Rendezvous with Madness 2014: No-No: A Dockumentary Review

No-No: A Dockumentary

In the early 1970s, no pitcher had more pure talent than Pittsburgh Pirate Dock Ellis. His style wasn’t pretty, but he won a lot of games for his ballclub. The problem: he didn’t really remember most of them because he was either drunk or high at the time, most infamously pitching a particularly ugly no hitter while tripping on acid.

Although a bit overlong, this look back at the crazy, unseen world of baseball in the 1970s through the eyes of one of the sport’s most outspoken and brilliant black athletes accomplishes its goals nicely. Although Ellis takes centre stage because of his candor in interviews and the amount of media attention he received at the time, first time feature director Jeff Radice wisely uses his subject’s celebrity and perceived transgressions to take a larger look at the dark side of sports culture that had yet to put regulations in place with regard to drug and alcohol abuse.

No No A Dockumentary 2

Radice never shies away from how Ellis used to be a terrible human being when he was at his worst, making his subject’s eventual redemption into something special. There could be a handful fewer anecdotes to make everything a bit more on point – as it stands, like Ellis, the film’s victory is kind of sloppy and all over the place – but sports buffs can find a lot to love here.

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Screens

Friday, November 14th, 6:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox



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