Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as
an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25
years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach.
Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration
for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game
winning streak in 1974."
more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach.
Click the Book to read
the players telling their stories in their own words. This is the book
that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.
Click the book to read the first chapter and for
Eastern Promises (9/10)
by Tony Medley
I deplore graphic violence
in movies. I think it desensitizes viewers and is somewhat responsible
for some of the terrible crime in our society. When a horrific act is
seen on the big screen, it can make actually performing the act less
loathsome to those depraved enough to consider trying. Thereís no reason
why we have to actually see a personís throat cut with the blood
spurting out, or something thrust into his eye. Revolting as these are,
they are the types of visuals in which director David Cronenberg
delights. His graphic violence mars what is otherwise a wonderful
This is the story, from a
script by Steve Knight, of the Vory V Zakone real-life criminal
brotherhood, run in London by Russian thugs. Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo
Mortensen) is a driver for Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), who runs the
brotherhood. Nikolai is also the apparent lackey of Semyonís volatile
son, Kirill (Vincent Cassel). One of their functions is to enslave young
Russian women, drug them up, and force them into prostitution. Not a
pretty picture, but one that is all too true to life. It happens in
America, too (see Trade, a movie to be released shortly).
Enter Anna Khitrova (Naomi
Watts), a midwife who helps a 14-year-old Russian girl who dies in
childbirth but leaves behind her diary and her daughter. Anna asks her
irascible Russian-born uncle Stepan (Jerzy Skolimowski) to translate the
diary, and what he finds is frightening. Meanwhile, because of Stepanís
apparent intransigence, Anna also asks Semyon to translate, which puts
her and her family in dire danger.
Watts gives a truly
remarkable performance. The way her face expresses her thoughts with
just the most minuscule of twitches is captivating to watch. The acting
throughout is a joy to watch. The performances of Watts, Mortensen, and
Mueller-Stahl, are Oscarģ-quality. Cassel is equally adept.
Mortensen did a lot of
research for his role. In addition to spending a substantial amount of
time in Russia, reading Russian literature and watching Russian films,
he learned to speak Russian, which made his Russian accent authentic.
But there is more. Nikolaiís body is covered with tattoos, 43 in all.
Criminals in Russian jails say that your tattoo is your life; they tell
the crimes youíve committed and what jail time youíve served, and more.
Nikolaiís tattoos comprise a major plot point of the film. Mortensenís
tattoos were so authentic that when he visited a Russian restaurant, the
other diners fell silent, thinking that a top Vory had entered.
Somewhat lost in the
thriller aspect of the film is the horror of the young girls who find
themselves modern-day slaves in a major city of the world with no hope.
There are only a few scenes of these young girls, and the terror they
must endure is minimized by a failure to make any of them a major
character. The movie would have been much better had it had a B story
devoted to saving them from their terrible predicament. But we are left
to view the few scenes and then move on to the story of Anna and
Nikolai, never again to see the enslaved girls. The physical brutality
that Cronenberg gleefully displays isnít nearly as horrible as the fate
of young, innocent enslaved women. Itís to his discredit that he chose
to emphasize and sensationalize the visual mayhem while sublimating the
psychological terror of these innocent victims.
That said, this is a
brilliantly acted and directed film that keeps you on the edge of your
seat, marred only by the graphic violence and a Hollywood twist that
strained my credulity.