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Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

The Wrestler (2008)

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I watched this the night after I watched Milk.  Mickey Rourke deserved that Oscar.

This film is as poignant and emotionally stirring as it is formulaic.  We’re all familiar with Randy “The Ram” Robinson’s story.  He’s an aging professional wrestler: his failing health inhibiting him from living the only life he has really known.  He tries to repair, or rather establish, a relationship with his estranged daughter to save himself from solitude in his retirement.  He’s a broken man with nothing to lose, and we watch as Randy learns that life outside the ring is even more painful than getting a window smashed into your face.

The Wrestler is a testament to formula film origins.  Though the formula is often overused and ripped apart into cliches, it has the potential to churn your stomach into emotional butter.  Besides the basic overall plot, each scene is a story of its own.  Take the scene where Randy begins his full-time employ at a deli counter.  Though first nervous and restrained, he warms into a hard-working, positive, flirtatious employee.  He’s this lug of a guy with a heart of gold and every interaction with customers is genuine and always with a toothy smile (not to mention ad-libbed).

Marisa Tomei plays Cassidy, Randy’s regular entertainment.  Rourke may be the root and heart of the movie, but Tomei cannot be ignored in this deep, conflicted performance as a lap dancer.  She acts with her eyes, which never agree with her suggestive body movements.  Oftentimes we learn more about Randy through her eyes, as customer turns to friend.  She gives him confidence, she gives him purpose.

It’s also a very interesting insight into the life of a pro-wrestler.  I have never once enjoyed watching wrestling, let’s just say that it attracted a crowd that I didn’t really run with.  However, being a martial artist myself, their life fascinates me.  I’d still rather watch boxing, because the theatrics of wrestling never appealed to me.  We’re placed under the illusion that they’re never really hurt… but they’re still hurt.  Many scenes portray the detailed planning that goes into each “show” and all the little tricks that these dudes pull to please their audience.  The tanning, the steroids, the hidden razor blades, the waxing, the massaging.  You can’t help but wonder how someone could put so much effort into something fake?

Randy’s daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) is adamantly against Randy’s desire to reconnect.  This introduces another emotional arc that is also familiar to the audience.  When she finally agrees to go out with him for a day, another poignant, individual scene ensues.  For those ten minutes, as voyeur, I escaped even further from reality, and from the world of wrestling.  Their timing and emotional play off each other’s acting is without flaw.  Ad-libbed to boot, that short scene is so different from the rest of the movie, yet also a complementary capstone to Randy’s character development.

This movie is full of those little scenes.  That’s what makes this movie different.  Sure, it’s a cookie-cutter sports story.  But it’s more about the man than the wrestler.  It is sad.  The end, though I won’t give away any details, is heart-wrenching and thought-provoking.  I never thought I’d see the day where I would shed a tear over the steroid-infested sport.

Coming from the man who gave us Requiem for a Dream, and later haunted the world with the Academy Award winning Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky can do no wrong. He’s the master behind the work.  But this film is nothing without Mickey Rourke and Randy Robinson – the broken man with a heart. 9/10

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January 14, 2012 at 9:09 am

it’s the greatest Sunday of the year… for commercials!

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This was my favorite ad from the rather disappointing Superbowl yesterday.  I’m not a huge Steelers fan, but I’m from Minnesota.  I’m pretty sure that’s all I have to say to justify why I wanted the Packers to lose.

Written by laurenthejukebox17

February 7, 2011 at 9:38 am

Posted in random, sports

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Invictus (2009)

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I think the key to my experience with this film was entering the film with the right expectations.  I’d heard many complaints that it wasn’t “as good as Remember the Titans” but I also heard “Gee, I thought this was gonna be a Nelson Mandela biography – what’s all this rugby doing in there?”  Knowing that it was a mixture of the two helped me a lot.

As for myself, I thought it was great.  Not without flaws to be sure but I found it very inspiring.  Morgan Freeman stars as Nelson Mandela, recently elected president of South Africa.  As the country struggles with racial division, Mandela rallies the national flop of a rugby team the Springboks to go against all odds and win the 1995 World Cup and unite their country through their victory.  Impossible much?  Especially when you consider their opponents: the New Zealand All Blacks.  I’ve been to New Zealand.  They’re crazy.  Rugby’s their national sport.  It’s, like, you hear rugby and you think New Zealand.  Ironically, the film failed to mention that 3/4 of the acclaimed team were extremely ill during the match…  Although this would have been worth the mention, what the heck.  It’s cinema.

Consider this film to be yet another success for director Clint Eastwood.  Ultimately, this is not your ideal tough-guy rugby movie, it’s much more than that.  Mandela was a real person, and if this movie does nothing but make people think “Is this Mandela guy for real?” then it has succeeded.  This is where films do so much more than just entertain, but they provoke thought and further interest in a real-life event.  It’s excellent.  Morgan Freeman’s flawless portrayal of Mandela was, without doubt, worthy of an Oscar nom.  He was the heart of the show, portraying an authoritative but empathetic man.  As the Springboks’ captain Francois Pienaar, Matt Damon contributes surprisingly little, and I mean this based on quantity, not quality. Matt Damon is universally popular, that’s certain, but he has proved himself as one of today’s most versatile actors.  He deserves an acting Oscar one of these days.

Consensus: the acting was superb, the cinematography commendable, and the direction top notch.  What makes it special is its uplifting and inspiring message.  “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Invictus is a triumph in my book. 7/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm

if only, huh?

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Wish I were seeing this movie tomorrow:

I’m a karate kid myself. I love the 1984 original.  I have a feeling Jaden Smith has a career ahead of him.  The China scenery pictured in the trailers look like it will contribute something great.  Too bad I can’t see it now, huh?

Written by laurenthejukebox17

June 10, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in movies, sports

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The Ring (1927)

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I’m sick today. I’ve been sick for a few days actually… but not all is lost. I just get to watch a few more movies than usual. 🙂

I’ve actually been compiling over 20 different “blah blah blah movies to see before you die” lists including those from  Empire Magazine, AFI, Yahoo, Roger Ebert and also all the Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor/Actress and Director Oscar winners. That alone includes over 1000 movies. I look at such lists and I find that I KNOW 95% of the movies just from my film knowledge but I’ve seen only about 15%. This frustrates me at first… but then I remember that I’m only 18. I’ve got lots of time to catch up.

I’ve been continuing to watch more old Hitchcock movies. For some reason I have this issue of keeping separate the main male characters. Me: “Wait, is that the husband or the lover?” My mom: “It’s the husband, he’s the BALD one…” I’m finding, however, that they are worth the time for historical purposes if nothing else. Many of these “comedies” are so unlike the Master of Suspense’s later work that it’s delightful to catch small glimpses of certain Hitchcockesque filming angles or other such qualities and techniques.

You’ve got your Rockys, your Raging Bulls and your Cinderella Storys… but go much earlier than 1947’s Body and Soul and you won’t find many movies centered around boxing. As I watched this movie, I thought how few films about boxing could have been made before 1930, so a silent dramedy about boxing in 1927 would have been something new to the British screen. That in and of itself is commendable. Since watching I have done a bit of research and found films such as the 1926 Buster Keaton movie Battling Butler or The Champ in 1931, neither of which I have seen. I remain, however, that The Ring was daring for its time.

The film itself was interesting, though not necessarily worth watching twice. The plot centers around a love triangle and the two lead men fighting (literally) for her (undeserving) heart. There were very few title cards, but the plot was predictable enough with them. I was especially impressed with the fight scenes, which were cinematically awesome for 1927, and I enjoyed one particular scene in which the two opposing men are dancing back-to-back in front of the camera while searching for one another. It was some very clever camera work.

I can’t say I enjoyed this film. I would say that I appreciated it. But I’d still take Rocky. 4/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

May 13, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Posted in 1920s, drama, movies, sports, thriller

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The Blind Side (2009)

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Folks, I finally saw The Blind Side. To cut to the chase, I enjoyed it. I really did. But it’s not my favorite movie. 6/10 possibly. I even watched it twice. So here’s the quick facts.

LIKE:

  • They used real-life coaches. Although I’m terribly under-educated on the goings-on of college football, my mom kept me informed so that was fun.
  • Sandra Bullock was, indeed, good in the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy. She knows how to chew someone out.
  • Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher was (surprisingly) pretty good.
  • All of his rugby striped shirts. Especially the only that looked like Gryffindor.
  • It gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. The world had a beautiful pink Mary Richards bow around it. (Don’t worry if you don’t get it).
  • It was fast-paced, funny moments, moving story, kept my attention etc.

DISLIKE:

  • It’s a freaking Hallmark movie. I can’t believe people are buying into its simplistic and superficial plot. Do you honestly believe that the ENTIRE Tuohy family just welcomed Michael in with open arms including a teenage DAUGHTER? And no one was even pissed that Michael nearly killed their son in a car accident? Who taught him to drive anyway?
  • To go along with being too simplistic, they could have delved into soooo many interesting facets of Michael’s story including his challenges and struggles, his character growth, his background, how he dealt with becoming a charity project… etc.
  • Instead, Michael is pushed to a supporting character IN HIS OWN STORY! The movie tells us about what a saint Leigh Anne is, how wonderfully Christian Leigh Anne is, how kind and charitable she was to save this poor good-for-nothing black boy and teach him to be something out of the goodness of her heart. Wtf.
  • I’m sorry, but, it was pretty racist too.
  • This may seem paradoxical, since I did say that Sandra Bullock was good but I honestly thought she was over-the-top. The whole don’t-mess-with-sexy-mommy attitude taken so far that a gang of young, fit black kids are actually scared? Not buying it. She’s bossy. To everyone.

If we’re talking sports movies, give me Hoosiers or Remember the Titans any day. But on the whole it was enjoyable. (Sure, what I dislike outweighs what I like, but there is something to be said for enjoyability). It may have been a little too perfect, but I liked it. I have my issues with it, but I would recommend it to someone.

Is it anywhere NEAR Oscar material? Heck no! Not everyone may have liked Julie & Julia, but I honestly find it to be a far superior movie to Blind Side – and Meryl Streep SHOULD have won. (I can honestly say that with NO reservations now). I mean, it wasn’t even like they were nominating her just because she’s elite and she’s “Meryl Streep.” She was good in that role, just watch footage of the real Julia Child and you’ll see what I mean. Count your blessing Sandra, that America loves you so much.

Ten years down the road? People will look back at this and say “What WAS the Academy thinking!” You heard it here first.

Written by laurenthejukebox17

April 8, 2010 at 10:36 pm