Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekend Movie Roundup

Over the weekend I watched two movies, so today movie reviews are on special, buy one, get one free. I'll start with:

The Wrestler
Mickey Rourke does a very convincing job of playing over the hill professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Physically broken down and barely making rent at his trailer park, he now wrestles at small local events, trying in vain to relive his former glory. After a heart attack forces him into retirement, he struggles to adjust to a "normal" life, working in a grocery store deli, trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter, and trying to build a relationship with an aging yet still smoking hot stripper (Marisa Tomei).

This is a very character driven drama, which normally appeals to me, however for me the subject matter was not all that interesting. I'm not a fan of wrestling, and I found the miserable, beaten down by life Ram to make for a pretty depressing story. It had some interesting moments, of note the relationship with Cassidy (Tomei) and the parallels drawn between the two careers, both using their bodies to perform for an audience and struggling with aging. All in all it just didn't captivate me, although I can see the appeal to others. Ultimately I found it to be a depressing, mediocre story.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This concept seemed pretty interesting in theory, however since the director turned an 11 page short story, which you can read in it's entirety here, into a 2:45 minute film, it goes without saying that it was plodding. It also turns out that living life in reverse is not all that interesting. The only additional challenge being the isolation of being unique, and inherently alone for most of your life. Other than that, life is still life and you still face the same struggles being born old and aging in reverse that everyone faces, you simply face them at a different part of your life.

A substantial portion of the movie consisted of a woman reading Benjamin Button's diary to her elderly mother as she wheezed nearly inaudibly while laying in her death bed. I personally feel that all of those scenes could have been cut and it would have resulted in a better film. They didn't add anything to the story and as a matter of fact I felt they detracted.

All of this considered, however, the film was not without it's charm. Brad Pitt turned in a solid performance and there were moments of interest. Ultimately it just felt insubstantial and slow moving. Not all bad if you've got plenty of time to kill, but there are better options out there.
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