Over the Limit

Over the weekend I watched the documentary “Over the Limit” about gold medal winning Olympic rhythmic gymnast Margarita Mamun. This is a good sports movie and I recommend it. It is in Russian with no subtitles or voice overs. The film is an hour and fourteen minutes long and I didn’t understand a word except for a scene where Rita’s family sang “Happy Birthday”. The film was engaging and easy to understand despite the language barrier. I think not understanding what anyone is saying may have made the film more intense.

The thing I appreciate most about “Over the Limit” is that the subjects of the film had no discernible awareness of the camera. The audience observes Rita, her coaches and other people in her life as if we are flies on the wall. Watching Rita’s dedication to her sport takes the audience through a range of emotions. Throughout the film we admire Margarita and at times we felt bad for her. Her coaches are very stern and stoic. It’s hard to judge the coaches since I am not of the Russian culture or an athlete but at times they seem borderline abusive.

Margarita is surrounded by coaches, team mates, fans, a seemingly loving family and a dreamboat boyfriend who is an Olympic swimmer yet her journey was lonely. The visuals or the film are stark. It takes place in Moscow. Rita spends all of her time in the film in small apartments and gyms.

She competes in a solitary sport and she spends much of her time outside of the gym alone in her quiet apartment preparing her props for practice and competition. At times Rita seemed distant from her coaches while having conversations with them and looking into their eyes. The most warmth in the film comes from her relationship with her boyfriend who is now her husband.

If you get the opportunity check out “Over the Limit”. It’s a good sports movie. It’s fairly quick, interesting and enjoyable even if you are not a Russian speaker.

Richard Jewell

Last weekend I watched the film “Richard Jewell”. Richard Jewell was a Georgia security guard who happened to be on duty the night a bomb blew up in Centennial Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics. Richard Jewell was falsely accused of executing the terrorist attack. “Richard Jewell” is a Clint Eastwood film telling the title character’s story.

Richard Jewell was a thirty three year old man who was fascinated with law and order and police protocol. He studied the law every night and he owned a small arsenal of weapons. Richard had a spotty work his including a termination from a police force and a termination from a university security force where he pulled people over on the road leading to the school where they had no jurisdiction.

There were two casualties due to the terrorist attack at Centennial Park however Richard’s zeal, sharp eye and attention to detail and protocol spared lives. Richard spotted a suspicious package in the crowd and reported it to authorities. He also became the fall guy for the attack.

Richard Jewell

The FBI was under pressure to find a suspect. Richard fit the profile of domestic terrorist due to being a loner with a fascination with weapons and legal matters. His admiration and trust for law enforcement worked against him. He cooperated with the FBI when others would have been defending himself.

Richard was eventually vindicated and cleared of all charges. His lawyer’s secretary was the first to figure out that he was innocent. She simply took a walk from the pay phone where the bomb threat was made to the place the suspicious package was found.

He didn’t have time to make the call and place the package. The FBI and media didn’t investigate that matter until after accusing Richard of being a terrorist. Later a different man confessed to bombing the ’96 Olympics. That man is serving life in prison without parole. Richard Jewell went on to further his law enforcement career and died at forty four of heart failure.

I would recommend this movie. There have been several high profile crimes in the media that seem to go away after they have a suspect in custody. Quite often the suspect is an unfortunate person that fits the profile of a neighborhood creep and they have few resources to defend themselves. They are presented to the public in a terrible mugshot or in a still shot of grainy surveillance video from a gas station and the case is never spoken of again. We can only hope they got the right neighborhood creep.

I remember the ’96 Olympic bombings and oddly enough it popped into my mind shortly before this movie was released. I had done a bit of research and learned about the plight of Richard Jewell so the movie peaked my interest and I looked forward to seeing it. “Richard Jewell” didn’t disappoint. I think you will enjoy it whether you remember the ’96 Olympics or not.

Why I Love Gabby Douglas

Simone Biles is the gymnastics star of the 2016 Olympics.  She performed beautifully and is as cute as she can be.  The story of her road to Rio is an inspiring American dream that will bring tears to your eyes.  Simone deserves to be the belle of the ball.  But I absolutely love Gabby Douglas.  She is a mature champion that has represented our country well.

During the Olympic trials I could tell that Gabrielle had changed since the London Olympics.  She has matured and become a young woman as opposed to the bubbly, eager girl we met in 2012.  Gabby Douglas is reserved, poised and focused.  She carries herself like a sophisticated lady that is in Brazil to win medals, not entertain or be anyone’s pet.

Gabby Douglas is a refreshing change from many of the young women that are paraded in front of us and lauded as celebrities.  She is not a young woman that is on TV or in magazines for the purpose of arouse men.  She is not there to be funny or cute.  She is there to win.

There is something a little steely about Gabrielle Douglas this go round.  But I love it.  I see the same character in Russia’s Aliya Mustafina.  Aliya competed in the London Olympics and has probably completed her gymnastics career.  She and Gabby are not little little girls any more.  They are veteran champions with youthful, beautiful stalwart exteriors.  God bless them.

It seems that Gabby Douglas has been criticized during the Rio Olympics.  I don’t take Twitter jabs very seriously because I know that people will complain and find fault in anything.  The criticism of Gabby Douglas is rooted in sexism and racism.  American culture wants Black women to be clowns on some level.  Attractive young women are asked to be bimbos.  Black Americans prefer to put light skinned women with European features on a pedestal.  Gabby Douglas is none of that but still successful and there are some that hate it.

All I can say is watch out Simone Biles.  Today you are America’s sweetheart.  Enjoy it because you deserve it all the spoils of victory.  But I hope the fickle American public will be kind to you when you when you compete in Tokyo in 2020.