Thursday, October 09, 2008

Gigantic, Wrestling, Lyme disease ticks

So, I've been a big blog slacker, but a lot of crap has been landing on my head all at once the past couple of weeks, so some things have slipped--this blog being one of them.

Getting my hair cut yesterday, (couldn't let that slip any longer), my hairdresser asked me about the film fest this year, and I realized that I still hadn't blogged about more than half of the films I saw. In fact, I had some trouble remembering what I'd seen... But scanning my list today, some of them are certainly worth mentioning.

The Wrestler

This is a come-back vehicle of sorts for Mickey Rourke and won the big prize at the Venice Film fest this year, so I assume it'll get a theatrical release--perhaps in time for Rourke to get a shot at the Golden Globes and Oscars. And he does deserve to be considered.

What a committed, fearless performance. Mickey is looking a little freakish in this film and while I first figured that he'd altered his appearance for the film, I since learned he's been boxing since he disappeared from the big screen, so perhaps appearance-wise, this was a part made for him. But I completely believed him in the part of a has-been wrestler trying to make ends meet, reconcile with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Woods), connect with an equally has-been stripper, (Marissa Tomei), cope with his aging steroid-riddled body, and relive his glory days.

This is a "quiet" character-driven film but definitely worth seeing when it comes out. A sad and powerful performance that keeps you guessing about how it'll all turn out. A number of times I was scared that they were going the sports movie cliche route, but the filmmaker avoids that pretty well and builds to a dramatic if ambiguous ending. But perhaps it wasn't that ambiguous. I'll be interested to know what others think when they see it. And you should see it.


Lymelife is a film that's going to evoke comparisons to Ang Lee's marvelous The Ice Storm, and while I found Lymelife entertaining, I fear the comparisons won't be favorable for the most part. (Although, ironically, it might be a more commercial film. Who knows. Only time will tell.)

The film stars Alec Baldwin, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon, Jill Hennessey (a Torontonian doing a reasonable Long Island accent), and two of the Culkin boys Kieran and Rory, playing, you guessed it, brothers. Now McCauley Culkin's tragic career and personal nose-dive aside, I think the younger Culkin's are very talented. I've seen both in several interesting and entertaining independent films and in this one they're both great. And it was clearly genius to cast brothers as brothers. Some of that sibling chemistry is hard to act. Alec Baldwin was, well, Alec Baldwin and perfect for the charming sleezebag he was playing. It was disappointing he wasn't at the screening. Sounds like he'd been in Toronto that whole day, done all the press conferences, but flew back to NYC before the screening because he had an early morning call on the set of 30 Rock the next day. He's someone I would've like to have seen in person and I was sitting right near the cast. It was amazing to see Timothy Hutton, though. He doesn't look great in the film--but that's kind of the point of his character, who had lyme disease--but he sure is holding up well in person. I think I'll always have a soft-spot for Tim Hutton. Oh, and the young girl in this photo is Emma Roberts, who's Eric Roberts's daughter (Julia's niece).

Guess I haven't said much about the film... Suffice it to say, it's a slice of suburban life in the late 1970's, with all the dysfunctional family heartbreak, infidelity, and nostalgia typical of such kind of film. One thing I was impressed with was the suspense that the director manages to create in the final five minutes of the film. Oddly, when one audience member complimented it during the Q&A, and asked the director to talk about his choices, he merely said he'd wanted to have a "curtain call" of sorts for all the actors, so wanted to show a montage of what all the characters were up to in those final moments... but the effect was so much more powerful than that. Let's just say an unstable character has a rifle. As an audience, we know this. So when the director shows us a montage of all the characters it's hard not to wonder whether one of them (and which one of them) will get shot by said gun, whether accidentally or on purpose. I don't want to wreck the ending, but I can't believe the director did this montage without more purpose. Seemed pretty dang purposeful to me. Maybe he just had an awesome editor.


This was one of the films I was most looking forward to this year and I wasn't disappointed. That said, I'm not sure if it'll get a very big release. It's one strange little film. It stars Paul Dano who I think is pretty amazing (Little Miss Sunshine, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, There Will Be Blood).

Dano plays a young, high-end-mattress salesman who does all he can to avoid confrontation. He is the much younger brother of some over-achieving brothers (about 20 years his elder) and has eccentric, wealthy older parents (played by Jane Alexander and Ed Asner). Since he was a young boy, he's been obsessed with adopting a Chinese baby and finally he's getting close to the top of the adoption agency's long list. (Could a writer give a young, single, male character a stranger obsession???) When an even more eccentric rich man (John Goodman) sends his daughter (Zooey Deschanel) to settle the purchase of his new bed, Dano's character's life is thrown into turmoil. The film is full of lots of symbolism and metaphors I'm not sure I got -- but felt sure they were there (grin). A homeless man who seems to be stalking Dano and out to get him, (or force him to confront something/anything?), a friend who does psychological experiments by dumping rats in tanks of water (to study depression or the will to live or something?) and two very lonely main characters who long for real families and to belong, but neither of whom are willing to let anyone else get close. Ultimately, it's a kind of sweet love story.

I think I'll try to see this one again when it comes out. Assuming it does.


Kwana said...

Good to see you back Maureen. Thanks for the reviews! I look forward to these films coming out.

Barrie said...

Thanks for this review. I wasn't sure you were going to give us anymore, so it was a very very nice surprise. :)
And...I'm gathering links for Wednesday's October Ovation blog round-up. And now I've got yours. :) Once you get your post up, if you could pretty please link back to me ( and Larramie at Seize A Daisy (, everyone will be able to find each other's links. Thanks. :) Should be a blast!

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