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.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their their stories in their own words.

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


Blood Ties (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 128 minutes.

Not for children.

Clive Owen was my choice to play James Bond before Daniel Craig was chosen. Heís still my choice, even though heís getting a little long in the tooth.

However, here heís a guy on the other side of the spectrum. He plays Chris, an ex-con just released from jail. His brother, Frank (Billy Crudup), provides a place for him to live with family, even though they apparently hate one another. Even though Frank is a good person and Chris is a pimp and all around bad guy, Chris is the favorite of their father, Leon (James Caan).

Writer (with James Gray)- director Guillaume Canet (best known in America for his brilliant 2006 French production of Harlan Cobenís bestselling novel Tell No One) chose to remake  Les Liens Du San (2008, in which Canet played the lead), as his first English language film. Canet fills the screen with wonderful performances by a terrific cast, including Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard as Monica, a prostitute and Chrisís former wife, Zoe Saldana as Vanessa, after whom Frank yearns, Matthias Schoenaerts as Scarfo, Vanessaís husband who is in prison, and Mila Kunis as Natalie, Chrisís girlfriend. The performances of all are so good that to single one out over the others would be unfair.

Even though the film is more than two hours long and has a lot of talk, Canet keeps the pace and tension on such a level that the length isnít a problem. Despite the fact that the film is unremittingly depressing, I never had the inclination to leave. Compensating for the gloomy story is the outstanding acting. There isnít a weak performance in the entire film.

Consistent with the high quality of this film, there is a car chase at the end that is probably one of the more realistic filmed in the past several decades. Itís not on the level of Bullitt (1968) or The French Connection (1971), but itís much more believable, especially when compared to all the ridiculous impersonators we have been forced to endure since those two classics appeared.

There is one thing that detracts from the movie. While it is a violent film, both emotionally and physically, and while violence is properly shown, what is reprehensible is that the effects of violence are ignored. One scene that was particularly jarring occurs when Chris, in a fit of anger, butts his head against a steel door frame, not once, but several times, and very hard. It just so happens that my guest at the film was a woman who was recovering from a subdural hematoma (the same thing that killed actress Natasha Richardson). These are caused by blows to the head and, if not treated immediately, can be fatal. My friendís was caused by bumping her head as she entered her car, a blow much less violent than what Chris does. She ignored it until her headaches became too severe to ignore. While it cleared up by itself without surgery, her doctor told her she was lucky because only 25% get that kind of result. She found this scene to be upsetting and so did I. What is shameful is that Canet shows this kind of damage to the head with virtually no consequences save a little blood dripping down Chrisís face. Itís this kind of violence in film with no consequence that is irresponsible, and harmful by the impression it leaves on easily influenced viewers. Filmmakers should have a duty to show that there are consequences to violence. Sure, people are shown dying when they get shot (some of the cold-blooded killings are shocking in their suddenness and lack of emotion), but there are vicious beatings in this movie and, except for showing the victims bleeding, they still get up to live another day without any effects.

Other than that, this is an exceptionally well-made film.

 

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