Austin, Texas. Lord’s Gym was founded sixteen years ago by Richard Lord, a former professional boxer. A wide variety of people of all ages, races, ethnicities and social classes train at the gym: men, women, children, doctors, lawyers, judges, business men and women, immigrants, professional boxers and people who want to become professional boxers alongside amateurs who love the sport and teenagers who are trying to develop strength and assertiveness. The gym is an example of the American “melting pot” where people meet, talk, and train.
Frederick Wiseman was born in Boston in 1930. As a documentary filmmaker, he has examined the major North American institutions. After studying law at Yale, he decided to devote his life to directing, producing and editing his own films. To the rhythm of one a year, he has directed and produced a series of documentaries in which he pursues his study of the rules of “living together” in the great institutions.
Excerpt of New York Times review:
Pugilists and philosophers of all kinds converge in Frederick Wiseman’s mesmerizing documentary “Boxing Gym.” Owned by a tight knot of muscles named Richard Lord, a trainer with a rasp in his voice and a rattail hanging down his neck, the gym is in a former warehouse with no heat and no air-conditioning. There are no frills here, just men, women and children of assorted colors, means, grace, beauty and abilities meeting among the heavy bags and peeling posters, their fists and feet drumming different time signatures.
Most of the film takes place inside, which, with the gym’s humble size, allows you to move into the space quickly. This sense of familiarity is accentuated by the camerawork, which narrows in on small zones in which the members hit a speed bag here, jump rope over there. Unlike the studios, staircases and workrooms of the Palais Garnier in Paris, which Mr. Wiseman roamed through for his last documentary, “La Danse” (about the Paris Opera Ballet), the gym feels intimate, as does this newest film. The price of admission adds to the approachability: $50 a month buys you a membership at Lord’s, a vivid contrast to the price of patronage in “La Danse” ($25,000 is one figure genteelly tossed out).
It’s especially easy to get swept up by the beats in the film because Mr. Wiseman, among the most celebrated direct-cinema practitioners, eschews voiceovers, talking-head interviews, extraneous footage and the customary and sometimes superfluous like. (In addition to directing, he also serves as the producer, soundman and editor for “Boxing Gym.”) This kind of fly-on-the-wall style of documentary can create a sense that you’re watching the unmediated truth, a fantasy belied by every camera position and each edit.