Movie Review: The Wrestler (2008)

I’ve never really cared about wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to begrudge anyone that does watch and enjoy it, you go have fun. It’s just never been my cup of tea. So with this said, let’s talk about a movie that’s somewhat wrestling related.

Ladies and gents… “The Wrestler”.

Back in the 80s nothing could stop Randy “The Ram Robinson” (Mickey Rourke). He was one of the biggest wrestlers around, famed and beloved all over. But in the modern day things aren’t quite as shiny and wonderful. His fame is fading, and his numerous health issues are forcing him to retire. And we follow him as he struggles with trying to get his life back together and finding his spot in the world. So yeah, it’s not just sweaty dudes knockin’ each other around in this, it’s a very human drama. One about life, redemption, limitations, and finding yourself. It’s quite an emotionally engaging narrative that had me engrossed from the start up until the credits. Whenever we see these wrestlers on a screen they seem so larger than life, so it’s deeply fascinating to see one of them so humanized here. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s really a feelgood movie, because for most of it I kind of felt like shit, which was clearly the movie’s intention, so good job on that. That’s not a flaw, by the way, just thought it was worth bringing up. But yeah, the story in this is great.

The characters in this are all very nuanced and all feel very real, really bringing the viewer further into the drama. Mickey Rourke plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, the titular wrestler. Once a big star, now a bit of a mess. He is a really fascinating fella that I really liked following throughout the movie. And Mickey Rourke is fantastic in the role. Next we have Marisa Tomei as “Cassidy” a stripper that Randy has a bit of a bond with in the movie. She is currently going through some shit herself, and it’s interesting to see how that, along with the issues Randy bring in, helps develop her. And Tomei is great in the role. We also get some supporting work from people like Evan Rachel Wood, Todd Barry, Judah Friedlander, and more, all giving good performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Clint Mansell, with some assistance from legendary guitarist Slash. It’s a moody, sad score that underlines the tragedy of Randy’s life. It’s quite beautiful and works really well for the movie. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes.

“The Wrestler” was directed by Darren Aronofsky, and I think he did a fantastic job here. What I like about his directing here is that it’s very fly-on-the-wall in its execution, nothing of it is really that flashy. It really fit the story nicely, and it helped immerse me even further in the turmoil of Randy and those around him. Because this isn’t really a flashy story, it’s fairly down and dirty and occasionally depressing, and I think the directing captures that perfectly.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 80/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.9/10. It was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Rourke) and Best supporting actress (Tomei).

“The Wrestler” is a great character-driven drama that had me emotionally engaged from minute one. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wrestler” is a 9.67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Wrestler” is now completed.

Good movie is good. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything more clever for the end, but this movie kinda broke me.

Movie Review: The Color of Money (1986)

Pool. Also known as billiards. Something I’m not particularly good at, but I still enjoy playing it with friends. Now let’s see how well that sport can translate into a movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Color of Money”.

The story follows former pool hustler Eddie Felson (Paul Newman, R.I.P) as he starts delving back into that world when he takes young Vincent (Tom Cruise) under his wing. So now we have a road movie/comeback story/passing a torch kind of story, and it’s a good one. While it tries to have several kinds of story at the same time, it never feels cluttered or messy, as it blends these elements quite well. Now, it does feel a bit uneven in parts, but it doesn’t break the movie for me, more like bring it down a notch. But overall it’s still an enjoyable and pretty interesting story.

The characters here are colorful, layered, interesting, and overall entertaining. First up we have Paul Newman (may he rest in peace) playing “Fast” Eddie Felson, a former pool hustler who now seems to be making a living selling whisky. But he finds a new purpose when he discovers this young man he can teach. He’s a complex man who goes through quite a bit of development throughout the movie. And Newman is of course fantastic in the role. Next we have a young Tom Cruise as Vincent, the new protegé of Felson. He’s an energetic, fast-talking, and skilled pool player that at first seems reluctant to be taken under Felson’s wing, but soon warms up to it. He too gets a fair bit of development throughout the movie. And Cruise is good in the role. And then we have Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Carmen, Vincent’s girlfriend. She’s tough, she’s independent, and quite clever, she’s really a good foil for Vincent’s energetic and fun nature. And Mastrantonio is really good in the role. We also get some supporting performances from people like John Turturro, Helen Shaver, Bill Cobbs, and more, all doing quite well in their respective roles. So yeah, it’s a well acted movie.

The score was composed by Robbie Robertson was good, had a fun, slightly blues-y feel to it that worked well for the movie. Then there were a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only were they pleasing to my music tastes, but they worked incredibly well within their respective scenes, elevating them a fair bit. So yeah, this movie has some damn good music.

Based on a novel by Walter Tevis, this movie was directed by Martin Scorsese who I think did a really good job. He really managed to catch the fun but also somewhat unpredictable nature of bars/pool halls, and even managed to keep a good bit of energy going through it all. I also have to mention the cinematography by Michael Ballhaus, because it’s fucking excellent. Not only are there a good amount of stunning shots, but the camera work here is really playful and makes for quite a fun watch.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Actor (Newman). It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Mastrantonio), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Set Decoration. 

“The Color of Money” is an enjoyable little sports drama. It has a good story, good characters, really good performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by the plot feeling a little uneven in parts. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Color of Money” is an 8,82/10. While flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “The Color of Money” is now completed.

Guess I should check out “The Hustler” at some point.

Movie Review: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Boxing. Two people standing in a small arena, trying to punch the shit out of each other. Yeah, I don’t understand the point of it. That said, I don’t know what the point of any sport’s existence is. Feel free to hate on me for not understanding the appeal/purpose of sports… I don’t care.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Million Dollar Baby”.

Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) is a woman determined on becoming a great boxer, so she starts training at a gym owned by old and hardened boxing trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). And soon Frankie takes Maggie under his wing to help her become a great boxer. The story follows them as their relationship evolves while they also go through stuff. While the ideas presented at first glance are very basic and familiar from other boxing movies, the execution of said ideas is much better than a lot of other movies in the genre. Seeing their relationship evolve over the two hour runtime is quite fascinating and it makes for a really solid plot that actually delivers a few devastatingly emotional punches (pun intended) at the right times. So yeah, the plot here is pretty great.

The characters in this movie are all fleshed out and quite interesting. Hilary Swank is terrific as Maggie, perfectly playing this determined woman. She wsa believable in the role and I really cared about her. Clint Eastwood is great as Frankie, giving us the perfect blend of classic Eastwood gruffness and relatable vulnerability. Morgan Freeman (AKA god) plays an employee at Frankie’s gym (while also providing the movie’s narration) and he is absolutely terrific in the role. We also get a bunch of great supporting performances from people like Anthony Mackie, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Brían F. O’Byrne, Michael Peña, and Margo Martindale. So this is a pretty stellar cast.

The score for the movie was composed by… Clint Eastwood? Really? *Does more research*. Yeah, Clint Eastwood composed the music for this movie… surprise. Jokes aside, he did a pretty great job with the music. It’s dramatic, it’s emotional, and it just fits the movie perfectly. Good job, Mr. Eastwood.

This movie was directed by Clint Eastwood and he did a great job. The shots look great and every shot is at the perfect length. Now, since this is a boxing movie we should talk about the boxing scenes. So how are the boxing scenes here? Yeah, they’re pretty great. They’re exciting, intense, and kind of brutal. It all feels quite realistic.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10 and is ranked #202 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 4 Oscar in the categories of Best picture, Best Actress (Swank), Best supporting actor (Freeman), and Best director. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Eastwood), Best adapted screenplay, and Best film editing. 

“Million Dollar Baby” is an absolutely fantastic sports-drama. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Punch*. My final score for “Million Dollar Baby” is a 9,88/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Million Dollar Baby” is now completed.

Is this one of Eastwood’s best films? Hell yes.

Movie Review: Southpaw (2015)

southpaw

It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge
Of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger

Ladies and gentlemen… “Southpaw”.

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is boxer, and a damn good one at that. I mean the guy is the junior middleweight world champion. Well, he is that until something happens. Something that makes him lose everything. So now he has to find a way to work his as back up in life, and for that he takes help/training from Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker). And I have to say that rarely have the plot of a movie depressed me as much as “Southpaw”. Without spoiling anything, let me just say that Billy’s life goes from fine, to bad, to shit, to lowest low. And with his life falling down, so goes your emotional dominoes. That’s right, the plot made me feel like shit and I think that is a bit of a plus. I even have to admit that there were a few points where I almost teared up a bit. Sure, the story is cliché in a lot of ways, but the movie uses those clichés to it’s advantage and that is a good reason for me to like it.

I think it goes without saying that Jake Gyllenhaal is fucking phenomenal in the movie as boxer Billy Hope. Te guy has proven himself time and time again that he is one of the best actors working today and this is jsut another example of his talents. He commits to the role both physically and mentally and is perfect in the role. Forest Whitaker gives one of, if not the best performance of his in recent years. Rahcel McAdams is also really good as Gyllenhaal’s wife. 50 Cent is also in this movie, basically playing Jake Gyllenhaal’s manager and he is actually realld good in the role. In the movie we also have relative newcomer Oona Laurence playing Gyllenhaal’s daughter and I would say she gives a damn fine performance. I rarely like child performances, but she was really good in the movie. Everybody did a great job in the movie.

The score for the movie was provided by the late (and great) James Horner. It is emotional, it is a little thought-provoking and it is pretty damn good. And the use of all the licensed rap songs is perfect. Sure, if you’re not a fan of rap music then you might not enjoy them, but I liked the songs and I thought they fit perfectly.

This movie was directed by Antoine Fuqua and you notice that he was very passionate about this project. You can see how much effort he put down to make sure this movie was as well directed as possible. The overall direction is great, but where it excels is in the boxing scenes which are intense, fierce and brutal. I especially kind of love the first-person shots they sometimes do where you see the actor throw punches at the camera and you see it weave away and dodge, those shots were really cool. Here is a little fun fact for you: This movie was intended as a follow-up to “8 Mile”, this movie was even set to star Eminem. But since there were some scheduling conflicts, Eminem had to drop out and the part went to Gyllenhaal, which may or may not have been for the better.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 59% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 57/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Southpaw” is a movie that features a pretty cliché story that actually uses the clichés to it’s advantage while also having great emotion, great acting, great music and great directing. Time for my final score. AAAAAAAHHHHHH! My final score for “Southpaw” is a 9,84/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPOVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

Review of “Southpaw” is now completed.

Did you see how much Gyllenhaal beefed up for this? Jesus Christ.

Movie Review: Moneyball (2011)

moneyball-2011-computer-wallpapers

 

I have never really had any kind of connection to sports movies throughout my entire life. Sure, there was “Space Jam”, but that was when I was a dumb kid, But I am talking about a real and genuine connection of emotion and inspiration, a connection that feels personal. Either it’s because I have never found a sports movie that have had that type of resonance or it’s because I have pushed them out like “No, get out!”.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Moneyball”.

In “Moneyball” we have the true story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) who is/was the general manger of the baseball team “The Oakland A’s”. We see how he assembles a team based on computer analysis and numbers rather than the typical physical traits that talent scouts were looking for. And I was invested the whole way through and I think that might come from the really great screenplay. I can also say that I was emotionally invested in the story… yeah. Me, a lazy, sports-disliking jerk was emotionally invested in a sports movie. Now to be fair, this movie is more about what happens behind the scenes of it all rather than on the playing field itself and I like how they did it.

The characters in this movie all feel real, they all feel like they had a life before/outside the movie. Like I mentioned in my “Paranoid Park” review, those are the best kinds of characters. And the acting was really good. Brad Pitt knocked it out of the park (Pun intended) in this movie. I think I am justified in saying that he is one of my favorite actors. Jonah Hill was also great in the movie, playing the guy who helps Brad Pitt apply the math and statistics for finding the players they need. I’m not gonna lie, when I think of Jonah Hill I don’t think “Great actor”, I think “Guy with slightly bigger physique in comedies”. But still, he was great in this movie. Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t have that much to do in the movie, but when he was on screen he was good. Also, this movie has Chris Pratt in it. I was actually surprsied to see that when I saw the movie. But everybody was great in the movie.

The score for the movie was done by Mychael Danna and I can safely say that he did an excellent job with it. It is big, it is dramatic and it is emotionally powerful. I’m not kidding, just listening to it makes me get all fuzzy and emotional inside. Yeah, it is that great.

The movie was directed by Bennett Miller who I have seen nothing from before this. I know that he directed Philip Seymour Hoffman in the movie “Capote” and I know he made last year’s “Foxcatcher” which also was a sports movie. So I can safely say that I am looking forward to seeing those movies because this movie looks fantastic. The shots look great and it all just comes together nicely. And like I said earlier, the screenplay is fantastic. It was written by Steve Zaillian who wrote “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “American Gangster”, two movies that I liked. But Zaillian wasn’t alone on screenplay duty, he was helped by Aaron Sorkin who wrote “The Social Network” which I enjoyed. In other words, this screenplay is as airtight as it can get.

This movie has been incredibly well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating with a “Fresh” ceritication. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie was also nominated for 6 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best Actor (Pitt), Best Supporting Actor (Hill), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

“Moneyball” is a sports movie that i think both fans of baseball and sports haters can enjoy. It has a solid plot, great acting, a great soundtrack, great directing and an airtight screenplay. Time for my final score. *Swings bat* Aaaaaand it’s a homerun! He runs around the field and gets an envelope of some kind! My final score for “Moneyball” is a 9,88/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“Moneyball” is now reviewed.

Hey batter batter, swing!