Boxing matches have been captured on film practically since the birth of the medium, which may explain the primal thrill of Frederick Wiseman’s “Boxing Gym.” The legendary documentarian’s latest portrait takes place in Lord’s Gym, the scrappy Austin establishment run by former professional boxer Richard Lord. A somber, focused instructor, Lord’s momentum spreads to his disciples. The opening sequence, a noisy montage of hands punching bags and feet squeaking across the floor, never really ends until the final shot. Wiseman, credited not only as director but as producer, editor and sound guy, makes the gym’s rhythm of motion and chatter into his chief subject—a ballet of sweat.
Read the rest of the review at indieWIRE's main site. "Boxing Gym" opens in New York at the IFC Center on Friday.
Here's the trailer:
Dan Streible, a former professor of mine from NYU cinema studies, wrote a phenomenal history of early boxing movies called "Fight Pictures." The book, which memorably positions Jack Johnson as the world's first movie star, helped me realize that the underlying appeal of Wiseman's movie has a close relationship with the history of cinema itself. Check it out.