“Senna,” reviewed

“Senna,” reviewed (photo)

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I don’t know anything about Formula One racing but the superb documentary “Senna” about famous F1 driver Ayrton Senna is a reminder that the phrase “ignorance is bliss” applies to the world of documentaries, too. Not knowing what’s going to happen in this movie makes it a very suspenseful story, set in this fascinatingly unfamiliar world of intrigue and danger.

That world is the Formula One circuit of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Brazilian Senna and his French arch-rival Alain Prost battled for supremacy of the sport, first as competitors and then as even more competitive teammates at McLaren Racing. Their styles were totally different: Senna, a devout Catholic, put his faith in God and his own intuition; Proust, nicknamed “The Professor,” outsmarted opponents with clever gamesmanship. Their wars are legendary in the racing world, but they’re fresh and exciting to a neophyte like me, and I was riveted by every new twist and turn.

“Senna,” directed by Asif Kapadia, depicts its subject life in unique fashion. The film is told entirely through archival footage of Senna both on and off the track. In old interviews, Senna tells us his life story: his early years on the go-kart circuit, his departure from Brazil at a young age to compete in Europe, his struggles against the political and possibly corrupt F1 brass, and his dream of becoming the world’s greatest racing driver. Family, friends, rivals, and journalists provide contemporary interviews about Senna but they’re only heard and never seen. Appropriately for a documentary about racing, the biggest effect that choice has on the film is pace; Kapadia never has to take time out from a race to pause for commentary, because the commentary is layered right on top of the action. The result is about as immersive as documentaries get. Senna’s own words put us inside his mind, and the thrilling cockpit point-of-view footage from the Monaco Grand Prix put us inside his car.

I’ve avoided discussing the end of Senna’s career and his rivalry with Prost even though they’re matters of historical record because, frankly I didn’t know them myself when I sat down to watch the film (if you’re curious before you see the documentary, just read the first paragraph of Senna’s Wikipedia page). Of course, Kapadia’s formal framework for the film suggests from the start a subject that cannot speak for himself and as “Senna” progresses, the director inserts more and more portends of doom: Prost threatening to drive his enemy off the track, Senna hopefully wondering what life has in store for him after he retires from racing. Slowly, the POV shots from inside Senna’s car feel less and less exhilarating, and more and more ominous. When the end comes, it is a devastating tragedy. The film reminds us that there is something beautiful about a man achieving his dream, and something so tragic when that dream ultimately destroys him.

“Senna” opens in limited release this Friday. If you see it, we want to know what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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