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Sound Track As Narrator: Review of The Wrestler

the-wrestler1

There is not a constant soundtrack in the movie The Wrestler (2008). There are a lot of times of silence. This lends to the documentary feel that the over-the-shoulder camera angles and shots of Mickey Rourke’s back add as well. However, when there is a song playing, it feels to be of great import. The songs are great transitions between scenes and indeed, between moments in The Wrestler’s life. Thus, I say the sound track is actually the narrator of the story. When the movie begins, there is a montage showing The Wrestler, Randy “The Ram,” at the height of his career. The song that is playing says “I want to be overrated,” foreshadowing Randy’s fall from fame, the hype can only last for so long. Forward to the present, and the song says “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” how Randy took his fame for granted and is now living in a trailer park, and sometimes his own van. I don’t want to give away everything that happens in the movie, so I’ll stop there with the examples, but here is the soundtrack listing:

  • “(Bang Your Head) Metal Health”( Quiet Riot)
  • “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”(Cinderella)
  • “Round and Round” (Ratt (as Rat Attack))
  • “Balls To The Wall” (Accept)
  • “Sweet Child O’ Mine”( Guns N’ Roses)
  • “Animal Magnetism”(Scorpions)
  • “Jump”( Madonna)
  • “N2 Sumthin'”( Takbir Bashir)
  • “Don’t Walk Away”(Firehouse)
  • “Soundtrack to a War”( Rhino Bucket)
  • “Nice Guys Finish First”(Joey Johnson)
  • “8-bit Wrestler”(Joel Feinberg)
  • “Just Let Your Freak Out”(Deesha Sarai featuring Critical Child)
  • “Mirror”(Dead Family)
  • “No Bitterz”(Miss TK & The Revenge)
  • “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” (Birdman and Lil’ Wayne)
  • “Dodge It”( Samsaya)
  • “Her Name Is Alice”(The Days The Nights)
  • “Hit Da Flo”( Trai’d)
  • “Dangerous”(Slaughter)
  • “Black Light”(Macon Greyson)
  • “I’m Insane”(Ratt)
  • “The Muscle”(Bone Crusher)
  • “Jerk It”(Thunderheist)
  • “Aloha Oa (Queen Lilluokalani)”( Robert Neary)
  • “Blowin’ Up” (Solomon)
  • “30 Stars” (Peter Walker)
  • “The Wrestler” (Bruce Springsteen)

Other small things worth noting about the movie– Mickey Rourke cries, really powerful; realistic relationships–complex, not black and white; by the end i found myself wanting the exact opposite outcomes to happen at the same time– wanting him not to do it vs wanting to see him succeed. And fade to black. Cue Bruce Springsteen…..

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A Voyeuristic View of Il y a longtemps que je t’aime

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (2008)

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (2008)

a review of

Il y a longtemps que je t’aime

I’ve Loved You So Long (English Title)

(2008)

Written and Directed by Philippe Claudele

Starring Kristin Scott Thomas

When the viewer begins watching this movie, he is dropped in at the present moment, not knowing anything that has come before. There is no background buildup on the characters, no montage of flashbacks, no text introduction. There is only now, and we can only watch and wonder what the whole story is. This puts us in a state similar to one of the lead characters, Lea. Lea was still young when her older sister Juliette was sent away from her, and she only has some of the information. Their parents told Lea that Juliette no longer existed, she was introduced as an only child. But even though Lea doesn’t remember everything and certain details were kept from her, she has never stopped thinking about her sister. The movie picks up with Lea picking Juliette up at the airport. We get bits and pieces of information as they are dropped, when one character explains something to another, we learn some of what is in that characters head of past events. Things are often told to us second hand rather than from the character they concern.

We are never in any of the characters heads, we watch whatever the camera shows us, voyeurs on private family moments. But the camera shows us much– a tightening of a fist, a jerk upwards of a lip, the slight cringe when an uncomfortable topic is brought up. Close up, off center, the film uses camera angles to highlight the subtle. It is several minutes into the film before any character even speaks– an exchange of smiles, kisses on the cheeks, one woman picking up anothers luggage, going to the car. But the body language tells us a lot. It has too– most of the characters are silent, either self imposed or inflicted. One character has lost the ability to speak after a stroke and communicates by writing when he is not spending his days reading books, another character who relates to the world through books never talks about his dead wife, we only get hearsay, Juliette has chosen to be silent about her situation because she saw the futility of talking– she says that to try to explain would be to make excuses, and there is no excuse. The only person who really is free with his words, perhaps inappropriately so, telling details of his personal life to any one who will listen, kills himself. Word are often held back, so the physical is very important.

As the movie goes on, the physical appearance of Juliette changes as she begins to live again. She is like a flower coming to life after a long winter, in the beginning it is all hunched shoulders and long baggy clothes that cover up everything. It is frowns and long stares into the silence. But Juliette begins to brighten and we can see the vibrant woman she once was and wonder at how she lost herself. When Juliette’s former profession is revealed, I guessed the circumstances of the movie’s main uncertainty, but it was worth it to watch the Lea discovering it for herself. The exchange between the sisters when this knowledge is revealed is full of emotion. The entire movie is very emotional– playing the whole range from tragedy to comedy as French movies seem to be expert in. One scene in particular, when Juliette is reunited with the mother, who is now suffering from later stages of alhzheimers, who never remembers Lea anymore, who had chosen to forget Juliette when she was still of a rigth mind, who recognizes Julliette now, but as a little girl. The tension and emotion in that scene is so powerful that it is almost unbearable. A way to describe, perhaps, the whole movie. So powerful it is almost unbearable, but worth it to watch.

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Non-Review of Mister Lonely

Mister Lonely (2007), Directed by Harmony Korin

misterlonely

I wanted to review a movie I recently watched, Mister Lonely, but I am really not sure what to say. It struck me as following in the surrealist tradition, where literal meaning assigned to objects is not really important. The focus is on the poetic undertones and connotations, as well as ambiguity. The surrealists sometimes claimed that much of their work was do to “automatic” writing, which is a free way of thinking where the work just spills out based loosely on connections. However, much of their work is intentional. The work is usually inundated with images, which makes it even harder for the viewer to process, especially after only one viewing. I do not claim to be familiar with all the literary and cinematographic schools of thought, but I have some knowledge especially of post-modernism, deconstructionism, surrealism, and absurdity, just because I’ve been exposed to these.

So I can’t really review this movie. The premise is an American Michael Jackson impersonator in France falls in love with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and goes back to the commune where she lives with her Charlie Chaplin impersonating husband and Shirley Temple impersonating daughter, and a handful of other celebrity impersonators, including Abraham Lincoln, the Pope, the Queen of England, and the three stooges. Instead of saying they “impersonate,” the Marilyn Monroe character introduces each one to the Michael Jackson as so and so “who lives as” so and so. There is a toast by the Lincoln character that explains some of why they are who they are. Meanwhile, there is a side story revolving around nuns who jump from airplanes without parachutes after one of them fell out of a plane while dropping food supplies and got up and walked away.

The movie is filled with bitter irony and pyrrhic victories. Just when one good thing seems to be happening, it falls apart. As one character gains self-awareness, something will be taken from them. The Marilyn Monroe character is established as weak fairly early on, as when she says she didn’t impersonate until she met her husband, but he showed her the way. The viewer infers she is in an abusive and controlling relatinoship before we even meet her Charlie Chaplin. The opening scene with the Michael Jackson character is significant for the amount of people who do not even see him dancing in a busy square, let alone those who see but keep walking. The Michael Jackson character seems like the most self-aware and analytical of the characters. He paints each of the others on eggs. The Marilyn Monroe character is just waiting to crack. The side story involving the nuns is even more symbolic and less literal than the A story. I can’t say much without giving it away.

I am still processing this movie and can not adequately review it at this point. But I felt the need to say something, if only to try to work my way through it.

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Spirit Noir

Review of the Spirit film (2008)

Spirit is based on a weekly comic series penned and illustrated by Will Eisner in the 1940s. This is one of the first comics to establish the conventions and standards of comic books and graphic novels still used today. The movie felt like a film noir hard boiled detective film. The main character is not a detective, per se, but an ex-cop who died and came back to life and is now apparently invincible/immortal. Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) is now known as The Spirit, he is the spirit of the city, and her protector. In order to serve this role, Denny has decided no names, no personal connections, no relationships so he can do it right. The city is his love. In the movie, Denny Colt’s childhood sweetheart, Sand Seref (sounds like Sans Serif, a type of font without feet) played by Eva Mendez, returns to the city. Sam Jackson plays The Octupus, the movie’s villain. The police commissioner and his doctor daughter (who was denny colt’s love interest before he “died”) also play important roles. The movie felt like a 1940 city until I was jarred out of it when a cell phone with video feed was used. This pulled me out of the movie because it made me wonder what year it was, and if it was current, it must be in some alternate reality where most everything else is still like the 1940s, and on and on my mind ran away from the movie. Other than that, I really got into the movie. Spirit was written for the screen and directed by the Frank Miller, who directed Sin City, and the visual styles were similar. There was a lot of diachromatic scenes (black, white, and red), and some animation was used so it felt like a comic book come to life. Sam Jackson’s performance was incredible, and he definitely brought a old school funk feeling to the character. The interactions between his character and Scarlett Johansen’s character, Silken Floss, were filled with a great rapport and banter.  The movie has been accused of having cardboard characters and ludicrous dialogue, but I felt it was witty, sometimes bordering on the absurd (especially with all the -os clones and Sam Jackson appearing as a samurai and a nazi), but thoroughly enjoyable.

Sam Jackson as a Pimped-Out Octopus

Sam Jackson as a Pimped-Out Octopus

image from ComicCon 2008 magazine, availble http://www.comic-con.org/common/cc_magazine.shtml

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