DVD Review

DVD Review_Veronica Guerin (2003)

Written by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue, Directed by Joel Schumacher 

Bravery is shaping up as my theme of the week over at Girls with Glasses.  And this woman tops them all, hands down.  Joel Schumacher (“Lost Boys” and “Batman & Robin”) directs and Jerry Bruckheimer (“Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Pearl Harbor”) produces this serious, personal story of a journalist who refuses to let the mobsters of 1996 Dublin beat her into submission…wait.  What?


I know.  Crazy but true.  These two classic Hollywood hams helmed the telling of this fantastically small (by their standards), true story.  Okay, so they had some help from the Irish – writers, crew, and all the actors, with one notable exception – their Aussie lead, Cate Blanchett.  Here she plays Veronica Guerin, the courageous woman in question.  Per usual, Blanchett is perfect, but I don’t mean in a distant, professional way.  Yes, she shows Guerin’s bravado, but this is also probably the most likeable character I’ve ever seen her portray – no queens or Elvish ladies in sight.  Just a soccer fanatic with a penchant for talking to people in deep trouble (as well as the folks causing it), and doing it with a disarming lilt and infectious enthusiasm.  (Blanchett received a ten minute standing ovation at the Dublin premiere, a city which considers Guerin a national hero, bordering on sainthood.) 

What I really enjoyed about this film was the toned-down honesty of it.  It’s not a glammed-up, brochured Ireland, but the Dublin I remember visiting several times in the early 1990s.  Very unlike its popular carefree image, Ireland then was suffering its worst poverty in a century.  The British students at my Welsh university joked that it was the Third World nation of Europe.  Bus trips across the country revealed entire villages that had been abandoned, and our Dublin hostel staff warned us to hide our money well from the gangs of street children roaming the streets – in all parts of the city.  Ninety percent of Ireland, they told us, lived in Dublin, and over half of it was dead broke.  No wonder mobsters came to rule the roost.  (Northwest readers might be interested in seeing how meth had already established itself in Dublin, at the same time it was just taking hold in northern California, Oregon and Washington.) 


Unlike many an indie flick dealing with drug use and council flats (see “Trainspotting”), though, the audience isn’t trapped in this grey hopelessness.  We move, just as Guerin does, between this world and the cozy, stone-walled country house she and her very middle-class, very happy family share.  Speaking as an American living in comparative middle-class comfort and security, I needed these scenes as a pressure valve.  I don’t want to feel I can’t escape, not just out of bourgeois guilt (though of course that’s there, too), but because otherwise, what’s the point?  If you can’t change a thing, if you aren’t trying to make it better, then why wallow?  Misery is so much easier to depict than a way out of it.  Despair is easier to earn on film than hope.  But I don’t want to watch it.  No worries here.  It’s not a Hollywood ending, but I did experience joy, resolution and inspiration along with the honesty. 

Of course, none of these high ideals or artistic integrity mean anything in the end if you fall asleep halfway through the movie.  I think this is why we’re all so suspicious of Important, Nominated Films.  Yes, they’re serious, well-acted, etc., but…well…it looks a little boring. 


Not a bit here.  Greasy mob insider and brothel-boss Ciarán Hinds (Julius Caesar in HBO’s recent “Rome”), an excellent supporting cast and quick cuts all keep the pace lively and the voyeur in us all engaged.  Even Colin Farrell shows up for a good-natured cameo.   

Great movie – popcorn would be perfect.  Maybe Bruckheimer and Schumacher knew what they were doing after all.


News Briefs

Brendan Frasier has been signed to star opposite Harrison Ford in an as yet untitled true-story based drama from Double Feature Films. Frasier plays biotech executive John Crowley whose two children were diagnosed with a fatal neuromuscular disorder, Ford plays the oddball scientific genius whom Fraser turns to for the pioneering treatments his kids need to survive.

Following weeks of infighting over his handling of contract negotiations, Doug Allen has resigned as national executive director and lead negotiator for the Screen Actors Guild. Allen announced that he is stepping down Monday afternoon in an email to SAG staff in which he thanked them, Variety reports.’s calls to SAG reps in New York and Los Angeles were not immediately returned. David White, former SAG general counsel, is stepping in for Allen as the interim national director, while SAG senior adviser John T. Maguire will take over as chief negotiator. There are also reportedly plans to replace the entire prime time and feature negotiating committee.

The Devil Wears Prada actor Emily Blunt is in the running for a femme-fatale role in Iron Man 2, according to Variety. The British actress would play Natasha Romanoff, a Russian spy who doubles as the technologically enhanced Black Widow.

EmpireOnline reports that Neil Gaiman and Neil Jordan are teaming up on The Graveyard Book, Jordan directing Gaiman’s latest Newberry Medal winning book.

Keanu Reeves has signed on to 20th Century Fox’s big-screen adaptation of the acclaimed Japanese anime series Cowboy Bebop. Set in 2071, 50 years after a massive lunar explosion decimated Earth’s population and necessitated the colonization of the entire solar system, Bebop tells the story of an elite team of Old West-style bounty hunters, or cowboys, needed to keep the peace in the new frontiers of space. Per the Hollywood Reporter, Reeves is attached to play Spike Siegel, a reformed criminal turned space cowboy and copilot of the Bebop, who, like a character from the actor’s past, is well-versed in kung fu and other combat skills, but is toting around quite a few personal demons.

A movie version of The A-Team is be back on track with Joe Carnahan directing and Tony and Ridley Scott producing. The film was last in development with John Singleton set to direct, and after he dropped out screenwriter Skip Woods wrote a draft of the script. The new film will keep the origin story we all know and love, only substituting the Gulf War for Vietnam.

Katie Holmes has signed on to star in a big-screen comedy kicking off in New York next month. According to Variety, Holmes will star alongside Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly and Paul Dano in The Extra Man, based on the novel by Jonathan Ames. The story centers on a failed playwright who begins supplementing his income by taking jobs as an escort for Upper East Side widows and who takes another aspiring playwright under his wing.

Since his Elite Squad won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and it hasn’t taken long for Hollywood to find a project for Jose Padilha’s particular talents. The Brazilian director has signed to direct the Robert Ludlum adaptation, The Sigma Protocol, for Universal, with shooting set to start in the summer. Based on Ludlum’s final completed novel, The Sigma Protocol has echoes of the Bourne franchise – it’s about a man on the run from a shadowy and hugely powerful organisation, for one thing. But the original Ludlum novel, first published posthumously in 2001, involved a Nazi conspiracy and a sinister castle high in the Alps, and all sorts of far-fetched derring-do. The movie version will instead take place in the here and now, transforming its hero, Ben Hartman, into a Wall Street hot-shot who specialises in the economy of ‘black swan events’ – events that are so large, rare and unforeseen that they dominate history (like World War I, or 9/11).

According to The Moving Picture News Strike Entertainment has acquired the rights to Shanna Swendson’s book Enchanted, Inc. and hired screenwriter Steven Rogers to pen the screenplay. The story centers on a small-town woman who comes to New York only to find out magic is commonplace in Gotham and has existed there for centuries. But because she is one of the rare creatures without the slightest bit of magic inside her, she can see through any spell. Rogers is known mostly for romantic comedies with his credits including Hope Floats, Stepmom, Kate & Leopold and P.S. I Love You. Universal-based Strike Entertainment’s recent credits include Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men and the horror film Slither. The company has a number of films in development, including The Dallas Buyers Club, which stars Ryan Gosling, and an adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s The Sigma Protocol. Enchanted Inc. was published in 2005.

Principal production on Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn featuring the intrepid Belgian reporter-sleuth of the same name has kicked off in Los Angeles. The first of a planned pair of 3-D motion-capture films Tintin stars Billy Eliot actor Jamie Bell in the title role and Daniel Craig playing the nasty pirate Red Rackham, whose descendants have a beef with Tintin’s pal, Capt. Haddock. Also onboard Tintin, due in theaters in 2011, are Brits Andy Serkis as Capt. Haddock, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the Thompson twins, and Toby Jones as an as-yet unknown villain.

TV Guide
The Moving Picture News


Weekend Box Office for January 23 – 25

#1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop from Sony holds the #1 spot for a second weekend. Cop earned $21.5 million in 3144 theaters this weekend. Budget for Cop was $26 million.

#2 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans from Screen Gems debuts at #2 this weekend earning $20.7 million in 2942 theaters. Budget for Lycans was $35 million.

#3 Grand Torino from Warner Bros. drops to #3 Torino earned $16 million, thats down 27%, for a total of $97 million. Torino showed in 3045 theaters, thats up 73 over last. Budget for Torino was $33 million.

#4 Hotel for Dogs from Dreamworks climbs to #4 bringing $12.3 million in 3271 theaters. Budget is unknown.

#5 Slumdog Millionaire from Fox Searchlight climbs from #10 last week to #5 this week. Millionaire earned $10.5 million, thats up 80% over last, for a total of $55.9 million. Millionaire showed in 1411 theaters, thats up more than 800 over last. Budget for Millionaire was $15 million.

Rounding out the top 10 are:

#6 My Bloody Valentine 3-D Weekend Gross: $10,050,000, down 52% / Theaters: 2534, up 2 / Gross $37,725,000 / Budget: unknown

#7 Inkheart Weekend Gross: $7,725,000 / Theaters: 2,655 / Gross $7,725,000 / Budget: unknown

#8 Bride Wars Weekend Gross: $7,000,000, down 39% / Theaters: 2621, down 607 / Gross $48,702,000 / Budget: $30 million

#9 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Weekend Gross: $6,000,000, up 7% / Theaters: 2623, up 40 / Gross $111,044,000 / Budget: $150 million

#10 Notorious Weekend Gross: $5,700,000, down 72% / Theaters: 1641, up 3 / Gross $31,795,000 / Budget: $21 million

A note on “Gross”: On average, studios will earn approximately 55 percent of the final gross.


Box Office Mojo

Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: Defiance

In 1941, in Nazi occupied Eastern Europe near the Belarussian Forests, four Jewish brothers, Tuvia, Zus, Asael and Aron Bielski flee to the forests to hide after discovering their parents killed after a hunt for Jews. The brothers survive by their wits and very soon, they take more in with them, beginning construction of a community deep within the forest, hidden from the Nazis. The oldest brothers, Tuvia and Zus soon come to a conflict between themselves as to whether they hide from the Nazis or join the fight with Russian resistance fighters, with Tuvia staying with the camp and Zus going off to fight, and eventually their paths cross again, as the settlement works hard to survive, soon growing ever larger.

This true story is the basis for the film Defiance from director Edward Zwick, who’s past films have included Glory, The Siege, The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond and it’s a truly inspiring story (at least what’s shown here), and just something to me anyway in that I haven’t heard more about this before.

Now while this starts off telling you it’s a true story, they do play around with the actual facts, giving just a little play to the fact that the Bielskis were always in trouble with the law and that their group did some pretty awful things in order to survive, and I have to wonder if Zwick actually filmed more around this or not. Now as I said above, I knew little of these facts, sand originally came away from this thinking a few nobler things about the Bielskis, and I’m still going to recommend the film, but it does make me wonder if there was more that was shot that wasn’t as rosy. I hope there was and hope further that it might be on the eventual DVD release down the road making for a movie that isn’t quite as black and white as this is.

What’s here makes for a good and inspiring movie, and had they shot this with more of the real things done by the Bielskis, I think it could’ve made this even more effective, though nowhere near as affirming as what a Hollywood picture would be.

Daniel Craig and Liev Schrieber head up the cast as respectively Tuvia and Zus. These guys are great together, they have some real chemistry and I’d actually hope that maybe down the road they might team up again in another film. Craig is always solid gold, but after finding out a little more of the real facts, I have to give more praise to Liev Schreiber here, as his Zus is a lot closer to what was there for real.

Initially, coming out of the film, I truly thought it was exceptional stuff. But after finding out a few more of the facts, I’d really wished Zwick and crew would’ve done more with that. I’d still recommend seeing this, but take the words “This is a true story.” with a grain of salt and maybe use this as the entryway to find out more of what really happened.

DVD Review Text Reviews

DVD Review: Ghost in the Shell

Howdy!  To all regular (and not-so-easily-categorized) readers of “Back Seat Producers,” I send greetings!  Tony and the gang have invited me, Melanie Young, on as an estrogen-heavy contributor of DVD reviews.  I’ll be attempting to post here a couple times a week, though I also post daily over at my regular blog: – which I welcome you to visit!

I’m attempting to review 365 movies in 365 days as my 2009 resolution.  So far, I’ve done well – until this week.  I’m two movies behind, but gaining.  That’s why I post which day it is, and which film I’ve made it to in my Quest, as in Day 1, Film 1 (the memory of which is fading quickly).

Be forewarned:  Tony picked me up after reading my “Godfather” review – in which I bemoaned any woman ever being anything but bored by the thing (ask your wife).  So, if you’re a guy, we might not always see eye to eye.  Rest assured, I adore many movies these guys like.  I think Joss Whedon walks on water, and that the new “Battlestar Galactica” is the best thing TV has produced in 20 years.  I’ve got no specific agenda or axe to grind, I’m just trying to give an honest, modern American woman’s view on film.  Since only half of American newspapers even bother printing reviews by women, it might be something you’re unprepared for. 

Many, many thanks to the guys at Back Seat Producers for taking the plunge.  And I do have a treat for you today…comment away!

 Day 22, Film 20:  “Ghost in the Shell” (1995)  (Japan)

Written by Kazunori Ito based on the manga by Masamune Shirow

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

So I’ll admit I hadn’t ever made myself actually watch “Ghost in the Shell” until now.  If you live outside the sci-fi/fantasy worlds, you’ll be wondering why this is a big deal.  If you travel inside them, as I often do, you’ll be shaking your head at my audacity.  Especially if you’re a male cybergeek of a certain age – this film essentially put manga on the world map.  I hear it referenced with awe at both sci-fi and movie conventions – a sort of breathless wonder at the purity of the manga form (Japanese comics). 


I personally am not a manga girl (I won’t be reviewing the sequels), but it doesn’t take one to see the appeal of “Ghost” – nipples.  Robot nipples, skin-toned nipples, buffed-out, straining nipples; wet ones, arched ones, thrashing ones, falling-to-certain-death ones, even electrified ones…you get the picture.  Who couldn’t?


Yes, there’s some pretty cool animation throughout.  Tonally, it’s “Blade Runner” animated; the rain never stops falling.  And subject-wise, there are some deeper questions being discussed – what makes us human?  Is it merely self-awareness?  In a futuristic world peopled by humans modified extensively by technology and Cyborgs, this becomes a hot political topic – one worth killing for, covering up (with never-ending expositional speeches) and engaging in gratuitously violent chase scenes.  There’s some cool technology – especially the ‘cloaking’ type devices that most of the villains and heroes employ.  Funny how only the male ones get to keep their clothes on to use it. 

But the beautiful Japanese folk music isn’t enough to cover clunky dialogue or add any real meaning to the random wind-swept profile shots.  There’s way too much backstory being told instead of seen, and the deep introspection of the often-naked female lead evaporates alongside a male scientist’s 14-year old joke, “I wonder if he [the male voice inside a naked, prone female Cyborg body] has a girlfriend?”  Just in case you needed guidance to any porn-lite fantasies you weren’t already having.  At least this first installment features the faces of fully-grown women, versus the follow-ups, which obviously devolve into the normal 12-year old schoolgirl fantasy (somehow retaining the chest of a 22-year old pinup).

All I have to say to those holding out this film as evidence of a deeper sensibility in the sci-fi world is: get over yourselves.  You dig the naked chicks.


News Briefs

Korean Western The Good, the Bad, the Weird leads the list of nominations for this year’s Asian Film Awards. The film, about a chase for treasure through the wilderness of Manchuria, collected eight nominations, including best feature film, director and cinematography, as well as a two way nod for Jung Woo-sung and Lee Byung-hun in the supporting actor category.

Columbia Pictures won an auction last week for screen rights to Foundation, Isaac Asimov’s groundbreaking science fiction trilogy, Variety reported. The project will be developed as a directing vehicle for Roland Emmerich (2012). Emmerich and his Centropolis partner Michael Wimer will produce the film. Originally published as a series of eight short stories in Astounding Magazine beginning in 1942, Foundation is a complex saga about humans who are scattered on planets throughout the galaxy, living under the rule of the Galactic Empire.

The Walt Disney Co. won’t help produce and finance the next The Chronicles of Narnia movie being made by Denver entrepreneur Phil Anschutz’s Walden Media LLC movie company, Disney said Dec. 24. Disney blamed “budgetary and logistical reasons” for opting out of a third Narnia film, to be called The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The loss of Disney as Walden’s partner puts talent attached to the project “in doubt,” according to the movie-industry trade publication.

Variety reports the trust representing the late writer-director Colin Higgins has sued attorney Barry Hirsch for failing to properly represent his interests in the 9 to 5 stage musical. Colin Higgins Prods. filed suit on Jan. 14 against Hirsch and his law firm in L.A. County Superior Court, accusing Hirsch of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. The trust seeks damages to be determined in a jury trial. Among the many charges in the filing: Hirsch failed to adequately secure Higgins’ rights to a live stage show from Patricia Resnick, the original scribe for the movie, and failed to advise the trustee in 2006 that the firm was representing Resnick at the time she was writing the book for 9 to 5: The Musical. When the trustee asked how such a musical could be mounted without stage rights from Higgins Prods., Hirsch supposedly stated, “It may not be ethical, but it is legal.” According to the suit, Higgins, best known for penning Harold and Maude, inked his deal with Fox to rewrite Resnick’s 9 to 5 screenplay in 1979. Hirsch represented the writer-director and his shingle on various entertainment matters, including that contract.

The Film Department has acquired screen rights to Marcus Sakey crime novel Good People, with Tobey Maguire’s Maguire Entertainment and Film 360, the production division of Management 360, to produce the feature adaptation says Variety. As with all his producing projects, Maguire has first crack at the male lead role. Good People concerns a couple in debt from several rounds of futile fertility treatments who think their problems are solved when they stumble upon money found in their deceased tenant’s apartment.The Film Department’s Mark Gill and Robert Katz will produce with Maguire and Film 360’s Eric Kranzler and Ben Forkner. Neil Sacker and Michael Goguen will be executive producers. Maguire Entertainment has several projects percolating, including the Lawrence Kasdan-scripted sci-fi pic Robotech; the Ed Solomon-scripted Tokyo Suckerpunch, which Gary Ross will direct; and Crusaders, another collaboration with Ross, scripted by Danny Strong.

Deal making continued Tuesday at Sundance, led by Sony Pictures Classics’ nearly $3 million pickup of An Education, even as the fest took a dramatic pause during President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Fox Searchlight wrapped up a world rights purchase, pegged in the low seven figures, of competition romancer Adam. And Lionsgate nabbed U.S. and U.K. rights to Sam Rockwell comedy The Winning Season. While several fest regulars insisted that this year was shaping up to be business as usual, the day’s events attested to a more reflective mood due to Obama, the economy and the fest’s 25th anniversary, among other things. The weather has also been more consistently stunning than any vets can recall about 45 degrees and sunny every day, lending to an over-all optimistic mood.

The board of directors of Carmike Cinemas has removed Michael Patrick as chair-CEO of the country’s fourth largest theater circuit. Patrick has been chair since 1989. Carmike operates 254 theaters in 37 states, located primarily in suburban and rural areas. No reason was given for Patrick’s departure, although he will remain on the board. Carmike board member S. David Passman III has been named non-executive chair, and will work closely with COO Fred Van Noy and chief financial officer Richard Hare until a new CEO is named.

Warner Bros. will cut nearly 800 jobs — or 10% of its worldwide staff — as it’s the latest studio to reduce employment in the wake of the economic downturn. Studio toppers Barry Meyer and Alan Horn disclosed the cuts in a memo to employees Tuesday morning. “Based on the global economic situation and current business forecasts, the studio will have to make staff reductions in the coming weeks in order to control costs,” the execs said.

Arts Alliance Media will distribute feature doc Iron Maiden: Flight 666 worldwide on April 21 in association with the legendary British heavy-metal band, EMI music and Universal in the U.S. The doc focuses on Iron Maiden’s Somewhere Back in Time world tour last year, which saw the band fly to perform in 13 countries in a customized Boeing 757 airliner piloted by lead singer Bruce Dickinson. The trailer was released on YouTube on Tuesday and attracted more than 2,000 hits within an hour as word spread among fans.

SciFi Wire
Orlando Business Journal
The Hollywood Reporter


Weekend Box Office for January 16 – 18

#1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop from Sony debuts at #1 this weekend Cop earned $33.8 million in 3144 theaters this weekend. Budget for was $26 million.

#2 Grand Torino from Warner Bros. drops to #2 Torino earned $22.2 million in 2972 theaters this weekend bringing its gross to $73 million. Budget for Torino was $33 million.

#3 My Bloody Valentine 3-D from LGF debuts at #3 bringing $21.9 million in 2534 theaters. Budget is unknown.

#4 Notorious from Fox debuts at #4 bringing $21.5 million in 1638 theaters. Budget is unknown.

#5 Hotel for Dogs from Dreamworks debuts at #5 bringing $17.7 million in 3271 theaters. Budget is unknown.

Rounding out the top 10 are:

#6 Bride Wars Weekend Gross: $11,750,000, down 44% / Theaters: 3228, up 2 / Gross $37,577,000 / Budget: $30 million

#7 The Unborn Weekend Gross: $9,849,000, down 50% / Theaters: 2359, up s / Gross $33,088,000 / Budget: unknown

#8 Defiance Weekend Gross: $9,206,000 / Theaters: 1,789 / Gross $9,547,000 / Budget: $50 million

#9 Marley and Me Weekend Gross: $6,325,000, down 44% / Theaters: 2952, down 526 / Gross $132,734,000 / Budget: unknown

#10 Slumdog Millionaire Weekend Gross: $5,900,000, up 56% / Theaters: 582, down 19 / Gross $42,737,000 / Budget: $15 million

A note on “Gross”: On average, studios will earn approximately 55 percent of the final gross.


Box Office Mojo


Contest: Coraline

Movie Prize Pack Giveaway

From Henry Selick, visionary director of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and based on Neil Gaiman’s international best-selling book, comes a spectacular stop-motion animated adventure – the first to be originally filmed in 3D!

Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) is bored in her new home until she finds a secret door and discovers an alternate version of her life on the other side.  On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life and the people in it – only much better.  But when this seemingly perfect world turns dangerous, and her other parents (including her Other Mother voiced by Teri Hatcher) try to trap her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination and bravery to escape this increasingly perilous world – and save her family.

Enter to win a fun ‘Goodie Bag’ which includes the following exclusive Coraline items:

3 Grand Prize Packs will consist of:

Coraline Video Game (Wii or PS2 formats TBD), Coraline Book, Coraline Button Key, Coraline Prize Pack (each pack includes A Coraline Movie Tie in Book, Coraline Button set, Coraline Pen, Coraline T-shirt, Coraline Alphabet Collector Cards, Coraline Bookmark)

Send your name and address to contest at backseatproducers dot com.

Three winners will receive a grand prize pack that contains:

  • Coraline Video Game for the Wii video game console
  • Coraline Book
  • Coraline Button Key
  • Coraline Prize Pack
    • Coraline Movie Tie in Book
    • Coraline Button set
    • Coraline Pen
    • Coraline T-shirt
    • Coraline Alphabet Collector Cards
    • Coraline Bookmark

Contest Ends: February 16, 2009 at 11:59 PM

Back Seat Producers Season 03 Shows

BSP Episode 082: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Still catching up.  As near as we can tell/remember we are releasing these in the order that we recorded them.

We joke about this being the “Recently Dead Guy” podcast.  This is reflected once again as this episode is being released just a few days after news that Ricardo Montalban has passed away.

In this episode we discuss the second Trek film and dip into a few other trek films and topics as well… and as usual.

Let us know what you think and be sure to check out the website for a new contest we are running beginning tomorrow!

The ‘Khan!!!” send off is too easy.  

Ricardo Montalban will always first be Mr. Roarke so… for you, sir, “Smiles, everyone. Smiles!”

Text Reviews Theatrical Review

Theatrical Review: The Wrestler

Randy “The Ram” Robinson is a pro wrestler who’s best days are 20 years past, and now he ekes out a living doing small local shows and working for a store. At one of his shows, he sustains a load of brutal injuries and then has a heart attack and suddenly starts to realize his own mortality. The problem though, Randy is all alone and he desperately doesn’t want to be as he tries to connect with a stripper, Cassidy who’s better days are behind her and his own estranged daughter, who he knows next to nothing about.

The Wrestler is the long-awaited fourth movie from director Darren Aronofsky, winning huge kudos for it’s poignant story and more for it’s performance by lead actor Mickey Rourke playing Robinson. And it’s highly deserving of all of the kudos it’s getting, absolutely no doubt about it.

Aronofsky’s movies are always a visual treat, and with The Wrestler he does something brand new for him, shooting the movie with the raw look of a documentary, but doing it in such a way where often the camera is right behind Rourke as he’s walking into a scene, giving us to the chance to sort’ve be in The Ram’s shoes. And yet at the same time, though we are behind Rourke, his presence is still just as strong as though you’re facing him.

Aronofsky has joked in the past that he’s Barton Fink with this movie (people who’ve seen Barton Fink will know that Im referring to the ideal that the title character was a high-minded writer who was brought to Hollywood to work on something less than his perceived talents), and it is just joking… he treats his subject matter with the same sort of respect that he did with movies like Requiem For A Dream and Pi.

Enough can’t be said about Rourke’s performance, though I have to say, I don’t necessarily see it as a comeback (though people said the same thing when he played Marv in Sin City as well, and that wasn’t that long ago) as I really thought he never left. But still, it’s tremendous work and you can’t help but feel for the guy throughout the movie, he’s obviously got a big heart, and like all of us, he’s made mistakes that he deeply regrets. He’s physically impressive, though also very much broken down. Aronofsky supposedly threw him through the proverbial ringer with this movie and it shows with this heartfelt performance. I think just as impressive though is Marissa Tomei as Cassidy, showing that that Supporting Actress Oscar that she won a few years ago wasn’t just a flash in the pan, and given the right material, as she is here, she’s just as impressive as Rourke.

It’s just terrifically well-made all around. Aronofsky makes all the right choices and ends this film in the best possible way. Word is very good of Rourke getting a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the film, and it’s totally deserved and I hope he wins it. Again, I think this is one of the better releases of 2008, and though the Oscar nominations aren’t out as of yet, it’s not sounding like this will be there for the awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and I just have to wonder how well this placed against the front runners. Regardless of that, this is still a fantastic movie and I can’t recommend it enough…