Monday, April 25, 2011

The Fighter

David O'Russell, 2010 (8.3*)
Another good boxing film, maybe not the best, but another, like Raging Bull (1980) and Cinderella Man (2005),  based on a true boxer's biography, in this case "Irish" Mickey Ward, and his brother Dicky, a former boxer himself who trains Mickey in their Lowell, Massachusetts boxing gym. Mark Wahlberg does a pretty good job as Mickey, and at least the boxing looks real in this one, unlike some other unmentionable boxing films.

Christian Bale turned in an outstanding performance as Dicky, and was rewarded with an Oscar® and 19 other awards. Melissa Leo also won an Oscar® (and numerous other awards) playing Mickey's aggressive, optimistic mother. The near documentary style works, as crackhead brother Dicky is also the subject of a cable documentary about crack addiction, shot here in 16mm to make it look like an older documentary. Amy Adams also turns in another good performance as Mickey's barmaid girlfriend (she'll get an Oscar® soon), who receives the ire of Mickey's family when he starts making his own career decisions. His sisters (five of em? it was hard to keep count, they were everywhere) are something to behold; it's like they were perpetually competing for "family's biggest hair".

Boxing films in a way are like westerns - they each usually feature a man-to-man showdown (with usually one 'good guy'), one with fists, the other with bullets. At least boxing has a time clock, a referee, judges, betting, and the gloves are padded; but, even so, it's not a sport for the squeamish. But, as Mike Tyson once said, "would your rather see me in the ring or in a dark alley outside a bar?"

The Fighter has now won 34 awards overall, 20 by Christian Bale, either for supporting actor or as part of the winning ensemble cast. Add this to the list of boxing films (like the two above) that are better than Rocky but didn't win best picture - some others are The Great White Hope (1970), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), and Rocco and His Brothers (1964) from Italian director Visconti, which had a direct influence on the style of Raging Bull.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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