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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.22%
Average: 7.41%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Up For Grabs
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by Erik Childress

"15 Minutes Going...GOING...GONE!"
5 stars

Thereís no sport I love more than baseball. Thereís no greater kind of documentary in my opinion than one that evenly presents two sides of an argument and allows its viewers to make up their own minds. To combine the two and then constantly have my views switch in three different directions is what translates into one of the best documentaries Iíve seen in recent years. Anyone familiar with the groundswell of sensational docs we were privileged to in 2003 knows that isnít any small feat.

In 2001 we watched as Barry Bonds somehow managed to break Mark McGwireís home run record of 70 after just three years of being on top. (Weíre still waiting for those steroids reports.) The day #73 was launched, cameras also captured the ball fly into the stands and stood by as a mob scene formed in the bleachers with everyone scurrying for the ball which could reap them a hefty profit. The footage clearly shows the ball fall into the web of Alex Popovís glove, yet it was Patrick Hayashi who proudly held the ball to the camera and was whisked away by security.

What kind of injustice had just taken place? Did Hayashi steal the ball away from Popov or was he just a lucky individual who was there when the ball dropped? One shot actually indicts Hayashi in the biting of a childís leg amongst the dog pile. Popov makes his claim to the folks at SBC Park, but they arenít about to solve it for him. With witness after witness coming forward in Popovís defense and a videotape so perfectly shot it actually draws comparison to the Zapruder film (Kudos to cameraman Josh Keppel, also the filmís co-producer), it seems heís got a rightful claim to the ball and whatever prize that may come with it.

Thatís only the first act of this chapter play though. It doesnít take long before we actually begin to doubt the validity of not what weíve been told but whatís been seen by our own eyes. What does that videotape prove, if anything? Who is the real bad guy in all of this, if such a villain exists? Piano store owner James Callahan is certainly no fan of Popovís, but who the hell is he to make such accusations? A mere thirty minutes in and Iím sure most audiences will have come to their own rush-to-judgment. After another thirty (an equal amount of time for each manís 15 minutes of fame), reasonable doubt will be a footnote to Andy Warholís proclamation.

Not that this is a new concept in America. Before the madness begins we go back to the time of Roger Maris when Sal Durante caught his 61st homer and honorably offered to give it back to him. In an equal display of charity, Maris let him keep it so he could make the reward money. A whole $5,000 back in 1961. 40 years later, we have Charles Murphy making an ass out of himself at a press conference for catching Bondsí historic 70th. Not so historic 24 hours later when #71 flew out of the park. Comeuppances almost donít get that sweet. Almost.

Lawyers, reporters, sportswriters and the debating public are all sucked into this story making elements of it actual front-page news (even on the morning the U.S. started its first wave of attacks on the Middle East.) Some of them canít believe it, making themselves out as pawns but willing ones to have a front-row seat for the absurdity. Each turn makes us snickering disbelievers as for every truth we think we know, a blatant lie is delivered right to our face. One great shot has the two lawsuit participants standing next to each other talking to the media as a cut-off sign above them reads ďego.Ē

Michael Wranovics has crafted an addictively engrossing documentary about the lengths some members of society will go to claim their piece of the pie, whether itís deserving or not. It twists like the best detective mysteries and works as a self-serving satire of greed and celebrity in the U.S. (That means you too, Callahan!) Sal Durante still appears as gracious as ever to have that small time in the spotlight and itís because of that cordiality that the public will be happy to embrace him again even if his 15 minutes were forgotten about. The same will not hold true for at least one of the guys on trial here. Find Up For Grabs and watch some losers weep.

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originally posted: 03/12/04 09:30:37
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/20/05 Brooke C. Fabulous, taut, exciting documentary...... 5 stars
5/30/05 Burnt Good but not Great... 3 stars
5/08/05 susan varney went in so manydirections I almost broke my leg 3 stars
4/17/05 H Huynh should be nominated for Oscar 5 stars
1/20/05 Edwin Louie The best docu-drama of it's time!! 5 stars
10/25/04 Susan Minasian Excellent, funny , thrilling and perfect 5 stars
5/15/04 trishafisha amazing....perfect....hilarious.....scary 5 stars
3/19/04 Jim Wilson Surprisingly good story, and well filmed. More twists than fiction. 5 stars
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