Dennis Rodman's bizarre, controversial relationship with Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of North Korea, gets the documentary treatment in the trochaic Dennis Rodman's Big Bang in Pyongyang, which will make its television premiere on Showtime on Friday, June 26.
Here's a synopsis of the 92-minute film, which is directed by Colin Offland and written by Matthew Baker, via SHO.com:
Documentary chronicling flamboyant celebrity and former NBA basketballer Dennis Rodman's friendship with leader Kim Jong-un that sends him on a controversial mission to improve relations between North Korea and the US by staging a historic basketball game between the two countries. Despite nuclear threats, dissent and Rodman's personal struggles to keep it together, the game must go on.
It's a truly modern saga, a strange mesh of the cult of celebrity, geopolitics and technology and the media's ability to connect disparate people all over the globe—not to mention the media's role in covering such intersections.
It would seem to be a no-brainer subject for a documentary film. Rodman—a Hall of Famer, five-time NBA champion and one of the best rebounders of all time—is a fascinating, controversial person in his own right. His relationship with Jong-un and North Korea—a country difficult for outside media outlets to access—has drawn its fair share of criticism.
This documentary may very well reignite the discussion.
Here's the upcoming TV schedule for Dennis Rodman's Big Bang in Pyongyang, which will also be available on demand for Showtime subscribers from June 27 through November 30, per SHO.com. A trailer for the film can be found here.
|June 26||9 p.m.||Showtime|
|June 27||3:35 p.m.||SHO Extreme|
|June 28||7:30 p.m.||SHO Extreme|
|June 29||9:45 a.m.||SHO 2|
|June 29||9:30 p.m.||SHO 2|
|June 30||3 a.m.||SHO 2|
|June 30||8:40 a.m.||Showtime Showcase|
|June 30||7:30 p.m.||Showtime Showcase|
|July 1||10 p.m.||SHO 2|
|July 2||3:25 p.m.||Showtime|
|July 5||9:15 p.m.||SHO Extreme|
|July 7||4:20 a.m.||Showtime Showcase|
|July 8||4:45 p.m.||Showtime|
This isn't the first time Rodman's forays into North Korea have been captured on camera and turned into a narrative piece. Vice Media accompanied Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters on a trip to the reclusive nation in early 2013 for the television program VICE on HBO.
Showtime's documentary appears to focus on Rodman's later trips to North Korea in early 2014, when he helped organize exhibition basketball games between North Korea's national team and a squad featuring former NBA players, including Vin Baker and Clifford Robinson, per The Associated Press (h/t CBS News).
In March 2014, Rodman defended his actions in an interview with ESPN's Mark Schwarz (via ESPN.com): "At least someone tried. So that's how I look at it. You know, I don't want to be a hero, I don't want to be this, I don't want to be that. I just wanted to be, just do happy things and do great things in life. That's all I wanted to do. That's it."
In a January review for Variety, Joe Leydon praised the film, calling it "a deftly constructed, consistently engrossing and frequently flat-out hilarious account of a controversial sporting event," while also noting the filmmakers' ability to highlight telling moments in Rodman's saga:
Helmer Offland and his crew capture (and shrewdly enhance) several remarkable moments, ranging from an overhead view of the relentless rush by Rodman and others through a veritable army of journalists in a Beijing airport (ingeniously underscored by a sweet rendition of “Silent Night”) to Rodman’s jovial back-and-forth with the Marshal during an intermission in the basketball tournament.
Offland has just one other documentary to his credit on IMDB.com. The film's writer, Baker, doesn't have any other credits on IMDB. If the reviews are any indication, these two have a knack for dispassionate observation of highly charged, unusual situations.
Whether or not this documentary sways public opinion of Rodman in any direction remains to be seen, but the film could be worth a look if only to better understand a controversial flashpoint event that invites debate in realms well beyond those of sports.