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"Facing Nolan" Does a Legend Pretty Average
A film that's more of a bunt than a strikeout.
It’s hard not to recommend anything in relation to baseball, at least for me. There’s something calming and oh so brilliant about watching these games, whether in person or on tv and in the background. Facing Nolan is a documentary that should be watched mostly in the background, preferably while in the kitchen, cooking up something fine. It is a calming film, sure, but also heavily unchallenging and deeply filled with almost only enthusiastic sports statistics. Can I impress more on its bland nature?
Nolan Ryan’s legend is one of wholesomeness and good old charm, which comes through solidly. He was one of THE BEST pitchers EVER in the history of Major League Baseball, having played for teams from the Mets to the Rangers, striking out more batters and holding more no-hitter games than anyone before him and, likely, anyone ever after. For this fan, that’s almost more than enough of a story… to see in Youtube clips. Facing Nolan recounts his famous moments, one by one, through interviews with Nolan himself, his wife, former players, and the former owner of the Texas Rangers, George W. Bush. Upon W.’s appearance, I grimaced and could clearly be heard shouting “ugh.” Yes, the man who was once the President of the United States (he was not titled as such in the movie) gives a few winks and nods to the camera, being more lively talking baseball than when he was bombing and attacking an entire region of the world.
Do you see the good that baseball can bring about?
As startling an aside as that intrusion was, Facing Nolan feels more like a piece of tofu than anything else. It reminded me of the ending from Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, which was footage of Chris Kyle’s long traffic funeral procession. The feeling was similar, because of the solemn celebratory nature attached. Prior, we had seen “the legend” of Kyle’s in-battle kills and the toll they took on him and his family. The only difference with Facing Nolan is that it’s a celebration throughout, where only one or two conflicts are told. We do see Ryan’s family in spots, but very rarely. We do hear from players he faced off with, but not often. Nolan Ryan is the apex star here, and that’s it.
And that’s… ok. Kind of. It’s neat hearing him speak his side of the special games in his life, and it’s even better when his wife talks of their relationship and her own hardships - in fact, where’s that movie? - but despite being neat to watch, Facing Nolan never faces anything other than what is already known. Nolan Ryan was a great pitcher, and few men will ever come close to his glory. Here are his stats. See?
That being what it is, the film works as calming background fodder for lazy weekends. 2.5/5
Facing Nolan will come to theaters very soon.
One More Thing: Notes on Three Corners of Deception
I truly hope that the best potential final cut comes out of Three Corners of Deception. Starting with curiosity, I took a peek at this domestic drama/soap opera epic in what I can only assume was an unfinished edit. Of interest to those seeking comfort from injustices, Three Corners could work as a fine Lifetime Channel-style tale. However, as it is now, it barely works as a film.
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Directed by and starring Meleeka Clary, Three Corners opens on an unjust court ruling, before whiplashing into cut-up news footage of various real-world protests, with a few character inserts here and there. Meleeka plays a law professor version of herself, shown teaching classes with exhausted passion and some flubbed line delivery. Now, it’s not fair to her or her movie to rate and review it as a normal piece, as Three Corners - at this moment - is very abnormal. Extremely obvious and poor ADR, amateur consumer-ish cinematography, hard editing, rough acting, rougher dialogue, etc. One bad element mounts onto another, onto another, onto another.
The story eventually morphs into a child custody battle, but it’s all so hard to follow as the lack of polish on the film is so distracting and in your face. The only grace in this cut belongs to Meleeka, who owns the variant character performed. There’s power in her ability, thrusting forward with some attention and attraction to a movie that is otherwise difficult to watch without. Still, a two and half hour movie (with nineteen minutes of end credits) cannot stand with only so little going in its favor.
Three Corners of Deception has yet to be released past a festival or two, so there’s still time to clean it up. It’ll be a tough job, but there’s a good film hiding, I feel.