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Posts Tagged ‘Kanopy’

You should be watching movies like Wrestle, and you can if you take advantage of Kanopy, a free film streaming site offered by your local library.

In an ocean full of movie streaming options, Kanopy is that odd lil’ island tucked off in a far corner of the map.

Most travelers settle for the relatively swanky, easy-to-reach sites like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, or Amazon.

But, for the price of a library card (so … free), Kanopy offers a heady mix of high class and (sometimes very) grimy low class.

The site’s front page marinates in documentaries, foreign films, and art house gems.

Go down the wrong alleyway, however, and you can have a grand old time with scuzzy ’80s slashers like Blood Rage, modern-day gagfests such as The Greasy Strangler, or, and I’m serious here … Cannibal Holocaust.

Yes, your library system offers the official place to stream one of the nastiest horror films to ever be banned in multiple countries, in all its uncut “glory.”

Kanopy … where Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon shares space with I Drink Your Blood, and where you can create your own wildly mismatched double features, like¬†Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush and Ralph Bakshi’s Coonskin.

All for free.

Your move, Netflix, and you already lost.

As you wander through Kanopy, a lot of big-name classics will catch your eye, but you also want to look out for small gems such as Wrestle.

A 2019 documentary about four grapplers, and their hard knocks coach, it’s set at a failing Alabama high school, and it offers something for everyone.

You don’t have to be a wrestling fan to sink deep into their stories, which offer some hard-earned hope, along with the frequent cold slap of reality.

As in the best sports doc ever crafted, Hoop Dreams, not everyone in Wrestle emerges a winner.

This is real life playing out in front of the cameras, and the student/athletes at J.O. Johnson High School in Huntsville face a myriad of obstacles.

There’s life on the mat, repping a school which gets little respect from the wrestling powerhouses in the region, and is on the list of failing schools in the state.

Then, there’s life at home, which offers its own challenges.

Directors Suzannah Herbert and Lauren Belfer offer an unflinching look at their subjects, not shying away from drug use, teen pregnancy, racial strife, and mental health troubles.

There are no easy answers to some of these problems, and the filmmakers, to their credit, realize this and allow life to play out in all its messy contradictions.

The relatively new team at J.O. Johnson is primarily made up of Black students, while coach Chris Scribner and Teague, one of four featured wrestlers, are white.

Scribner, a teacher who has been clean and sober for 10 years, carved out his own path of destruction in younger days, and has to face the reality he got second (and third and fourth) chances many of his current athletes won’t be given.

He seems to deeply care about his wrestlers, and wants to be a father/big brother figure to them in his own rough-and-tumble way.

At times, Scribner succeeds.

At other times, even those with the best of intentions can misread things or try to force something that’s not meant to be.

Of the four wrestlers we see the most, Jailen and Jaquan both endure run-ins with the police, made more tense by the difference in power held by white cops and young Black men. Even with cameras present.

Jamario, who is about to become a father, struggles with mental health as his relationship crumbles, while Teague, who endured abuse from a now-absent father, begins to spend more time chasing drugs rather than pins.

As the wrestlers and their coach pursue state tourney dreams, and try to find balance in their real lives, they do so in a world where it’s the moms who try and hold things together.

In a film full of moments which punch you in the heart, one in particular stands out, as Jaquan’s mom, with not an ounce of self pity, lays out, in quiet, concrete terms, how her son’s arrest for marijuana possession will upend all of their lives.

Against this backdrop, the positive moments, and there are some big ones near the end, resonate even more.

Things do not end well for all involved, and the fate of the school itself offers a particularly hard dose of reality.

But there are second chances, on the mat, and, more importantly, off of it.

You exit Wrestle, one of the best sports docs I’ve seen during a looooooong career of watching movies, believing in the power of hope and hard work.

It’s a movie to see, on a streaming site to get familiar with.

 

To take a gander at a whole new world, pop over to:

https://snoisle.kanopy.com/

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