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stancollins

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Loved It!, 22 September 2006
9/10

One of the bubbliest, most rollicking, and most surprising documentaries you'll ever see.

I am a soccer fan, but you won't have to be one to enjoy this movie. If you like anything about the 1970s--the music, the disco scene, the cheesy TV graphics--you'll love this movie.

It's premised on the nearly-insane vision of multimillionaire media mogul Steve Ross to make soccer a big time sport in the USA. It led to absurd spending, classic sports excess, and surprise, surprise--sold out stadiums! The whole thing was a roller-coaster destined to crash from the very beginning, but my it's fun to watch happen.

The cinematography is quick, flashy, and usually tongue-in-cheek. The interviewees inform, hedge, dodge, bicker, and blame. You end up with a partially contradictory but often balanced view of what happened with this wildest of teams. The personalities of this movie are its most endearing quality.

It all makes for an entertaining story for non-enthusiasts, but an epic story for anyone with any liking for this game. There are a few factual discrepancies (the largest of which was that the NASL had accomplished a few things in cities other than NY before Pele ever got there), but they're more than compensated for by the insight the film gives to its central topic.

Gladiator (2000)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Better-than-average, and that's it., 11 February 2002
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Unlike many Hollywood blockbusters, the huge-budget special effects are justified. The Colosseum scenes are truly visceral, and it took a giant budget to really bring them to life.

However, there's nothing in this movie that will enrich or edify you in any way, and it doesn't stand up to repeated viewing the way a top notch film would.

Utterly undeserving (in contrast to "Spartacus" and "Ben Hur", both of which having uplifting messages and strong acting to go along with Roman period pic fun) of Oscars, but not a complete waste time, especially if you see it on the big screen, where some of the imagery will linger with you.

(Some small spoilers follow).

I will cite this irony in Gladiator's defense: Some of the 'cheesiest' parts of the film are also the closest to historically accurate. For instance, Joachim Phoenix's performance will constantly remind you that he's an actor 'playing Commodus.' The irony here is that by the best historical accounts, Phoenix nailed it; Commodus *was* an actor, playing himself. (Also, he did enter the gladiatorial contests, and was a complete lunatic).

The wistful longing for the Republic was probably passe by the time of the passing of Marcus Aurelius (known as the last of the "Five Good Emperors"), but certainly something that had been a common sentiment in Rome for the first two centuries after Augustus (mostly due to the motley crew of idiots, lunatics and monsters who ruled immediately after him).