Monday, September 24, 2012

Urbanworld FF: The Last Fall

The Urbanworld Film Festival is a showcase for filmmakers and actors of color, presented at the AMC 34th Street in New York City. For more information on the festival and to see the full 2012 schedule of films, visit the website.

Professional sports are great and all, but in this country, we sometimes place unfair burdens on our young when they try to pursue a career in them. We have a tendency to make too many concessions to them, pampering and coddling them and making sure they succeed at all costs, even if it means sacrificing their education, all in the name of entertainment. The fact is, however, that only a select few can compete on the professional level, and out of those few, even fewer have what it takes to sustain a career. The rest end up fending for themselves.

Matthew Cherry had a brief NFL career, spending one season with the Baltimore Ravens, before turning to filmmaking - first music videos, and now, with The Last Fall, feature films. It's a semi-autobiographical tale of a pro football player who has reached the abrupt end of his young career at 25 and now must learn how to begin his life all over again.

Last year at Urbanworld, the film All Things Fall Apart examined similar territory, but a good premise was undone by the mediocre acting of rapper 50 Cent. Here, star Lance Gross is much more polished and believable, as is co-star Nicole Beharie (whom you may remember from the Michael Fassbender movie Shame), who plays an old flame he tries to get back.

Cherry's screenplay has the ring of authenticity to it, informed as it is by his own experiences, though I would've liked to have gotten a little more insight into the circumstances that led to Kyle's premature retirement. When someone asks him why he's out of the game, Kyle says something about internal politics, a vague and to me, unsatisfying answer. I would've liked a little more elaboration, or failing that, a simpler explanation - perhaps he didn't perform as well as anticipated.

All Things felt heavier because of the cancer angle (and 50 Cent's opportunity to go all Method by losing a ton of weight), but Fall, by contrast, addressed not only the embarrassment and shame of falling short of a long-sought career goal, but the misconceptions that other people have about such a high-profile occupation. All Things felt like a star vehicle, but Fall felt more like the story was the main attraction, and that's a big reason why I prefer it.

Being Mary Jane
Dar He: The Lynching of Emmett Till
Won't Back Down
Soul Food Junkies

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