BallinEurope killed much time the past two weeks in catching up with basketball-centric movie releases of 2012, and subsequently devoted much verbiage to these films on this site. So now it’s your turn, and who doesn’t love an online poll? Tell us: What was your favorite hoops flick of the past year? Vote below and please feel free to elaborate on your vote in the comments section — BiE looooooooooves talking sports movies…
What was your favorite basketball movie released in 2012?
In tribute/homage/ripoff to that movie-award ceremony thing going on in Los Angeles this evening PST, BallinEurope bestows its own prizes for the best in basketball movies released and/or screened during the year that was — as BiE refers to them, the Oscar (Robertson)s.
Second of the four Oscar (Robertson) Awards for 2012 is the result of a new wrinkle — and a couple of salient reminders of what certain folks have given to the game of basketball. BallinEurope’s new Oscar (Robertson) for Lifetime Achievement in Basketball Movies goes to The Harlem Globetrotters.
Known worldwide for their standing as the winningest franchise of all-time, for their status as international goodwill ambassadors, for serving as the last high-profile barnstorming team in any sport, the Globetrotters have also amassed quite the impressive CV of credits in the movie game as well … at least before the 1980s. For Globetrotters in the mass media, there’s
– Columbia Pictures’ “The Harlem Globetrotters” (1950), a fiction about a baller who drops out of college to join the squad;
Assessing year 2012 in basketball movies in short: Wow. In terms of sheer numbers, the past year blew away recent crops in a real boon the cinema junkies among basketball fans. Not only did ESPN’s “30 for 30” series debut a half-dozen quality roundball-focused documentaries, 20th anniversary celebrations of the Barcelona Olympic Games spawned a pair of films charting two of the most memorable teams in us older guys’ lifetime while Hollywood attempted to launch the acting career of Kevin Durant. And the year of Ben Affleck’s Argo also saw release of an ambitious independent film about an American playing ball in Iran…
As a result, BiE’s widening the playing field a bit for 2013 — you know, kinda like how the Academy did four years ago so that a bit more mediocrity could creep into the “Best Picture” category and snubs of Quentin Tarantino would be made all the more obvious. With so much to celebrate in 2012 basketball movies, BiE awards four virtual trophies this time ’round. So without further ado, the first envelope, please!
Best Full-Length Feature: Thunderstruck. The best review BiE read on KD’s star movie turn read, “I have to say this is the best kids’ movie starring the greatest basketball player of his time since Space Jam. The only problem is that this is the only kids’ movie starring the greatest basketball player of his time since Space Jam.”
Hein and yours truly go on to fill the aural space by chatting with the incomparable Euroleague Adventures’ Nick Gibson; about either website or man, BiE can say nothing negative. Gibson naturally shares about a zillion of his insights into the Eurobasket 2013 draw as well as happenings in the big ‘league, all done up in a mutated three-person version of Pardon the Interruption’s “Fact or Fiction.”
(Incidentally, the entire trio had some difficulties in categorizing this things – separating fact from fiction, one might say. All BiE can say is that this week’s podcast is the result of draw-breaking to late night coffees; a modicum of sympathy, if you will…)
Other topics of discussion include Nikola Vucevic’s fantastic start with the Orlando Magic; the Minnesota Timberwolves and the waiting game (at least half-finished now!); the Los Angeles Lakers; events in German Bundesliga basketball; the preeminence of Arvydas Sabonis in BallinEurope’s new logo poll; and way too much other stuff.
Our movie review of the week is “Phoenix in die Asche” (English title “No Phoenix, No Ashes”), a 2010/11 documentary capturing the trials and tribulations of Phoenix Hagen in its first Bundesliga season, particularly those involving an American player named Michael Jordan…
• a look at recently-run tournaments in Germany: the 2012 Domreiter Cup in Nürnberg with defending Euroleague/Greek League champs Olympiacos besting Brose Baskets Bamberg, Maccabi Tel Aviv and BC Khimki; and the Beko BBL Cup, which saw 2011-12 Euroleague runners-up CSKA Moscow top Bayern München, Beşiktaş JK and Žalgiris Kaunas. (In advance, BiE will say that whoa, eight interesting storylines really demonstrates the allure of the big league: fresh, dramatic storylines that change week to week…);
• a lengthy and fascinating interview with Till Schauder and Kevin Sheppard, producer/director and subject, respectively, of the excellent newly-released documentary The Iran Job. (BiE’ll have a bit more on this later for the more textually-inclined.)
Enjoy the podcast and stay informed about our new releases and comment to your heart’s content via our spiffy Facebook page. Like us! We love your likes!
Okay, so not even FIBA considers Iran part of The Continent, but BallinEurope today would nevertheless like to pass on a recommendation of a great basketball movie to watch out for. Entitled The Iran Job, the documentary follows U.S. Virgin Islands player Kevin Sheppard, a self-described journeyman with tours in China, Brazil, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Argentina to his credit, as he embarks on a season in the mysterious Middle Eastern nation.
As it turns out, Sheppard’s in Iran for not just any season, but that slate of games set in 2008-09 – significant calendar years for both his native USA and his country of residence. And as it turns out, The Iran Job is no typical American fish-out-of-water basketball story.
Just the word “Iran” is a hot-button issue in the ‘States (and, apparently, its protectorates); knowing the concept behind the film, reading the title alone takes us one step into Sheppard’s world. Upon announcing his professional plans, his mother is scared. His girlfriend is shocked. And it’s all set against a pastiche of George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” taunts and Hillary Clinton’s “we would destroy Iran” demagoguery.
With about four months to go before the 2012 Olympic basketball qualifying round tips off, the Fédération Française de Basketball (FFBB) and director Benoit Dujardin have launched a series of short documentaries on Team France’s preparation for the London Games.
Episodes in the 14-part “On the Road to Britain” series will be released on YouTube and DailyMotion every Thursday. This is a French-language series but subtitles are available on the DailyMotion uploads and the embeds below.
As Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Kevin Seraphin, Nando de Colo, Boris Diaw and Les Bleus’ others are currently plying their trades elsewhere, much of the focus in early “On the Road to Britain” chapters is on preparation and preview. In “Lancement de tournée,” we learn of Team France’s summer schedule – featuring reportedly the most games ever played in La Republique in a single summer by the national team – and of head coach Vincent Collet’s expectations.
Says Collet, “After the favorites, USA and Spain, between four and six teams can dream about a medal. And we are among team. So let’s be ambitious.”
Meanwhile, over in Hollywoodland … to no cineaste’s surprise, the silent film The Artist was named “Best Motion Picture of the Year” at the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony. While Tinseltown may have had a decent, if not mind-blowing, twelve months of production in 2011 – as evidenced by Woody Allen taking the “Best Original Screenplay” award for Midnight in Paris with his perhaps 24th- or 25th-best ever script – the year in basketball movies was disappointing to say the least.
In hindsight, no real possibility existed for the 2011 crop of hoops flicks to match the previous year’s output in terms of either quantity or quality, what with ESPN in the midst of its “30 for 30” documentary series. Eight basketball documentaries (nine if you include June 17, 1994) mostly well worth watching – spearheaded by the most excellent Once Brothers – were released in ’10 alongside the barely-seen Saints of Mt. Christopher. Plus, BallinEurope got to crack jokes at Common’s expense while enjoying fave Queen Latifah thanks to the essentially NBA-sponsored Hollywood flick Just Wright – who remembers that one?
And, of course, the artistic achievement of the 2009 tour de force, Who Shot Mamba? by former Yahoo Sports blogger/general comic genius at large has yet to be matched by any human endeavor, so one can’t fault the international film community for not approaching this one.
But come on! By BiE’s count, there were four major basketball film productions crafted in the year 2011. A pair of European documentaries saw no release outside their native countries (more on these below), while the compelling-sounding “Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story” is apparently still seeking a distributor. How is this possible? Just check out the official synopsis from producer/director Franklin Martin:
Well, okay, sort of. Insert a few more game clips and you’ve probably got CSKA Moscow’s approximation of what Phil Jackson’s game films used to look like. Via CSKA Basketball tweet, see the trailer for the cinematic epic of 2011 below the break.