Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The Wrestler
DVD via DVDPlay
Resurrecting the Champ
Encore via DVR

There's exactly two kinds of sports movies: those that are essentially romantic about the game, and those that aren't. Most fall in the first category. I usually don't like these.

I was looking forward to Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler since first I read reviews; the director's visual style can be described many ways but in absolutely no sense "sentimental." The Wrestler blew me away. I was expecting it to be wonderful-looking but I did not expect the almost persistent realism of the film from the guy who made Pi and Requiem for Dream. Although there are many jump cuts, otherwise the movie is almost documentary-style. And there are a few very long, slow, simple shots -- one of an abandoned ballroom at an old amusement park is unforgettable -- that are old-style cinema. I am quite nearsighted and tend to respond to dialogue or music more often than visual images, but this movie was quite special.

Resurrecting the Champ, on the other hand, is quite a bit of self-interested pap, a story about the danger of romanticizing the homeless and turning journalism into entertainment -- that romanticizes the homeless and turns journalism into entertainment. The movie has very flawed ideas about what is and isn't heroic, and ultimately doesn't prove that the liar played by Josh Hartnett and the fraud played by Samuel L. Jackson are worthy of having their stories manipulated into a lamely told film adaptation. Jackson should have known better; Hartnett should have picked a better haircut.

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