Sunday, February 27, 2011

Best. Bumper Sticker. Ever. #1

Best. Bumper Sticker. Ever.

God wants spiritual fruits
Not religious nuts

Okay…maybe not the very best bumper sticker ever. But it’s a good one; and it’s going to kick off a new segment here at the Blog-O-Rama, called Best Bumper Sticker Ever—sort of an homage to the way Neil Peart always mentioned the church signs he saw on his travels in Roadshow: Landscape with Drums, A Concert Tour by Motorcycle. Whenever I see an excellent bumper sticker, I’ll post the witticism here (maybe with an editorial comment, maybe not). Then at the end of the year—again, maybe—I’ll put them all together in a poll to see which is the most popular. My polls attract so much attention and debate that it’s sort of a no-brainer.

(And, of course, there will be no right-wing or conservative bumper stickers posted. None of them can possibly be the best bumper sticker ever, because they are stupid.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Fighter

I’ve been putting off seeing this picture for quite awhile now, though I had become more interested in seeing it since Christian Bale and Melissa Leo started bringing home pretty much every piece of supporting acting hardware there was to be had this awards season. (And that’s a little bit unfortunate, because Geoffrey Rush is awfully good in the remarkably overrated The King’s Speech.) I even waffled about staying after tonight to watch it, even though it started earlier than it had been starting for the last few weeks and I have tomorrow off. But then I clocked out and said to hell with it, and stayed to watch it.

It’s the true story of boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his white trash working-class family—complete with spaced-out crackhead has-been-boxer brother Dicky (Christian Bale), whose claim to the dubious title of pride of Lowell, Massachusetts, is that he once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in a fight. When he’s not strung out on crack—and sometimes even when he is—Dicky is Micky’s “trainer,” and his mother Alice (Melissa Leo) is his “manager.” And somehow no one has put these two bits of trivia together with the fact that Micky just keeps losing and losing and losing. Well, no one puts it together until Micky starts dating Charlene (Amy Adams), a college dropout-cum-bartender who is the most urbane character in the film.

Micky’s loyalty to his family is admirable, to an extent; but he is at first unable, and later unwilling, to admit the fact that they are holding him back. Mostly it’s Dicky and his crack problem—though Dicky’s being strung out gives Bale lots of room to move and to steal scenes and to generally prove that he totally deserves the Oscar he’s going to win here in a few weeks—but there is also the problem of his mother, who thinks she is better at managing Micky’s career than she is, and who is nearly as pleased with Dicky’s past glory as Dicky is himself. Leo doesn’t have as much room to work with this character as Bale does with his, but she does well, especially in the handful of scenes when Alice’s emotions get the better of her and we start to see that she realizes—even if she will never say it out loud—that Dicky hurts Micky more than he helps him. Leo will probably also win an Oscar, though I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk performance like Mo’nique’s was last year. I’m not even sure Leo is the best supporting actress in this film, never mind all the others that came out this year.

Amy Adams is simply terrific, playing Charlene as a tough realist who doubles as Micky’s backbone once he realizes that it’s time to cut his family loose but can’t bring himself to do it. She’s not afraid to drop F-bombs or throw a punch—though to be fair, that does not distinguish her from anyone else in the picture except the two little kids—but that wee little bit of having-gone-to-college-and-been-a-high-jumper refinement makes her a little more sure of herself, a little more aware of what’s going on in the world she inhabits—and a little better at helping Micky to achieve the goal he has set for himself, which is to get back to winning and maybe, just maybe, to win a title.

For someone who’s trying his hardest to make a living beating the crap out of other people, Micky Ward comes off as a little bit of a softie here, though that might just be because he’s the actual fighter and the one who both benefits and suffers from the things done by the other people in his family. He has to weigh the value of loyalty to his family against the possibility that he will never make it in the ring; and in a family filled with lunatics and borderline degenerates, he has to be the one to hold it all together, even if everyone pretends that’s his mother’s job. Wahlberg is surprisingly understated here, reserving Micky’s passion and fire for when he is really distressed about something—cops whaling on his brother, say, or his ignorant white trash sisters trying to whale on Charlene.

I sat down and started writing this review as soon as I got home from work, with the film as fresh in my mind as it could possibly be. That’s always the best way to do this kind of writing, even though it almost always means I don’t get as much done on the other writing as I usually do at night when I get home from work. Writing about the movies I see often changes the way I feel about them, too, since I have to take the time to consider each thing about the film that I want to say. Case in point here is Mark Wahlberg’s performance, which I had not considered especially impressive while I was watching the film. (I will absolutely cop to the fact that I was definitely paying way more attention to Amy Adams. I think it’s possible that I might be in love with her.) But having taken the time to write about the movie immediatley after seeing it, I’m beginning to realize that Wahlberg actually did a tremendous job with this role.

In fact, it might be that the direction (and one choice of songs) is the only thing I have to quibble about—and even there, there’s not much wrong with the picture. The training montage sequences are hammy—a little bit too eye of the tiger for a film that is refreshingly light on melodrama. One of those training montages has an Aerosmith song behind it, and that’s the one thing that really irritated me. At that point in the film, Micky has decided that he has to get over a bad loss and get back to some serious training if he’s really going to make a run at this fighting thing as his living. No big trick to think of which Aerosmith song we’re talking about here, but the fact that they included it—along with a Whitesnake song as Micky enters the ring later in the film—is a little bit pathetic. Wahlberg’s performance is so subtle and convincing that these jarring and completely obvious songs just get in the way. That said, the film is otherwise excellent.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Deep Thoughts #49 - Edición especial douchebag tópico

Senator Delph, it looks to me like the best part of you ran down the crack of your mama’s ass and ended up as a BROWN stain on the mattress!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Deep Thoughts #48 - Special Topical Walk Like an Egyptian Edition

An incontrovertible sign that nothing about a world leader merits their being a world leader is that Darth Cheney sticks up for that person.