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. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

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Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

End of Watch (6/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 108 minutes.

Not for children.

Writer/director Bill Ayer seems to like attacking the police in general and the LAPD in particular. One of his prior films was writing the script for director Antoine Fuqua's Training Day (2001) that highlighted bad cop Denzell Washington. Training Day did not present an appealing picture of the policemen who made up the LAPD.

 “The thing about the cop genre— we haven’t seen what they really do at work,” says Ayer. “We’ve seen what Hollywood thinks they do.  We’ve seen every other cop movie… where you gotta have the scene where two cops argue about jurisdiction.” He wanted to show what the job of being police in a bad part of a big city is really like.

“These guys see mayhem and carnage and are faced with incredible psychologically destructive situations, and then they have to go home and put work into a relation three-tier ship,” says Ayer. “Somebody who can do that successfully to me is a fascinating person.”

But the problem with this film is that Ayer shows the typical LAPD cop as being an over-the-top vulgarian who can't utter three words in a row without two of them being the F word. One of the most foul-mouthed movies I have ever had the misfortune to sit through, this presents an LAPD comprised of immature people straight out of Animal House. That's a shame because the action is intense, the cops (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) are shown to have good hearts, and the incidents that they have to deal with are shocking.

Ayer necessarily compartmentalizes the things that ordinary policemen have to go through in a day's work and how it affects their humanity. Gyllenhaal and Peña face more combat in the short time covered by the film than a patrol in Iraq or Afghanistan. The film goes into the private lives of both officers, showing Peña's wife, Gabba (Natalie Martinez) and the relationship between Gyllenhaal and his girlfriend, Janet (Anna Kendrick), apparently trying to humanize them. But from the way they speak and act when they are on the job, it takes a lot more to "humanize" them than just showing that they are capable of loving relationships with women.

If one can ignore all the profanity and childish behavior, the film is tense and involving, if extremely violent.  Both Gyllenhaal and Peña give terrific performances and Ayer directs with a fine sense of pace.