn't he interested in this?", or merciless taunting and interrogation - "What the hell is wrong with you?"), the further I distanced myself from that world. Although I can actually become involved in a game if I am there in person (I've been to three hockey games in my life, and I must confess they were all highly enjoyable excursions), sports otherwise take up very little of my time. If it seems that I am interested in the sport of murderball for the sole fact that its players move around in wheelchair-slash-tanks (thereby suggesting a fetishizing or twisted voyeurism on my part), this is not the case. What is different about this game is that I know the people in the chairs, I am familiar with their stories. One thing I find off-putting about competitive (especially televised) sports is that the participants are largely de-personalized. More often than not, they become part of a faceless team, mass identified by their nation or municipal region, and some adoption of an object that abstractly represents said area. I am not arguing for a documentary to be made about every professional team, but perhaps you can understand my point here. Murderball is so compelling because it opens up the world outside of the court, seeing these people as diverse individuals as well as players. And this is why my interest in this sport and these teams has been heightened. Utterly unsentimental and therefore utterly compelling, it's quite a knock-out.

Link to original capsule Review

Note: I apologize for the delay in posting these (it's uni crunch time for me right now). The entries will speed up for the next few days.

1 comment:

Nick M. said...

That's precisely why I liked it also. Any sports film that can enthrall me in the game gets credit.