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.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information.

Wanted (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Running Time 110 minutes

Profuse graphic violence trumps a good story, acting, and directing. Graphic comics often come replete with blood and gore, and this one is no exception. We see bullets entering people’s bodies in super slow motion, blood splattering everything, people getting beaten to a pulp. Maybe some people find this entertaining. I don’t.

The story isn’t bad. Wesley (James McAvoy) is living a life of quiet desperation when he becomes involved in a hit, only to be rescued by Fox (Angelina Jolie), who recruits him to join a gang of assassins, led by Sloan (Morgan Freeman) that has been in existence for 1,000 years. The idea is that they kill people who need killing to keep the world in balance.

This is from a graphic comic of the same name by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones. Directed by Russian Timur Bekmambetov, it is a phantasmagoric, action-packed trip with car chases and tantalizing special effects. According to Millar, the first 40 minutes of the film are identical with the book.

As with most of Jolie’s appearances, not much acting is required of her (as evidenced by 2005’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and 2004’s “Alexander,” among others), or of Freeman, for that matter. They both punch the clock and put in journeyman performances, certainly nothing to write home about. It’s McAvoy who carries the film, along with the special effects, which I, someone who loathes films that rely on them, reluctantly admit are formidable. McAvoy appears in almost every scene. Because the concept is so other-worldly, the film requires an actor who can create verisimilitude and McAvoy does that in spades. McAvoy is rapidly creating a reputation as one of the finest actors around. He gave a high-quality performance in “The Last King of Scotland” (2006), but was overshadowed by Forest Whitaker’s Oscar-winning performance as Idi Amin. Then he gave another good performance in last year’s “Atonement,” a film I deplored, but his performance was one of its saving graces.

Sloan tells Wesley that his father had spectacular skills and that Cross (Thomas Kretschmann) assassinated Wesley’s father. Sloan says that Wesley inherited his father’s skills and he’s the only one who can perform the hit on Cross, so Wesley signs up. What he gets is far more than he anticipated, including learning something about what’s true and what isn’t.

Bekmambetov does an impressive job of making his first American film a visual trip worth taking. His attention to pace and facility with special effects are impressive. The graphic violence is a huge detraction from what is an interesting story.

Thursday, June 19, 2008