My Day 3 At San Francisco’s International Film Festival 2012: “The Last Gladiators”

Chris Nilan, subject of the documentary THE LAST GLADIATORS - Photo by Pamela Gentile

Whereas Saturday’s hot and sunny weather made the prospect of sitting in a theatre all day seem unappealing, yesterday’s heavy mist and wind was ideal conditions for staying in and watching movies.  Sadly, I was only able to see one movie due to family obligations.  As strange as it may seem, from time to time I will put family first when prioritizing my schedule.

Forever arriving earlier than is needed I left my house at 1:15 to make the 40 minute trek to Japan town.  My movie didn’t start until 4:00, but I always like to leave at an unreasonably earlier time than is necessary.  So, after stopping at House Of Bagels to inhale a tuna, lettuce and cheese on a pumpernickel bagel I arrived at the Sundance Kabuki steps.  The time was now 2:00, plenty of time for me to take in the sights.  Today these sights included a handful of middle-aged Japanese men with whistles sitting atop a handheld float wearing nothing but underwear.  Oh cool, I arrived in time to see a parade celebrating laundry day.  Much to my disappointment, I soon found out that I was watching the tail end of the Cherry Blossom festival, which still didn’t explain the tighty-whities.

After bumping into some festival friends and swapping some film recommendations it was time to get my ticket and take my seat for Alex Gibney‘s (Magic Trip, Taxi To The Dark Side) latest documentary, The Last Gladiators.

The Last Gladiators

Looking for slo-mo fist-to-face scenes?  You’ve chosen the right movie.  In telling the story of Chris “knuckles” Nilan, a man who will go down in hockey history as being one of the greatest enforcers to ever play the game director, Alex Gibney, brings us into the world of the enforcer.  Being an enforcer in hockey means if someone from another team needed their teeth knocked out Chris was the man to do it.

Gaining insight into what makes such a character tick was what drew me towards this film, yet Gibney’s execution, which consisted of cookie-cutter chapter breakdowns seemed to only distract from the film’s overall impact.  However, regardless of these unattractive aesthetics I was still able to walk away from this movie with a newfound respect for the following: The job that Nilan had to do, Nilan himself, and for all addicts and alcoholics the world over who are working to concur their disease.  Thanks for your bravery and candidness, Nilan.

One more thing before wrapping up this post.  As I was leaving the movie 2 firetrucks came speeding by me and pulled up in front of the Kabuki Theater.  I would like to go on the record officially and say that I played no role in either starting any fire or pulling any fire alarm.  I have 3 more movies to see tomorrow and if the theatre hasn’t burned down I plan on seeing them.


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