USA, 2008, 90 minutes
Sat, May 2 / 4:00 / Kabuki / AWAR02K
KANBAR AWARD Mike Tyson was a boxer raised on the streets and trained by Cus D’Amato, but he was a character who might have been dreamed up by Norman Mailer or Dostoyevsky. In the bloated and fraudulent world of professional boxing, he made “the most frightening man on earth” seem reliable yet modest as a label. After the charms and poems of Muhammad Ali, Tyson was Black Vengeance Returns. And in the entire history of boxers on film, he is perhaps the most tragic and enlightening. But how can the ear-biter, the man who squandered $300 million and the convicted rapist be the central figure in a poignant, thoughtful entertainment? The answer to that is the astonishing chemistry made between Tyson the lifelong fighter and James Toback, the relentless pursuer of heroes caught in their own existential chaos. And how does it work? Tyson talks. The film Tyson is a documentary-with clips from the many fights-but it is a heart song, too, as Tyson talks about a life of near constant abuse and humiliation. And as he talks, so his innate violence becomes clearer. Tyson is not an apology or an apologia, but a piercing insight into how our society creates its villains and then despises them for behaving badly. Whatever you think of Mike Tyson now (before you see this film), we guarantee your mind will be changed.