(James Toback, 2008)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Sony Pictures
Video: Sony Classic Pictures
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 29,290,666,558 bytes
Feature Size: 21,561,458,688 bytes
Video Bitrate: 27.37 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 18th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1346 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1346 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
English, English (SDH), French, none
• Commentary bydirector James Toback
•A Day in the Life of James Toback (16:11 - HD!)
•Footage from the L.A. Premiere with Mike Tyson
• Iron Mike: Toback Talks Tyson (11:49 in SD)
• The Fabulous Picture Show (13:08 in HD!)
Description: In his younger days, the former heavyweight champ liked to say, "No one really knows Mike Tyson." Director James Toback, who befriended him while making 1999’s Black and White, allows Tyson to speak for himself as he illustrates his words through archival footage and fight clips, culminating in a subjective portrait that begins in empathy before ending somewhere more enigmatic. Neglected as a child, the Brooklyn-born youth took solace in his pigeons--much like Marlon Brando's boxer in On the Waterfront--before turning to stealing and brawling in his teens until legendary trainer Cus D'Amato spotted his talent and helped him to develop the discipline and self-confidence he lacked. Tyson fought many of his most famous bouts after D'Amatos death, but never quite recovered from the loss. Toback tracks the fighter’s rise in the 1980s, followed by his fall in the '90s and ‘00s: the turbulent marriage to actress Robin Givens, the infamous ear-biting incident, and the notorious rape conviction (about which he maintains his innocence). The filmmaker captures his now-retired subject in a reflective mood, and Tyson comes across as considerably more humble and eloquent than his reputation suggests--he describes boxing impresario Don King as "wretched, reptilian, and slimy" and has a special fondness for the word "skullduggery"--but continues to battle loneliness and feelings of abandonment, even fighting back a few tears at times. Tyson may disappoint those looking for the trash-talking pugilist of old, but Toback proves there's more to Iron Mike than meets the eye.
In Tyson, James Toback’s shockingly candid documentary, one of sport’s most fascinating figures makes an unlikely comeback, and a bid for redemption. Toback offers a portrait of a thug as a noble savage. The film shows that Mike Tyson is as iconic a figure as Muhammed Ali. Of course, he lacks Ali’s elegance and nobility. But Tyson is a more profoundly tragic hero—the bigger the hubris, the harder they fall. As one critic noted after last night’s screening, he’s like Ali’s evil twin.
Toback’s “documentary” is a one-man show: Tyson is the only interview. But what prevents it from turning into hagiography is the subject’s talent for devastating self-exposure. He talks about how his groin was burning with gonorrhea as he demolished his opponent to win his first world heavyweight title match—unsure if he got the clap from a prostitute or a “filthy lady.” He castigates his ex-wife, Robin Givens, with withering profanity. Still claiming to be innocent of the rape that landed him in prison for three years, he says, “I may have taken advantage of women before but not that woman.” A defense couched in a confession. Tyson talks frankly about sex, explaining how he likes to dominate strong women, not masculine women, but CEO types. He says he likes to stalk them, like a tiger stalking prey, and “devour” them. The man’s misogeny is jaw-dropping. So are his fists. The interview material is intercut with boxing highlights from his career, and for those of us who aren’t boxing fans, and are familiar only with Ali’s liquid grace, the blinding speed and homicidal fury of Tyson’s punches comes as a revelation.Excerpt from Maclean's magazine located HERE
Tyson is a documentary that constitutes an excerpted original interview with Mike Tyson interspersed with archival footage and photographs - all occasionally framed via split screens. Hence, the quality varies depending on the source. The interview looks to have been shot with an HD camera with some bleeding of the sunset colors on the beach-walking sequence. Close-ups of 'the man' can look quite detailed but this is not a Blu-ray that you would demo for the sterling visuals. Some of the stills are are very impressive but the ESPN fight footage doesn't look especially good. I expect that most people will be watching this for documentary appeal not expecting modern-film quality when it comes to the image. This sneaks into dual-layered territory with the feature taking up over 20 Gig supported by a decent bitrate in the high 20's. Colors seem brighter and probably even boosted at times in the archival footage - perhaps in an attempt to improve their quality.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is fairly non-consequential - there is some nice 'Rocky-style' music to start the documentary and dialogue is always clear and clean on the Dolby TrueHD at a modest 1346 kbps. The 5.1 is rarely utilized for separation. Tyson's track is dutiful in presenting the film's audio which has nothing remarkable to export. There are optional English or French subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
The commentary by director James Toback adds further color to Tyson which, in itself seems to build upon the man's enigmatic presence. It was nice to hear him looking at some of the deeper motivations behind Mike Tyson. I wasn't that keen on the A Day in the Life of James Toback featurette which runs for over 15-minutes in HD as it seems to be promoting the director, or his promotion of the film, more than a viable extras for the film. The other supplements duplicate some of the archival footage in the feature documentary. There is some Footage from the L.A. Premiere with Mike Tyson and an SD blurb of Iron Mike: Toback Talks Tyson for about 10 minutes and lastly The Fabulous Picture Show is really feeling like fluffy filler for 13-minutes in HD. The commentary is the go-to here - the rest is only keen to hear more of Mike talking although his input is far too infrequent in the featurettes.
August 11th, 2009
Interviewer: Drederick, ah, what do you think of Homer
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Gary W. Tooze