As we’ve discussed, the joyful fall movie season is upon us, and it’s time for Hollywood to spend four months making like they’re not a factory for endless remakes and comic book sequels. But don’t let them break their arms patting themselves on the back; every month the independent distributors give us a steady stream of smart movies for adults, and they’re not backing off just because the big boys are joining in. Here’s a few indie flicks worth checking out this month.
The Trials of Muhammad Ali
Release: Out now
Director: Bill Siegel
The life of Muhammad Ali is certainly not one that lacks documentation; from When We Were Kings to Facing Ali to Thrilla in Manilla to Muhammad and Larry, you can trace the bulk of his career through the documentary films that have taken him as their subject. Bill Siegel’s new portrait is less concerned with him as a fighter than as a political figure, focusing primarily on Ali’s conversion to the Nation of Islam and his refusal to fight in Vietnam, which led to a three and a half year battle and exile from the ring. As straight biography, it’s pretty familiar; the film’s value is in the detail paid to Ali’s development as a political thinker and provocateur, via copious (and often tense) clips from speaking engagements and television appearances. Ali was a great fighter, but he was also a fascinating man, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali pays him the compliment of viewing his life as a continuing philosophical evolution.