Sunday, February 8, 2009

some more movies i saw recently

The Wrestler (2008)

This is a movie that got many, many rave reviews based on Mickey Rourke's portrayal of Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a down-and-out, washed out retired pro wrestler who basically lives to wrestle. The main driving force behind the plot is an upcoming "for the fans" 20-years-after rematch between The Ram and some other wrestling archetype. Prior to the event, we're witness to Randy's day-to-day life; his boring dead end day job, his non-relationship with his estranged daughter, his affections for a still-hot Marisa Tomei, and his self destructive wrestling at the rec center every other night. The direction of The Wrestler is excellent (props to Darren Aronofsky [did I spell that right?]). The placement of the camera, the semi-documentary style of capturing every tic and event, it all felt natural. The tone, with its rich miasma of love for the eighties (Balls To The Wall! Bang Your Head!) and the overall sense of despair in Randy's existence, all leads to a feeling of inevitability during the ending. But would I watch this movie again? Eh... probably not any time soon. Too damn depressing. Also: do I dig the new Sprigsteen song? Not... really.

Reprise (2006)

Waddya know, another foreign language flick! This time it's in Norwegian. Reprise is about two best friends who both aspire to be famous writers. One of them, Phillip, achieves early success with his first novel, while Erik has yet to be published. After some time, Phillip goes through a kind of mental breakdown and is interred for several months. The movie mainly shows the aftermath of Phillip's return to his regular life: he hangs out with Erik and their gang (which for some reason kept reminding me of the gang in Good Will Hunting in their solidarity), and tries to get the spark back in his relationship with his girlfriend Kari. There's no real Point A to Point C progression in the movie; it is what it is. Erik eventually sends in his manuscript and gets published; he still gets mediocre reviews, but is validated when his favorite writer tells him to keep trying. Phillip spends the rest of the movie recovering, and we're left with a What If? ending, which feels just about right. Does anyone know the infamous punk rock song from this movie? All together now...

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Who would have thought that Forest Whitaker was a badass assassin back in the day? I had to watch this after reading about it on Pajiba (and this, aside from the A.V. Club, these two are my favorite movie and TV sites), plus it's about hitmen! Friggin hitmen! I'm a sucker for that shit! ...Ahem. Ghost Dog is a dude played by FW, who swore his life to a midlevel mobster after getting his butt saved. For reasons not explicitly revealed, he pays the guy back by fulfilling contracts (hits) and living like a samurai (in the spiritual sense, literally by binding his life to his master). He lives on a rooftop with his pigeons and meditates on his off time. His best friend is an ice cream salesman who only understands French, and GD only speaks English (but they get around it by playing chess together). The soundtrack is arranged by none other than the RZA himself, and he lays some pretty slick, low key beats. If you want action, you got it, but only in measured doses; there are some over the top kills, but nothing really extravagant. Which suits the pace just fine.

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

If you haven't heard of this movie, I don't blame you. It's pretty indie, and I don't think it got any distribution locally. HGL is, well. OK, if you're one of the many who loved this movie, you're probably not going to like it when I say that like many of the auxiliary characters, I got pretty darn exasperated by the main character's cheeriness. Don't get me wrong, I think this is a good movie, but I guess it speaks for the strength of Sally Hawkin's performance that her character Poppy's bubbliness just slightly tips over the fence from mildly charming to almost-completely grating on my nerves. If you want to see someone who can smile and crack cheesy jokes about just about everything good or bad, this movie is for you. I will say, however, that the meltdown of the driving instructor is totally hilarious. I love that guy.

Completely unrelated: Mr. Show with Bob and David. One of the best sketch comedy shows of the 90's. Find and watch all 4 seasons, they're some of the funniest sketches you'll ever see. Here's one of them!


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