Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Let the Fight Begin!

The fighter is a fantastic addition to the biographical sports genre, following the early years of the boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). It is the central theme, of the ordinary person in an against all odds battle to becoming a boxing champion that makes the film so compelling. And it wouldn’t be a battle without some struggle, here in the form of Micky’s brother Dicky who fights with his own failures and drug addiction.
Bales performance is ingenious and draws you into the inner-city working class Massachusetts world. He grips you into caring about this character, leaving the audience wanting to know more about him, forgetting that this is just a movie. To play Dicky, Bale had to lose a major amount of weight to realistically portray his crack addiction, and took extensive notes on Eklunds mannerisms and recorded conversations for the character’s distinct Boston accent. Director David O.Russell was impressed by Bales contributions to the film and believed Bale’s task was difficult, as to play Dicky, he ‘had to understand how his mind works’.
Wahlberg made the same commitment to the character having the Ward brothers temporarily move into his home during pre-production. However before this, his commitment to getting the film made was most commendable. His persistence to follow through with this project was inspiring, but once the perfect cast and crew were formed, magic happened. It could have been due to his dream gym being installed in his home and working out every day making the visuals of this film so convincing, but this film reeks of naturalism and takes the boxing genre to a whole new level.
For the younger generation, who isn’t aware of the Ward brother’s story, the love interest for Micky creates an added depth keeping the audience wanting more. Amy Adams who plays Charlene breaks the mould of her usual characters to portray the local barmaid and city girl. Her spunk and audacity in this role is a new challenge for her but one that will make his even more popular among her fans. She even gets down and dirty in a hilarious fight scene with some of Micky and Dicky’s 7 sisters.
Furthermore the family psychodrama is the only other thing apart from boxing that consume Micky’s life and takes centre stage in the film bringing a whole new element to the boxing biopic. Melissa Leo, who plays Micky’s overbearing and micro managing mother and manager makes you question what is more daunting for Micky Ward, getting in the ring with someone double his size, or introducing Charlene to his mother for the first time.   
Hysterically funny, and deeply intriguing, Walberg, Bale, Adams and Leo bring this story to life, making this film well worth the wait. And just in time for award season as Bale and Leo both won the best supporting actor for the Screen Actors Guild Awards among others.

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Dilemma of film reviews

The Dilemma directed by Ron Howard see’s Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn) confronted with his best friends wife (Winona Ryder) cheating on her husband. Usually able to talk himself out of any situation, Ronny Valentine occasionally has you in stitches of laughter, but more often your left cringing waiting for the scene to finish. When Vaughn gets it right he really gets it right, but in this movie, similar to The Break-up that he also produced, he seems to miss the mark. Even his relationship with long time girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly) lacks intensity and insight, although it was most certainly the most captivating relationship featured.
The one attribute that this film has going for it is Vaughn’s characters gambling addiction and the reaction from those around him. Ronny’s wife Beth shows a suitable response to the situation but the failure of the comedic aspect to this serious situation and the lack of depth to their relationship lets the story line down.
           The bromance of Ronny Valentine and Nick (Kevin James) lacks a certain something although there is some evidence of chemistry between them. James’ character is reminiscent of his other roles such as Hitch, where he also plays the inadequate second male role, and here his character is subjected to the patronising ways of his friend Ronny.  Watching their relationship in the film as well as considering them as actors one can’t help but to smile, but unfortunately the focus was mostly off and failed to really captivate the audience.
Thing only take a turn for the worse when Ronny confronts the man his best friends wife is cheating with. Much like his name Zip (Channing Tatum), the encounter is a joke. The level of violence is disturbing, as you see Zip and Ronny going at it with a baseball bat and later a gun, flying through windows and the destruction of a car. Howard’s direction here misses the comedic mark and leaves the audience cringing at the unruly behaviour.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for me however was Queen Latifah role as a as an executive in Ronny and Nicks business venture. The character’s crude remarks leave little to be desired and like the other characters in the film, the audience also misses the point to the jokes that seem to be randomly inserted.
                 A decent attempt for another comedy by the key players, but unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend rushing to the cinema for it, perhaps wait for it to come on Sky during one rainy day when there is nothing else on the 900 channels.

Bravo Black Swan

 The Black Swan grips you from the start. It pulls you into the dark and twisted world of Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), who battles with herself over the balancing act of playing both the White Swan and the Black Swan.
The constant sense of foreboding and the suspenseful atmosphere keeps you on your toes as the deep intertwining relationships start to emerge. A compulsive almost incestuous mother (Barbara Hershey) and a best friend lesbian lover (Mila Kinis) who seems to be trying to take Nina’s role in the Ballet performance are for starters. But is it all in her mind?
The Black Swan engrosses you. It captivates you with its ingenuous sexual innuendo’s and entertains you with the stunning choreography and is easy on the eyes with the set, costumes and camera work.
                Although at some points I felt the urge to shut my eyes and cover my ears as Nina’s mind begins to deteriorate and strange thing begin to happen, I feel my peers overreacted to just how twisted and bizarre the film was. However, I would agree that at times the senses of disorientation are hard to believe. I thought it was an inspired creation for the psychological thriller genre, and that Darren Aronofsky as Director brought Swan Lake into the twenty first century.