Movie News

Moriarty's RUMBLINGS FROM THE LAB #18 Re: Barry Blaustein's BEYOND THE MAT, Garbage and James Bond, Gaiman Interview

Published at: Oct. 26, 1999, 8:09 a.m. CST

Hey, Everyone... "Moriarty" here. Harry's asleep, taking the day off, enjoying Chicago, preparing to meet up with many of you this evening. Me, I'm here, working away, trying (and failing) to condense two weeks worth of RUMBLINGS into one article. I wouldn't be surprised if the henchmen were all huddled in some dark corner of The Moriarty Labs tonight, plotting my destruction. Hell, I almost wouldn't blame them. They've been forced to listen to the same song, over and over, for the entire weekend. I can't help myself. I'm still not sick of it. Blame Garbage. Blame David Arnold. Blame Philipp Stoelzl, who directed the video. Even now, Shirley Manson's wail echoes from every wall of The Labs:

"The world is not enough/But it is such a perfect place to start, my love/And if you're strong enough/Together we can take the world apart, my love"

It's the perfect romantic music for an Evil Genius, a gorgeous woman singing about the erotic thrill of world domination. The fact that it's a classically-styled Bond theme only enhances its allure. I'm happy to see the music of the Bond franchise currently residing in the hands of composer David Arnold. His SHAKEN & STIRRED album was, like most guest star anthologies, a mixed bag. Even so, it was a strong argument for Arnold's appreciation of the history of Bond music. I don't think anyone will ever hit the same heights that John Barry did, but a smart, wicked little track like The Propellerheads' "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" or the new TWINE theme suggest there's some great funky life left in the series.

Don't get me wrong... that's not all I've been up to. Far from it. I've met many readers of the site over the last couple of years, and I always enjoy it, even if it does get harder to find free time as various experiments make larger demands on me here at The Labs. Sometimes, though, you meet someone worth making a little time for, and that was part of the weekend for me. I also managed to dedicate a little time to moviegoing. I made my way to AMC's Century City 14 so I could catch a showing of BEYOND THE MAT, a new documentary from Universal/Imagine which was directed by Barry Blaustein.

Quick history lesson for those of you who aren't familiar with Barry's other work. As a bit of an SNL compulsive, I've always thought of him as a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE writer before anything else. He and David Sheffield were most famous for being partnered with Eddie Murphy during his glory days on the show. They were responsible for the development of most of the characters that you probably remember Eddie for, like Buckwheat, Gumby, Velvet Jones, and Mr. Robinson. If you loved those bits, then you're already a Blaustein fan. You just didn't know it yet.

When Eddie moved on to movies, so did they, and the partnership has continued to yield some wildly popular results -- COMING TO AMERICA, BOOMERANG, and THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. It was the producers of NUTTY and the upcoming sequel THE KLUMPS who Barry turned to when he wanted to make a personal film, a documentary about a subject he'd been passionate about since childhood. As he explains in the very funny opening to BEYOND THE MAT, Barry has always loved wrestling. He doesn't love it because he thinks it's all real. He loves it precisely because it's theater, rock'n'roll, larger than life. It's the show biz that hooks fans and brings them back. Or, at least, that's how he explains the allure in the film, and he makes quite a case for it.

You see, unlike Barry or Harry, whose review first brought this film to my attention, I can't claim to be a wrestling fan. I don't even think I could convincingly pretend to be one. I never watched it. There's only so many hours in your life that can be spent on entertainment, and I never chose to expend any of them on wrestling. Couldn't imagine the point. I've been aware of its existence, and of course there are wrestlers who have crossed over to just being show biz figures, but the actual event itself and the appeal of it just never scanned. As a result, I didn't walk into this theater with any expectations about wrestling or wrestlers. Instead, I was there as someone who has a lifelong love of the documentary form.

For me, there's something so powerful about dipping into other people's lives, observing, getting this close up glimpse into someone else's human drama. I think in many ways, it makes me feel better about people. So often, I hear about something or read about something, some news story, and I wonder what's wrong with people. I mean, I'm Evil. It's my job. What's everyone else's excuse? But then I see a great documentary, something that transports me to a world or a culture or a life I simply didn't know existed, and I get some glimpse of something that shows me that no matter what differences we have with someone, there are basic human things we all have in common, and it makes me feel better. I have Roger Ebert and Errol Morris to thank for my early infatuation with the form. It was back in the late '70s that I saw an episode of the show in which Roger practically had an evangelical experience while espousing the virtues of GATES OF HEAVEN, a brilliant, brilliant film that is ostensibly about the people who would use the services of a pet cemetary. It is, of course, about so much more than that, as are all good documentaries, and when I managed to see the film, I was simply astonished by it. I was young, too, so I had never realized that you could capture a type of reality in a movie. I thought they were all make-believe. Since then, I've gone out of my way to see any documentaries in the theater that I could. I love seeing them with audiences.

This past Sunday, I was not disappointed at all by the crowd that turned out for BEYOND THE MAT. I'd like to emphasize that word... "crowd." That theater was full. I was more surprised by that than by the people who filled it. Normally, if you go see a doc in the theater, it's a typical art-house LA crowd. Not this time. These people were there to see their favorite wrestlers on the big screen. This was a wrestling crowd. That means this was an energetic crowd, and that sure did make a difference in the experience for me. They applauded favorite wrestlers when they showed up onscreen. I was sorting out who everyone was on the fly, as the film unfolded, but all it took was a glimpse of someone like Stone Cold Steve Austin or New Jack or Mankind to set the crowd off. It made it feel less like a film than a match, something lively, something that was just slightly rowdy. It was astonishingly fun.

Now, a big part of that is because Barry Blaustein has made a truly engaging film here. He's a character in it himself, and he makes no bones about his long time love of this particular bent of "sports entertainment." He never overpowers the film, though. He's too interested in talking to guys like Terry Funk, Vince McMahon, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Chyna, Jesse Ventura, Coco BWare, and Mick Foley. He's too invested in giving them time to establish who they really are when you take them out of the ring, when they turn off the characters. Being a fan himself, Barry has managed to make a film that truly conveys the reasons he's fascinated by wrestling, even as he captures the sense of discovery that he had while getting to know these people.

Terry Funk is an older guy, past 50, who is in miserable physical shape. The first shot of him waking up and struggling up out of bed is just sad. This is a guy whose every joint must just ache. A doctor's visit and a set of x-rays makes the case for him quitting immediately, but he shrugs it off, pushes on. He can't imagine not doing it. Even when he announces his retirement, there's a sense that he doesn't believe it. He can't walk away. In fact, he can't really walk at all. Still, in the ring, he manages to come to life, shake the pain off, and just be Terry Funk, the wrestler the fans have come out to see. There's something sort of Jake LaMotta about this guy. He won't go down. There's a sort of bruised, broken-nosed nobility to Funk.

There's nothing noble or dignified about Vince McMahon or his attempts to transform wrestler Darren Drozdov into "Puke," named for his amazing ability to vomit on command. There's plenty that's hysterical about it, though, and there's even a touch of the sleazy, carny appeal of the whole thing. I think that part of the charm of what I saw here is the feeling that all of this is so no-holds-barred, all-bets-are-off, good taste just doesn't matter. In the ring, that is. It's like rock'n'roll in that regard. When you're out there, onstage, it's all image and attitude and charisma. It seems to come at a price, though, and for some of these guys, it's worse than the physical deterioration of Terry Funk.

There's Jake Roberts, for example. This guy is a shattered soul, a ghost who's just waiting to die by now. He's this great big walking wound, wide open and fucked up and out of control. When Barry cuts in footage of Roberts from his peak, it's startling. This guy got old and didn't take care of himself in any way. He's worn out. I'm surprised he can still get in the ring at all. For some reason, he really opens up to Barry and starts spilling his guts on camera, leading to some of the best material in the film, like the truth about his parentage and his relationship with his daughter. By the time Jake is actually on crack and rambling for the camera, at his lowest, you have to feel for this guy. He's got issues that go so far back into his life that it's a miracle he ever pulled it together enough to get famous. That he's still alive is a miracle in its own right, and one can only hope that he sees this movie, sees himself in it, and pulls out of his tailspin.

I say that because of the sequence featuring Mick Foley, better known as Mankind. There's some pretty remarkable footage of this guy in the ring, some remarkable footage of his family watching him, and some truly piercing footage of him watching their reactions to what he does. Of all the people we meet in this film, we are allowed furthest into the world of Mick Foley, and I'm glad. He's a great guy, a big gentle friendly pear shaped dude who has a wide open childlike quality about him. He's enormously appealing when being interviewed and when he's with his family. He comes to life when he's playing with his kids, and it's obvious that his priority is making his family happy. When we see as an audience what sort of pain they're in while watching him, it does the impossible, the unthinkable... it makes wrestling real again. When you see the gash in Foley's head and you realize how devastating it would be if anything happened to him, genuine fear creeps back into wrestling. The ending of the match may be predetermined, and there may be elaborate choreography involved, but you couldn't pay me enough money to take the hits to the head these guys do, or to take the falls and the slams and the bruises and the breaks.

The really tragic part of all this is that you may not see this film in a theater. There's a good chance you're just going to get your first shot at it on video. That would be an epic mistake on the part of Universal. They have a real winner here, a specialty release that could be platformed into a genuine hit. Take a look at the weekly ratings on all wrestling right now. Pay close attention to that brutal Thursday night six way battle, where the one show making consistent gains is UPN's SMACKDOWN. Open this week's ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY and read their power list. See that entry about wrestling? Check out the box-office on the exclusive Academy-eligibility run that's going on right now. There's money out there. The audience will come. This is a case of a filmmaker handing the studio an unexpected present, a little gem that no one saw coming, and the studio having no idea what they've just been given.

Believe me, Universal... it's gold.

And now, just to prove that I'm not above shifting gears at random, let's go from the world of wrestling to my sit-down conversation last week with author Neil Gaiman. We had a chance to meet at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. I had Harry Lime along for the ride, and he spent the entire hour with his face buried in an advance copy of the new SANDMAN hardcover book, the hauntingly beautiful THE DREAM HUNTERS. Illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano, it's a short novella with eerie, lyrical paintings to enhance the text. It's also a welcome return to the series that made Gaiman one of the comic world pantheon. These days, of course, Gaiman is promoting this Friday's English-language release of Miyazaki's PRINCESS MONONOKE, and that's what afforded me this opportunity.

When we first were introduced, I was struck by the fact that if you took Steven Spielberg from the '70s and David Cronenberg from now and put them in the Brundle chamber, you would come up precisely with Neil Gaiman. He was instantly friendly, and our conversation on the front patio was relaxed. My first question was whether or not Bill Farmer's SANDMAN draft for Warner Bros. is dead yet or not. Gaiman assured me that it was, and I can only hope our writing about that abomination here at AICN contributed in some small way to that process. I'm not sure who was angrier at Jon Peters as we talked -- me or Gaiman.

One thing's for sure, though... the experience of watching Peters and the studio fumble through years of development on the project has left Gaiman with a clearer idea of how he wants to see his properties brought to the screen. He's involved with adapting both NEVERWHERE and STARDUST for Dimension Films, and he's determined to both write and direct DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING for Warner Bros. He's not looking to dive right into the director's chair, though. Someone should fund his short film version of his short story "Snow Glass Apples" so we can see how well his imagination translates to the medium. He's also working on some original material, including a version of BEOWULF with Roger Avery that is being produced by ImageMovers, Robert Zemeckis' company.

One of the things I really love about this guy is how he takes storytelling forms that other people look down on and he pushes to raise the medium, to tell unconventional, original tales, and to challenge peoples' ideas of what can be done. I don't even think it's a conscious thing for him. He told me that he likes to push himself, always trying new things. Take, for example, the Seeing Ear Theater production of NEIL GAIMAN'S MURDER MYSTERIES, which can be found at www.scifi.com. The synopsis from the site should be enough to hook you:

"In this mystery noir set in heaven's City of Angels before the fall, the first crime has been committed. It is an awful one. While the angelic hosts labor to create the world and its workings, one of their number is mysteriously slain by one of their own. Raguel, Angel of Vengeance, is mandated by Lucifer to discover both motive and murderer in this holy dominion that had so recently known no sin."

It's great stuff, with some pretty darn cool performance by Brian Dennehy, Anne Bobby, Michael Emerson, Thom Christopher, and others. Brian Smith, the producer and director of the show, did a good job of bringing to life Gaiman's adaptation of his own short story. I'll be honest with you... I'd never think about listening to a radio show on the Internet, but Gaiman really seemed excited by the project, so I gave it a chance. Now I'm glad I did. It's a really pure representation of the writer's vision, and I can see why he got excited about it.

When I asked him about his favorite storytellers, he demurred, instead recommending a couple of recent reads that impressed him. Lynda Barry's CRUDDY and Peter Straub's MR. X were both mentioned, and talking to him about what he responds to in other people's work gave me a real look into him. He's not all wrapped up in his own oft-proclaimed "genius." Instead, he's a guy who loves what he gets to do for a living. Like many of the best writers, he has his themes that he returns to in all of his work. His best pieces are concerned with the very nature of storytelling. He takes classical myth archetypes, famous fantasy characters, and historical detail, and he shakes it up in a rich melange that is still fresh and exciting. He described a little bit about his upcoming AMERICAN GODS, a new novel, and it sounds like a perfect fit with what has come before, even as it sounds like an extension, a new twist.

There was a great little anecdote that he shared with me in the midst of all our various digressions that perfectly sums up my impression of the playful mind of Neil Gaiman. As he was tracking down the origins of the word "yeti," he fully expected to find some rich Tibetan myth about the so-called Abominable Snowman. Instead, he learned that the word simply translates to "that thing over there." When the first European explorer asked the first Sherpa guide to identify a mysterious figure on the mountain, the guide offered up the most basic description possible, and the word was misconstrued. Relating this little tidbit made Gaiman laugh, and it was catching. I'm happy to say that I don't just enjoy Gaiman's work. Having finally met him, I enjoy the person just as much.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Gaiman would be quite fond of tonight's Halloween episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Personally, I think it's one of the finest hours of TV I've seen in a while. The show's been solid so far this season, but this is a real triumph. Even people who aren't regular viewers should tune in and give it a try this evening. If you're not converted by what you see, then I give up. "Fear Itself" is both scary and funny in equal measure, and manages to achieve real highs in both departments. Supporting characters like former demon Anya (Emma Caufield) or occasional werewolf Oz (Seth Green) have some really important, defining moments, and each of the series regulars is allowed to push their characters to new, totally believable places. We learn a lot about these people in this 43 minutes, but this isn't just some group therapy session or a boring dialogue piece. The scares are consistent and interesting, and the haunted house storyline is good enough that it should make the producers of this weekend's HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL sweat a bit. In particular, I want to single out the show's ending as a perfect example of what I watch this show for. Not only is it a surprise, it's also a perfect thematic summation of what's going on underneath the surface of the show. This is one of the best running examples of subtext on TV. Do yourself the favor of tuning in or taping tonight. I can't imagine anyone else on TV's going to do anything half as appropriate this holiday.

Well, I've just taken a quick look at the RUMBLINGS so far, and I've got no choice but to break them up. I'm going to bring you a special Thursday edition this week, just to catch up. We've still got another documentary film, trailers and casting news, the second half of my Gaiman talk, and more to work our way through. It wouldn't be fair to just rush through. I'll see you guys back here then. Until then...

"Moriarty"out.

Readers Talkback

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  • Oct. 26, 1999, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Beyind the Mat

    by ardeth

    I finally have to commend Moriarty on a review that I can agree with. Usually, I get about two paragraphs into whatever he's written, and I'm out. Beyond the Mat is a big Wrestling on-line cause right now, which should help explain the large audience for opening night, which was sold out for the evening shows. The wrestling community wants this film to go national, just so the bourgeois might gain a little respect for these people who go out and physically destroy themselves 5 days out of the week, all in the name of entertainment and adulation. This could be the film to off-set all the bullshit negative spin brought on by Owen Hart's death, Ventura's comments, and Hulk Hogan's existence.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 9:01 a.m. CST

    DwD: Where's My Mononoke?

    by DwDunphy

    Without nary a commercial, newspaper ad, or even a publicity statement bandied by the news, I can safely assume that 'Princess Mononoke' is going to be shuffled off to the arthouses of the "major markets". Here is one of a handful of movies I've been anticipating, that have had a tie-in somehow with Disney, that have somehow been meddled with or underpromoted or just plain booted to the door because of a lack of showtunes. If it's true that 'Mononoke' comes out this weekend and I can't see it solely because of the closed-mindedness of Buena Vista, I'm gonna berserka, just watch me and see if I don't.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 9:24 a.m. CST

    the mind of a wrestling fan

    by kpoarse

    'beyond the mat' looks mildly interesting if only to get a peak behind the choreography and see the actual effects on these guys. after harry's last review of the documentary, i was particularly struck by those claiming to be hardcore wrestling fans and defending it profusely against the 'redneck' label that is so often applied to the fans. i'm truly fascinated by wrestling fans and the behavior they exhibit within the arena. it's absolutely 100% macho, testosterone, and balls. calling it a soap opera is accurate only in that it's predictable and panders to the simple-minded. other than that it's simply an outlet for over-aggressive and insecure goons whose favorite activities include drooling, grabbing their crotches, and spewing brilliant catch-phrases like "suck it!" pro wrestling is perfectly tailored to those who react to basic conditioned responses associated with violence, sexism, and (more dangerously) a combination of the two. the apologists are everywhere, trying (in vain) to rationalize their macho-aggressive behavior as some form of entertainment. it's virtually impossible to be attracted to wrestling if you don't feel the need to display dominance and power over others. the simple fact is, you can deduce a hell of a lot by analyzing what kind of stimuli one reacts to. although, you really don't even need to make that effort if you simply take a look at the social and economic demographics of the audience. if fans would just admit their motives and reasons for identifying with dominating violence (aka wife beaters), at least they could be free of the hypocrite label. those trying to play in the swamp and claim to be squeaky clean are fooling no one. take a look inside and try to figure out why it is you feel the need to blindly follow a large, steroid-pumped, half-naked man when he tells 30,000 people that they should swallow his penis. i apologize to all the wrestling fans for using words outside of the wrestling vernacular, but i can't appropriately express all my ideas with "suck it."

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Jake's continued downward spiral

    by Beedo

    Unfortunately, Jake Roberts has apparently not learned anything from being in Beyond the Mat. On October 10, he took part in an "old-timer's" pay-per-view event called "Heroes of Wrestling". The man showed up completely plastered, and almost singlehandedly ruined the entire show. I guarantee you he will never work again after his lewd, embarassing performance. It's sad to see him succumb once again to his addictions, but he's got no one to blame but himself.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Harmless fun

    by KermitTfrog

    Just to clarify something to the above poster. I live in the UK and have been watching the WWF for 2-3 months via Sky. Working in the environment that I do I have daily contact with bereavement and serioulsy ill people. I can confidently say I have a very considerate nature and to my knowledge I'm very inoffensive to all people I come into daily contact with. I'm married, come from a big family and I'm well educated. I don't find your comments offensive I just think it's sad that you feel it necessary to generalise over people you've never met. I personally laugh my ass off when watching WWF it's lots of fun. Sure some of it's could be construed as offensive but if you don't like it switch off, read a book just do something else. My advice to you is don't be bitter about things go have some fun. Hell life's too short something I can definately confirm.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Beyond the Mat

    by Merry Slander

    Believe it or ont there is not cross-pollination between fans of Wrestling and fans of this site. The previous poster, who let loose with his epic diatribe misses the entire point of the film and Moriarty's review of it. These are real people engaging in an extreme lifestyle. They are part of a culture that is interesting, distinct, and up until recently, closed off fromthe public. They work in abusiness just as cut-throat and convolluted as anything in Hollywood. If you want to degrade wrestling for it's current adult themes, fine by me. HOWEVER, please take the rest of consumer entertainment to task as well. Otherwise you just come off as a big poopy jerk. There is much that is crude to professional wrestling. But there is also much of the sublime in these athletic "contests". Whether people watch it or not, I do wish that it could be acknowledged that profesional wrestling, just like Rock and Roll is an original American "artform". It has gained a worlwide popularity and acclaim with distinct variations having develped aound the world (primarially in Japan and Mexico. I'm not saying any one has to like it. All I am saying is if you are going to trash it, don't take the idiotic cheap shots. Witty barbs sheathed in ignorance just have no sting. If anyone is intersted in a good site that provides a regualr view into this unique world try: www.wrestleline.com or www.1wrestling.com.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:19 a.m. CST

    please re-direct

    by KermitTfrog

    spooky, my talkback just jumped above the person who I'm referencing. Time for the most electrifying move in sports entertainment today.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:19 a.m. CST

    Not apologizing for being a fan

    by KingfisherD

    It's funny how often people who do not like wrestling, love to categorize people who do. To be perfectly honest, yeah, there are those hardcore morons out there who would just as soon scream out "hell yeah" and raise their middle finger at the drop of a hat... but you know what? You find that population EVERYWHERE. I need not remind you of what happened at Fenway Park just over a week ago when you got another bunch of hardcore morons throwing crap onto the field because of a number of blown calls. Or the hardcore morons at Giant Stadium a few years ago who were throwing ice onto the field, and pasted one of the assistant coaches right in the head. Or those hardcore film idiots who laid themselves down on the yellow line in the center of the street because they saw it done in a movie, and promptly got run over. But do most people decry sports or film because of these things? No. Sure you'll get the small minority who will, but if you look at the number of people who don't like sports or film and who will go through the effort to decry the existance of them, is infintesimally small compared to the number of folks who aren't pro wrestling fans, but are certainly willing to get all up in arms about how it's "fake" and "bad for us". Pro wrestling fans are the entertainment and sports version of the smokers of this country. Everyone who's not is willing to badmouth those of us who are. Just because professional wrestling lives in that shadow region, halfway between sport and a fictional action-adventure show, it is ripe for people to rip on it. The sports goons hate it because "it's not about the glories of competition", and the entertainment gurus hate it because "it's nothing more than glorified violence passing itself off as real". And that's why most people hate it. It's not real enough for the sports goons, and it's not fake enough for the entertainment gurus. The same people who will decry the "pre-determined" nature of wrestling and call it "not a sport" and "fake", will go on and on about the intracies about running an offensive scheme in football, the pick-and-roll in basketball, and the precision of a pitcher throwing a curve ball. You know what? I hate to break it to you, but trying to perform some of these stuntman-like moves that these guys pull off on a nightly basis, require a hell of a lot more conditioning than most of your so-called athletes require. Getting dropped flat on your back from heights of over eight feet, getting cracked over the head with a steel chair... these are the kind of moves that I challenge ANYONE who thinks that they're a "real" athlete and thus, better than any lame pro wrestler, to even attempt to do what these guys do for twenty minutes at a time, five days a week. And on the entertainment front, the same people who will decry the level of violence in pro wrestling, will go on and on about the wonderful depictions of violence in films like "Fight Club". How it "opens our eyes", and how it's "a satirical look at violence". But because "Fight Club" is obviously fake (since it is, after all, a movie), we are able to rationalize the violence away as being something for us to "think about". Pro wrestling, however, depicts the violence as if it was real, and thus, those of us who find it fun to watch are "testosterone-laden freaks who will bring down our culture." Well you know what? To all of you out there who are overly enamored with the "beauty of sport" and the "majesty of film", let me just say on behalf of the millions (AND MILLIONS) of pro wrestling's fans, to please, GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELVES!!! Your little obsessions are just as ridiculous and as hurtful to our culture as pro wrestling is, and to think otherwise is a ego-stroke of epic proportions. It's ALL ENTERTAINMENT! ALL OF IT! AND TO INSULT THOSE OF US WHO HAVE CHOSEN THIS ONE LITTLE NICHE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD TO FOLLOW ALONG, JUST SHOWS HOW FAR UP YOUR SPHINCTER YOUR HEADS HAVE GONE, FROM TRYING TO KISS YOUR OWN ASSES.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:22 a.m. CST

    BEYOND THE MAT

    by DeathStalker

    I'm glad to see a positive review of this film from the viewpoint of a non-fan. Having known many wrestlers personally over the years (Mick Foley included - they guy is just genuinely great!) I was happy to see that someone has finally managed to give viewers a glimpse into the truly hard, often brutal life that the athletes (and yes, they ARE athletes) endure. So many people pass off wrestling as "FAKE" - it may be pre-determined, but is is DEFINITELY NOT FAKE! Professional wrestling is no more "fake" than a great film -- do you go to see a film and shout that the actor isn't who he's playing? That the fight he's in is fake? Keep in mind that the blood in movies IS fake - in wrestling the blood is REAL. These guys REALLY bleed - take a look at their foreheads sometime - most of them look like someone took a meat tenderizer to it! Terry Funk is a prime example - this is a guy who had literally don it all in the world of pro-wrestling - a legend in his own time. The scars on his body are REAL. No other athletes or performers put themselves through what wrestlers do for their audience - their fans. And more to the point, no other athletes or performers are looked upon with more disdain for their extreme efforts. Hopefully this film will gain wide release and help set the record straight. Most people don't think that wrestlers can act/perform - but it's what they do 300+ days of the year! What other "actor" can claim that type of schedule? There are very few wrestlers who, having crossed over into "legitimate" acting have not succeeded [Terry "Hulk" Hogan not withstanding] - (Terry Funk has made many cameo appearances). Let's hope these guys finally get their due.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Defending the fans and then there are some...

    by All Thumbs

    I'm not a wrestling fan, but I have a lot of people close to me who are and the majority of them do not fit into the stereotype of someone who oozes sexism and violence. I've actually sat down and watched wrestling with my boyfriend and we've gotten into arguements over the elements of wrestling and why he likes it and I can't stand it. He's a business college graduate, one of the most gentle people in the world, very intelligent and only brings on the sexist comments to get a good retort of frustration and indignation from me - as many of you know how I get. Anyways, for him, it's all in good fun and I won't deny him or any of my friends who enjoy wrestling that. BUT...for those who see wrestling as almost a this-should-be-taken-as-gospel life model, THAT is dangerous and stupid. I hate seeing those kids on shows like 2020 where they're copying what goes on in wrestling and spouting *real* sexist and violent attitude. It just makes me sick and somebody needs to set them down in front of this documentary so they can see what pro wrestling really is and means.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:26 a.m. CST

    The mind, blah, blah blah

    by gunny

    It is interesting to me that there exists so many (especially on AICN talkback) elitist types whose goal in public forums seem to be to prove that they are so much smarter/wittier/sophisticated than everybody else. Wrestling would seem to be the best topic for this sort of thing, especially for those who believe wrestling fans are a bunch a drooling double-x chromosome rednecks who can't put together a coherent sentence. Nevermind that a large portion (including myself) are perfectly normal,even intelligent. Some of us were even able to graduate college or even get multiple degrees. Imagine that. Also never mind that a wide cross-section of American celebrity, especially comedians (Should tell you wrestling-fan detractors something.Grow a sense of humor for gods sake), loves wrestling, including Ben Stiller, Dennis Miller, and Jay Leno. So you see, there are two sorts of nonfans. Primus, the kind who genuinely dislikes the scripted violence and soapish story lines. Secundus, the kind who say they dislike the scripted violence, the soapish stories, and viciously put down wrestling fans at any opportunity in vain attempt to make their pathetic, friendless lives seem worth not shoving that .45 in their mouths and pulling the trigger. A good giveaway for this second type is the use of a large number of multisyllabic words. They think it makes 'em sound smart. That's all. Gunny

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Don't Forget.....

    by mrbeaks

    .....the WWF, and, as of a few weeks ago, the WCW, employ Harvard educated writers to script these canvas operas.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:54 a.m. CST

    An Open Letter to Moriarty

    by SithPenguin

    I hate you! Now, don't take that as "I hate you and I'll run over you first chance I get" take it as "I hate you because you're doing things I only dreamed of". Interviewing Neil Gaiman is something I have long dreamed (sorry) of since I first picked up the Midsummer Night's Dream issue of Sandman many years ago. Between Sandman, Stardust and his brilliant novel with Terry Pratchett "Good Omens" he has been a favourite of mine. His integrity is beyond belief, his writing style deserves to be in a Hall of Fame somewhere, and he seems like a generally cool guy. Besides anyone who makes me itch to die so I can meet Death, has to be doing something right! So, in conclusion, there is a tribe in Africa that if you murder someone you have to give up your in order to live their life, all I'm saying is watch your back, Moriarty! :-)

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Wrestling? What wrestling?

    by Powerslave

    Nowadays, wrestling is just a bunch of testosterone-overloaded stud-muffins berating their opponents in the ring, doing interviews, taking part in skits, skirmishing briefly, and leaving the wrestling for the pay-per-views. There's what, about 6 of them a month now? Toss in large amounts of T&A, sleaze, and lowest-common denominator schtick, and is it any wonder wrestling is huge? And don't think I'm some intellectual looking down from my lofty pedestal. No, I used to love wrestling. My friends loved wrestling. We all knew it was as fake as hell, but that was part of the fun. It was like watching a soap opera, with the various twisting subplots, back-stabbing, double-crosses, and treachery, all culminating in the squared circle. Corny allegory perhaps, but that's how I always viewed it. It was fun. I'm not ashamed to admit that. Now, it's less about the wrestling and more about the ratings: WWF was going in the tank, ratings-wise, and they had to do something to get out. So now we have the new WWF, where lowest-common-denominator stunts rule the day. These guys are great atheletes and actors, they're good at what they do, but it's not really wrestling anymore. Enjoy it now, because soon people are going to get tired of Stone Cold, the Rock, the "divas," and everything else.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 11:41 a.m. CST

    Kpoarse

    by Stone Cold

    You just prove your ignorance by making such stereotypical comments. In your blinded logic, people only watch ER because they have a secret passion to cut people up and see lots of blood. Or fans of NYPD Blue really just want to shoot and beat up inner-city kids. Get a life you loser. It is entertainment, and those guys work their asses off every week to entertain the fans. They take huge bumps, and they do it for the fans. Wrestling fans watch sports entertainment for the thrill and excitement the same way someone might get thrilled and excited watching performers at the circus. The only difference is that wrestling also offers compelling storylines of deceit and confrontation, same as you may see in any T.V. show or film that is telling a story in order to please the audience. That is all wrestling is, an entertaining show, whether live or T.V., that brings interesting stories combined with conflict. All films and T.V. shows do the same, they just do it a different way. So, if you want to stereotype wrestling fans as just wife-beating brutes (that statement alone prove you are a close-minded idiot), then you better be ready to stereotype film fans, Kubrick fans, NYPD Blue Fans, ER Fans, Spielberg Fans, Fight Club Fans, etc. etc. Next time, think before you comment on a subject you obviously know nothing about, because you insert your foot in your candyass. And that's the bottom line, cuz Stone Cold said so! Jack Ass.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 11:48 a.m. CST

    Hey this is cool

    by Angry Catholic

    A serious film about wrestling...cool

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 12:03 p.m. CST

    Wrestling Movies

    by DeathStalker

    I saw it mentioned earlier that the WWF was considering an action/adventure film - does anyone know anything more about this? A producer friend of mine was in touch with them a while back regarding a screenplay I have that MANY wrestlers are interested in being involved in, but we received a better response from WCW than WWF, so things got stalled for a while. With this new popularity increase, we're hoping the chances of getting this film (TimeQuest) made increase as well. Problem is - as BTM shows - Hollywood still has no respect for wrestlers as film stars. Oh, if anyone's interested, SCSA ("Stone Cold" Steve Austin) is making 5 appearances this season on NBC's NASH BRIDGES - the first one was last week.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 12:06 p.m. CST

    Message Ordering

    by DeathStalker

    Does anyone know why the order of these posts keeps changing? Up, then down, now mixed up? What next?

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Powerslave

    by Stone Cold

    If you want 1980's rasslin', go watch dubba-ya see dubba-ya, also known as Wheel Chair Wrestling. Oh but wait, Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera (Former WWF employees) are now running the show down in Turner land. I guess you are SOL, if all you want to see is old fasioned 30-40 minute technical matches. Those days are gone. Wrestling is more interesting now with more compelling storylines. It is centered more on the adventure than the action. That is what the fans have demanded, and that is what McMahon gave them, and it is great. The ratings clearly show that most people agree.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Such hostilities...

    by Devils Halo

    PowerSlave.. as for the lack of 'technical wrestling', I take it you missed the match a couple Nitros ago between Brett Hart and Chris Benoit in tribute to Owen? That was the best technical match I've seen all year between two of the best skilled wrestlers in today's flash and glitz. Unfortunately, it seemed that the audience there didn't care much for such a technical match and it's because of audience reaction like that, we don't see enough of it. It was 20 mintues of pure wrestling, though the scripted outcome (which differed from Hart's original ending) was a disappointment. And as for kpoarse (or however you spell your name), I have been a fan for over 20 years. I've seen wrestling grow and change. When Vince McMahon coined the phrase 'sports entertainment' that pretty muched summed it up for me. I don't go out slamming people, mistreat women, or dress up as a pimp. It's entertainment, it's escapism, just as movies are. Granted some of the storylines are in bad taste, (Jeff Jarrett's women bashing and Macho Man's 'attack' on his valet) but tell me you don't see that on some other TV show where in both cases the outcome is justice served because the action is bad, whether it be going to jail on a cop show or getting a Stone Cold Stunner. So fans get rowdy and cheer for their favorite wrestlers, so what? Those same people go to a Laker game, or a Yankees game, or to a Redwings game act, cheer, yell the same way. Is there a difference?

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 1:49 p.m. CST

    In the company of wolves

    by Powerslave

    Gee, it's a good thing I didn't say I hated wrestling. Then some of you would be all over me even worse. Some of you accuse people who criticize wrestling and wrestling fans as being narrow-minded by being narrow-minded yourself. Why can't you respect other people's opinions? If they want to say they don't like wrestling, isn't that their right, just like it's your right to say you're a fan? The Internet attitude is well in effect here: "I'm right, and if you don't agree with me, you're an idiot." Next, you're going to say the non-fans just don't 'get' wrestling. What do you want? I said I was once a wrestling fan. I said I admired what these guys do, not just here, but on the talkback for Harry's review of 'Beyond the mat.' I said they were great athletes. And I still get slammed for being 'negative.' Go figure. If you don't like my posts SSZero, just skip over them. Nobody's forcing you to read them.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 2:17 p.m. CST

    Some thoughts about wrestling...

    by Debaser

    Let me start by saying that I am a wrestling fan. I think its accurate to say I have been one all my life. I do realize that a LOT of people don't like it. In fact, I think a lot of people just plain HATE it, as if a wrestler had killed their parents right in front of them, which I really don't get. I mean, I dont like golf, but I dont bash golf fans. Just the other night, I was in a wrestling chat, and two morons came in and just started ripping on everybody. Here's a bit of news...most fans know its "fake" (its not fake, its fixed, you know what i mean). By the way, if you ever meet a pro wrestler, go ahead and tell him that the job he breaks his ass almost every night of the year doing is "fake". Also, as far as my personal tastes go, I like Japanese pro wrestling or "puroresu" much better. Not as many gimmicks and more of a concentration on skills and overall good matches. Besides, Mitsuhara Misawa could destroy almost any American wrestler.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 2:52 p.m. CST

    Kpoarse

    by Deno

    The demographic generalizations you make have no statistical support. You are obviously predisposed to not like wrestling and thus must denigrate the audience to advance your point because there is no actual support for your position. Wrestling has a complex cluster of appeals and that is what cofuses most critics. They don't understand the variety of reasons people across all demographic groups are attracted to wrestling. Learning about the wrestling fan base and why wrestling is popular across so many demographics actually requires research and time. It's much easier to try an elevate yourself by attacking others. I work in the television industry so I see the audience numbers every week and let me assure you, wrestling fans come in all ages and income levels. And to PowerSlave, personally I have no problem with anyone not liking wrestling. Just don't denegrate the audience because you feel they are the ignorant masses and are beneath you.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 3:06 p.m. CST

    I have a question for wrestling fans.

    by Loki Trickster

    I know everyone knows that it's fake. My question is, how much of it is fake? How much is scripted and how much is improvised? Do the wrestlers go in there knowing that in the "fourth act" they'll be pile drived (pile driven?) 2 minutes and 34 seconds in, or are they just told that they'll fight for awhile and the Macho Rock Hulkberg will finally win in the end? With that question out of the way, I'll just chime in: I'm in the middle of the road between the camps here. I don't watch wrestling because I don't enjoy it. It's simple as that. It's there on my list of things that I don't enjoy, more respectable than Julia Roberts movies, and less respectable than porn (I have watched both porn and wrestling after drinking heavily, and only felt slightly guilty about it afterwards, but you'd need some suped up Ludovico technique to get me to watch a Julia Roberts movie without swallowing cyanide). But really, is it all that bad if the guys who live next to you watch wrestling? Is it any worse than listening to rock and roll? They both tap into some primal feelings in a relatively safe and socially acceptable manner. Without wrestling, maybe more people would get involved in fight clubs or less social acceptable ways of expressing discontent and our bottled up desire for violence. I don't worry about my wrestling fan 4.00 GPA roommate hitting me with a folding chair. -Loki

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 3:10 p.m. CST

    Buffy/Angel

    by Renly

    Moriarty, Whenever I think that something you are obsessed with is kind of strange, or maybe you've gone off the deep end with some movie (or song, hehe), I quickly remind myself of your continued and fervorous support for the best (unwatched) show on television. I mean, I know people watch it, but I'm constantly having to justify myself to my "mature" friends that have only seen the lame movie and do not have a clue how hilarious, biting, and true this show can be. So, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!! I love having an "official" person, especially one so zealously eloquent in his arguments, put up almost weekly fuel for my rants against the unbelievers. Anyway, I was curious what you thought of the crossover ep. I thought it was good, and of course I was stoked to see Spike return, but it really showed what could potentially happen in future eps, if they took the idea of Crossover a little further than one character. That exchange between Oz and Angel had me chuckling the whole week. "Good to see you" "Likewise" "Are they always like this?" "No, usually we're laconic." On another note, that scene setting from the Neil Gaiman Radio show was intense. Just the idea of something being set in Heaven, before the fall, is so intriguing to me. And not as a "setup to the real story" with humans. You know, like the first 2 min. of an X-files ep. The WHOLE STORY. And having the hook be the first Murder? That's great. Speaking of X-files, just an FYI: Fox is re-running the much-maligned episode "HOME" this Sunday (oct.31) for the first and probably only time on network TV. ( I don't qualify F/X) So don't miss your chance to see it for free!! -Renly

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 4:28 p.m. CST

    er...something other than wrestling

    by Eppy

    i was ridiculously excited to hear about the conversation with neil. Mononoke aside (and yeah, it will probably end up in art houses and nowhere fucking near where any of us actually live...sigh. such a good piece, too), has anyone heard much about the new novel? mebbe there'll be more info in the thursday segment, but i'm going NUTS for info. has anyone heard ANYTHING? the title itself, american gods, is just so goddamn intriguing. argh! neil info is so hard to find on the web, for some reason. perhaps i've been spoiled by tori sites. but really, what's up with that? and can anyone give me a ride to a bookstore to get the new sandman book tomorrow?

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 6:16 p.m. CST

    How "Fake" is "Fake"?

    by DeathStalker

    This is an issue I can speak to first-hand -- I have been in the ring myself and I know many of the wrestlers personally. To be honest, it depends on the skill and experience of each participant. The more experienced the wrestlers, the more of a catch-as-catch-can the match gets. It is not "choreographed" in the manner that a movie fight or dance scene is, where everyone know EXACTLY what the next move will be - the wrestlers take their cues from each other - body language plays a large part in it all. The most important thing to remember, is that not everything goes as planned - evidenced most recently by the severe accident suffered by former pro football player Darren Drozdale (also featured in the film!) He was the recipient of a fairly basic move, when they two men apparently stumbled and "Droz" was slammed down directly on his neck, fracturing his spine. It is unknown at this time whether he will actually regain the use of his legs. Check out www.1wrestling.com or www.wwf.com for continuing updates on his progress.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 9:17 p.m. CST

    The case for Pro Wrestling, and Gumpas Banned, kpoars, and All T

    by cinematt

    Okay, Cinematt is back on the mat to enlighten all my fellow followers of our beloved sports entertainment, as well as take the non-believers to the learning tree. That means people like you, gumpas banned...(i wrote a song? okay, woody guthrie, now shut up!) and you, kpoars (what is that, some sort of medicted cream???) and you, All Thumbs (it seems to me, dear lady, you and I tangled on this subject earlier, apparently you came away from our encounter none the wiser for the wear, oh well, here comes a second helping for you...) Now then: There has been a lot of back and forth amongst the WWF fans and the wrestling haters in this particular talkback go around, much of it having to do with A) the "sterotype" of a wrestling fan, B) the merits or lack thereof of wrestling and C) a lot of namecalling on both sides. So, I'll be Henry Kissinger for all intents and purposes here. People, let's ALL loosen up our sphincters a notch or two already, okay? Sure, it burns me when I hear the uninformed babble incoherently about the pastime I and the millions (AND MILLIONS) of other fans enjoy. Yes, I feel an urge to leap to the defense of that which I care about, as I'm doing here. And it makes me happy to see all my WWF bretheren do the same on this talkback. Good posts, one and all of you, let's stay united! HOWEVER: this is still just "entertainment". I do not intend to get into perpetual flame-a-thons on this or any other website with those who dislike the WWF. Life is too short and I have too much to do to get pulled down into such muck. That is why I will never resort to making personal attacks on people, nor will I use out and out profanity beyond an occasional "damn" or "hell" (or the random "aw, shit" works nice too...). I'm a staunch backer of the WWF and always will be. Nothing anyone says will ever change that. I openly encourage all my WWF loving brothers and sisters to follow my lead and take it to a higher ground. Are ya with me, Gibronis??? NOW THEN.... ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS DEBATE: I appreciate anyone's right to not enjoy or like or partake of something, even wrestling. Those of you who frown on it simply because it's not right for you... that is your God given right, and I would take up arms to defend it on your behalf if it were threatened. HOWEVER....when you sling mud, either with your stereotypical psychoanalysis of we fans, or you spout propaganda such as "it's bad for kids, blah, blah blah" you are slandering and doing a disservice to the hardworking men and women of the WWF, and it's clientele, US, who happily patronize that great company and find some enjoyment in our lives. To those of you, and you know who you are, I ask very politely, very civilly here and now, PLEASE BACK OFF ON THAT! All you do with your venom is serve to incite and annoy. Your opinions are sacred, but not to the point where you cause emotional distress, however superficial it may seem. When I say emotional distress, I don't mean all us fans will go crying to our psychiatrists. But you create a cause for which the effect unfortunately is retaliation. Why? We're not bothering you, please don't attack us. You can have your forms of entertainment, we'll steer clear, hell, some of us might even like the same things you do! All we ask in return is the same consideration and the same respect. Fair enough? Well, that's my rant. Sorry if it was a bit lengthy, but it needed to be said. And that's the way it is....IF YOU SMELLLLLLL-LA-LA-LA...WHAT THE ROCK...IS COOKIN!

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 9:18 p.m. CST

    Ahem, double X chromosome?

    by Monkeyfish

    Someone with double X chromosomes would be a woman. I think you were referring to the XYY type, who have been occasionally shown to be more agressive than the normal XY. But I digress... I gotta go with Moriarty here, I'd rather entertain myself in some way that doesn't involve spandex-ed packages. Got nothing against rasslin' fans, tho.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:07 p.m. CST

    I refuse to watch Buffy because my ex is a Buffy addict

    by Tall_Boy

    and therefore I hate it and everything about it. End of discussion.

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:17 p.m. CST

    What? There have been LOTS of ads for "Mononoke"!

    by John Maddening

    DwDunphy, what are you talking about?!? There was major national advertising on the Saturday morning WB cartoons (twice during "Pokemon" alone!), and on "The X-Files" on Sunday! I get to see an advance creening next Wednesday with a special Q&A session with Gaiman afterwards. He's also the Guest of Honor at CONvergence (the same con Harry & Father Geek were GoH's at this year) in July! If you're interested in copies of "Sandman: The Dream Hunters", check out www.dreamhavenbooks.com!

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:17 p.m. CST

    What? There have been LOTS of ads for "Mononoke"!

    by John Maddening

    DwDunphy, what are you talking about?!? There was major national advertising on the Saturday morning WB cartoons (twice during "Pokemon" alone!), and on "The X-Files" on Sunday! I get to see an advance creening next Wednesday with a special Q&A session with Gaiman afterwards. He's also the Guest of Honor at CONvergence (the same con Harry & Father Geek were GoH's at this year) in July! If you're interested in copies of "Sandman: The Dream Hunters", check out www.dreamhavenbooks.com!

  • Oct. 26, 1999, 10:24 p.m. CST

    Hulk Hogan made a Wrestling movie

    by Tall_Boy

    I remember this when I was a kid. I don't remember the name of the movie for the life of me, but I remember the villian, a big black guy named ZEUS and he had a Z shaved into the side of his head. HE actually wrestled on the WWF to promote the movie and the Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiasse was his manager. It was cool (when I was, like 7). The movie, I don't remember much but I do remmeber Hulk tearing his way out of a sealed limo with his BARE HANDS!!! How fucking cool is that?! Oh yeah, and for the record, modern wrestling rocks.

  • Oct. 27, 1999, 1:29 a.m. CST

    AHEM, someone didn't listen to me carefully, now did they, CINEM

    by All Thumbs

    What the....cinematt, what response were YOU reading?! I didn't say anything bad about wrestling or the fans, except for those guys they've shown on the news shows that bash themselves over the head with chairs (not the kind the pros use, either) and jump off the roofs of their homes, bloodied and possibly brain or other body damaged in front of a crowd of awed and, in some cases, disgusted fans. I was DEFENDING the rest of the fans, the vast majority, who realize it is just an entertainment sport, watch it for enjoyment and just like it because they do. I NEVER said it was bad for children in my post here. I think there ARE some good lessons about right and wrong kids can learn from some of the wrestlers if they know have the understanding that it is not real. I think a lot of people need to see this movie to see what goes on "beyond the mat"...some to learn respect for the performers and some to learn this is more than a game they're doing there. And you have to admit that some of the material is just not suitable for younger children. I'm talking under the age of 10. I never dissed wrestling or generalized the fans. The above example is the extremist of what could go wrong if you take this entertainment as reality and try to copy it without proper training and safety. YOU did not read my post or did not in any way understand it. And I don't remember arguing with you about it, either. BTW, I don't like it because it does nothing for me and I don't agree with all of the messages, ok? Now...instead of generalizing me, you should be apologizing, thank you. Sorry this is so long, everybody, but I'm tired of getting my name posted on the Talk Backs by people who misunderstand what I'm saying, especially when I have sided with those who aren't trying to be stereotypical of the fans and nonfans.

  • Oct. 27, 1999, 1:36 a.m. CST

    I'm calm now...

    by All Thumbs

    Sorry, I reread my above post to cinematt and realize I was pretty pissed off when I wrote it, so it might not be entirely coherent at some points. BUT I'm feeling much better now and apologize again for any negative karma that might have brushed off onto y'all in my response, but I had to clear my name of cinematt's accusations.***To be positive, I now more than ever want to see this movie! : ) And...I think the Garbage song is just plain cool and will buy the CD as soon as I have any money.

  • Oct. 27, 1999, 2:28 a.m. CST

    A homoneurotic observation of sorts...

    by Fred4sure

    Has anyone ever noticed that wrestlers and comic book characters rarely have visible genitalia? You never see much of a package in the tights, which leads me to think that most of them are lightweights below the belt. Perhaps that