Boy, I really don’t like typing Kobe Doin’ Work. When the guy who made a movie called Mo’ Better Blues makes a movie with a more embarrassing title, that’s saying something. But do that Spike Lee has, and that he’s also made a movie more embarrassing than the aforementioned mega-stilted self-indulgent lapel orgy/alternate-universe jazz opus in KDW (ah, better) is, by this point, kind of the consensus. Lee’s Kobe-mentary is not reputed to be as exacting or backhandedly abstract as the similarly conceived Zidane, and Bryant’s performance reportedly scans super inauthentic and weird. I can’t get that exercised about it one way or the other — or speak with much authority on it — because I didn’t see it. I probably won’t. Unless I’m captured by, like, ironists and tortured by means of a lesser-Lee film festival, in which case KBW will presumably form the sherbert course between She Hate Me and Bamboozled.
But Kelly Dwyer, who is more obsessive about basketball than I am and also presumably got paid by Yahoo to do so, did indeed watch KBW, and has a long, fascinatingly anguished quasi-defense of the film up at Ball Don’t Lie. I can’t totally recommend his defense, either — the thesis seems to be something about how the film’s squirm-inducing elements are, at bottom, a reflection of Kobe’s squirm-inducing maladjustment, and that on those terms, the movie works. I don’t know that I can buy that (it’s a very low bar), but as someone who loves the internet’s process-in-yer-face writing style (and often embodies that writing-the-difficulty thing to an occasionally annoying extent in this very space) I found the piece pretty interesting. It reverses course several times and is tough to excerpt, but if you find this interesting, you might want to give the whole thing a look:
[The film] is just really tough to watch for anyone who has a passing idea of how pro basketball works. Even though it is replete with insider stuff and Xs and Os talk made perfect for a junkie like me, it’s completely mitigated by Bryant’s performance. His on-camera banter and his voiceover work. Tough, tough stuff.
I watched it because I have to. I’m useless without information, the game changes and evolves constantly, and if I don’t try to stay on the up and up, I’m useless… And as distasteful as I found the documentary, and Kobe’s performance to be at times, you still have to muddle through it. On a couch. With some delicious iced tea and a fan blowing a light breeze your way. Sacrifice.
For those who haven’t seen it, Kobe is completely and utterly playing to the 30 cameras that he knows are documenting his every move, recording his every word, in a way that leaves him looking so transparent that it’s a wonder he even let this thing get out.
Actually, it isn’t a wonder. Kobe has isolated himself so much from anyone who will tell him that things aren’t heading in a direction that isn’t particularly appropriate, that it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t know how poorly he came off.
I’m years removed from being angry about that. At this point, in May of 2009, I’m just sort of sad about that. The guy is so maladjusted, he just has no clue.
And in the sickest way possible, I relate to that.