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May 22nd, 2009 By Jason Gargano | Movies |

Friday Movie Roundup: Crazy Like Mike?


Who better to explore the life of Mike Tyson than James Toback? The two are mirror images in many ways.

The 64-year-old director of such highly personal, often indulgent films as Fingers (1978), The Pick-up Artist (1987), Two Girls and a Guy (1997) and Black and White (1999) is a noted lothario (despite resembling a balding bear) and a gleefully narcissistic provocateur whose elemental instincts often overwhelm his obviously elevated intellect.

That’s not to say Tyson is an intellectual (at least in the conventional sense), but he’s not the raving lunatic his ear-chomping tendencies, myriad legal troubles, deliriously hyperbolic quotes (he once told Lennox Lewis he would “eat his children”) and imposing face tattoo would lead one to believe. Toback’s new documentary, Tyson, aims to make just that point, and it largely succeeds on that level if it fails to deliver any semblance of balance. (Noted critic Amy Taubin has called the film “morally reprehensible” for, among other things, allowing Tyson to go unchallenged after saying that he was wrongfully convicted of rape in 1993.)

In a recent interview on Elvis Mitchell's The Treatment, Toback admitted that the film is a “version of a self-portrait” and that he and Tyson share a need for “self-subversion after and equally strong need for achievement.”

Tyson goes beyond self-portrait — it’s a rare, unblinkingly candid look behind the curtain of a man stripped emotionally bare.

Elsewhere on the new movie front, the latest installment in the Terminator film series seems to have been a success (at least critically), the Wayans family is back with another spoof-laden satire, Ben Stiller goes back to the museum and a Spanish director completes his musical trilogy.

Opening films:

DANCE FLICK — The Wayans clan’s latest satire sends up such urban-set dance flicks as Save the Dance and Step Up. But about decade after Scary Movie and nearly 20 years after In Living Color, the first family of spoof tries to keep things fresh by turning over the comedic reins: Damon Wayans Jr. plays the lead and cousin Damien Wayans directs. (Opens wide today.) — Jason Gargano (Rated PG-13.) Review coming soon

FADOS — Spanish director Carlos Saura completes his self-described musical trilogy (following 1995’s Flamenco and 1998’s Tango) with this exploration of Portual’s most emblematic musical genre (dubbed fado). Saura uses sets marked by exotic colors, back-screen projections, mirrors and various lighting effects to complement performers who interpret various songs by fusing music, voice and dance in an effort to honor a tradition that has been wandering the streets of Lisbon for 150 years. (Opens today at Mariemont Theatre.) — JG (Rated PG.) Review coming soon

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN — Ben Stiller and his merry gang of historical figures return for another round of family-friendly entertainment. Director Steve Levy guides a cast that also includes Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Amy Adams, Rickey Gervais, Christopher Guest, Hank Azaria and Robin Williams. (Opens wide today.) — JG (Rated PG.) Review coming soon

TERMINATOR: SALVATION — The first Terminator movie was strictly speaking a horror story about a relentless (and quite literal) killing machine. By the second movie, the horror gave way to an action-chase extravaganza with bar-raising special effects. The third installment, Rise of the Machines, was an anomaly — the one that simply shouldn’t have been made at all. So now McG (of Charlie’s Angels infamy) seeks to make us forget the blip by resetting the system and his salvage job works surprisingly well. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens wide today.) — tt stern-enzi (Rated PG-13.) Grade: B

TYSON — James Toback’s new documentary, Tyson, should be subtitled Mike on Mike: It’s 90 minutes of a recently interviewed Mike Tyson speaking directly to the camera — a single-minded perspective that proves both frustrating and fascinatingly intimate. Rambling, emotional and often surprisingly articulate, Tyson ruminates on everything from his troubled childhood and meteoric rise as a boxer to his various legal troubles and general outrageous behavior. (Read full-length review here.) (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — JG (Rated R.) Grade: B

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