Author Topic: ESPN Films Presents: 30 for 30  (Read 44839 times)


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ESPN Films Presents: 30 for 30
« on: December 02, 2011, 09:52:49 AM »
In 2009-2010, the sports network ESPN celebrated its 30th anniversary, and to celebrate it released 30 different documentary films on various sports topics, and all directed by so called "acclaimed directors"; some more so than others. I have heard good things about the series, so I decided to finally catch up with them. I have seen one of them, The Two Escobars, which actually received some really nice buzz around these parts as well, but everything else I am going into completely cold. I am excited to get into these different stories and I think it will be a blast. Sports and film are arguably my two favorite things, so even if they turn out to not be the best films imaginable, I fully expect to at the very least enjoy myself.

I would love for people to join along, though I know there wasn't much interest when I asked before, but I would also love people to follow along, though I do understand that sports aren't everybody's bag.

Volume I (30)
Kings Ransom (Peter Berg)
The Band that Wouldn't Die (Barry Levinson)
Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? (Michael Tollin)
Muhammad and Larry (Bradley Kaplan & Albert Maysles)
Without Bias (Kirk Fraser)
The Legend of Jimmy the Greek (Fritz Mitchell)
The U (Billy Corben)
Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks (Dan Klores)
Guru of Go (Bill Couturie)
No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson (Steve James)
Silly Little Game (Adam Kurland & Lucas Jansen)
Run Ricky Run (Sean Pamphilon & Royce Toni)
The 16th Man (Cliff Bestall)
Straight Outta L.A. (Ice Cube)
June 17th, 1994 (Brett Morgen)
The Two Escobars (Jeff & Michael Zimbalist)
The Birth of Big Air (Jeff Tremaine)
Jordan Rides the Bus (Ron Shelton)
Little Big Men (Al Szymanski)
One Night in Vegas (Reggie "Rock" Bythewood)
Unmatched (Lisa Lax & Nancy Stern)
The House of Steinbrenner (Barbara Kopple)
Into the Wind (Ezra Holland & Steve Nash)
Four Days in October (Gary Waksman)
Once Brothers (Michael Tolajian)
Tim Richmond: To the Limit (Rory Karpf)
Fernando Nation (Cruz Angeles)
Marion Jones: Press Pause (John Singleton)
The Best that Never Was (Jonathan Hock)
Pony Excess (Thaddeus Matula)

Volume II (30)
Broke (Billy Corben)
9.79* (Daniel Gordon)
There's No Place Like Home (Maura Mandt & Josh Swade)
Benji (Cordie & Chike)
Ghosts of Ole Miss (Fritz Mitchell)
You Don't Know Bo (Michael Bonfiglio)
Survive and Advance (Jonathan Hock)
Elway to Marino (Ken Rodgers)
Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau (Sam George)
Free Spirits (Daniel H. Forer)
No Mas (Eric Drath)
Big Shot (Kevin Connolly)
This is What They Want (Brian Koppelman & David Levien)
Bernie and Ernie (Jason Hehir)
Youngstown Boys (Jeff & Michael Zimbalist)
The Price of Gold (Nanette Burstein)
Requiem for the Big East (Ezra Edelman)
Bad Boys (Zak Levitt)
Slaying the Badger (John Dower)
Playing for the Mob (Joe Lavine & Cayman Grant)
The Day The Series Stopped (Ryan Fleck)
When the Garden Was Eden (Michael Rapaport)
Brian and the Boz (Thaddeus D. Matula)
Brothers in Exile (Mario Diaz)
Rand University (Marquis Daisy)
The U: Part 2 (Billy Corben)
Of Miracles and Men (Jonathan Hock)
I Hate Christian Laettner (Rory Karpf)
Sole Man (Jon Weinbach & Dan Marks)
Angry Sky (Jeff Tremaine)

Volume III (25) (IN PROGRESS)
Trojan War (Aaron Rashaan Thomas)
The Prince of Pennsylvania (Jesse Vile)
The Gospel According to Mac (Jim Podhoretz)
Chasing Tyson (Steven Cantor)
Four Falls of Buffalo (Ken Rodgers)
The '85 Bears (Jason Hehir)
Fantastic Lies (Marina Zenovich)
This Magic Moment (Erin Leyden & Gentry Kirby)
Believeland (Andy Billman)
O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman) [Mini-series]
Doc & Darryl (Judd Apatow & Michael Bonfiglio)
Phi Slama Jama (Chip Rives)
Hit It Hard (Gabe Spitzer & David Terry Fine)
Catholics vs. Convicts (Patrick Creadon)
This Was the XFL (Charlie Ebersol)
One and Not Done (Jonathan Hock)
Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies (Jim Podhoretz)
Mike and the Mad Dog (Daniel H. Forer)
George Best: All By Himself (Daniel Gordon)
What Carter Lost (Adam Hootnick)
Year of the Scab (John Dorsey)
Tommy (Gentry Kirby & Erin Leyden)
Nature Boy (Rory Karpf)
The Two Bills (Ken Rodgers)
The Last Days of Knight (Robert Abbott)

30 for 30 Shorts (60)
Here Now (Eric Drath)
Arnold's Blueprint (Jeff & Michael Zimbalist)
Jake (Jonathan Hock)
The Arnold Palmer (Barry Gordon)
Ali: The Mission (Amani Martin)
Disdain the Mundane (Nelson George)
Holy Grail: The T206 Honus Wagner (Nick & Colin Barnicle)
Silver Reunion (Rory Karpf)
The Irrelevant Giant (Shaun Silva & Don Lepore)
Cutthroat (Steven Cantor)
Tommy and Frank (Richie Keen)
Wilt Chamberlain: Borscht Belt Bellhop (Caroline Laskow & Ian Rosenberg)         
Arthur & Johnnie (Tate Donovan)
Collision Course (Billy Corben)
The Schedule Makers (Joseph Garner)
The Great Imposter (Matt Dillmore)
Judging Jewell (Adam Hootnick)
The Deal (Nick & Colin Barnicle)
Untucked (Danny Pudi)
From Harlem with Love (Matt Ogens)
Posterized (Andrew Jenks)
Mecca: The Floor That Made Milwaukee Famous (Chris James Thompson)
The High Five (Michael Jacobs)
Kid Danny (Andrew Cohn)
Fields of Fear (Alex Gibney)
The Great Trade Robbery (Stuart Zicherman)
Our Tough Guy (Molly Schiot)
Robbed (Eric Drath)
Student/Athlete (Ken Jeong)
The Sweat Solution (David Beilinson and Neil Amdur)
An Immortal Man (Josh Koury & Myles Kane)
The Billion Dollar Game (Nick Guthe)
Unhittable: Sidd Finch and the Tibetan Fastball (Peter Sillen)
The Anti-Mascot (Colin Hanks)
Ted Turner's Greatest Race (Gary Jobson)
Spyball (Christina Burchard & Daniel Newman)
Brave in the Attempt (Fritz Mitchell)
Delaney (Grant Curtis)
First Pitch (Angus Wall)
The Pittsburgh Drug Trials (Michael Jacobs)
#BringBackSungWoo (Josh Swade & Josh Shelov)
Every Day (Gabe Spitzer)
Tose: The Movie (Mike Tollin)
Thicker Than Water (Jennifer Arnold)
Friedman's Shoes (Danny Lee)
Slick, Nancy, and the Telethon (Michael Husain)
The Bad Boy of Bowling (Bryan Storkel)
I Am Yup'ik (Daniele Anastasion & Nathan Golon)
No Kin to Me (Marc Kinderman)
Tiger Hood (Christopher Andre Marks)
When the King Held Court (Palmer Holton)
Gonzo @ the Derby (Michael Ratner)
A.C. Green: Iron Virgin (Isaac Feder)
The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere (Mickey Duzyj)
We Are (Jay Bulger & Joshua Shelov)
The Guerrilla Fighter (Gaspar Gonzalez)
What the Hell Happened to Jai-Alai? (Ryan Suffern)
The Throwback (Erin Leyden)
The Counterfeiter (Brian Biegel)
Strike Team (Willie Ebersol)

ESPN Films Presents (16)
The Fab Five (Jason Hehir)
Catching Hell (Alex Gibney)
Renee (Eric Drath)
The Dotted Line (Morgan Spurlock)
Charismatic (Steven Michaels)
The Real Rocky (Jeff Frueurzeig)
Unguarded (Jonathan Hock)
Roll Tide/War Eagle (Martin Khodabakhshian)
The Marinovich Project (Andrew Stephan & John Dorsey)
Goose (Kevin Shaw)
The Announcement (Nelson George)
26 Years: The Dewey Bozella Story (Jose Morales)
Right to Play (Frank Marshall) UNAVAILABLE
Baltimore Boys (Marquis Daisy & Sheldon Candis)
Morningside 5 (Mike Tollin)
World Beaters (Jonathan Hock)

Nine for IX (16)
Coach (Bess Kargman) [short]
Venus Vs. (Ava DuVernay)
Pat XO (Lisa Lax & Nancy Stern Winters)
Let Them Wear Towels (Annie Sundberg & Ricki Stern)
No Limits (Alison Ellwood)
Swoopes (Hannah Storm)
The Diplomat (Jennifer Arnold & Senain Kheshgi)
Runner (Shola Lynch)
The '99ers (Erin Leyden)
Branded (Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady)
Love & Payne (Hannah Storm) [short]
Rowdy Ronda Rousey (Mundo Sisters) [short]
Think Normal (Nikki Reed) [short]
Brittney Griner: Lifesize (Melissa Johnson) [short]
Uncharted Waters (Tina Carbone) [short]
Play a Round with Me (Jessica Wolfson) [short]

Soccer Stories (8.)
Hillsborough (Daniel Gordon)
Maradona '86 (Sam Blair)
The Opposition (Ezra Edelman & Jeffrey Plunkett)
Ceasefire Massacre (Alex Gibney & Trevor Birney)
The Myth of Garrincha (Marcos Horacio Azevedo)
Mysteries of the Rimet Trophy (Brett Ratner)
Barbosa - The Man Who Made All of Brazil Cry (Loch Phillipps)
White, Blue and White (Camilo Antolini)

It's Not Crazy, It's Sports (6)
The Subterranean Stadium (Errol Morris)
The Heist (Errol Morris)
The Streaker (Errol Morris)
Being Mr. Met (Errol Morris)
Most Valuable Whatever (Errol Morris)
Chrome (Errol Morris)
Bondo's Reviews
The Dotted Line
Tim Richmond: To the Limit
Catching Hell
The Price of Gold
Fantastic Lies
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 01:49:05 PM by Corndog »
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."


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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2011, 09:54:20 AM »
Kings Ransom (Peter Berg, 2009)

I was born in June of 1988. I never knew of Wayne Gretzky as an Edmonton Oiler. In fact, my brother always loved Gretzky and he had a poster in our room of "The Great One" wearing a Los Angeles Kings sweater. I was always too young, and never interested enough in hockey to understand the greatness of Wayne Gretzky, but now that the Columbus Blue Jackets are in town, and I am a little bit older, my interests in hockey have risen. I live in the age of Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, but it is always important, especially if you are new to a sport, to go back and learn who the greats of the game were, and how their career effected the game of hockey.

In August of 1988, a little over a month after I was born, the greatest player in the game of hockey, Wayne Gretzky was traded from the greatest hockey team in the league, the Edmonton Oilers, to the second worst in the league, the Los Angeles Kings. Edmonton fans were devastated and failed to see how this deal would ever make sense, but Kings owner Bruce McNall and Oilers owner Peter Pocklington seemed to think it made sense. Peter Berg is a film director who has done some interesting projects, but none more so than the sports drama Friday Night Lights. However, with this effort, he seems somewhat unfit as a documentary filmmaker.

The story is an interesting one and the film was informative, telling the story behind perhaps the biggest trade in the history of the game of hockey, but it only ever comes off as a glorified news story and not an overly compelling documentary. I was sitting there thinking about the great television news show 60 Minutes.I don't know about you, but I love that show and think it does a great job of providing interesting, and entertaining, news stories every week. The sad thing is I kept thinking to myself that this was only posing, only trying to be as good as a 60 Minutes news story, and never quite reaching that quality. There wasn't enough behind the story to justify an hour long documentary. It really could have fit into a half hour news special or something like that.

Berg just seemed to stretch it out to fit the time slot, featuring some awkward voiceover from Gretzky himself while he revisits the Edmonton Forum years after he had won numerous Stanley Cups in the same building; oh, and it was mostly in slow motion. The other thing is the interview itself with Gretzky, which seems like an all too casual conversation on the driving range with Berg asking, but never prying to get some real answers from "The Great One". Berg explores the different actors in this story, but never really gives any of them enough depth. The achieve footage, particularly of the press conference following the trade, were used effectively, even if the editing throughout the film tried way too hard.

But like I said it was informative, as I learned about the background of the trade. Before this film I would have said that under no circumstances is it ever a good idea to trade the greatest player in a game in his prime, but now I understand where Peter Pocklington was coming from, and so too, admittedly, does Gretzky himself. It was a business decision and with Gretzky's contract coming up, and unwilling to negotiate early, Pocklington's hand was forced by Gretzky himself. he couldn't afford a new contract with him, so he sold him to Los Angeles and got plenty in return. And the game of hockey benefited from the game's greatest player going to a major American city and piquing the interest in the sport of hockey. This is not a very good documentary film, but I still have confidence that I will enjoy this series.

« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 04:02:33 PM by Corndog »
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."


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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2011, 10:13:51 AM »
Yeah, aside from the EA video games and the Mighty Duck films, I wasn't much of a hockey fan until the Avs moved to Colorado so Gretzky was always a King in my mind. Definitely interested in following along with your reviews. DOCember relevant even.


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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2011, 10:27:30 AM »
But how about those Paulina Twitter pics, eh?
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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2011, 10:32:21 AM »
It sounds like Berg wanted to rekindle the emotions present all those years ago... that's a tall order if everyone interviewed has long since come to terms with the deal (outside of a few nostalgic fans I suspect). I guess he tried to bring emotion out of the achieve stuff but there simply wasn't enough of it so he slowed it down? Yeah, that doesn't sound so good. It is a great story, a shame to hear that the doc didn't do it justice.


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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2011, 11:06:30 AM »
In August of 1988, a little over a month after I was born, the greatest player in the game of hockey, Wayne Gretzky was traded from the greatest hockey team in the league, the Edmonton Oilers, to the second worst in the league, the Los Angeles Kings.

Greatest active player, you mean. Bobby Orr was the greatest hockey player of all time.

The one film in that series that I found was subpar was Silly Little Game. The rest of the films that I've seen have been pretty good, especially The Best that Never Was.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 11:09:35 AM by Antares »


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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2011, 09:33:48 PM »
The Band That Wouldn't Die (Barry Levinson, 2009)

Having been born and raised in Ohio, I know how much football can mean to people. Ohio is one of the fertile grounds for football recruits and my experience living in Ohio State Buckeye crazy (me included) Columbus has shown me how attached people can get. Living in Ohio I also saw the public outcry when Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. Living in Columbus I never had allegiance to Cleveland or Cincinnati. Actually I sway the Pittsburgh Steelers way, but most certainly I was unaware of just how impactful a move of an NFL franchise to Baltimore could be to everyone involved.

The Baltimore Colts were a beloved team, and a fairly successful one. But in 1984 the team moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis, where they are found now. The only thing I knew about the Baltimore Colts before watching this film was that they had Johnny Unitas and they snuck away in the dark of night and the light of snow in a bunch of Mayflower moving trucks, but I never knew why, or anything else about the organization. I certainly did not know that they had a band, the Baltimore Colts band. And even if I did I would have never have guessed that they still existed.

Barry Levinson (The Natural, Good Morning Vietnam and Rain Man) directs and brings together some of the members of the band in a few round table trips down memory lane. It comes off as staged some times, like when the old members are presumably forced to watch the Mayflower trucks leaving the old Baltimore Colts facility, but more often than not these interviews are conducted with a great touch, with the subjects dispelling their true emotions from sadness, passion and joy. Levinson, who has some documentary experience, handles the film like a pro, using effective editing to keep the pace and evolve the story naturally.

It definitely helps the documentary that the Baltimore Colts Band is as passionate and determined as it is. Each member remembers fondly what it was like to play for the Colts in Baltimore, and they also remember how every time they see the Colts on television now they have to turn it off, otherwise the memories will be too much. The determination for the Band to get a team back to Baltimore was incredible to witness. They remained for 12 years without a team; a marching band without a team. They traveled to other cities to do halftime shows, including to Art Modell's Cleveland team. They played the Hall of Fame game in Canton, OH. They waited and held steadfast in their passion as a band and as a city to get another NFL franchise to play for and to cheer for.

It is a strange sensation because, as I said before, I am a Steelers fan. Anyone familiar with the NFL these days knows how much the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens hate each other, so it was almost difficult to see something so positive and inspiring from the enemy, but I can't help but cheer for this band and this team while watching the film. I have a new found respect for the franchise. It wasn't the perfect documentary, as I still am not sure why the team left Baltimore in the first place, but for an entry into a series like this, for an hour long feature, Levinson provides an emotionally connected and triumphant film.

« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 04:02:57 PM by Corndog »
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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2011, 10:27:56 AM »
Having seen almost all of the series, I'm looking forward to your marathon.


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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2011, 10:52:37 AM »
Having seen almost all of the series, I'm looking forward to your marathon.

Thanks! I figured you would be one of the more interested members here. I am excited to catch up with the series.
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Re: ESPN 30 for 30
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2011, 03:36:11 PM »
Having seen almost all of the series, I'm looking forward to your marathon.

Ditto, having seen most of the series myself it would be interesting to see how you rate them. Would it be possible to add a rating to see how they compare with my own/and fellow Filmspotter's ratings. The series is being shown on ESPN Classic here in the UK over the Xmas period, so hopefully I shall be able to see those I haven't yet seen. Of the ones I have seen, my own personal favourites are:-

The Two Escobars
Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks
Straight Outta L.A.

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