Thursday, November 14, 2013

Reel Asian 2013 Film Review - Linsanity

Jeremy Lin holds the record for points per game and assist for the first nine games as a starter n NBA history. He also holds the record for most points in a single game over that span putting up 38 opposite Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. How could a player with such talent have gone undrafted  out of college and only been offered on division one scholarship after leading his high school team to the California State Championship? Directors Evan Leong's Linsanity tells the story.

Evan Leong first heard about Jeremy Lin while Lin was at Harvard. As an Asian-American with hoop dreams of his own he was intrigued with the stories of an Asian American setting records in the Ivy league along with early whispers that Lin might have the talent to play in the NBA. Leong headed to Harvard to meet with Lin at first hopeful that he could do some short interviews that he would post onto you tube but after a successful kickstarter campaign that raised $117,000 he was able to shoot this documentary.

Leong shoots Lin's career with the aid of footage from many different sources. Jeremy's dad had plenty of home videos which were incorporated into the film. The recordings showed Jeremy in his early days playing at the local YMCA sinking shots as a 6 year old. Leong used local television and school archival footage for Lin's Palo Alto high school games. At of Harvard Leong was personally on scene and could use his own film roll. After Lin's free agent signing with Golden State and stint in the Developmental league the NBA were on board with the project featuring a Taiwanese - American with NBA potential.  The league sent crews to film Lin's Reno Bighorns D-league games even fitting him with a microphone during game action.

The crux of the story is that of an athlete that does not fit the mold of what is expected in a sport getting one opportunity to play from youth league to High School to College and beyond and taking that solid chance, succeeding only to have to prove himself again at each level. It's a true underdog story that just about everyone can understand having been in that position at some point in their lives trying to complete a task or achieve a goal.

A key element in Jeremy Lin's life is his faith. It's what got him through is darkest days when he was down in the D-league then cut by Golden State followed by a second cut a few days later by the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day. Lin was on the verge of being out of the sport until his chance to start on February 4, 2012, for the New York Knicks vs. the New Jersey Nets starting Linsanity. The second rung on Lin's tote board is family. He is the middle of three basketball playing brothers born in California to Taiwanese parents and Chinese grandparents.  His family was always supportive even during his attempts as a youth to master piano. One of the funniest sequences in the film is the family video of Lin playing the one piece that he learned on the piano year after year at his piano recital.

Linsanity is a rousing story about a Northern California kid from a different demographic that has made it in the NBA.  The film is filled with background and inside information from Lin including the exchange he had Knick coach D'Antoni asking him if he should ship his car out from California to which D'Antoni responded slowly I'm not so sure. The fact that he was sleeping on Knick teammate Landry Field's couch which was no more that a glorified love-seat. To his struggles to enter the players entrance at Madison Square Garden as security thought he might be a trainer at best. The message of the film is to never give up, keep on trying and everyone gets knocked down the key is what you do when you get back up.

*** out of 4.

Linsanity | Evan Leong | U.S.A. | 2013 | 89 Minutes.

Palo Alto, Taiwan, China, Stereotypes, 2010 NBA Draft, D-League, Faith, Family, Basketball.

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