Rick Schroder made his directorial debut with the uneven Black Cloud. It is the tale of a Navajo boxer caught between the past and the present. Will Black Cloud ie Spears) follow his dream or will he stay among his people? I use the term uneven to describe this film because I found the subject matter to be a little too laced with White guilt. It seems like a film where Native American’s don’t like White People and White People don’t like native American’s and it just seemed to get it wrong. I am sure that there are clashes between reservation life and world around it, but I just feel that this movie missed an opportunity to adequately address that. On the boxing end, things are surprisingly strong. The matches look good, the fighters mindset is covered and I really have to give Schroder credit for getting that right. As a boxing fan I could nitpick about little things about the fights, but on the whole this movie really does that aspect of it proud. I also felt that they tapped into the struggle that Black Cloud feels in his own life. He loves a girl but she’s from a different tribe, he doesn’t trust the White Man who might be able to advance his boxing career... all of these are things he must overcome if Black Cloud is going to be a champion not only in the ring but in his own life. It’s just that sometimes I found Black Cloud’s journey to be a little long in the tooth.
Commentary with Rick Schroder, Tim McGraw and boxing coach Jimmy Gambina
I love that Tim McGraw begins the commentary by telling Rick Schroder that he’s always been a fan of his work. I feel that Schroder is a bit too in charge here. I don’t know if that is the right word, but he seems to have such a memory for everything that happened and the people doing the commentary with him don’t seem to be as knowledgeable. Jimmy Gambina is someone Schroder met on the set of The Champ!! How cool is that Schroder gives him a job later when he has some clout. Overall, this is a solid commentary. Schroder shares what it took to not only get this film made but it get it distributed. I also never knew that he had such an affinity for the Native American people, and his love for their land and culture is really on display here.
Presented in a format preserving the 1.85:1 aspect ratio of it’s theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. This movie looks bigger then it is. It has lush vistas, long shots of hills and the desert and every other device we have come to expect from movies about Native American culture. I don’t think this movie really stereotypes so much as it seems to try and tackle a few too many themes. The shots inside the ring look really good too. In fact, they remind me of some home videos I have made at various boxing matches. That is how real they look. It is photography that really gets the viewer inside the fighter’s head during the fights. Seeing Black Cloud getting past himself in order to obtain victory. I personally have seen this happen to many fighters where they just won’t let their “hands go