Monday, January 17, 2011

Nothing baby but you and me

First, a word about Ricky Gervais and the controversy over his hosting of the Golden Globes. I thought he was hilarious. Maybe a few jokes were a little much (the Scientologists joke), but everything else was great--and even that one was funny. Someone on the news was saying that Gervais was too harsh on Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Good lord. If these actors can't laugh about the fact that they got paid $20 million to make a movie that everyone hated, then they deserve to be criticized.

And the fact that Gervais thanked God for making him an atheist . . . Excellent.

Anyway, I saw a couple of movies.

The Fighter, the true story of boxer Micky Ward and his once-promising brother Dickie Eklund, showcases some top-notch acting. I have always liked Mark Wahlberg, and he does a good job as Ward--though this is only ostensibly Ward's story. The real star here is Christian Bale, in one of those all-in, lose-a-lot-of-weight performances that defines dedication. (Don't get me wrong, the performance is not just about weight loss.) As former boxer-turned crack addict Dickie, Bale gives a truly astonishing performance. His shakes, his tics, his voice--everything about him as been transformed into this sad character. He may just win the Oscar.

As the boys' mother, Melissa Leo also give an outstanding performance, adding some trashy humor to this interesting story.

But The Fighter, directed by David O. Russell, is mostly about these excellent actors. Dickie's story is interesting, but I did not find him very likable, so I was not really rooting for him. Mickey is a sort of one-dimensional character as well, so for me, the boxing scenes were very well-made, but I was not drawn in. I was definitely not cheering in my seat. That is not to say I was rooting against these guys, but I was not stirred to emotion like I wanted to be.

So I think The Fighter is a very good movie, but not a great one. It lacked something, some heart or some connection.

Nonetheless, Christian Bale's performance must be seen.

Blue Valentine is just downright depressing. Derek Cianfrance has directed this "romance" that tells the tale of a crumbling relationship. In two back-and-forth time periods, we see Dean and Cindy (played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) fall in love and then fall out of love. These two young actors give outstanding and intense performances, and they deliver some of the most realistic and incisive dialogue I've ever seen in a relationship movie. Both Gosling and Williams deserve any nominations they receive.

In addition, the soundtrack by Grizzly Bear is exceptionally good.

The performances make this movie good; the story makes it gut-wrenching. This movie is profoundly sad.


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