Friday, December 16, 2011

Review of Knuckle

This is availale on demand and in theaters right now. I wanted it to appear in "ICON" next month, but it got bumped. Instead of waiting for February, when it'll be forgotten, I've decided to be relevant for a change.

The full crop of "ICON" reviews--both big and small--will appear on or around Jan. 1. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the new year, can you?


The Joyces and the Quinn McDonoughs, two related Irish Traveler families, have feuded for years. Instead of talking, the factions have settled their differences with bare-knuckle fighting. The pursuit is surprisingly sophisticated. The videotaped messages issued by the participants resemble the theatrical call outs of pro wrestling, while the fights themselves combine elements of a backyard brawl and an organized event. Neutral referees manage the action, breaking up holds and watching out for biting and illegal blows. Bets are placed. What's most troubling is that nearly everyone involved, even the film's star, venerable boxer James Quinn McDonough, thinks the activity solves nothing. Yet the cycle continues year after year: uneasy peace, taunt, fight. Director Ian Palmer spent more than a decade following this bitter Gypsy rancor. Though he clearly has some trouble coordinating the footage—Palmer doesn't quite untangle the web of bad feelings that has led to grown men pummeling each other and his attempts at including himself in the narrative are awkward—he's provided a stunning and sad sociological profile. ***1/2 out of 5 [R]

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