7 items from 2017
French-Canadian filmmaker Philippe Falardeau has actually been making movies for almost twenty years, but it wasn’t until about 2011 when he first started getting attention for his drama Monsieur Lazhar, which was nominated for a foreign language Oscar. Falardeau’s 2014 movie The Good Lie, didn’t get much notice despite starring Reese Witherspoon and being released by Warner Bros. Therefore, he hasn’t quite made the waves into Hollywood as his country-mates Denis Villeneuve or Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild).
Undaunted, Falardeau decided to take on the story of Bayonne, New Jersey boxer Chuck Wepner, who famously went up against Ali at the height of his success in the ‘70s and managed to go 15 rounds before the fight was called due to Wepner’s famed “bleeding” during fights. Wepner was alternately known as “The Bayonne Brawler” and “The Bayonne Bleeder.”
- Edward Douglas
It would be tough finding a harder working actor than Liev Schreiber who has successfully transitioned from supporting roles in movies to his very own TV show, playing fixer Ray Donovan on the Showtime series for five seasons. He’s received four Golden Globe nominations and two Emmy nominations playing that role.
In between seasons he’s found the time to make Chuck, a movie about the famed “Bayonne Brawler,” Chuck Wepner, whose career was documented in the Espn “30 for 30” doc, The Real Rocky. Besides being the New Jersey Heavyweight Champion in the ‘70s, Wepner famously went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali, but his somewhat tragic story was also the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone to make Rocky.
The movie, directed by Philippe Falardeau (Monsieur Lazhar), recreates Chuck’s family life with his second wife Phyllis (Elisabeth Moss) and daughter. It then shows how his brush with fame led to drinking and »
- Edward Douglas
While the surprise smash, which would go on to win Best Picture in 1977, wasn’t directly based on a true story, it certainly wasn’t fiction. The character of Rocky Balboa, with his scrappy story, was loosely based on Wepner’s career and legendary fights.
“He asked me to read for the part ,” Wepner — whose storied career included blockbuster matches against George Foreman »
- Jodi Guglielmi
Some people’s lives are best told truthfully, others more loosely.
In one corner, we have Rocky, the iconic Best Picture-winning boxing movie starring Sylvester Stallone as the made-up Rocky Balboa. In the other corner, we have Chuck, an upcoming biopic starring Liev Schreiber as real-life boxer Chuck Wepner. The latter primarily depicts the 1975 bout between Wepner and Muhammad Ali, which inspired Stallone to write the script for Rocky. He’s since tried to downplay the connection, especially after being sued by Wepner, but it’s close enough to being a film a clef as any.
Chuck received mostly positive reviews when it played the big film festivals last fall, but it’s unlikely to become the phenomenon, let alone Oscar darling, that Rocky was. Its legacy surely won’t be as lasting, in part because true biopics don’t tend to get sequels. There are a lot of benefits to fictionalized accounts of real events and »
- Christopher Campbell
The real Rocky Balboa takes center stage in the first trailer for Philippe Falardeau’s Chuck. Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) steps into the ring to portray Chuck Wepner, the once “heavyweight champ in New Jersey,” who Sylvester Stallone used for inspiration when writing Rocky, the quintessential boxing movie. Wepner earned notoriety and attention in 1975 after almost going 15 rounds with “The Greatest” himself, Muhammad Ali. Check out the trailer here…
A Wepner movie has been long in the works, with Schreiber and his co-star (and wife) Naomi Watts (Demolition) being attached since 2011 when the movie was titled The Bleeder. The film wrapped principal photography in December 2015 and was screened at the 2016 Venice Film Festival in September, so its theatrical release is a long time coming.
The few critics who were able to catch the film at Venice welcomed it with mostly positive reception, calling it familiar yet enjoyable and commending a no-punches-pulled performance from Schreiber. »
- Justin Cook
IFC has released the first trailer for its upcoming biopic Chuck, which is set to hit theaters on May 5. While many fans may not know Chuck Wepner by name, the New Jersey boxer served as the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's iconic character Rocky Balboa. Liev Schreiber stars as Wepner, whose extraordinary true story is told for the first time on the big screen.
Chuck Wepner was a liquor salesman from New Jersey who went 15 rounds with the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali. In his ten years in the ring, Wepner endured two knockouts, eight broken noses, and 313 stitches. But his toughest fights were outside the ring: an epic life of drugs, booze, wild women, incredible highs and extraordinary lows in IFC's biopic.
“Sometimes Life Is Like A Movie. Sometimes It’S Better”
Watch the trailer for the upcoming movie Chuck – we can’t wait for this one! In theaters May 5th.
He was the pride of Bayonne, New Jersey, a man who went fifteen rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali, and the real life inspiration for Rocky Balboa. But before all that, Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) was a liquor salesman and father with a modest prizefighting career whose life changed overnight when, in 1975, he was chosen to take on The Greatest in a highly publicized title match.
It’s the beginning of a wild ride through the exhilarating highs and humbling lows of sudden fame—but what happens when your fifteen minutes in the spotlight are up?
- Melissa Thompson
7 items from 2017
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