A tale of two reviews, by Kenny Florian
A good friend of mine had been urging me to watch
Reel” for weeks. I’m a documentary buff and being
retired, I have a whole list of documentaries to catch up on.
Finally, I decided to sit down on the couch on a slow weekday
afternoon and push “The Crash Reel” to the front of the
The film details the life and career of pro snowboarder Kevin
Pearce. From a young age, Kevin was a daredevil and fearless
competitor. The “The Crash Reel” documents his childhood all
the way up to his rivalry with superstar snowboarder, Shaun White.
Kevin has an infectious passion for snowboarding and it’s his
work ethic, fearlessness and talent that vaults him to the very top
of the sport. He has a wonderful support system in his family and
is also driven by his group of snowboarding buddies he calls
“Frends”–because they believe there is no
“I” in “friends”.
The documentary makes a shift from badass snowboarding clips and
hilarious scenes to a horrific snowboarding accident suffered by
Kevin as he was preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympics. We then get
to see Kevin and his family as they battle back to normalcy. There
are countless poignant moments in this film as we hear from other
family members, fellow competitors and Kevin himself as he deals
with the reality of his traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Striking cinematography along with some well-chosen music are
witnessed throughout the film. Beautiful moments between Kevin and
his family show what true love is all about. The film also explores
the dangers of extreme sports–like skiing and snowboarding–and
attempts to define the line between suicidal and pushing the limits
of your sport.
After finishing “The Crash Reel”, I remember just
taking a big, deep breath and going for a long walk to simply
contemplate life and take it all in. It allowed me to be thankful
for my health and for all of the loved ones in my life. It allowed
me to love the world that much more and inspired me on many levels.
I want to thank my friend Raina for encouraging me to watch this
documentary and want to thank the amazing Pearce family and others
in this film for sharing their stories and truly making a
difference in making us aware about the dangers of extreme
competition and TBI. Have the tissue box ready and be prepared to
be transformed for the better.
Over the weekend, I decided to hit the movie theatre and check
target="_blank">“12 Years A Slave”
target="_blank">“12 Years A Slave”, which is an
adaptation of the 1853 autobiography of the same title by Solomon
Northup. The film is directed by Steve McQueen and written by John
Ridley. Chiwetel Ejiofor brilliantly stars as Solomon Northup.
In 1841, Solomon Northup (Ejiofor) is a free black man living
with his wife and children in Saratoga Springs, New York. Solomon
is a talented violinist and is lured into a lucrative touring
opportunity by two men (Scoot McNairy and Taran Killam). Solomon
goes out to dinner with these two shady men and is then drugged. He
awakens to find himself kidnapped and chained to the floor where he
will eventually be transported to work on plantations in
From the moment Northrup wakes up in chains until to the very
end of the film, virtually every scene hits you like a well-placed
knee to the gut. One hanging scene in particular has stayed with me
and is one of the most powerful I have ever witnessed on film. The
realness of the movie is brought to life through superb costume
design and sets, beautiful cinematography and brilliant acting.
It is a violent film but a necessary one that shows the
brutality and reality of how slavery was in the American South. A
good film has a way of putting the viewer into the shoes of the
protagonist and the film certainly accomplishes this due to the
palpable performance of Ejiofor. The abusive plantation owner,
Edwin Epps, is played by Michael Fassbender. I’d put
Fassbender’s performance right up there with Daniel Day
Lewis’ “Daniel Plainview” from the movie
“There Will be Blood”. While I wasn’t a big fan
of Brad Pitt’s acting in the film, other performances stood
out like those from Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Garret
Dillahunt, and Paul Giamatti.
You should be sure that this isn’t one of those
“feel good” movies but it is a must-see nonetheless.
This film describes a shameful part of our nation’s history
and we must learn from our past if we want to avoid future
mistakes. It also helps us to understand the present day racial
tension that exists in our country. We still live in a crazy world
and I believe the world needs more empathy today than ever.
Sometimes you need films like this to help people to understand
what it was like beyond just reading and learning about it in a
text book—films like “Schindler’s List” and
“Saving Private Ryan”. Whether people want to admit it
or not, slavery helped shape this country. To understand the United
States, you need to understand what slavery was and “12 Years
A Slave” gives us a powerful reminder that true morals and
human decency should always prevail above any law that our
government deems as worthy.
I can’t recommend these two films enough. They truly
inspired and enlightened me in very different ways. I believe it is
our responsibility as human beings to educate ourselves and to
understand the challenges that we as humans face. We must continue
to battle fear and help create a world that is filled with