The Fighter reviews

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:35 pm

Sabin wrote:boxers are America.

Yes, I think so too.

As for being simplistic, I still think that the old Rocky was better.

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Postby Sabin » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:09 pm

(ITALIANO @ Feb. 22 2011,12:12)
And by the way I think that some American movies about boxing (not The Fighter) are memorable. I was just wondering why so many, and why (almost) only there.

Boxers are down on their luck guys who have only their ability to fight when the chips are down, not very educated but on the whole their intelligence is validated when they understand something about life that the other guy can't...boxers are America. There's an innate fatalism in boxing that is also very simplistic. The Fighter may be the perfect boxing movie because it is that simplistic. It has nothing on Earth to say. A buddy of mine was troubled by The Fighter and asked just what is it about this story specifically that makes it so special? He has a point. Just like Epic Movie or Action Movie, it may as well be called Boxing Movie.

It's worth mentioning that David O. Russell does a very nice job of inserting energy into every scene of the film. It's an incredibly funny movie that constantly battles with the screenplay for superiority. I haven't seen Flirting with Disaster in some time, but it's pretty safe to say that he's been nominated for his worst film. Then again, it's still reasonably entertaining.
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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:12 pm

Well, I wouldn't call Rocco and His Brother a boxing movie honestly... Yes, there are scenes set in the (under-)world of boxing, but it has a larger scope. But even if one considers it a movie about boxing, it's definitely the exception not only in Italian cinema, but more generally in European cinema.

And by the way I think that some American movies about boxing (not The Fighter) are memorable. I was just wondering why so many, and why (almost) only there.

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Postby rain Bard » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:01 pm

I never knew boxing movies were only in American cinema. I guess Rocco And His Brothers is a rare anomaly?

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:09 am

So why only in American cinema?

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Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:02 am

ITALIANO wrote:While I was watching it, I started thinking - never a good sign - is boxing such a popular sport in the US? Judging from the amount of movies on the subject - more, I guess, than on any other sport including baseball - it must be the most popular and the most practised.

I don't think boxing is more popular sport than baseball in the U.S. but I do think boxing is more popular among filmmakers because it's the more cinema-friendly of all the sports because there's plenty of room for action and characte.

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:44 am

Oh, and another thing - less important but quite distracting. I could never believe that Dicky was about ten years older than Micky.

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:20 am

I will be in the minority here. I expected much more from this - very nice, very cute - movie.

While I was watching it, I started thinking - never a good sign - is boxing such a popular sport in the US? Judging from the amount of movies on the subject - more, I guess, than on any other sport including baseball - it must be the most popular and the most practised. And it's not like we don't have boxing in Italy - we do, but nobody can recall an Italian movie about this sport (there have been actually two - both very minor). And I remember one French movie. But why so many in America? It must have something to do with the American society or the American character - I don't know, but I know that if one sees it as a metaphor it's interesting, and can explain many things.

David O. Russell is an intelligent man. I know because I met him. Back then he had just made a (good and personal) movie which had been a flop in the US and he hoped could do better in Europe (it didn't). He was understandably bitter. He must be in a better mood now - The Fighter is, I guess, a hit and he's got an Oscar nomination. So probably it doesn't really matter to him that the movie isn't very good nor very personal - though, as it often happens when an "auteur" puts his hands on material that others conceived and shaped, each single scene is directed in a way that makes it impossible for the viewer to forget that there's "someone" behind the camera.

The movie isn't boring and some scenes - the family scenes especially - aren't badly written. But it's almost scared of being deep - and honestly, I can forgive superficiality about almost anything, but not - I repeat: not - on relationships between brothers, one of the most interesting and most complex bonds two human beings can have. I didn't even expect Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger, but I'm sure much more could have been done with what on paper seems like an intriguing situation and dynamics. Is it because all these characters are still alive? Very possible - this is the boxing equivalent of Coal Miner's Daughter; like that movie, it makes everyone happy because it's so unlike real life. There was a moment when I thought: now the worst thing they could do is sending the now reformed, formerly "bad" brother to make peace with the girl. Two seconds after, I got the porch scene. The easiest way, always.

Wahlberg is very good as the reluctant hero though, and the movie is generally very well acted, even in the smallest roles. I don't know if Leo is necessarily better than Bonham Carter or Weaver but I won't complain if she wins - and hers is, at least, a real supporting part from a real supporting actress. As for Christian Bale... I can't even say that his is a bad performance, and the comparison that came to my mind - to Cliff Robertson in Charly - is probably unfair. But yes, I can't deny that I found him mechanical and forced, showy in all the wrong ways. It's the kind of acting style that Marcello Mastroianni would have hated - not just because of the sacrifice of the flesh (and honestly, can you imagine an Italian actor giving up his daily dose of spaghetti alla carbonara?) but because it's all on the outside, with little emotional truth. His could have been a touching character, but as it is he puts the movie off-balance. One can be both extrovert and "real", but Bale can't do that, or at least can't do that here. I can't believe that he will win over Rush or even Hawkes.

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Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:00 pm

It's time we gave Alice a Little slack.

From today's Boston Globe:

Lowell-bred brawler Micky Ward has curtailed his promotion of "The Fighter" because his mother is fighting for her own life in a Boston hospital. Eighty-year-old Alice Ward, the steely matriarch memorably played by Melissa Leo in the boxer biopic starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, went into cardiac arrest Wednesday and stopped breathing for more than 30 minutes. We're told doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital worked frantically to revive Ward, and she was eventually placed on life support. Micky rushed home from New York, where he was doing press for "The Fighter," and joined half-brother Dicky Eklund, their sisters, and several grandchildren at Ward's bedside. Remarkably, the boxer's mom, who's been in failing health for the past few years, regained consciousness and is now able to speak. "She was dead for almost an hour and today she's ... doing so well," a family member wrote on Facebook. "The nurse said she's never seen anything like this in the eight years she's been working (at Brigham and Women's.)" Alice Ward, who used to manage her son's career, is portrayed in director David O. Russell's film as a fierce, sometimes foul-mouthed defender of her children. While she wasn't thrilled with the way she comes across in the movie, she confided to friends that she feared it would be worse. Leo, who was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009 for "Frozen River," is almost certain to get an Oscar nod for "The Fighter." (She's already been nominated for a Golden Globe for the role.) In a recent interview, the 50-year-old actress said she understands and respects Alice Ward. "She dressed in white when she went to the fights because it would show up on TV," said Leo. "Bless her heart, she wanted to make something out of those boys and it's a mean-ass game. I admire her so much."

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Postby Sabin » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:41 pm

(anonymous @ Jan. 12 2011,11:19)
I've heard from people who have met or who have seen the REAL Alice Ward that Melissa Leo actually UNDERPLAYS her, she's that over-the-top.

I don't think that really matters. People in real life benefit from not needing to have a defined, believable character arc. It'd be nice if they did though.




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Postby Uri » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:16 am

anonymous wrote:I've heard from people who have met or who have seen the REAL Alice Ward that Melissa Leo actually UNDERPLAYS her, she's that over-the-top.

I can see that. What Leo does, and I think this is what people who don't like her performance are reacting to, is using alienation in approaching this character. If, as you say, the real character is so extreme, it's an evident of the (welcome) restraint which I can certainly detect in her performance. It's a case where the use of the right amount of detachment by an actor enables a better, more revealing glimpse into the mechanism of the character, which is more effective then indulging in fully, method like, immersing in the character's eccentricities.

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Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:19 am

I've heard from people who have met or who have seen the REAL Alice Ward that Melissa Leo actually UNDERPLAYS her, she's that over-the-top.

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Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:10 am

It might not show it, but it does say it in the the film's epilogue - Mickey and Charlene are married and still together, living with Micky's daughter from his previous relationship.



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Postby Sabin » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:51 pm

But aside from stating that Mickey needs everybody, how does the film show it and what does it do with this idea?
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Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:44 pm

Sabin wrote:It's not just that the Wahlberg/Adams courtship is given the short shrift, it's that the film has absolutely nothing to say about whether or not he belongs with his family or his new love or how he makes decisions or what he needs.

I really don't agree with this. I think the film says -- explicitly, in the front-porch confrontation between Bale and Adams -- that he needs and belongs with both. For me, that's what the film's about.


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