Saturday, May 16, 2009

REVIEW: Kobe Doin' Work...


There are many atheletes that trancend their specific sport. Tiger, Lebron, and Kobe are just a few examples.

Well, the latter example is the subject of a new Spike Lee documentary, called Kobe Doin' Work.

With 30 cameras, Lee was given access to every aspect of a day in the life of Kobe Bryant. Pregame, halftime, and postgame for a single day are covered in this film, as Kobe and his Lakers are looking to get the number one seed in the NBA Playoffs, in a game against their rivals, the San Antonio Spurs.

Now, one may be wondering, why cover this film? The answer is quite simple.

Spike Lee.

One of the most controversial film makers working, has created not only starteling dramatic narratives, such as Do The Right Thing and Bamboozled, fun genre films, like Inside Man, but also top notch documentaries, as his Katrina documentary, When The Leeves Broke, is a phenominal piece of cinema.

Here it's a bit different. This film is not for everyone.

One thing that I love about watching a DVD, are the special features, particularly the directors commentary. Well, imagine a DVD of a Laker's basketball game, with a commentary done by Kobe. This allows for much more action to take place on screen. Not once during the film are you taken off the action of the game for a talking head to give you his or her commentary. There are two talking head moments right at the begining, but instead of leaving the viewer cold, it gives you a sense of the stakes that this game has. The rest of the film features the game, in it's entierty, with Lee's 30 cameras shooting all of the action, and Bryant simply giving his comments on his team, his game, and what each moment means for him and his team.

However, while the film gives you access that only players, coaches, and towel boys get, and yes, that's insanely interesting, it's also not necissarily compelling for the non sports fan. If you are not a basketball fan, or a sports fan in general, then this may be one to skip.

That said, if you ARE a sports fan, then this is a must see. There is not a slow moment, and not only do you get Kobe giving you his comments, but you get into the huddle, the pregame preparation, post game, and even halftime, which for a basketball fan, is something really intriguing. The film is also gorgeous. Matthew Libatique, best known as the guy who has shot all of Darren Aronofsky's films, uses his skill to really give this film some more cinematic qualities. It's not just a commentary of the television broadcast, which really helps this film have more staying power.

Also, on a more meta level, this film is a great metaphor for the film making process.

Yes, at first that idea may seem a bit weird, but think about it this way. Over the years, Kobe has changed from the highschooler turned pro with a penchant for flashy moves, to a legit living legend with a penchant for turn around jump shots. Throughout the documentary, you see him directing his cast and crew to help make his team not only work more but but work smoother as well. He's the closest equivalent to a film director in the world of sports, and seeing this documentary not only had me compelled to the television screen, but gave me more respect for Kobe than I already had.

The film as a film is flawed though. Not very compelling for the random Joe movie goer, and the film also features a really annoying score. That said, as a sports documentary, the film works, and it works well. Not the best ever (see When We Were Kings), but it's an interesting take on the sports documentary.

Instead of floating heads, which most documentaries give you, you get basically a documentary consisting of a director's commentary, and instead of drawing attention off of the action on screen, it gives you more interest into it.

Not amazing, but a must see for sports fans. That's about all that should see the film.

KOBE DOIN' WORK - 7/10

Go see something good!

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