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Tim Nailer Foley,
José Manuel 'El Doctor' Mireles,
Enrique Peña Nieto
Red Army is a feature documentary about the Soviet Union and the most successful dynasty in sports history: the Red Army hockey team. Told from the perspective of its captain Slava Fetisov, the story portrays his transformation from national hero to political enemy. From the USSR to Russia, the film examines how sport mirrors social and cultural movements and parallels the rise and fall of the Red Army team with the Soviet Union. Written by
I saw Gabe Polsky's new documentary at AFI Fest recently and was blown away by its robust sensibility. Not knowing precisely what to expect beyond the hockey element, I feared that my general lack of interest in sports would prevent me from enjoying the film. "Red Army," it turns out, uses hockey as a mere vessel for a story about pride, friendships, politics, and passionate devotion to the art of a sport. Polsky's movie is his love letter to hockey and the titular Soviet team, who the film reveals were probably some of the best technical athletes of any age. Superlatives like "best" and "greatest" came with a heavy price; these guys were not just hockey savants, but devices in a political narrative about the USSR's ability to dominate the world in the waning decades of the Cold War. "Red Army" shows how the team was often intimidated by government leaders into doing what they were told and when. One of the more defiant players was team captain Slava Fetisov, the documentary's somewhat audacious and resolute central figure. The Fetisov of today, seemingly unworried about PR, does and says what he wants on camera, berating the director over what he feels is a poorly conceived question and scoffing at others. At one point Fetisov even gives Polsky the finger when the director's interviewing interrupts him checking his email. It's a hilarious, authentic moment that will make you love and remember the film. Without a doubt one of my favorite movies of 2014.
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