15 February 2009

Don't Look Now

As I have now seen all of the films on my to-watch list that are in cinemas right now (although Clive: Part One is coming out in a couple of weeks and next month's Femme Fatale Fest at the BFI will keep me busy until the release of Clive: Part Two), I went to see The Wrestler this afternoon, which was unusual because I don't normally go to see films that I am not convinced I will like. 

And I did quite like it--and not just because of the '80s dive bar soundtrack. However, I was about the only person in the whole cinema who did seem to enjoy the film, as most of the (admittedly older) audience seemed to spend at least half the time hiding behind their hoods, coats or significant others because it's a film about a wrestler and--guess what?--wrestlers sometimes get hurt and hurt other wrestlers and even apply a staple gun to one another (so long as it's been pre-arranged beforehand). Perhaps I would have been more affected by the "play" fighting if it had been protagonist/anti-hero Randy's knee from which staples had to be extracted, post-fight, but I've always been a bit squeamish about knees and didn't really consider the goriness of some parts of the fights (bouts? Matches? Performances?) any worse than things I spent many a Saturday evening watching on Casualty.

Strange that the male members of the audience managed to remove all obstructive items from their faces for the parts when Marisa Tomei's character was strutting around almost completely naked and dancing, stripping and flashing her nipple piercings (which was a fair chunk of the film given that it was called The Wrestler and not The Stripper), even though in their own way, these scenes were just as much train-wreck viewing as Randy's (although, yes, the stripper looks a lot better doing her thang than the wrestler does doing his). Given that it's set in New Jersey, I couldn't help but wonder whether Philip Roth had written the screenplay; thematically, it definitely felt like something he would have written, even if the topic isn't really in his usual repertoire.

I picked The Wrestler rather than, say, Rachel Getting Married as I'd seen all of the other films in which the male lead has been nominated for a best actor Oscar in the hope that I might be able to decide which one would get my vote but such a prediction still eludes me (although everyone seems to be convinced Rourke will get it--for the indignity of having such long, greasy, bleached, permed blonde locks, if not for the physical pain endured). I thought all of the nominees were good; I'm just not sure that one really stands out, for me. OK, maybe Sean Penn, if I were pushed. The same goes for picking the best film--I enjoyed Slumdog the most but I'm really convinced it is a much better movie than some of the other nominees. It was so much easier last year when I had only seen one or two of the films in each category!

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