International Trailer for STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (Where People Glower at Each Other & Things Blow Up)

I should probably stop posting trailers for the sequel film to the rebooted Star Trek franchise, as the direction that the creators want to take these films is simply out of synch with what I know to be a Star Trek film. Apparently in this new tangent universe, there is no 5 year mission to explore new worlds. Why bother when you can set your tone in the vein of Chris Nolan Batman features – all culture of fear and terror and bureaucratic gridlock. This trailer also commits cardinal sin of using a Requiem for a Dream “Lux Aeterna” score, which at this point is as terrible of a cliche in science fiction trailers as is “Everyone Was Kung Fu Fighting” is for Jackie Chan imports. Oh, they apparently crash the enterprise and I know we never seen that done in a Star Trek feature film before.

I feel like a petty negative-nancy when it comes to the mass-sell of this film, with its endless explosions and its PG-13 lingerie shot. At least with The Wrath of Khan, they had the science and ethics of the Genesis project. Here, it’s all noise and fury, signifying nothing we’ve not seen in the past 5 years of space-shooter films. Congrats Star Trek, you are just like everything else. Thanks J.J., Orci and Kurtzman, you’ve risen my passion (a good thing!) but alas in a negative way towards what appears to be your collective, handsomely mounted and expensive mediocrity.

(Before you folks get all mad at me for pre-judging this enterprise: No, I don’t have to wait to see the film to get pissed off about it. I shall indulge myself like the patron saint of angry nerd, Ignatius J. Reilly, who to the best of my knowledge was not a Trekkie; but then again, neither am I.)

Film on TV: December 20-26

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Rio Bravo, playing on TCM on Wednesday.

This week check out a couple of hard-to-find films on TCM on Monday/Tuesday – Paul Mazursky’s Alex in Wonderland and Janet Gaynor’s first talkie Sunnyside Up, neither of which are available on DVD. Also note the great Pink Panther sequel A Shot in the Dark on Monday (RIP Blake Edwards), John Ford’s Cavalry trilogy plus classic western Rio Bravo on Wednesday, a double feature of horse-centric family features in National Velvet and The Black Stallion on Thursday, plus a whole string of classic Disney live-action family films on Sunday, including Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Parent Trap.

Monday, December 20

11:00am – TCM – A Shot in the Dark
Here’s your counter example for the “sequels are never as good as the original” argument. This second film in the Pink Panther series is easily the best, and stands as ones of the zaniest 1960s comedies ever.
1964 USA. Director: Blake Edwards. Starring: Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom.

6:00pm – TCM – The Odd Couple
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau have made a lot of movies together over the years, and this mismatched buddy film (written by Neil Simon) remains one of the best, as neatnik Felix (Lemmon) and slob Oscar (Matthau) become roommates and try not to drive each other nuts.
1968 USA. Director: Gene Saks. Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau.

10:00pm – TCM – The Shop Around the Corner
The original version of You’ve Got Mail has James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as feuding employees of a shop who are unknowingly exchanging romantic letters. Ernst Lubitsch directs, bringing his warm European wit to bear.
1940 USA. Director: Ernst Lubitsch. Starring: James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan.
(repeats on the 25th at 8:00am)

11:45pm – TCM – The Great Dictator
Chaplin’s first completely talking film, and one in which he doesn’t play his Little Tramp character. Instead, he’s both Hitler and a Jewish man who looks strikingly like Hitler. This obviously creates confusion. Brilliantly scathing satire – it always amazes me that it was made as early as 1940.
1940 USA. Director: Charles Chaplin. Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard.
Must See

12:00M – IFC – Requiem for a Dream
Darren Aronofsky’s breakthrough film (Pi remains a cult favorite) follows a quartet of people as their lives spiral out of control due to drug addiction.
2000 USA. Director: Darren Aronofsky. Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans.

2:00am (21st) – TCM – 8 1/2
Federico Fellini translates his creative block in making his next film into a film about a director with a creative block – and in so doing, makes one of the most brilliant and creative films of all time.
1963 Italy. Director: Federico Fellini. Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée.
Must See

4:30am (21st) – TCM – Alex in Wonderland
A very self-reflexive New Hollywood film about a director who wants to make a challenging film but is being pushed by the studio into making a commercial one. Director Paul Mazursky did Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, one of my most enjoyable finds of my New Hollywood marathon this year, so I’m looking forward to checking this out – and note that it’s not available on DVD and I’ve never seen TCM play it before, so if you’re interested in it, this may be your best chance.
1970 USA. Director: Paul Mazursky. Starring: Donald Sutherland, Ellen Burstyn, Meg Mazursky.
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Film on TV: November 29 – December 5

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Night of the Living Dead, playing Saturday on TCM.

Among new things this week we find Charlie Chaplin’s first full talkie The Great Dictator on TCM on Monday, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, a relatively early oddity in Frank Capra’s career, on TCM on Tuesday, late Truffaut film The Last Metro on IFC on Thursday, and Romero’s zombie classic Night of the Living Dead on TCM on Saturday. TCM brings out some 1940s greats to go along the latest installment of Moguls and Movie Stars, which focuses on wartime Hollywood, so stay tuned for those Monday and Wednesday night.

Monday, November 29

11:30am – TCM – Gold Diggers of 1933
The story’s nothing to get excited about (and in fact, the subplot that takes over the main plot wears out its welcome fairly quickly), but the strong Depression-era songs, kaleidoscopic choreography from Busby Berkeley, and spunky supporting work from Ginger Rogers pretty much make up for it.
1933 USA. Director: Mervyn LeRoy. Starring: Joan Blondell, Warren William, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Aline MacMahon, Ginger Rogers, Guy Kibbee.

1:15pm – TCM – 42nd Street
By 1932 when 42nd Street came out, the Hollywood musical had already died. So excited by the musical possibilities that sound brought in 1927, Hollywood pumped out terrible musical after terrible musical until everyone was sick of them. 42nd Street almost single-handedly turned the tide and remains one of the all-time classic backstage musicals. It may look a little creaky by later standards, but there’s a vitality and freshness to it that can’t be beat.
1932 USA. Director: Lloyd Bacon. Starring: Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler, George Brent, Bebe Daniels, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel.

8:00pm – IFC – Barton Fink
One of the Coen Brothers’ most brilliant dark comedies (heh, I think I say that about all of their dark comedies, though), Barton Fink follows its title character, a New York playwright whose hit play brings him to the attention of Hollywood, where he goes to work for the movies. And it all goes downhill from there. Surreal, quirky, and offbeat, even among the Coens work. It’s based loosely on the experiences of Clifford Odets, whose heightened poetic style of writing has clearly been influential on the Coens throughout their career.
1991 USA. Director: Joel Coen. Starring: John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis, Michael Lerner, Tony Shalhoub.
(repeats at 1:45am on the 30th)

8:00pm – TCM – Moguls and Movie Stars: Warriors and Peace Makers
TCM’s Hollywood History series enters WWII, examining how Hollywood reacted to the war – everything from war-themed films to escapist entertainment to explicitly political films. A selection of those films directly inspired by the war and war efforts play tonight, then several other non-war themed 1940s films play Wednesday night as part of the series.

9:00pm – TCM – Casablanca
Against all odds, one of the best films Hollywood has ever produced, focusing on Bogart’s sad-eyed and world-weary expatriot Rick Blaine, his former lover Ingrid Bergman, and her current husband Paul Henreid, who needs safe passage to America to escape the Nazis and continue his work with the Resistance. It’s the crackling script that carries the day here, and the wealth of memorable characters that fill WWII Casablanca with life and energy.
1943 USA. Director: Michael Curtiz. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains.
Must See
(repeats at 6:00pm on the 5th)

12:00M – TCM – The Great Dictator
Chaplin’s first completely talking film, and one in which he doesn’t play his Little Tramp character. Instead, he’s both Hitler and a Jewish man who looks strikingly like Hitler. This obviously creates confusion. Brilliantly scathing satire – it always amazes me that it was made as early as 1940.
1940 USA. Director: Charles Chaplin. Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard.
Must See
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2:15am (30th) – TCM – They Were Expendable
There are films that don’t seem to be all that while you’re watching them – no particularly powerful scenes, not a particularly moving plot, characters that are developed but don’t jump out at you – and yet by the time you reach the end, you’re somehow struck with what a great movie you’ve seen. This film was like that for me – it’s mostly a lot of vignettes from a U-boat squadron led by John Wayne, the only one who thought the U-boat could be useful in combat. But it all adds up to something much more.
1945 USA. Director: John Ford. Starring: John Wayne, Robert Montgomery, Donna Reed, Jack Holt, Ward Bond.

3:45am (30th) – IFC – The Piano
I often find Jane Campion films overly pretentious, but this one strikes the right chord, with Holly Hunter as a mute woman in an arranged marriage who finds love with one of her husbands’ hired hands – but stealing the show is her young daughter, an Oscar-winning performance by Anna Paquin.
1993 New Zealand. Director: Jane Campion. Starring: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin.

4:30am (30th) – TCM – Hollywood Canteen
One of several films made during WWII that largely functioned as excuses for studios to parade their stable of stars on-screen in cameos, musical numbers, and comedy bits – in this case, the central device is the major Hollywood USO location of the title with a standard soldier-starlet romance plot, and the film has basically the whole Warner Bros. lot running around. It’s entertaining though not that good, and fun to see so many big stars playing themselves for a change.
1944 USA. Director: Delmer Daves. Starring: Robert Hutton, Joan Leslie, Dane Clark.
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Film on TV: September 27-October 3

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Badlands, playing on TCM on Saturday

Not a lot of newly featured ones this week, but a lot of good stuff nonetheless. TCM kicks off October with a set of Hammer Dracula films on Friday night, then has a really nice quintuple feature of “young lovers on the run” films on Saturday, hitting everything Bonnie & Clyde and Badlands to Gun Crazy, They Live By Night, and Boxcar Bertha. It’s such a cool set of films I wish I’d thought of it for the Row Three Rep series! Also enjoy a look back at the Coen Brothers’s debut feature Blood Simple on Sunday.

Monday, September 27

6:00am – IFC – I Heart Huckabees
Not too many films take philosophy as their base, but this one basically does, following a man (Jason Schwartzman) plagued by coincidence who hires a couple of existentialists to figure out what’s going on.
2004 USA. Director: David O. Russell. Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law.

8:05am – IFC – Crimes and Misdemeanors
When Martin Landau’s long-time mistress threatens to expose their affair unless he marries her, he’s faced with the decision to let her ruin his life and career or have her murdered. In a tangentially and thematically-related story, Woody Allen is a documentary filmmaker forced into making a profile of a successful TV producer rather than the socially-conscious films he wants to make. One of Allen’s most thoughtful and philosophically astute films – there are few answers here, but the questions will stay in your mind forever.
1989 USA. Director: Woody Allen. Starring: Woody Allen, Alan Alda, Martin Landau, Anjelica Huston, Claire Bloom, Joanna Gleason.
Must See
(repeats at 1:35pm)

6:45pm – IFC – Thank You for Smoking
Jason Reitman’s breakout film was also one of my favorites of 2005 – sure, it’s a bit slight and isn’t perfect, but its story of a hotshot PR guy working for cigarette companies struck just the right note of cynical and absurd humor. The really high-quality cast doesn’t hurt either, with everybody, no matter how small their role, making a memorable impression.
2005 USA. Director: Jason Reitman. Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Katie Holmes, Rob Lowe, Maria Bello, David Koechner, J.K. Simmons, Adam Brody, Sam Elliott.
(repeats at 1:45am on the 28th)

12:00M – IFC – Requiem for a Dream
Darren Aronofsky’s breakthrough film (Pi remains a cult favorite) follows a quartet of people as their lives spiral out of control due to drug addiction.
2000 USA. Director: Darren Aronofsky. Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans.

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Film on TV: September 13-19

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The Virgin Spring, playing on TCM on Thursday.

Pretty sparse when it comes to newly featured stuff this week. Best bets there are Laurence Olivier’s moody take on Hamlet and Ingmar Bergman’s savagely beautiful The Virgin Spring, both on Thursday, and then a double dose of suspense on Sunday in Wait Until Dark and Dial M for Murder (which TCM has played before since I started doing these columns, but not for quite a long time). Still some very solid repeats, including two from my best-of-the-2000s list (Pan’s Labyrinth on Wednesday and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days on Thursday), plus a whole series of Claudette Colbert films on Monday, including multi-Oscared It Happened One Night, Billy Wilder-scripted Midnight, and Preston Sturges-directed The Palm Beach Story.

Monday, September 13

6:15am – TCM – It Happened One Night
In 1934, It Happened One Night pulled off an Academy Award sweep that wouldn’t be repeated until 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, snagging awards for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, and Actress. Colbert is a rebellious heiress, determined to run away and marry against her father’s wishes. Along the way, she picks up Gable, a journalist who senses a juicy feature. This remains one of the most enjoyable comedies of all time, with great scenes like CBolbert using her shapely legs rather than her thumb to catch a ride, Gable destroying undershirt sales by not wearing one, and a busload of people singing “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.”
1934 USA. Director: Frank Capra. Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert.
Must See

8:35am – Sundance – Ran
Akira Kurosawa’s inspired transposition of King Lear into medieval Japan, mixing Shakespeare and Japanese Noh theatre tradition like nobody’s business.
1985 Japan. Director: Akira Kurosawa. Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu.
Must See
(repeats at 2:50pm)

9:30am – TCM – Midnight
Solid Billy Wilder/Charles Brackett-penned screwball comedy that ought to be better known than it is. Claudette Colbert ends up in the middle of a millionare-wife-gigolo triangle, paid by the millionaire husband to break up the wife and gigolo by impersonating a baroness; meanwhile, a poor taxi driver she’d met previously is smitten with her and seeks her out, only to find her in her new guise. Sparkling dialogue and a strong cast give this a sophisticated twist that doesn’t quite match Lubitsch at his best, but is on the same track.
1939 USA. Director: Mitchell Leisen. Starring: Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Mary Astor, Francis Lederer.

9:35am – IFC – Sleeper
One of Woody Allen’s early films, and a rare attempt at science fiction on his part, has meek Miles Monroe cryogenically frozen only to wake in a totalitarian future as part of a radical movement to overthrow the government. A rather different film for Woody, but still with his signature anxious wit and awkwardness.
1973 USA. Director: Woody Allen. Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, John Beck, Mary Gregory.
(repeats at 2:35pm, and 4:30am on the 14th)

1:15pm – TCM – The Palm Beach Story
Similar in tone but less consistent than The Lady Eve, this Preston Sturges film follows bickering couple Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert as she leaves him to gold dig for a richer man. He follows her, pretending to be her brother, and they get all entangled with a wealthy brother and sister. The ending is a weak bit of trickery, but there are enough moments of hilarity to make it worth watching.
1942 USA. Director: Preston Sturges. Starring: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Rudy Vallee, Mary Astor.

12:45am (14th) – TCM – A Face in the Crowd
A rare film role for homespun comedian Andy Griffith really shows his chops as he plays an Ozark hobo who becomes an overnight sensation on radio and TV; when the fame and power starts going to his head, the film shows the cynical dark underbelly of media sensations. One of the recently late Patricia Neal’s best roles, too, as the girl who discovers him.
1957 USA. Director: Elia Kazan. Starring: Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, Walter Matthau, Lee Remick.

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Film on TV: August 30 – September 5

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Requiem for a Dream, playing on IFC on Sunday

A good many repeats this week, but still some very good stuff worth pointing out. The entire Man With No Name trilogy is on TCM on Tuesday, though not in order for whatever reason, along with a bunch of other Clint Eastwood films, most of them westerns, most of which I haven’t seen. I didn’t list them all out separately, so if you’re needing an Eastwood fix, check out the full TCM schedule yourself or just stay tuned to it all day Tuesday. Steve McQueen takes over TCM on Friday, from early creature-feature The Blob through his 1960s and 1970s classics. MGM celebrates itself again with That’s Entertainment! II on TCM on Saturday, but they deserve it. Plus IFC has a late Truffaut (The Last Metro) and an early Aranofsky (Requiem for a Dream) on Sunday.

Monday, August 30

6:45am – Sundance – Ran
Akira Kurosawa’s inspired transposition of King Lear into medieval Japan, mixing Shakespeare and Japanese Noh theatre tradition like nobody’s business.
1985 Japan. Director: Akira Kurosawa. Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu.
Must See

7:45am – IFC – Paranoid Park
I go back and forth on whether I think Gus Van Sant is brilliant or a pretentious bore – maybe some of both. But I really quite liked the slow, oblique approach in this film about a wanna-be skateboarder kid who relishes hanging out with the bigger skateboarders at the titular skate park – but there’s a death not far from there, and it takes the rest of the movie to slowly reveal what exactly happened that one night near Paranoid Park. Gets by on mood and cinematography.
2007 USA Director: Gus Van Sant. Starring: Gabe Nevins, Daniel Lu, Jake Miller, Taylor Momsen, Lauren McKinney.
(repeats at 12:45pm, and 4:35am on the 31st)

9:00am-11:00am – TCM – Charley Chase/Thelma Todd shorts
The three great silent comedians everyone remembers are Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. Right behind them and unjustly forgotten was Charley Chase, who did a lot of very funny silent (and early sound) shorts, usually playing a wanna-be dapper, rather sarcastic young man. TCM is playing a few of these shorts as part of their Summer Under the Stars tribute to Thelma Todd, one of his frequent costars. There are several other Todd shorts the rest of the day, so if you’re a fan of silent and early sound comedy, check them out. But I can personally vouch for the Charley Chase ones.
USA. Starring: Charley Chase, Thelma Todd.
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9:15am – IFC – The Station Agent
One of the most pleasant surprises (for me, anyway) of 2003. Peter Dinklage moves into a train depot to indulge his love for trains and stay away from people, only to find himself befriended by a loquacious Cuban hot-dog stand keeper and an emotionally delicate Patricia Clarkson. A quiet but richly rewarding film.
2003 USA. Director: Thomas McCarthy. Starring: Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale.
(repeats at 2:15pm)

5:25pm – IFC – Breakfast on Pluto
Patrick is a young Irish boy who before very long becomes Patricia. His story is about more than just his attempts to get people to accept him as a her; his quest for identity and his lost family is played out against the backdrop of the early years of the Troubles, as his friends get more and more involved in IRA factions while he does his best to keep from getting involved in things that are too “serious.” There’s a tough-to-find sweet spot between hilarity and tragedy, and hilarity that masks tragedy, and director Neil Jordan and actor Cillian Murphy found it with this film.
2005 Ireland. Director: Neil Jordan. Starring: Cillian Murphy, Eva Birthistle, Liam Neeson.

9:30pm – TCM – Horse Feathers
Most film comedians do a college-set film at some point, and this is the Marx Brothers entry into higher education. This is a relatively early film for them, and it’s not quite as great as the Duck SoupA Night at the OperaA Day at the Races trifecta, but it’s still really solid, one of my favorites of their pre-1933 films.
1932 USA. Director: Norman Z. McLeod. Starring: The Marx Brothers, Thelma Todd, David Landau.

10:00pm – Sundance – Curse of the Golden Flower
One of the weaker entries in Zhang Yimou’s series of historical martial-arts-on-wires films, but it still has its moments – and the production design, as usual, is flawlessly beautiful. Definitely worth a watch if you’re a fan of the style.
2006 China. Director: Zhang Yimou. Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Jay Chou, Ye Liu.
(repeats at 3:20am on the 31st)

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Improbable Movie Trading Cards

When I was a kid I collected all sorts of cards. Baseball cards of course, but before (and after) that I collected loads of movie and TV show cards. I still have most of my Star Wars collection and I snatched up “Dukes of Hazzard” cards and even “M*A*S*H*” cards for some reason.

I’m sure they still make such cards today, but since I don’t seek them out, I rarely actually see any. Either way, I’m sure these mock movie collecting cards I found over at automaticlifestyledispenser.com would get a few parents upset. I for one would be all over the Coens set though! This is some seriously great work. Especially love the sticker inserts. Kudos sir!

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more under the seats!
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Review: The Wrestler

The Wrestler poster

Director: Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain)
Writer: Robert D. Siegel
Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 109 min

reprinted from our TIFF coverage to coincide with the wide release

The prints of Darren Aronofsky’s new film, The Wrestler, have barely dried (or what is the digital equivalent?) and already it has won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival and is on its way, possibly, to the Peoples Choice Award at Toronto. After the emotional and visual epic of The Fountain, the director has scaled the scope of his new film down to about as intimate as one can get (this sentence is amusing in and of itself considering the subject matter is Pro Wrestling). There are essentially three characters in the film, the stylistic tics are kept to a subtle minimum and the actors are simply allowed to perform. At the packed pubic afternoon screening in Toronto, Aronofsky, who was on hand to introduce the film, kept the words to a minimum saying simply all one needs to make a good film is a lens and good performers and that is what he has done here, due largely to a career high from Mickey Rourke. Rourke himself has seen enough trials and tribulations over his acting/boxing career that much of the weathering is quite naturally etched on his face and skin. Fulfilling the promise of his work in the 1980s (Johnny Handsome, Barfly) that was squandered with personal problems and junk-cinema starting with Wild Orchid and throughout the 1990s. While he made a fair bit of a splash covered in make-up and acting against digital backdrops in the testosterone-noir of Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City (and for that matter, shines amongst the equally bombastic Domino), here he is given a role that allows for a gamut of emotions in a rich, patient bit of intimate storytelling. The actor has never shone brighter than here. But The Wrestler is no ‘comeback’ Mickey Rourke in The Wrestlersports story. Rourke’s take on the public and private life of a (fictional) professional wrestler, 20 years past his prime yet still grinding it out in gutter venues, despite the protestation of an aging body, is a warm, generous, and sad portrayal. Likewise, Marissa Tomei, in a rich supporting role, continues to prove that she is one of the most talented actresses working today. Going as the stripper with the heart of gold is about as rote and cliché as one can get, but Tomei realizes her character as a full fleshed role, all the while being mostly naked up on screen. Yes, The Wrestler deserves every bit of praise it is garnering. Those worried that The Fountain (despite its cult audience) may have been a career killer, worry no more.
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