Archive for the 'Drama' Category

22
Apr
09

The Wrestler

thewrestlerposter2The Wrestler is an exciting little romantic comedy about high school sweethearts who have to endure the challenges of love! Oh wait, no, let’s try this again. The Wrestler is about, ummmmm, a Wrestler? That’s right ladies and gentlemen the title says it all. The Wrestler sees the “comeback” of once popular Hollywood, boxing actor, Mickey Rourke. Rourke plays a beat down old wrestling legend named Randy “The Ram” Robinson, who continues to wrestle for close to nothing just to get by. With one foot in the grave and the other perched on a sweaty man’s chest, “Ram” must look deep inside to discover what is truly important in his broken life. Close to death, “Ram” realizes that the only thing in life that he has ever loved, and that has ever loved him in return, was professional wrestling. Providing support and obstacles along the way is his daughter Stephanie, played by the lovely Evan Rachel Wood, and stripper love interest Cassidy, played by the stunning Marissa Tomei.

Now before you write this one off as some cheesy wrestling flick that would only rival Over the Top in pure gut wrenching genius, let me tell you that this film was extremely intriguing. This film generated a lot of noise when it was first released. Maybe it was because you could only see the movie if you lived in one of the limited release areas. It’s like hearing about a super cool toy that everyone is getting, but has not been put on the shelves in your toy store, you gotta have it. I had heard so many great things about this movie that I definitely had to check it out. I was also slightly worried because movies that have a lot of Oscar hype can tend to be a little boring at times, but I decided to go ahead and grab this flick anyway. I am glad I did because from start to finish The Wrestler is anything but boring. It has an amazing cast of characters who make it easy to submerge yourself deep into the story line. Mickey Rourke does an amazing job portraying “The Ram”. Through out the movie the audience can not help but feel sorry for this guy. He is rusted and torn, but continues to push and fight for his dreams. It definitely strikes a chord with the viewer. Everyone has a passion for something that drives them in life, and if that is suddenly taken away it would turn anyone’s world upside down. I also love the interaction Rourke has with the other characters in the movie. He tries so hard to make things right with his estranged daughter, but no matter how hard he fights he just can not redeem himself for past mistakes as a father. It is definitely heartbreaking but a reality in a lot of veteran wrestler’s lives. But the dynamic between “Ram” and the stripper Cassidy I think is by far the most important to the film. As a wrestler “Ram” can relate to this stripper in a strange way. They are both constantly fighting the shadowing cloud of age that is threatening their careers; as well as, juggling their “stage characters” and “real” personalities. It is a fascinating dynamic that adds a different dimension to this film.

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The way this movie was shot I also found very intriguing. The Wrestler was directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose famous works include Pi (1998), Requiem for a Dream (2006), and The Fountain (2006). If you have seen any of these movies you know that they are all complete mind trips; which makes it interesting to see him do a film that is so real and tangible. This movie has a very cool documentary feel to it. In other words, you feel as if you are right there beside Rourke as he battles life. The majority of the action is filmed from behind Rourke, with a following shot of his back. It is like the audience it literally tagging along with him in this adventure. I am not sure if Aronofsky did this on purpose, but it is like a spectator view at a wrestling event. I constantly felt like “Ram” was entering a ring when starting a new scene. This was very effective because it really shows the audience that no matter where he goes, “Ram” is a wrestler first and foremost. The actual wrestling matches were very realistic. They were actually shot at real events. The audience was not extras or paid actors, they were real fans who came out to see an amateur wrestling bout. They were able to steal some time from these events to shoot the scenes where “Ram” wrestles. Because of this the energy of those scenes makes the movie explosive and exciting. This coupled with the emotional plot line makes The Wrestler an entertaining, yet heartbreaking, flick.

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Definitely go see this movie. Most times I would say skip an Oscar nominated movie, unless you wanted a good nap, but this is one you should experience. Aronofsky does an amazing job of throwing the audience waist deep into a world of underground wrestling, and is not afraid to show the brutal honestly behind the profession.

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14
Apr
09

Seven Pounds

Before Seven Pounds hit theaters in December of 2008 I honestly had no idea what it was about. seven_poundsIts trailer was a bit mysterious and slightly confusing. It was one of those rare moments where you see a trailer and have no idea what the movie is really about, but know that you will miss out if you do not see it. Bravo to Colombia Pictures for not giving away too much of an amazing film in its trailer. Not really knowing what I was about to get myself into I decided to Netflix Seven Pounds knowing that Will Smith very rarely disappoints (Yes I enjoyed Hancock and don’t care who knows it!). Seven Pounds circles around an IRS agent, Ben Thomas, who inadvertently causes a car accident killing his wife along with seven strangers. After the brutal accident Ben Thomas sinks deep into depression, as the eight deaths weigh heavy on his soul. The film takes the audience on a journey of redemption as Will Smith’s character seeks forgiveness through seven, selfless acts of kindness; kindness that will inevitably change, and even save, seven, deserving individuals. From the start Ben Thomas has a clear agenda and does not seem to let emotions or obstacles stand in his way. That is until he meets Emily Rosa played by Rosario Dawson (rawrrrrrr). Emily soon shows Ben how to love again, derailing his ultimate goal.

Now I will not say much more than that because this movie is so incredibly shocking that giving away anymore would only ruin the feeling I got the first time I saw it. The sacrifices that Ben Thomas makes for the seven strangers are breath taking. It portrays a part of the human condition that is rarely shown in cinema and not to mention in real life. A section of humanity that is so selfless and so endearing that when you see this movie it seems so unreal. Seldom do you hear stories of individuals risking everything in order to help the guy beside them. There are usually only stories of guy beaten to death as bystanders sit and watch silently. Of course you want to believe in a hero like this but when you stop and look at the world around you, it is hard to see how it is possible. This movie grabs your soul and squeezes every ounce of emotion out of it until the credits roll. By the end you do not know if you should cry or smile, but you definitely have renewed faith in humanity.

The cinematography fits in perfectly with the emotion of the script. Director Gabriele Muccino, who also directed Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happiness (2006), portrays this heart felt story to perfection. His images are strong and unyielding. At no point in this movie does Muccino hold back. He is constantly attacking the audience with emotional imagery. There are endless close-ups of the characters, putting you in their shoes as they deal with their tribulations. There is one scene in particular that struck a chord with me. Ben Thomas goes to a retirement home to see a guy who he thinks might be deserving of one of the seven acts of kindness. He soon realizes that the man has been mistreating the elderly patients. Will smith has a scene where he sits down beside one of the patients and asks her what kind of man the director is. She soon starts sobbing and shacking telling Ben that she is being punished. There is this amazing close up of Will Smith leaning into his hand where all you can see is his eyes. He attempts to stay strong for the elderly lady, but cannot fight the wave of emotion as he starts to tear. This image was incredibly powerful and set the tone for the rest of the movie. Let’s be honest any time Will Smith cries in a movie its instant water works! The movie also has an overall drab feel to it. The colors are very minimal and the lighting very dim. As this might not seem very intriguing or beautiful to watch, it is. It is beautiful in the fact that it fits perfectly into the emotion of the movie. And of course no good sob movie would be complete without constant emotional runs through pouring rain.

Seven Pounds gives you everything you need out of a movie; a good solid plot, great connection to the characters, and an ending that will leave you breathless and thinking for days. My advice is to go out and rent this movie, better yet buy it, because Seven Pounds is definitely one of those movies you want in your collection for years to come.