In a previous post, I mentioned how I’ve started watching sports-themed shows on Netflix. These are some of my stay-in movie suggestions for you.
1. One in a Billion (Basketball)
In a country of 1.2 billion people and in a sport with billions of fans worldwide, there has yet to be a single Indian-born player drafted in the NBA. One in a Billion follows the global journey of Satnam Singh Bhamara from his home of Ballo Ke, a farming village in rural India, to the bright lights of New York City as he attempts to change history. Building up to a climactic draft night after years of hard work, Satnam hopes to finally create the long-awaited connection between India and the NBA.
Satnam Singh Bhamara is an unsung hero and hardly well known in an India obsessed with all things cricket. Though he’s only reached the ripening age of 21, and 7’2” in height now, Satnam Singh Bhamara’s journey to the top echelons of International basketball finds cinematic credence in New York Emmy award winner Roman Gackowski’s stirring feature-length documentary called ‘One in a Billion’. How the young village lad from India who faced unheard of hurdles (like finding a shoe that fits his size 18 foot) to play basketball, gets inducted into IMG’s Indian Basketball team selected by Troy Justice, supported by Reliance, moves to the USA as part of a team of young hopefuls given a scholarship, enrolled in the IMG Academy in Florida alongside 8 other select Indians, several years later signed-up with an agent and then becomes one among the 52 basketball protégés selected for the NBA’s new gen teams.
“Gackowski’s film takes us through every sporting highlight of Satnam’s young life while leading up to the suspenseful moment when the NBA’s final 52 cut-off is being announced.” – Johnson Thomas, Mid-day.com. For more, click here.
“Motorcycles, cars, antiquated trucks and pedestrians weave through crowded unlined streets and dirt roads, the honks producing a sort of musical opening. “Don’t forget about where you come from,” Satnam Singh Bhamara says, in a deep voice that belies his youth.” – Adi Joseph, Sportingews.com. For more, click here.
Watch it here.
2. Rudy (Football)
Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) grows up in a Catholic, working class family that loves Notre Dame football. He does not have the grades, the size or the talent to get into his beloved school so he follows his brothers and father into work at the steel plant. After his twenty-second birthday his best friend Pete (Christopher Reed) who always believed in him dies in an accident. Rudy then realizes that it is now or never to follow his life-long dream to play for the Fighting Irish. Despite fear of failure from his father (Ned Beatty) and girlfriend (Lili Taylor) he leaves to pursue his goal.
Showing up is not enough to get him into the university, so with the encouragement of a priest (Robert Prosky), he enrolls in Holy Cross Junior College. There he gets help from a tutor (Jon Favreau) who helps him deal with his reading disability and finally get good grades. He works on the maintenance crew (Charles S. Dutton). Finally, Rudy gets accepted and upon transferring in to the school, he gets a chance as a “tackling dummy” for the team for two years. Encouraged by his persistence and spunk, Rudy inspires the team and is allowed to dress for one game by the coach (Jason Miller), where he is triumphantly carried off the field by his fellow teammates. The story is based on the life of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger.
“Parents need to know that Rudy includes some scenes of bitter disappointment and brutality on the football field (including bloody wounds and bruises) that might be inappropriate for younger or more sensitive kids.” – Commonsensemedia.org. For more, click here.
“In “Rudy,” Astin’s performance is so self-effacing, so focused and low-key, that we lose sight of the underdog formula and begin to focus on this dogged kid who won’t quit. And the last big scene is an emotional powerhouse, just the way it’s supposed to be.” – Rogerebert.com.
For more, click here.
Watch it here.
3. Coach Carter (Basketball)
In 1999, Ken Carter takes over the head coaching job for the basketball team at his former high school Richmond, having played on the team himself and earning records. Carter quickly sees that the athletes are rude and disrespectful, and are in need of discipline.
He hands the players individual contracts, instructing them to attend all of their classes, sit in the front row of those classes, wear dress shirts and ties on game days, refer to everyone (players and coach alike) as “sir”, and maintain a 2.3 (C+) grade point average, among other requirements. Carter also asks the school staff for progress reports on the players’ grades and attendance. He teaches them to play a disciplined brand of basketball.
“Even though it’s based on a true story, Coach Carter is pretty formulaic stuff, but it’s effective and energetic, thanks to a strong central performance from Samuel L. Jackson.” – Rottentomatoes.com. For more, click here.
“Imagine Shaft with a whistle instead of a Smith & Wesson, and you’ll get an idea of how Samuel L. Jackson coolly tackles the title role in “Coach Carter,” a slick, fun biopic about a former hoops star who transforms a bunch of high school ne’er-do-wells from boys to men.” – Sean Daly, Washingtonpost.com. For more, click here.
Watch it here.
4. The Battered Bastards of Baseball (Baseball)
The Battered Bastards of Baseball is one of baseball’s last great, unheralded true stories. In 1973, Hollywood veteran Bing Russell (best known for playing Deputy Clem on “Bonanza”) created the only independent baseball team in America at the time, the legendary Portland Mavericks. Bing operated without a Major League affiliation while playing in a city that was considered a wasteland for professional baseball.
Tryouts for the Mavericks, which were open to the public, were filled with hopefuls who arrived in droves from every state in America, many of whom had been rejected by organized baseball. Skeptics agreed it would never work. But Bing’s Mavericks generated unprecedented success: they shattered attendance records, signed Kurt Russell – Bing’s son – as a player and team Vice President, produced the most successful batboy in baseball (filmmaker Todd Field), re-launched the controversial career of Jim Bouton, hired the first female general manager in Baseball, and inspired one of America’s beloved bubblegums – Big League Chew. The Battered Bastards of Baseball is as much about the independent spirit as it is about baseball. The Mavericks’ in your face attitude was contagious to fans, and during their short reign, they – and Bing Russell – basically held up their middle finger to the sports establishment and said we’re playing this game on our terms, not yours. They were the real life Bad News Bears.
“Battered Bastards Of Baseball Tells The Story Of Kurt Russell’s Father’s Raucous Adventures On The Field” – Sundance Review. For more, click here.
“This film is a labor of love in which the sweat never shows.” – Michael Sragow, Rottentomatoes.com. For more, click here.
Watch it here.
5. Friday Night Lights (Football)
The coach, Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton), was constantly in the hot seat. Tied to the successes and failure of the coach and the team in general were the conflicts the players struggled with on and off the gridiron. The coach overused his star player, running back James “Boobie” Miles. (Derek Luke), who was seriously injured (he tore his ACL, missed the playoffs, and had a limp for the rest of his life). When this happened, sports radio shows were flooded with calls for Gaines’ resignation. Miles’ once-arrogant attitude vanished as he saw his once-promising chance of playing big-time college football disappear, and he questioned his future after he noticed his not-so promising academic standing. While recuperating on his uncle’s veranda he observed the garbage collectors doing their rounds, got a glimpse of a different future, and burst into tears.
Bissinger followed the team for the entire 1988 season. However, the book also dealt with—or alluded to—a number of secondary political and social issues existing in Odessa, all of which shared ties to the Permian Panthers football team. These included socioeconomic disparity; racism; segregation (and desegregation); and poverty.
“Ultimately what makes the show stand apart is its faith in humanity. Where Breaking Bad and The Sopranos unpick the dark heart of the American dream, Friday Night Lights is an optimistic hymn to the nation that wrought it.” – Sarah Hughes, TheGuardian.com. For more, click here.
“You don’t have to love football to admire Friday Night Lights. A rewardingly seasoned new drama series that’s practically indistinguishable from the acclaimed feature film, except that it’s better.” – Metacritic.com. For more, click here.
Watch it here.
6. Iverson (Basketball)
This unfiltered documentary follows the rocky life and stratospheric career of Allen Iverson, an NBA icon who left an indelible mark on the sport. Iverson is the ultimate legacy of NBA legend Allen Iverson, who rose from a childhood of crushing poverty in Hampton, Virginia, to become an 11-time NBA All-Star and universally recognized icon of his sport. Off the court, his audacious rejection of conservative NBA convention and unapologetic embrace of hip hop culture sent shockwaves throughout the league and influenced an entire generation. Told largely in Iverson’s own words, the film charts the career highs and lows of one of the most distinctive and accomplished figures the sport of basketball has ever seen. When I was 13 years old, a kid growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, I wanted nothing more than to make my school’s basketball team. I remember practicing late into the night on the hoop in my driveway; free throws, layups, turn-around jumpers, everything. I didn’t have a ton of talent, but I figured if I worked hard enough to improve just the basics, that would show over the weeks to come and eventually help me when it came time for the team tryouts.
More than those nights spent shooting around though, I remember holing up in the garage when it was too cold to play outside, practicing my crossover for hours on end because I wanted to do it just like Allen Iverson did. If you were a kid reaching adolescence in Canada in the late ’90s and early ’00s and you loved basketball, you probably loved two players: Vince Carter, the man who forever changed Canadian basketball fandom as a member of the Toronto Raptors, and Allen Iverson, the 6-foot guard from Georgetown who was a human highlight reel while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. It says something about Iverson’s massive star power that, in a suburb of Toronto, while Vince Carter was winning slam dunk competitions and changing the culture of basketball in Canada, Allen Iverson’s “#3” jerseys easily outnumbered any Carter jersey on the playground by a 3-to-1 ratio.
“The actions of Allen Iverson, a polarizing figure throughout his NBA career, take on deeper meaning within the context of the tension created among white management — and culture at large — by players in a predominantly African-American league.” – Brian Lowry, Variety.com/U.S. For more, click here.
“Iverson smooths out the edges of its controversial, influential subject. It’s that kind of influence, that kind of cultural prominence, that Iverson documentary fails to capture.” – Kyle Fowle, A.V. Club, AVclub.com. For more, click here.
Watch it here,
7. Trophy Kids (Tennis, Golf, Basketball, Football)
This harrowing documentary profiles parents who lose sight of what’s important as they relentlessly push their kids to excel at sports. Trophy Kids, a documentary about overzealous parents and the extreme lengths to which they push their children in sports. We follow four different parents and five kids playing tennis, basketball, golf, and football. As you can imagine, some of the behavior is unintentionally funny, and most of it is pretty harrowing — there are confrontations and parents admitting openly that they are vicariously living through their children, investing in them hopes for a future payout, or simply robbing them of a chance to be a kid.
Most of all, though, the documentary was nostalgic. Anybody who played sports when they were young remembers a parent like that; maybe they even had one of their own. Here, Rafe Bartholomew, Chris Ryan, and Corban Goble talk about Trophy Kids and their own memories of when parents went too far on the field.
“Trophy Kids’ On Netflix: One of the Scariest Horror Movies You’ll Ever See” – www.Forbes.com. For more, click here.
‘Trophy Kids’ Presents Its Sports-Obsessed Parental Protagonists As Horror Movie Villains” – Bob Cook, Decider.com. For more, click here.
Watch it here.
I hope you’d enjoy these movies. Let me know what you think of them.
About Dr. Martha Tara Lee
Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee decided to take it upon herself to right this societal injustice in 2007. She set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality, then launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.
She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and is currently pursuing her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling. In practice for more than seven years, she is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.
Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She has published two books: Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, and Orgasmic Yoga.
Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.