Broken Noses (1987)

When fashion photographer Bruce Weber asked boxer Andy Minsker why he had come to be photographed, the young lightweight replied 'they told me that I was forbidden to come meet you. They said that you'd give me a weird haircut and make me wear skimpy see-through clothes, and who knows what else you'd do to me, and I thought, that's all I needed to hear. I'm on my way.' The photo session evolved into an entire documentary film, focusing on the engaging, hyperactive Minsker as he divides his time between his extended family and coaching a group of young teenagers as amateur fighters. Minsker reminded Weber of a young Chet Baker, but comes over as a battered cross between Jack Palance and John Garfield, with the nervous energy of Michael Moriarty. During the course of the film, we see him relaxing with the kids he coaches, getting together with his parents, telling jokes, failing to make clear precisely why he wasn't on the Olympic squad in 1984, talking about his life, rambling verbally and generally clowning around. Combining grainy colour film and Raging Bull styled black and white footage, the movie spends a lot of time exposing the bodies of young men, but has an innocent sense of humour that defuses any objections to beating people up as a sporting activity or any suggestion that Weber is patronising his blue collar subjects. To go with the loving, suggestive images - there's very little actual boxing footage, and no bloody bruising - the late jazzman Chet Baker provides a terrific soundtrack, collating his down work and the tender tones of the likes of Julie London. The film doesn't sound like much to write home about, but it's seductively charming and overcomes your resistance almost immediately. Its most moving moment comes at the end, when an offscreen Weber reveals to Minsker why his entire crew have been so keen on making a movie about him. Also on the bill is 'Chet's Romance', an award-winning short by Bertrand Fevre, in gorgeous widescreen black and white (the greatest film format of all time). Chet Baker is seen in Paris singing 'I'm a Fool to Want You' and accompanying himself on the horn. Well worth going out of your way to see.

First Published In: The Good Times (issue unknown)

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