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original title: Being Evel
duration: 1h 39min
tags: Risk everything. Regret nothing.
keywords: hubris, punintitle, montana, womanising, marchingband, actionfigure, fathersonrelationship, brotherbrotherrelationship, motorcyclist, motorcyclestunt, motorcyclejump, nationalhero, selfpromotion, moto
Produced by Jackass lynchpins Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine, Being Evel is a clear love letter from the two gentleman and in particular Knoxville who was inspired by Knievel as a child so much so that he became the household name he is today. Knoxville spends time in front of the camera speaking about Knievel's impact on his life and the admiration he has for him shines through but Junge's trump card is the amount of Knievel acquaintances he manages to round up to talk intimately about the performer who pushed himself and pushed away those he loved with a prickly, womanising demeanour that eventually drove him off the edge.
Being Evel shows a clear divide between the Evel the thousands upon thousands of crowd members saw and the one that operated behind closed doors and those who believe Evel to be a lovable American flag waver will be shocked by some of the man's behavioural tendencies from an explosive temper, unfaithfulness to his loved ones and desire to push himself no matter the physical or mental costs.
Utilising the talking heads with ample archival footage, Junge collates everything into a clearly decipherable manner but the documentary never strays to far from its TV like roots and there are moments throughout the film where the interest levels will waver but there always bought back around again with Evel's next outlandish actions never too far away.
In the age in which boundaries are being pushed daily through professional and more Youtube like ways, Evel Knievel's antics may now seem a little "so what" but there's little point in denying that his the granddaddy of the showmanship and conceptual ideas of the modern day extreme athletes and performers. Being Evel is a must watch for Knievel fans and an insightful (if overly workmanlike) event for us bystanders.
3 blinged up walking canes out of 5 This is a fascinating, exhaustive and well researched, and entertaining documentary about the flamboyant daredevil motorbike riding Evel Knievel. Born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana, he became world famous as Evel Knevel, given to dangerous stunts like jumping over buses and his flamboyant appearances on television. He was the iconic hero America needed during troubled times. He has been the subject of many other documentaries, but unlike previous films Being Evel is not simply a hagiography, but rather offers up a detailed and revealing a warts and all look at Knievel and shows his darker nature and volatile personality. There is his vicious attack on Sally Saltman, his former press agent, with a baseball bat that landed him in jail. Knievel lived much of his life in the public eye, so there is a wealth of archival material for veteran documentary director Daniel Junge (A LEGO Brickumentary, etc) to draw upon. The film shows many of his spectacular stunts and some sickening footage of his many crash landings. But the centrepiece of the film centres around his much publicised failed attempt to jump across the Grand Canyon in a purpose built miniature rocket, and we get plenty of juicy revelations and speculation about what went wrong here. And a number of friends, family members and colleagues recall colourful and lively anecdotes about the man. Jackass's Johnny Knoxville is obviously a huge fan, and here he waxes lyrical about the man and his achievements, and acknowledges the impact Knievel had on the establishment of extreme sports. Actor George Hamilton, who played Knievel in an awful 1972 biopic and who is one of the producers of this film, recounts a fascinating anecdote that illustrates Knievel's sense of his own infallibility and his growing paranoia and egocentric behaviour. One of the more entertaining documentaries screening at MIFF, Being Evel demystifies the complex, complicated and deeply flawed man behind the legend and is a lot of fun to watch! Being Evel is a warts-and-all portrayal of a man whose ambition and need to be in the spotlight was both a positive and a negative. His insatiable appetites