Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game winning streak in 1974."

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. Click the Book to read the players telling their stories in their own words. This is the book that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.


Evening (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Occasionally a movie comes along and grabs you. It happened to me in 2004 with The Notebook, a film that still comes to me at odd times to bring tears to my eyes. Evening is another such picture.

Themes that could easily be hackneyed, in the hands of masters can be made into films that have the power to stir deep emotions. Director Lajos Koltai has taken a sensitive, brilliant script by Susan Minot (who wrote the book upon which the film is based) and Michael Cunningham, and produced a film I wonít soon forget.

This is a film that touched me deeply because it deals with themes like the loss of a mother, her value, friendship, lost youthful loves, guilt, unrequited love, and the power of remembered life; themes that affect us all. The key is the way these things are handled and presented. I wasnít the only one the film touched because the woman behind me at the screening was sobbing throughout, audibly. I was scheduled to go to another screening after this one, but was so drained that I cancelled. The next morning I emailed the rep who set up the screenings and apologized but explained that after watching Evening I just wasnít up to another film. She responded that she was still crying as she drove home.

Sure, this looks like the quintessential chick flick. Itís got a story of mothers and daughters, lots of talk, and tears flow like Yosemite Falls. But it doesnít stigmatize men. Men are just as nice and sensitive as the women, even though they donít get a lot of footage. My message to men is: donít avoid this film. Itís a winner.

As Ann Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) lies dying, her two daughters, Nina Mars (Toni Collette) and Constance Haverford (Natasha Richardson, Redgraveís daughter in real life) are standing watch. Ann awakens occasionally to mumble about people, like Harris (Patrick Wilson), and events of which Nina and Constance are ignorant. As she mumbles, we flashback to the weekend of the wedding of Annís best friend, Lila (Mamie Gummer). The younger Ann is played by Claire Danes, in the performance of the year. While Nina and Constance wonder about who Harris was, we learn that he was loved by both Lila (even though she wasnít marrying him) and Ann. The wedding was surrounded by consternation. The film continues to flash back and forward.

Even though the main storyline is about Ann, the daughters have their own problems and their own lives to live, too. At one point Constance tells Nina, ďNothing gets its hooks into you; you just drift.Ē

There is a myriad of characters. In addition to the mothers and their daughters, thereís Lilaís brother, Buddy (Hugh Dancy), who is always drunk. He thinks Lila is marrying someone she shouldnít and also has the hots for Ann. Harris, Lilaís uninvolved lover, is the staunch guy everyone loves (including Buddy) but is strangely unemotional about it all. Lilaís parents (Glenn Close and Barry Bostwick) are upper crust Newport scions. Mr. Wittenborn seems an OK guy, but Mrs. Wittenborn looks down her nose at everyone, especially Ann. Close is delightfully disagreeable.

This is the best film Iíve seen so far this year. I canít find one thing to criticize. Claire Danes should be in the race for the Oscarģ best actress award (since I think that, she obviously doesnít have a chance). Iíd say that she carries the movie with her scintillating performance, but this is a film of stars at the top of their games.

This is a tender, sensitive story of relationships and missed opportunities, fate and decisions, and, in the end, how life really works out. It goes on for 117 minutes but I was involved in each one. The way the film delves into the psyches of the different characters is brilliant.

June 17, 2007

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