Sylvester Stallone portrays himself as a self-made man who created a Hollywood persona rooted in his true character, struggles and spirit Cunning, Thom Zimny’s hagiographic documentary. But by letting him tell his own story, this nonfiction film, which debuts on Netflix November 3 after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this fall, delivers only part of his story, up close and personal as she reveals.
“Hell yeah, I regret it. But that’s also what motivates me to overcome regret,” Stallone says at the beginning Cunning. As the artist’s snapshot below shows, the mistakes that plague him most have to do with prioritizing work over family. Although there is a lot of talk about putting his career ahead of his wife and children, there is so little substantive mention of his clan or personal life that the sentiment rings hollow. It’s not that Stallone seems to lie so much as he wants to address such issues in a universal way. By refusing to even name his children or his wife on camera, let alone discuss the nature of his relationships with them, he neutralizes his own supposed desire to reckon with what he sees as his missteps committed to his A-list career path.
Superficiality is the name of Cunning‘s game – a not unusual state for an authorized bio-doctor who is guided by the involvement of his subject. Zimny’s film is framed by Stallone’s decision to move from his Los Angeles mansion back to New York, where he was born in Hell’s Kitchen to a domineering mother and a physically brutal father. The latter proves to be a recurring flashpoint, because after his parents separated, Stallone moved to Maryland with his father and, as he reports, suffered repeated physical and emotional abuse there. Stallone makes it clear that his old master’s violence and lack of support led him to gain the acceptance and adoration of the court audience, making this a constant theme in his work. Nowhere was this clearer than in Rockythe Oscar-winning underdog saga that made the struggling actor and writer an overnight sensation and changed his personal and professional fortunes forever.
Zimny’s film takes a lot of time Rocky and particularly the many ways in which it reflected Stallone’s own situation at the time – a life-imitating art dynamic that would continue in most sequels. In these parallels, as well as the connections between Stallone and his other famous character, Vietnam War veteran John Rambo, Cunning posits Stallone as someone who used genre to express his own fears, dreams and personality. With the help of interviews with critic Wesley Morris, directors Quentin Tarantino and John Herzfeld, and colleagues and friends Henry Winkler and Talia Shire, the image of Stallone as a creative type who expressed himself through acting and writing, and how he did, is reinforced Process led to immense results, critical and box office victories, but ultimately some missteps. This also included his initial Rocky Follow-up actions FIST And Paradise Alley or his later comedic forays Oscar And To stop! Or my mother will shootAccording to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stallone took over the latter because of their intense rivalry.
This anecdote comes from Schwarzenegger’s own Netflix documentary Arnoldand it’s presented in typical perfunctory soundbite fashion Cunning‘s analysis. Some tantalizing behind-the-scenes footage from Rocky The filming is all about anything that interrupts the film’s clip montages and conversations with Stallone in his palatial estate, whose walls are adorned with paintings and whose trophy room is full Rocky Action figures and memorabilia. All in all, it’s a polished formal package, but its gloss is a sign that it has no interest in exploring the thornier aspects of Stallone’s saga. Things only get tricky when it comes to the cruelty of Stallone’s father and, moreover, his compulsion to compete with his son, be it by writing a boxing script called Sonny that tried to outshine Rockyor by tormenting his son on polo fields out of pure, abusive meanness.
Stallone’s brother Frank’s admission that it ruined his own acting career RockySuccess is one of many tantalizing topics that have never been explored Cunning I’m content to simply move forward with the same stubborn approach that has defined Stallone’s career. There is hardly any conversation and only very brief insights into the actor’s other action hits from the 80s and 90s (cobra, Exaggerated, Cliffhanger); More time is spent on his “serious acting” comeback in 1997 Copland, although this chapter goes nowhere, as does the film with critics and audiences. The main focus is of course that Rocky franchise, but without any real examination of its ups and downs; even if, for example, Stallone agrees to Rocky VFor all its flaws, it feels only superficial and seems set up for an eventual happy ending (in this case, the revered 2006). Rocky Balboa).
CunningAvoiding digging beneath the surface is frustrating because Stallone seems so insightful about the connections between his work and his life. As with later comments about the recklessness he displayed on set The consumables– apparently with injuries from which he says he never fully recovered – holds back, casually mentions promising tidbits and then quickly moves on. The entire time, Stallone doesn’t say a single word about Schwarzenegger, his physique, or the untimely death of his eldest son, Sage (who died in 2012 at the age of 36), and the film more or less follows his example, briefly exploring these themes in a way and manner that feels evasive, as if the star has carefully dictated what terrain is acceptable for cultivation.
As a result, Stallone’s candor feels like a performance itself, crafted to reveal just enough pain and remorse to seem genuine. As a streaming effort, it exudes the necessary nostalgia, making it a CliffsNotes version of the actor’s career, even as it misses an in-depth look at what made him such a uniquely charismatic star and his own ambitions – to be a hero to play; to satisfy viewers’ hunger for uplifting endings; being a larger-than-life He-Man – were both strengths and weaknesses. Instead of being a succinct exploration of Stallone’s unique appeal and celebrity, it mostly revolves around the role of a good-looking actor People Magazine article disguised as a researching organic doctor.