Sunday, February 26, 2012


The poignant, high-spirited football documentary "Undefeated" rounds out an excellent complement of Oscar nominees in the Documentary Feature category. So long as anything but "Pina" wins, I'll be happy, if for no other reason than I won't have to suffer through two hours of choreographed performance art. (Wim Wenders spoke after "Pina" screened at DocuDay last night, and you couldn't pry him off the stage with a hook.)

There's not much in "Undefeated" that we haven't seen before, but the difference is the coach of the North Memphis Manassas Tigers, Bill Courtney, a truly color-blind white business owner who loves coaching his inner-city players more than life itself. Even when he's grasping at straws to keep his team together - absent fathers are epidemic on the team, there are huge anger issues, widespread academic failings, key injuries - he's a joy to watch and the team's a delight to spend time with.

"Undefeated" is beautifully edited and had a theater full of Westsiders living and dying with every play of a Tennessee high-school football season. Quite a feat.

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