The annual Hot Docs Festival (April 30 – May 10) officially started yesterday. The festival features documentary films from all over the world that cover a wide range of subjects. Whether you are interested in learning more about the life of a celebrity, racism in the modern school system, pills that claim to induce female orgasms, topics related to the environment, etc., there is literally a film to peak every interest you may have. To purchase tickets for Hot Docs festival, or to see the full list of film, click here.
One of films being shown at Hot Docs as a special presentation is James Toback’s Tyson, a candid look at the life of boxing legend Mike Tyson. Once the most fearsome boxer to ever step into the ring; Mike Tyson has been reduced to being the punch-line of numerous jokes over the last ten years. In Tyson, Toback (Black and White, Two Guys and A Girl) focuses on Tyson’s rise and fall from grace, allowing Mike to tell the tale in his own words. Mike takes the audience through everything from his childhood on the rough streets of Brooklyn to the infamous Evander Holyfield ear biting incident. Throughout the course of the film the audience gets to experience the many sides of Mike Tyson. Mike gets emotional when he reflects on his father-son relationship with manger/mentor Cus D’Amato. He is most charismatic when dissecting his early victories in the ring, and most contradictory when discussing various encounters with women. Yet the rabid animal that many associate Tyson as being still lingers within, this is most evident when his charismatic tongue turns venomous as he discusses people such as his former boxing promoter Don King and former Miss Black Rhode Island, Desiree Washington. The latter of whom accused Tyson of rape and caused him to spend 3 years in prison.
The thing that makes Toback’s documentary so compelling is the fact that Tyson never holds back. Regardless of what stage in his life he reflects on, you are compelled every step of the way. Some of the best parts in the film are when Mike Tyson is detailing his boxing process. This includes the fear he has as he approaches the ring to his transformation once inside. The in-depth description of his thought process, movement, and punches are just as fascinating to listen to now as the matches were to watch back then. Regardless of the ultimate direction his life took, Tyson is, if nothing else, a captivating storyteller. Still, similar to the subject in question, Tyson is not a film without its flaws. Yet I found most of my quibbles with the film were minor. One of which was that the film glosses over Tyson’s relationship with King. I wish they had expanding on this a lot more. I am not sure if James Toback figured it was already a well known story, similar to the Washington rape charges, and decided to keep it to a minimum or what? Yet the segment felt a little incomplete and ultimately tacked on. Regardless of your preconceived views on Mike Tyson are, Tyson is definitely a film that will surprise, entertain, and ultimately provoke discussion.
For more reviews from 2009 click here