By Ivan G. Goldman
Showtime’s “30 Days in May” documentary on Floyd Mayweather kept alternating black & white with full-color filming. This irritating device was apparently meant to show us how artful and daring the director or directors were.
The film also included little digital splotches to indicate that sections of people and things were being covered up, but we weren’t told why. Certain filmmakers treat their viewers like infants in a crib staring up at glittering objects strung above them. If you allow them to know what it is they’re looking at, you’re being entirely too obvious. Keep them guessing, such filmmakers theorize, and the filmmakers will look smart.
The first half of programming was clearly a payoff to Floyd to show us how much the network appreciates his cutting ties with HBO and moving over to its CBS-owned archenemy. Unlike the “24/7” series of reality programming on HBO, which follows around two fighters before a bout, this film was all Mayweather all the time. I can’t say for sure whether that theme lasted throughout the program because frankly the first half-hour was all I could take. If somebody wants to review the second half that’s fine, but it won’t be me. I did all that I could do. Possibly the thing made a real turnaround and is worthy of all sorts of awards. But I doubt it.
The thirty days of the title were the countdown to Floyd’s incarceration date of June 1, 2012, which he got for slapping around his girlfriend. So somebody was following him around with a camera even before he signed the Showtime deal. Maybe later on the film tried to intelligently examine the champ’s predilection for assaulting this ex-girlfriend and mother of three of his four children. But I doubt that too.
Although the interspersed shots of Floyd relaxing at home, making public appearances, hanging around with Justin Bieber, etc. made the film appear to be about Mayweather, I’m not completely sure it was. The filmmakers seemed to think they were making a documentary about Francis of Assisi, champion of the poor and oppressed, founder of the Franciscan Order, and a bona fide saint.
Meanwhile before Floyd served two-thirds of his ninety days (30 days off for good behavior) we got to see him soaking his feet in a foot bath and getting his nails clipped. Once in a while he said stuff like “It Is What It Is,” and I’m not picking that out as a particularly vacuous remark. It was as good as the dialogue got.
In terms of boxing I learned that if Mayweather, 39, “is the Incredible Hulk, I want to fight Superman, I want to fight Batman.” Heck, most fans just wanted him to fight Pacquiao, but what are you gonna do? The style of the first half hour was to ask him no direct questions.
Floyd estimated that one of his fights brings about a billion dollars worth of spending into Las Vegas. Without quite spelling it out, he seemed to be agreeing with U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, who not long ago admitted to Congress that he was leery of filing criminal charges against big banks because they were so important to the economy. Anyway, it’s probably correct to say that guys who slap around women should be treated about the same as crooked bankers.
But Mayweather, unlike Holder, is really very good at what he does. He’s one heck of a welterweight and certainly worth watching, though probably not for the absurd $70 pay-per-view price attached to his contests. One way or another, I will watch his fight with Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on May 4, and like virtually all hardcore fans, I will watch it live.
As for this Showtime documentary, it reminded me of a fictional aviator in author Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22” who liked to get bored because he figured he’d get killed in the war and boredom was a way to extend his life. I would definitely recommend the first half-hour of “Thirty Days in May” to that character.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE