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Volume 26 No. 4
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Fictional Film "High Flying Bird" Takes Real-World Look At Sports

Director STEVEN SODERBERGH's new film “HIGH FLYING BIRD,” tells the "story of a fictional NBA lockout set in the Instagram Age, in which longstanding concerns about money, race and social justice are galvanized by disputes over players’ personal images, and who has the right to control them," according to Jason Bailey of the N.Y. TIMES. The film, which debuted last week on Netflix, has a "dense but fast-moving script" that is "replete with references to the game’s history." Much screen time in the film is "spent contemplating the legality of public appearances and exhibition games by league-signed players during the lockout" (NYTIMES.com, 2/12). In L.A., Mark Olsen noted the film chronicles an agent, played by ANDRE HOLLAND, who "scrambles to bring an end to an ongoing basketball player lockout, giving his everything to what one character calls 'a game on top of a game,' plotting and scheming to get both sides in an entrenched negotiation to finally move" (LATIMES.com, 2/10).

TIME TO OPINE: THE RINGER's Micah Peters wrote the movie is "sort of preachy, but in an earnest and charming and artful and occasionally funny way." It examines a "broken capitalist system and dreams up slightly implausible ways to fix it" (THERINGER.com, 2/12). THE ATLANTIC's Hannah Giorgis wrote the film "teases out a host of power imbalances in sports without feeling unduly heavy-handed" (THEATLANTIC.com, 2/11). FORBES' Dolly Chugh wrote the film's a "searing analysis of the business of sports focuses on a basketball storyline which extrapolates easily to other sports" (FORBES.com, 2/11). The AP's Jake Coyle wrote "High Flying Bird" is a "heady movie, full of political thought about sport, entertainment, race and power." However, for a movie "full of characters who sincerely espouse the beauty of basketball," it could use "more of the sport." Pistons G REGGIE JACKSON, Jazz G DONOVAN MITCHELL and T'Wolves C KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS "appear now and again" during the movie. They provide an "added flavor of reality but also interrupt the movie's flow once it gets humming" (AP, 2/13).