Sunday, April 24, 2011
Water for Elephants
I was going to try to see Atlas Shrugged Part 1 this weekend, but Allison my Ayn Rand follower did not show up today, and I remembered that I had promised my wife I would take her to see this. She is a "Twi-Hard" and so was drawn to the movie by Robert Pattinson, but she had also read the novel that the movie is based on and had very high expectations for Hal Holbrooke playing the older version of Pattinson's character. I liked the idea of a circus movie, since my family was involved in the live entertainment business and my Father played with circuses on numerous occasions. So there was a lot to live up to.
My biggest surprise was that our young actor acquitted himself quite well as the lead in the story. He does do a little too much of that smoldering burdened look, but that seemed appropriate for the part. I think it ended up that he was pretty well cast. The main focus of the story is set on the growing attraction between the lost soul young man and the star of the circus played by Reese Witherspoon. She is an accomplished actor and I have enjoyed her in other films but here she seems a little miscast. I think she is slightly too old for the part she is playing and there is something much to contemporary about her mannerisms. She did not detract from the film, but she is the first lead and she never really held the screen the way a star is supposed to.
As is often the case, the most memorable performance is turned in by the actor playing the heavy in the story. In this case it is Christoph Waltz, seen earlier this year in "The Green Hornet" as the bad guy, and last year indelibly as the Jew hunting Nazi in "Inglorious Basterds". I look forward to the day when he is cast in a different kind of part, but he was once again the center of attraction for a movie. His character can be immensely charming one moment and murderously obsessed the next. So clearly they cast for type and it works. As the delusional and autocratic ringmaster and absolute ruler of this 1931 circus, he is believable and very frightening. I think I need to read the book myself, because if the story in the film is correct, I can't understand why anyone would stick with this circus for more than a day. The brutality of the way of life seems far too great to sustain a long term commitment, even in the tough economic times of the depression. There is a parallel character in a movie from the 70's called "Emperor of the North". Ernest Borgnine is a sadistic railroad conductor, and the brutish means he uses to enforce his will reminded me of the tools used in this movie.While the Borgnine character was an unpleasant monster, Waltz's Gus, at least had some personality to compensate for his inhumanity.
The other big co-star of the movie is the elephant, Rosie, who becomes the fulcrum by which our hero is going to pry loose his lady love from her evil prince. The elephant is very sweet and shown as a clever animal that has been underestimated by nearly everyone. I won't spoil anything by telling you that Rosie gets some of the best scenes in the movie, especially in the climax of the story. Hal Holbrooke was fine, but I get the feeling his part was cut way back by the screenplay so that he basically becomes a bookend for the main plot. James Cameron got a lot of crap over the screenplay for "Titanic", but he made the character of old Rose a big part of the events of the film. Bookends don't get the kind of attention Gloria Stuart got for her part in that earlier romance. Mr. Holbrooke does very well with what he has been given but there was room for more depth in the part.
The music in the movie was well placed and there are two particular spots where the songs of the times are worked into the story very effectively. I'm sure there is CGI, but it was incidental to the storytelling, the background sets and the train came across as real places in time. The setting feels very much of the place and time it represents. There were several incidental characters that could have been stronger and made the story less of a potboiler, it basically ends up that they become scenery for the three main characters to move around during the romance. This was a solid adult romance that was not insulting to the audience. It had the potential to be much more, but the focus on the love story steps on the mood and setting of the film. Everyone did a good job with the film and audiences should enjoy it for what it is. To me though, much of the romance should derive from the circus atmosphere, and in the last half of the movie, that was missing. In baseball parlance the film is a ground rule double.
Posted by Richard Kirkham at 8:18 PM No comments:
Friday, April 22, 2011
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
The actual title of this movie is "Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold", I would not want them to be cheated out of their million dollar investment by my omission of their sponsorship. That is the primary purpose of this movie, to explore the relationship between product marketing and the motion picture business. The conceit of the film is brilliant, the cost of making the movie will be covered by investors who are paying for product placement in a movie about how product placement gets done and the impact that it has. Morgan Spurlock the director of this film, is best known for the movie "Super Size" me. A movie that was equally creative in it's conception but from my point of view not nearly as entertaining. Having listened to speeches for almost ten years now that try to quote the narrative of a documentary as proof of claims, I've gotten a little tired of students seeing the material from the singular perspective of a provocateur like Spurlock or Michael Moore. The muckraking aspect of their films is the least appealing part of the movie.
This film contains some of those same elements. There are the usual talking heads that have insight that only they can manage to come up with. I about bust a gut when Noam Chomsky shows up in one scene blithering about capitalism and Morgan's soul. There are several other pieces that insert academics into the exposition of the process of marketing. Almost all of their intellectual analysis sounds like a parody of some academic double speak. I appreciate the need and desire for humans to ask questions about how things work and the attempt to interpret events in a manner that seems sound. I simply have little patience for the tortuous process that some University types go through to find a way to interpret the world through their shade of spectacles. The more relevant insights in this movie are provided by people that actually make movies, market products and produce goods that some of us might actually use. The "Channel One" controversy that showed up twenty years ago is repeated as a canard of capitalism run amok in the class room, brainwashing students to become mindless consumers. The high school students interviewed deconstruct this nonsense in about 30 seconds. They understand entirely what is going on and are such sophisticated consumers of information, they make the academic pundits sound positively ancient.
I wanted to get the negative parts of my reaction out of the way as quickly as possible so that the deck is clear for the rest of my comments. As much as I thought the talking heads of the scholars was silliness, the rest of the film works like gangbusters. The same points can be made by showing the process that is used to put products into a movie. Spurlock does exactly that, with more charm and charisma than most snake oil salesmen had more than 100 years ago. He is upfront about what he is trying to show and funny and thoughtful at the same time. He doesn't need Ralph Nader to make the points that come up, but he does need Nader to make the points humorous. He basically turns the high priest of consumerism into a shill for shoes. How's that for a piece of reductive analysis? His movie does exactly what he is talking about to one of the moralists that is preaching against this process. The Nader bit is not even the best example of this. Let me say that I will be flying Jet Blue whenever I can, just because of the one interview in this movie.
It takes a lot of people to put a movie together, all you have to do is look at the credits of any film (including this one) to see that hundreds make a contribution to what ultimately ends up on screen. The vision of a movie though is usually the responsibility of the director. Here the director and the star are the same person, so the focus is sharp and it is a chance to see how really involved the film maker is with the process. This guy is not a fluke. He did not get lucky with one great idea a few years ago with the concept of eating every meal at McDonalds for a month. In fact, this movie is not just another lucky stab in the dark either. When you watch how Morgan pitches his ideas, shows his advertising concepts and visualizes some sequences, it is clear this is a talented and creative man. His concepts for selling some of the products are so original and funny, I am sure he could be working for any of the big advertising firms in the country.
As a movie, these concepts are shown in creative ways that are pure cinema. When the fleet of Mini Coopers shows up, you will smile. Even something as simple as a talking head scene in a drug store becomes interesting, the way our hero puts it together. Maybe I am biased because outside of my work, the movies are where I put most of my focus. I am so worried right now about the future of motion pictures that it depresses me a little. Technology and a dearth of original material is draining the business of creativity. I like comic book movies but holy mackerel, we have a dozen super hero movies this year. I'm not sure that any movie series (with the exception of James Bond), should have several follow ups. This movie gives me hope. Not because the product placement issue is exposed ( which it really isn't, we are just much better informed about it then we were before) but because some one has had a creative idea and made it work.
There are at least a dozen big laughs in the movie, most of them intentional but a couple that may be unique to me (Noam Chomsky, really?). Even if you don't laugh out loud at all the things that are so ridiculous, you will smile at Spurlock's chutzpah and the enthusiasm he has for his own project. I did think there were too many forays into the political waters involving advertising. Did we really need a trip to South America to see the billboard ban in San Paolo? Overall though there is just too much fascinating behind the scenes content to be worried about the occasional burst of righteousness. The best part is that those hand wringers are not the film maker himself. He commits to the idea of the movie and lets the process of putting it together tell us the story. This is a fully satisfying comedy that takes down the pretensions of people on both sides and allows us to enjoy the process as a movie ought to do.
My daughter Amanda did an internship at a product placement firm. She is interested in working in this field. When I heard about the movie a year or so ago, I was interested but she seemed indifferent. Maybe she thought the movie was designed to blast the movie product placement business, or perhaps she is like me, a little worried that the field we immerse ourselves in was being attacked. She went with me last night to see this film. She enjoyed it nearly as much as I did. It is not a hard hitting expose of product and film marketing, it is a movie first. It raises issues that seem exaggerated to me, but that others deeply care about. If you want your documentary to be polemic, there is enough to satisfy you here. On the other hand, if you want to be entertained and learn some things along the way, this is right up your alley.
Posted by Richard Kirkham at 11:28 PM No comments:
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I like animals. We have had dozens of cats in our lives, several dogs, numerous rats, mice, hamsters and even a snake who lived with us for twelve years. Despite this,I have never owned a bird. My Dad had doves for the magic act but I never thought of them as pets. There have been many times I've encountered someone out in the public with a macaw or parrot on their shoulder and I thought it was cute but I don't know how anyone can bond with a bird. My guess is that it takes a special person and the right bird to make this connection. This movie sets up with exactly such a premise. A little girl finds a baby macaw and they grow together so that they are one another s favorite in the world. I have had that relationship with one cat and one dog,both of which I lost far too quickly. The emotional attachment we have for our animal friends can be as strong as any relationship we ever develop. I was surprised at how easy it was for me to accept the featured relationship in the movie so quickly, but it comes down to understanding how a pet can actually feel like a soul mate.
This is a charming kids movie with a warm human-animal relationship at it's core. The two friends get separated but in the process learn that there are other connections that can be just as rewarding. Don't think too hard on it, because that is as deep as it goes. Most of the story concerns slap stick action sequences and the traditional attempt to overcome the bad guys. It is all strung together with a variety of samba/salsa/South American music and it goes down like candy. The only knock I have is that it is not Pixar quality storytelling. Birds have been featured in other movies, and are even the stars in a couple I can think of, but they have never been displayed in the way they are here.
Several musical sequences involve tropical birds flying in unison, choreographed with an eye on the coordination of the colors. Yes, the colors deserve a special mention because this move pops with them. Although the colors are bright and cover a wide spectrum, they are not harsh the way the images from "Speed Racer" were a couple of years ago. This is a warm combination that while dazzling, still has a tone of the natural world to it. There are songs that go with the sequences, but I don't remember the lyrics distinctly. It may be that the musical form is just not familiar enough to me, or it could be that the music was a lot more enjoyable than the words. The city of Rio is also a lot more appealing here than in any movie I have seen with actual photography of the locations. The vistas are more in depth and again the colors more dramatic. Had I ever been to Rio, I imagine this is the way the memory would play in my head.
After the first act of the movie, our hero "Blu" is separated from his human friend and gets involved with a wide variety of other characters. A long section of the movie plays like an updated version of "The Defiant Ones", only with romance and birds instead of grit and Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. It will be quite satisfying to the kids you take with you. The fish out of water story works much better here than it did in "Hop" but not really up to the standard set by "Rango". Based on that last sentence you might think I am 11, since three of the films that I've seen this year are animated faire for children. I like animation a lot, but it needs to serve the characters and the story, and for the most part "Rio" fits the bill. (That's a toucan joke for those of you who did not get it)
Jesse Eisenberg, from the "Social Network", does the voice work for our hero. Every other voice in the film is fine but not particularly distinctive. If you look at the credits you will see a long list of well know actors in the cast. Almost all of them are interchangeable with some other "man/woman/ethnic" voice. Eisenberg though is the unique and most valuable voice because of what it says about his character. There is anxiety, innocence, naivete and hope all coming out of the voice. It is a lot more than a Woody Allen reference, because although he can be funny, Allen has never left me with a sense of warmth like this character voice did. Those are the kinds of things you need to get right to make an animated film work.
So, let's put it in a nutshell. Animals, animation, color and character make the movie a winner. I don't expect it to be remembered on the shelf with the great Disney films or Pixar masterpieces. It is a solid effort that does not leave an audience disappointed that they spent their time and money on it. By the way, we did not see it in 3-D so all of these positive comments apply for a standard version of the movie. If the 3-D is any good, the musical sequences should kick it up a notch or two. Have a nice time.
Posted by Richard Kirkham at 10:41 AM No comments:
Friday, April 15, 2011
Some franchises wear out their welcome by going to the well once too often. That is the premise of this movie, which is in it's fourth incarnation and daring to say, "Yeah, I can do it again". Guess what, they pretty much do and get away with it. The thing that has always separated the Scream movies from other horror films is their self awareness. The killer is inspired by horror films, and follows horror film conventions up to a point. The characters are all aware of the conventions and basically act as if they are in a horror film, with the consequences being death for those that don't know or follow the rules. I've heard some mainstream horror fans complain that the movies are not scary, what I think they are really saying is, I'm not scared because the movie is doing exactly what I expect it to do and it wants me to know that. Like the previous films, Scream 4 is as much a comedy as it is a horror film. There is plenty of gore and suspense, but there is not much dread and the the surprises are usually not horror related but character based.
I saw the first Scream, by myself in the old Edwards Azuza Theaters, when they were going to seed and had not yet been taken over by the Regency Discount chain. There were maybe a dozen people in the screening and the theater was long and dark with the old style slanted floor for the seats to rise on. I was plenty creeped out by the film and jumped several times. The subsequent movies have not made me jump as much but let's face it, once the second film in a series shows up, you know what it is you are going to get. That has been the pleasure of these movies. Laughs, and an attempt to suck you in with a series of false leads as to where the resolution is heading. I saw the outcome about two thirds of the way though the movie. I did not think they tipped it too obviously, rather as the rules they set up say, you do have certain conventions that you have to follow.
All of the cast is back, at least those that survived the previous three movies. That becomes a joke again, as the seemingly unkillable characters face another chance at exiting the series. I saw one review on line that took issue with the portrayal of the cops played by David Arquette and his deputy (who I was sure was Heather Graham for the first half of the movie). The awkwardness of the acting is a deliberate attempt to make the characters feel less real so that we would suspect them as the killer in the film. There are a number of choices like this that lead down false paths. Every time there is a chase, it is designed to throw us off the scent of one suspect and onto another. As I said, it mostly works.
The characters keep talking about how the killer is trying to top the previous entries and that making it bigger and reversing the expectations is the way horror sequels work. This one works by taking the traditional "reinvention/re-imagining" of a film, and basically tells the same story with a new cast but without discarding all the previous films to reboot the franchise. Of course that is another one of the conversations that there are in the movie as well. The two false openings of the movie, play with our expectations but are delivered in such a way that we know this is not how the movie is going to develop. The characters make fun of the very things that they have done before and are trying to do again. When Courtney Cox's character actually uses a reference to meta-analysis, she turns right around and cracks us up by admitting that she doesn't know what the hell that is. All of the hipsters of horror out there, smirking because they have bought into the notion of the series being an examination of horror films themselves, have to choke on their popcorn because they just got tweaked for doing what the movie wants them to do.
The movie does not try to be too clever. The horror/slasher elements are simple, the characters are easy to keep track of, and there is enough humor so if you aren't shocked, you also are not disappointed. I jumped a couple of times, but not at the traditional scares. Those are the wand in the magician's hand that distract you from the surprise that is coming from the other hand. It is difficult to pull these kinds of tricks off a couple of times. Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson have managed to do it again. I was worried because the last couple of horror films from Craven were disappointments, but here he gets his card punched enough that he will be able to go back and make some other films instead of fading into irrelevance. He may not always find his groove but when he does the results are like a good run from an old pro.
Posted by Richard Kirkham at 9:05 PM No comments:
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
75 Abandoned Theaters From Around The USA: Pics, Videos, Links, News
75 Abandoned Theaters From Around The USA: Pics, Videos, Links, News
Here is something that depresses the hell out of me. Hope it does the same for you
Here is something that depresses the hell out of me. Hope it does the same for you
Posted by Richard Kirkham at 1:48 PM No comments:
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Not Hanna Montana by any stretch of the imagination. This is a revenge movie with a high body count much of which is inflicted by a 14 year old girl. It is not comedic or as over the top violent as Kick Ass but there is gruesomeness and disturbing material. The violence here is not played for comedic effect but rather is done in a serious tone such as that found in most conventional spy movies. This is Bourne without the shaky cam effects and a protagonist that we sympathize with even though she is a pretty vicious killer. Once we get some back story, the sympathy level increases even more.
The young actress,Saoirse Ronan, that plays our lead character is not new to films. She was nominated for her role in the movie "Atonement" a couple of years ago and was featured in "The Lovely Bones" last year. She has startling blue eyes and a young fresh face that suggests she is a beautiful woman, but still carries the expressions of a child very effectively. The opening scenes of her training in the arctic forest are very effective as is a scene set in a CIA interrogation cell. The staging of later action is not as strong. One sequence that takes place among a dock full of shipping crates is not very persuasive. Earlier she has dispatched dozens of trained soldiers but has a lot of trouble with a slightly chubby effeminate spy and his hired jack boot thugs. They should have been like butter to her, but in one of the few slip ups in story telling, they make it to a later time.
The story is strictly straightforward spy conspiracy material from the 70s. A rogue CIA operative has a unapproved action go bad. Later there are consequences that involve revenge by former allies and the product of genetic engineering. Sort of like "Three Days of the Boys From Brazil". Hanna is unique because the victim/protagonist is a young girl. She has been well trained in many things but she is clearly not socialized for the world as it is today. She speaks dozens of languages but has little knowledge of electricity and technology. She is altered to lack fear and pity, but still has a need for attention and love that a girl her age might crave. Having been denied a Mother, she does not always have the skills needed to negotiate some basic elements of life like romance and friendship.
A few years ago, the rumor was that Eric Banna had been chosen to play James Bond in the new 007 film. We now know that was false and Daniel Craig got the nod, but it is interesting to see Banna in this part because it has many of the elements of the new Bond series. The spy is a tough and resourceful killer, capable of lying and violence in short bursts. There is a nice fight scene in a German subway station which plays like a fight from the new Bond films. Banna is very good in it and he could easily have fit the role of Bond if he had ever been cast. The Director of this movie is Joe Wright, who did "Atonement" and also our favorite around the house "Pride and Prejudice". He has a good eye for the stark visuals of the arctic and the deserts of Morocco. There are some solid action scenes in the first half of the film, but I thought the tension went out of the movie when it relocates back to Europe. Having been set up for the ultimate face off between Hanna and the Evil Step Mother that pursues her, we get a less satisfying but still appropriate resolution.
Cate Blanchette and Tilda Swinton must be running into each other at auditions all the time. Each has spent the last five years playing emotionless bitches in hard ass high heels. Their red hair and fair skin must make them particularly appealing for these kind of tough as nails women. Olivia Williams and Jason Fleyming are in the film as a sort of short term foster family for Hanna, both of them add some personality to what is otherwise a pretty grim story. Their two kids connect with Hanna in a way that no one could have before, and that "fish out of water" type relationship made for some real drama before the vengeance plot line kicks back in.
The music from the film is very effective and there is some terrific photography of some very beautiful places in the world. The movie does not hang together as well as it should a couple hours after seeing it. While it was on, there is a lot of emotional investment in the outcome. Looking back on it, there are some logical issues in the story telling and a few shortcuts that undermine some of the drama in the story. I liked the movie a lot, but it is not much more than an effective thriller. It has little to say about the world, or the characters. This is a movie about style that depends on the hook of a young girl as a cold-hearted killing machine. That ultimately is it's weakness, it is a little too cold hearted for an audience to identify with for long.
Posted by Richard Kirkham at 4:20 PM No comments:
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Hop is an Animated film that is directed straight at kids for the Easter Break. Unfortunately, those are the only audience members that will love the movie. Unlike so many other recent animated films, there is basically nothing here for adults. The talent all went into designing the characters and the Easter Island factory of the bunny and that's as much effort as there was put into the movie. Rango which came out a few weeks ago, is so much better written and thought out that it is a surprise
that people are not still flocking to it and skipping this.
The story of an Easter Bunny that has a dream of being a rock star is a little conventional but could be brought off with enough invention. There is basically nothing more to the story than that. We are barely in our seats when the bunny runs away from his responsibilities and heads to Hollywood. There we get a mix of live action and animation. At first the main live character is shocked to find a talking drum playing rabbit. As it turns out, he is the only one shocked. Everyone else in the movie takes it as a given that a rabbit can talk. This is one example of the short cuts taken in storytelling in this film. Pixar movies get all the story details right before they seep into our hearts with character and plot. This movie tries to wriggle in on cuteness but can't quite pull it off.
Russel brand is the voice of E.B. but he gets no opportunity to play up his outrageous persona, so it is basically wasted casting. James Marsden is more effective as the human star of the movie, but he is so stuck playing double takes and exaggerated reaction shots, that we never get much chance to identify with him. Everyone else is in the movie for such a short stretch of time that it is hardly worth mentioning the veteran cast. Hank Azaria does another of his patented character accents, for no reason what so ever except the character is named Carlos. Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins are fine actors that disappear two minutes after we see them and pop up for one or two more scenes that have nothing to do with the plot.
The look of the movie is rich on the animated side and TV production level everywhere else. It is not badly made but there was not much care in putting it together to become an Easter perennial. The music cues are not that interesting and the big dance number set to "I Want Candy" is not very extravagant. There are some charming moments but not enough to recommend it to anyone except those with pre-teens who need some time out of the house during the Spring Break. It is not as dunderheaded as the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, but it certainly misses the mark. We had hopes based on the visuals and the subject matter, but it turned out the egg was hollow.
Posted by Richard Kirkham at 6:46 PM No comments:
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Sometimes you luck out and the word of mouth you hear is exactly right. I had not seen the trailer for this movie, and I knew very little about it. It's an independent film so it was not going to be playing everywhere, but a quick search found it at the Edwards Theater in West Covina, so off we went. Basically all I knew about the movie was that it starred Paul Giamatti, he plays a lawyer and he is also a wrestling coach. This does not really sound like a set up for a great story, but it turns out that if you know much more, it might not be as appealing. I don't want to go into depth about the story but I do have some opinions that I want to share, so I will keep it focused on theme rather than plot.
Life is hard. It is really hard for some people, and most of us who are lucky enough to be blogging at all, much less about movies, probably will never know the difficulties that two thirds of the world faces on any given day. We barely get a chance to know the hard truths that face people in this country. We have crime, and emotional betrayal and poverty and drugs. They are present in different degrees in most places in the world. We also have the problems that plague the average hard working person. Those include physical maladies, financial difficulties and self loathing of one kind or another. We do what we can each day to make it work. Some days are better than others. Most of us don't whine about the issues but they trouble us and we often need the release that comes from sharing those burdens. This movie is about the attempt to do the right thing, and sometimes failing. That failure does not mean that we are wrong or worthless but that this attempt did not work. So what are you going to do then?
I know that I saw Paul Giamatti in films before he appeared in "Sideways" but he was never a lead character and I can't say any of the parts he played were memorable. Since then he has been on a winning streak that any actor would love. He has starred in major films, independent cinema, television programs and cable movies and mini-series. Not to put to fine a point on it but he may very well be the least visually arresting actor on screen ever. He looks like your next door neighbor or the guy who works a couple of offices away. He is the most average looking actor that ever starred in a film. So it is abundantly clear that his appeal in entirely in his gifts. He can bring the characters he plays to life. We feel as if we know these characters because they are portrayed by someone who got the job because he could act not because his picture will look good on the poster. He is as good in this movie as he has been in anything. I think this is the kind of performance that gets by people because he turns them in so effortlessly they don't notice. His character is trying to make it through the day, the week, the month and the year like all of us are. Some days are so tough that it is hard to function physically, other days give you a sense of pride that will leave pleasure for weeks. Everyday decisions have an impact, and the law of unintended consequences suggests that the results will be very surprising at times. The advantage is that if you are trying to do the right thing, in the long run you can recover from those things that you did that are not always as savory as you think they are.
There is a kid in the story that comes into the main character's life. He is played by a newcomer named Alex Shaffer. This is the second performance I've seen in the last few months from a new actor, that really suggests that this is someone with some ability. Hailee Steinfeld from "True Grit" was a find who commanded the screen because her's was the starring part. This guy is memorable because he is so much the character he played and his personality meshes so well with the story arc. Nothing is ever over the top, but a real personable character emerges. The part is very well written because he acts like a kid in his situation might, if given a chance to be a solid human.
I don't know what Burt Young has been doing lately, but if you are a casting director in Hollywood, please remember him more often. This is another guy that is a natural when given a chance. In 1974 he played Curly in "Chinatown", a big lug that helps out Jack Nicholson's character, but we know he has also roughed up his wife who was cheating on him. In "Rocky" he is the self-pitying brother of Adrian, Rocky's friend who is prone to violent outbursts. Here, he plays a version of the same character, a guy who has had a hard life and may not have always been a good guy. Having lived with someone with dementia, I thought he was spot on with the underlying suspicion but also the docile charm that a person in that part of life can experience.
All of the actors do a solid job showing the daily struggles that make living a chore but also a gift. There is abundant humor in the story but it really is a drama in the end. We care about the outcome, and not just of the wrestling matches. Somewhere, years ago, someone found a way to make wrestling a part of Hollywood story telling. It seems an unlikely background for a film yet it seems to work repeatedly. Here, the reason is plain, it is about the struggle to get though the challenge and the question you must constantly ask yourself. "What are you going to do about it?" This movie has some good answers, they are not always the things we would hope for, but they do tell us about our true character.
Posted by Richard Kirkham at 8:49 PM 2 comments:
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