Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Year of the Bull|
Director: Todd Lubin
Genres: Sports, Documentary
Year of the Bull is a stunning look into the life of one high-school football player determined to get out of the inner-city and into a Division I collegiate program. This documentary follows an entire season with the Mia... more »
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political idiot | california | 12/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Similar in format but much less comprehensive then "Hoop Dreams," the filmmakers follow the senior football year of Miami high school football star Taurean Charles. The story unfolds in a rather predictable manner: As a football player, Charles is a fine natural athlete, reaching local celebrity status but severely lacking in discipline. As a student, however, he is less then competent. Coming from a fatherless home hasn't helped, but the so-called educators at his high school are really embarrassing. Almost everyone the young Charles comes in contact with on a daily basis are stunningly stupid people (there is actually a dry cleaning class at the high school!). Still the college scholarship is the focus of the young defensive end. Not surprisingly Charles sees college not for the educational opportunity, but as a way to the big show of the NFL. He has mild delusions, but he knows his limitations because he is reminded of them every day.
The filmmakers do a nice job profiling the athlete machine that is high school and college sports. This machine consumes, chews, and spits out kids not capable of understanding what is really going on. Charles is involved with some teen age mischief and appears to have little understanding of the true consequences of such actions, since after all, he still gets to play football. He does show a violent side off the field a few games in, still no penalty. Nice job coach. These are some of the worst coaches I have ever seen. Grown men who never made it, cussing at and beating up little kids. Unreal! Clearly, Northwestern has a winning record DESPITE the coaching staff. Charles has an injury mid way through the season, but he recovers quickly and he is back on the grid iron in time for the playoffs. Just when things are looking to improve, those darn SATs get in the way again. Shooting for a pathetic 820, he scores in the low 600's several times. Making it to the state finals, the team arrives four days early in the state capitol for preparation. In reality all they do is gamble and play video games the whole time. No shock, they lose to a much better coached team. Finally passing the SAT on his fifth try with a, ahummm, 930, Charles accepts a scholarship to The University of Florida Gators, a school well known for their division I football program.
The real story here is not the mundane path of a youth from the ghetto trying to break out vis-à-vis sports; it is the abysmal state of education at Northwestern High School. I will go on a limb and suggest that Northwestern is not the only school with this condition. I think those coaches should be jailed. I love the game of football, but this film is really a sad statement on the game. High school and college is about education first, athletics second but somewhere along the way we have allowed the reciprocal condition to become the norm and this film is a scary window to that reality.
Post Script: The film was released in 2003. Taurean Charles was suspended by the University of Florida early in the 2004 football season for an off campus fight that resulted in a misdemeanor conviction. In March 2005 he was dismissed. Such an incredible opportunity flushed away. So sad.
UPDATE: April 28, 2007 --News excerpts taken from BRENT WORONOFF, Daytona Beach News-Journal:
"While NFL teams have shown interest in three Wildcat seniors -- linebacker Taurean Charles, slot back Eric Weems and defensive tackle Ramon McCollough -- none of them are likely to be selected in the draft. NFL teams have had off-the-field concerns with Charles, who was released from his scholarship at the University of Florida in 2005 because of legal problems."
Thinking back to the film I felt compelled to update this review. I never excuse an individual's choices in life, but the scary stupid people "coaching" at his high school promoted a violent atmosphere in lieu of proper discipline. Those coaches can be held to some level of accountability for the results of a player with great natural talent who the NFL won't touch with a ten foot pole. We can only hope his educational options improved at Bethune-Cookman.
UPDATE: June 6, 2008 -- Such a sad story and all too common I suppose. Taurean Charles was brushed off by the NFL in 2007 and now in 2008 he is yet another nobody, washed up before he ever could be. Couldn't even pull off an arena football gig!! Such great raw talent wasted because of his environment. I sure hope those coaches at his Miami high school are proud of themselves now. There are no winners in this story I am sad to say. Taurean Charles' future seems all too obvious to me now...tragic..."
An Outstanding Insight!
Alicia | Miami, FL | 01/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just saw this movie on SHOWTIME. I thought it was an outstanding insight into highschool athletes and everything that surrounds them. The guts, the glory, the worshipping, the shortcomings and all the hurdles they overcome. This documentary even brought me back to my highschool sports days. I thought that the lead player was a perfect pick for this. Awesome must see for any highschool football fan young and old."
Irishgirl | Idaho | 03/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Year Of The Bull," which came out in 2003-2004, basically chronicles the senior season of football for all-star Taurean Charles, a linebacker for the Miami Northwestern Bulls. The high school is located in Liberty City, a tough inner city where most people try to escape by playing sports, particularly football. It would have been nice if we got to see a bit more footage of some of the hardships that occur in the city. I mean, we see the graffiti, the kids in messy clothes playing in the street, some of the run-down houses and messy yards. That's cool, but give us a little more. Make us the viewers realize the intense need to get out of such a city. However, I think they give us enough to get the point across.
I don't own many documentaries, but this one doesn't disappoint, although I would have liked to see more of the sacks and tackles made by Taurean during the season. Granted though, we get to see some rather outstanding plays by the young linebacker including a fumble return for a touchdown. The guy is everywhere on the field and is involved in virtually every play. It's obvious that this kid was a leader and made several key plays during the season to help the team enter the championship. He's tall, muscular, strong, confidant and dedicated to his game. He's in the weight room pumping iron, he's cracking players in practice and on the field, he's pumping up the adrenaline of his teammates, he's making his own shirts bearing the words "T-Diddy" on them and he's got a host of fans in the student body who cry when he goes down injured. Yes, Taurean Charles is their golden boy. We get excellent footage of all this. The sport is obviously important to him. He's devoted to his family and wants to make sure they are cared for (his dad passed away when he was 12). His ultimate goal though is to get a football scholarship to a top college. From there, he dreams of making the money playing football at a professional level to help his family.
Three letters stand in Taurean's way: SAT. In order to be eligible for a scholarship, he must make the grade on the SAT. But T-Diddy realizes quickly how hard it is to balance high school football with studying in order to play at a higher level of football. During most of the season, he's pumped up, somewhat cocky. But then the reality sets in during the post season games, and suddenly he must come to face what is REALLY most important to him.Then there's all the staying out of trouble. We get a glimpse of the chewing-out he gets after an incident at Pizza Hut. Then there is the rather physical confrontation on the field between he and one of his coaches. But you know there could have been a lot worse things. I mean the kid didn't do drugs, he didn't smoke or drink to my knowledge; he was just doing mischief that many young guys do.
The documentary also offers lots of comedy and tons of emotion throughout the family and fans of the Bulls and "T-Diddy." And there are a few extras on the DVD including the trailer, some commentary not included in the film, and also flaring tempers of Bulls fans and squirly comedy from the players. It's a pretty good documentary; a good chronicle. It leaves you feeling like the Bulls are your team and that Taurean is your golden boy of whom you want to see succeed. Watching this film made me curious as to what he's up to now actually. Is he still playing football? Will he go pro? The film also includes the original soundtrack which I think is a great touch. The soundtrack is pretty cool; hip-hop mostly. It fits the whole atmosphere of the film. Why don't more movies include the soundtracks to go with?
Anyway, buy "Year Of The Bull" and literally get into the game. You won't be disappointed.