Of course, the beating heart of “Still” is Fox himself, who reads some of his books as narration and answers Guggenheim’s questions. He’s revealing, opening, and never gives into pity. There’s a shot early in the film in which Fox falls on a sidewalk and I wished for a second that it wasn’t there. I didn’t want to see one of my childhood movie heroes in that condition and thought maybe it should have been cut. And then Fox stamps the scene with a brilliant one-liner that produced a massive laugh in the crowd. He’s always an entertainer, even when he’s struggling. And his willingness to share that struggle and push through it is an empowering thing of beauty, as is the relationship with Tracy Pollan that really elevates the final act of this film.
Fox said in the Q&A after that he’s struck by how lucky he is to have such a beautiful family, and it’s one of the most moving portrayals of support I’ve seen in a doc in a long time. Hearing Fox explain what his wife and kids mean to him is simply gorgeous. There’s something ironic about a star who rose to fame in a show called “Family Ties” discovering that family was what would be most important to him in the end.
While I expect audiences to wrap their arms around “Still,” there was visible recoiling in the crowd that watched the premiere of the brutal “Magazine Dreams,” a drama that’s a little bit of “Taxi Driver,” a little bit of “Pumping Iron,” and a lot of the mega-talented Jonathan Majors. The star of “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” and “Creed III” gives his all and then some to this film, fearless throwing himself into a role that demands more than most actors are able to give. It’s an unsettling journey into the mind of a man who has shaped his body with anger even as he has destroyed his soul. It’s a big ask to spend over two hours with someone who’s so mentally unstable that it feels like nearly every scene could end in an act of violence, but Elijah Bynum has made a movie that’s designed to push viewers to a place of toxicity that makes them uncomfortable. It definitely does that and then some.
Majors plays Killian Maddox, a bodybuilder who dreams of being on magazine covers like his idol. If he’s not writing “Stan”-esque letters to the bodybuilding king, he’s caring for his grandfather or pining after a local cashier (Haley Bennett). He spends almost all of his free time working on his body, which includes not just weightlifting but a regular steroid regimen that has left his health teetering on the edge of a fatal diagnosis. He can’t cut his body to remove the tumors steroids have left on his liver because the scar would damage his career. And then there’s Killian’s anger. When he feels cheated by life, he lashes out, leading to a series of violent, unsettling exchanges as the film threatens to build to serious tragedy.