Does Netflix have some sort of stealth ownership stake in Planet Hollywood?
Just a few months after giving Arnold Schwarzenegger a three-hour documentary, the streaming giant will release Thom Zimny’s feature-length film. Cunninga documentary in which Sylvester Stallone is exactly as candid and introspective as executive producer Sylvester Stallone wants him to be.
It comes down to
Moments of insight mixed with moments of avoidance.
Location: Toronto International Film Festival (gala presentations)
Director: Thom Zimny
1 hour 35 minutes
With Schwarzenegger, the documentary had the feeling of a quid pro quo to the series by the former California governor FUBARbut Stallone’s current television series Tulsa King is on a different service and is not as much as stated in Cunning. It doesn’t have to be that way. It is not the case that, in the grand scheme of things, Tulsa King has secured its place as a major part of Stallone’s resume, but it’s just one of many small and not so small parts of his career and life that aren’t discussed in Cunning.
Eventually, when Cunning succeeds is because Stallone is a rather great observer of his own work. When it falls short, it’s because Stallone observes other aspects of his life in platitudes that sound revealing but actually represent an evasion that Zimny must gloss over with careful editing.
Cunning is built around the actor-writer-director’s decision to move from his opulent Los Angeles home, a shrine to Stallone’s art collection, his wealth of memorabilia and, based on the way the documentary was shot, a property with a disproportionate number of rooms designed for staring into space and thinking about your career. Why does he leave the house? It has something to do with the way Stallone hates complacency and needs the creative rejuvenation of a change of location.
Stallone’s personal candor reaches a climax in his discussion of his childhood, as he and brother Frank – separately – address their abusive father and, in much vaguer terms, their eccentric mother. Accompanied by scenes of Stallone revisiting the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of his youth, the documentary lays a foundation for his early relationship with films as escapism, his admiration for classic cinematic heroism – both the Stallone and Schwarzenegger documentaries put a premium on Hercules films as a formative influence – and his early struggles with acting. The gentlemen of Flatbush is discussed in depth. His softcore debut in The party at Kitty and Stud’s is not listed. It’s not like I needed an hour The party at Kitty and Stud’sbut its absence reflects the reality that when Stallone wants to talk about something, he’s great, but are version of his battle is the only version that appears Cunning. It is a film characterized by frequent elision.
On the personal side, this means that Stallone mainly wants to talk about his family in terms of the choices he had to make when prioritizing work. He admits his regrets, and Zimny occasionally shows photos of his family, but I’m pretty sure none of his three wives (two ex, one current) are mentioned by name; of his children, his late son Sage is only referenced, and usually in the context of Rocky V. This is a choice and not one I begrudge – although there is a possibility that Paramount+ has exclusivity on the Stallone family because of, well, The Stallone family came to mind – but Zimny’s attempts to work around and edit Stallone’s restraint don’t really work.
I think there is a version of it Cunning that’s more like that Sylvester Stallone: the king of the franchisein which Stallone the Rocky, Rambo And Consumables franchises, explaining how each of the films represented his life and his view on the potential of cinema at that time. Because when he does, he’s amazingly good.
The rest of his career too often comes down to ‘phases’, whether it’s the comedy phase, which he regrets (but not with any depth) or the monosyllabic action-star phase, which makes it initially is always surprising. how smart and introspective Stallone can be. A few other films receive a little more than cursory attention: FIST gets a few minutes as a Rocky follow up; Police country gets some time, but he considers it a failure for some reason. And then some films are strangely ignored, like Religionwhich he clearly does not see as connected to his own Rocky films, a distinction that seems strange.
When Stallone is good, he’s so good that you understand why Zimny isn’t overpopulated Cunning with extra talking heads. Frank Stallone and John Hetzfeld carry most of the pre-stardom weight. Henry Winkler and Talia Shire handle duties as representative co-stars. Schwarzenegger shows up and says pretty much verbatim exactly what Stallone said about him in HIS documentary, which is nice if you’ve seen both documentaries, but… like… why? I can understand why Zimny would have been happy with Quentin Tarantino – apparently a HUGE one Gentlemen of Flatbush fan – and Wesley Morris as his outside observers, but once the initial: “It’s cool that Quentin Tarantino and Wesley Morris have enthusiastic feelings about Sylvester Stallone!” the response is passing, I wouldn’t say both don’t add much.
Towards the end of Cunningthe star proves to explain his legacy so well that the documentary finds effective insight and poignancy—despite how much of an overly protective custodian of that legacy he is, and how reluctant Zimny is to shake him off his preferred course.