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A very good movie

Posted : 1 year, 6 months ago on 18 February 2013 10:58

We often talk about how many actors managed to make some impressive come-backs in their career such as John Travolta, Robert Downey Jr. or Mickey Rourke but, very often, we tend to forget that for some directors, the path was also pretty hazardous and David O. Russell is one perfect example. Indeed, after helming 3 movies, he was hailed as the next best thing. Unfortunately, even though Russell was definitely a talented director, he also had some issues and he got the reputation of being quite impossible to work with (Among other things George Clooney punched him while shooting ‘Three Kings’ and he had a major falling out with Mark Wahlberg after working with him on 3 movies over a decade). Anyway, as a result, Russell managed to make only one movie between 1999 and 2010, the barely seen ‘I Heart Huckabees’. Fortunately for him, he made a major comeback in 2010 with this movie which was nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award and so was his last movie, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. So, I was definitely eager to watch this flick. Apparenty, it was a labour of love, a pet project for Mark Wahlberg who had been training for this movie since 2005. Wahlberg seems to be a very talented actor but also a very smart businessman, usually starring in decent action movies ('Four Brothers' for example) or even in one of the best comedies of the year ('Ted'). Still, when you watch 'Boogie Nights' or 'The Departed', you sense a greater potential but it seems barely used in my opinion. The funny thing is that even though Wahlberg was pretty good as the lead character, he is completely overstaged by Melissa Leo and, above all, Christian Bale (both won eventually an Academy Award for their performances). Furthermore, the story was just really fascinating, mixing a generic but entertaining boxing epic with some drug issues and a familly drama. This combination was really good and made up a very intriguing movie. My only critic is that the story was very good, those two 2nd characters were really good as well but the main character was rather poorly developped. Indeed, during all this social mayhem and chaos, we never really get the chance to actually get to know him. Still, it is a very strong drama, probably the best movie directed by Russell so far and it is definitely worth a look, especially if you like the genre.

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The Fighter review

Posted : 3 years, 1 month ago on 2 August 2011 02:23

It was Christian Bale that really had me sold on wanting to watch this movie. I personally enjoy his acting and feel that he really gives his all to his roles. He did a great job, but that is not to down play Mark Wahlburg. This is the movie that I said to myself "Mark Wahlburg isn't that bad of an actor" now take that however way you want, I am just not going to knock the guy's acting from now on after watching this movie. I have never seen Amy Adams exhibit her acting but I did enjoy her performance. The drama going on with Wahlburg's character's family is as real as it gets, watching some of the arguments, and confrontations are just as awkward as if we were sitting in the room with them. The movie has the realistic feel of "The Wrestler" as well as a bit of Martin Scorsese's style. There is hardly any re-watch value. It's an interesting drama but I am not eager to watch it again. If I did it would be to analyze the acting in it.

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The Fighter

Posted : 3 years, 3 months ago on 30 May 2011 05:34

While it never truly rises above the genre conventions and plot beats of both biographical and sports films, The Figher is still a very well made example of its type of film(s). The central quartet of performers are all finely balanced even when some appear to be flying towards caricature and over-the-top theatricality. But since a quick glance at footage from the HBO footage of the family proves that each of these actor essays are correct, we believe and care even more about The Figher. And isn’t it nice to see a movie about someone succeeding who truly deserves it after working so damn hard?

Unlike most boxing movies which focus solely and primarily upon the boxer’s training to gain or regain a championship, The Fighter spends most of its time showing us a family for whom the term ‘dysfunctional’ is a good starting point. Mark Wahlberg is the quiet, solid and steady fighter of the title, Micky Ward. He’s being trained by his older half-brother Dicky, played to twitchy motor-mouthed drug fueled perfection by Christian Bale, with his chain-smoking mom, a deliciously OTT Melissa Leo, as his manager and a pack of seven sisters from Hell on their trail. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Ward seems to be lacking a personality, when your mother is some kind of funhouse version of Snow White and your sisters are her aerosoled and bleached seven dwarves, the only proper way to rebel and carve out your own identity is to be a still and normal as possible.

And all of this feels right, because we’re given glimpses of the real family at the very end of the movie. Dicky really is that wild, unhinged, motor-mouthed and insane. And Micky really is that staid and calm center amongst the swirling chaos. The bigger the cigarettes, the cheaper the clothes and more blue the language, the more and more it feels like the proper family and place. But the real beating heart is the complicated relationship between Micky, Dicky and Alice trying to manage his career and his new relationship with Charlene, played by Amy Adams as a tough-as-nails working girl.

Dicky and Alice are distrustful of any outsider trying to worm their way into the familiar strum und drag. And Micky loves his family, but knows that they’ve got enough issues to keep a team of psychologists employed for decades. So when tough broad Charlene comes into his life, he’s not stupid enough to ignore it. Once Charlene enters into their lives she isn’t afraid to tell them to their faces what their problems are and how they’re disturbingly co-dependent on Micky’s failures and not his successes. If Micky continues to fail as a boxer, Alice will always be employed and able to have some control over his life. I wouldn’t call Alice a mother-from-hell, but she’s definitely some strange mutation of stage-mother. And how Dicky is really holding him back by teaching him his techniques only, and not teaching him to develop and hone his own style of boxing.

Notice that I have talked very little about any actual boxing in The Fighter, probably because that’s the least interesting aspect of the film. It is also the most perfunctory. It’s plain as day that David O. Russell was more interested in exploring the family dynamics, the flavor and emotional/social geography of Lowell, and the anger in this blue-collar community. The boxing, while an important aspect, is no different than any other boxing films, especially the climatic fight which distinctly lacks any energy, tension of dance-like choreography for the actors to try to execute. It’s clear that the genre conventions demanded that the ending occur exactly when and how it does, as does the real life story which this sticks very faithfully to, but that doesn’t mean it’s very interesting.

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This is what movies are made of

Posted : 3 years, 5 months ago on 27 March 2011 01:16

"We're not talking about his trainer, sweetheart! We're talking about his manager, that's me!" Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Mark Walhberg, some of my favorite actors. Hearing about all the greatness that Bale, Leo, and Adams put on. Leo and Bale win Oscars. This movie lived up to the hype. A movie that has outstanding performances, some great drama, and of course Boston accents and Boston language. Now who doesnt like that?

Amy Adams sticks out like a shore thumb in this movie. We know her as the cute princess in Enchanted, the braces wearing cutie in Catch Me If You Can, and the nice and funny nun in Doubt, shes none of those in this. She is in your face, dropping F bombs at you and calling you words you dad hasnt even taught you yet. Bale my favorite actor, playing what I think is his best performance showing why he won that Oscar. I have never seen him be so arrogant, funny, and heart warming in one role. Melisa Leo was simply brillant she yelled at you and taught you lessons and brought you to tears. Marky Mark, well we know how he can be.

I have seen 5 best picture nominees so far for this year's Oscars, and I must say this is the best drama ive seen in a while. I was glued to the screen since it started, it is one of the best movies of all time.

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Boxing picture with heart and soul

Posted : 3 years, 5 months ago on 13 March 2011 12:41

"I'm just grateful to be here and have the shot for the title."

From Rocky to Raging Bull to Million Dollar Baby, boxing films have existed as Oscar staples for decades. Suffice it to say, it's challenging - if not impossible - to find anything new or fresh to mine in the frequently-exploited genre. Hence, 2010's The Fighter does not flourish as an original offering of filmmaking since it's both an underdog story of boxing glory as well as a tale of brutes in a harsh working class corner of Boston. The Fighter retrieves inspiration from deep within its heart, though, as it dissects the true-life story of Irish boxer Micky Ward and his brother Dicky. Much like its real-world inspiration, this is an agitated picture which possesses overwhelming spirit to overcome its dreary familiarity. Plus, freed from any real narrative suspense, a viewer is given the chance to focus on what's fresh and new: the matter-of-fact filming style, the lived-in atmosphere, and a handful of absolutely exceptional performances courtesy of an unbelievably talented cast.

In 1978, professional boxer Dicky Eklund (Bale) was labelled "The Pride of Lowell" in his small Massachusetts town after knocking down the then-unstoppable boxer Sugar Ray Leonard in a much-publicised match. Fast forward to the early '90s, and Dicky now spends his time training his brother Micky (Wahlberg) and doing drugs. However, the combination of Dicky's ineffective training (as a consequence of his crack habit) and the incompetent management of his mother (Leo) results in Micky getting pummelled in the ring. Facing a dire future, Micky is spurred on by his strong-willed girlfriend Charlene (Adams) to make a change and break away from the control of his dysfunctional family in order to begin taking steps towards respectability on the boxing circuit. While Micky's decision sends him to victorious heights, it also threatens to shun Dicky and crush his intense world of brotherly adoration.

The Fighter immaculately fuses the pleasures of a big entertainment with the provocative food-for-thought elements of a movie with loftier goals in mind than being a simple diversion. Like most films of this ilk, this is far more than a boxing picture - it's more of a character drama, and more of an examination of the struggles of life than a look at the challenges inside the ring. The family drama elements are compelling, pungent and brutal, as it's heartbreaking to witness Micky being torn between his desire to pursue a championship and his loyalty to his mother and brother. The script (credited to Scott Silver, Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy) does an effective job of conveying Micky's emotional and professional trajectory, while helmer David O. Russell and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema eschewed technical razzle-dazzle in favour of a raw, gritty filming approach to emphasise character and emotion. The in-the-ring action, too, is hard-hitting and well-crafted. The Fighter is also enhanced by an excellent soundtrack of propulsive songs and pounding rhythms, with staple training montages in which you could be forgiven for wondering whether Gonna Fly Now is about to play.

Due to the common theme of boxing, comparisons to Sylvester Stallone's Rocky are inevitable, but perhaps a more apt comparison for The Fighter would be Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler. It's no coincidence that Aronofsky was originally attached to direct but eventually stayed on as producer. See, both The Fighter and The Wrestler are grim, reality-driven pictures which do not shy away from portraying the difficulties of life. Neither The Wrestler nor The Fighter feel like fairytales, and the way things pan out for each film's protagonist is secondary to the lessons learned along the way. Furthermore, the titles of both The Wrestler and The Fighter imply the impersonal; describing a man's title rather than describing a fully-defined individual. Similarly, if both words are taken as verbs rather than nouns, they also imply the struggles of the protagonists who wrestle with or fight off the challenges of life. The ambiguousness of The Fighter's title even extends to the fact that it's unclear whether it refers to Dicky or Micky since both men fit the description.

Amazingly immersive performances courtesy of both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo signify The Fighter's biggest assets, as reflected in the fact that both stars received Academy Awards. During Bale's adult carer, the actor has shown a tendency to take himself way too seriously, leading to the development of a hardened, humourless and drab screen persona (see The Dark Knight and Terminator Salvation). For his role of Dicky, Bale finally let loose and delivered a perfectly-nuanced, phenomenal performance - this is the enormously talented Bale that we remember seeing in American Psycho. Bale spent countless hours with the real-life Dicky to study his mannerisms, and he lost weight to the point of being nearly unrecognisable. Bale won his first Oscar for this role, and it's much-deserved.

Meanwhile, Amy Adams was cast against type. Usually known for sweet and innocent roles, Adams adopted the persona of a confrontational bitch to play Charlene. Adams disperses innumerable profanities and does not shy away from physical violence. Yet, Charlene also has a softer and sexier side. Happily, Adams managed to nail every facet of the character. Alongside her, Mark Wahlberg's performance as Micky is the least "showy". His line readings are simple and direct, yet he's also staggeringly effective, not to mention he represents the anchor that both holds the production in place and allows performers around him to take flight. Wahlberg did not receive an Oscar nomination, but this is among his best work in years. The only place where The Fighter stumbles is in the depiction of Micky and Charlene's relationship, which is underdeveloped. The pair abruptly and bafflingly transition from awkward first date to committed relationship. It may work from a narrative standpoint but not emotionally, which is bewildering in a picture otherwise imbued with so much heart and soul. This is especially disappointing since Micky and Charlene's relationship is the catalyst which helps Micky break free and become his own person.

For several years, Mark Wahlberg worked arduously to try and get this project off the ground, and continued with a strict training and diet regime over said years to ensure he would be in proper shape for whenever the film was green-lit. Fortunately, his hard work and determination has paid off with a film that lives up to his hopes for it. The Fighter is simply an outstanding motion picture. The movie works not only due to its unflinching realism and sturdy writing, but also due to exemplary performances across the board.


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The Fighter review

Posted : 3 years, 6 months ago on 18 February 2011 06:31

In many ways, "The Fighter" is the film of 2011. A family drama with a pugilistic background. The punches, physical and emotional in and out of the ring took me completely by surprise. What didn't surprise me was Mark Whalberg's signature all over the place. Let me explain: Many years ago I was at a lecture by director Martin Donovan when during the Q&A somebody made fun of the fact that Calvin Klein underwear model Marky Mark had played a part (his first acting role) in Donovan's made for TV "The Substitute" Donovan with elegance and firmness destroyed the guy asking the question, describing Whalberg's strengths and ended up saying "Mark Whalberg will be one of the top actors around and he will probably be running Hollywood within a decade" I had Donovan's words buzzing in my ears when I sat speechless watching "Boogie Nights". Whalberg also produced "Entourage" and the startling "In Treatment". He now produced "The Fighter" and his performance, interior and powerful, dominates the film allowing other members of the cast, shine in truly showy roles, Christian Bale for instance - really good. Melissa Leo is a stand out as the mother/manager. Superb. So I won't be surprised to see Mark Whalberg receiving the top honors at the next Academy Awards, as an actor and producer. He certainly deserves it. Bravo!

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The Fighter review

Posted : 3 years, 7 months ago on 1 February 2011 07:52

A good film from David O.Russell!But i think not something special.Good perfomances especially Christian Bale and Melissa Leo!But i can say that was much better from other familiars movies.

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A strong Fighter against other great films!

Posted : 3 years, 7 months ago on 13 January 2011 05:53

As soon as I started reading about this film, the first thing that came to my mind about The Fighter was that it just looks like another boxing film but is was something that did go pretty personal on a lot of levels. Admittedly, it is a lot like most boxing films: a story that is told about a boxer who was an underdog and became a great success but this did something that I think not many boxing films nowadays managed to do so brilliantly! What I mean by this is that this is a mixture of basically two classic boxing films - Rocky and Raging Bull. I have to admit, though, that this is such a predictable film with a climax was all but obvious from the very beginning but despite that, it was a great film!

The Fighter tells us the remarkable story of the rise of Massachusetts-born, junior welterweight title winner "Irish" Micky Ward. A determined pugilist whose career in the ring was shepherded by his loyal half-brother, Dicky -- a hard-living boxer-turned-trainer whose own career in the ring was nearly sent down for the count due to drugs and crime -- perennial underdog Irish Micky rebounded from a disheartening series of defeats to win both the WBU Intercontinental Lightweight title and the WBU Light Welterweight title thanks to a fierce combination of determination and hard work.

Ok, I am going to admit that Mark Wahlberg is not a brilliant actor but he does do a decent job in every film he has been part of. As far as The Fighter goes, his performance was nowhere near as fantastic as the rest of the cast within the film and I do think he is perhaps better in a supporting role; like his outstanding performance in The Departed. His performance was good, yes, but I think the role should have gone to someone better so not an Oscar worthy performance at all, really. Everyone knows Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Patrick Bateman and now the new John Connor but that was just for fame. However, in The Fighter he goes on to show how well he can act. He was almost if not completely unrecognizable as Dickie Eklund! I still can't believe it is the same actor in The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, American Psycho and Terminator Salvation. Christian looked really skinny in this one and had to lose weight which was part of the character seeing as Eklund was a drug addict and Bale had to lose weight for a previous role so that was an easy task for him. He should get the Academy Award for The Fighter because his performance really showed what he can do despite just starring in Hollywood blockbusters. For the past 4 years in a row, Amy Adams has starred in an contender where she either is nominated for an Oscar herself or starred in a film that has been nominated for one: Enchanted in 2007, Doubt in 2008, Julie & Julia in 2009 and now The Fighter in 2010. Her performance was absolutely fantastic! Her character in this film reminded me a lot of Talia Shire's character and performance in Rocky. Adams should get her third Oscar nomination in four years for The Fighter.

I had almost zero knowledge of director David O'Russell before I saw The Fighter but I think he is actually a really good director! I think where I was impressed with the filming of The Fighter the most is during the main boxing championship match because it was filmed like a real boxing film that you would watch on TV and the crowd were brilliantly directed as well as the actors as the boxers. Admittedly, the boxing scenes in The Fighter were better filmed than probably every other boxing film there has been. David O'Russell directed this film really well but I did think that David Fincher, Tom Hooper, Chris Nolan, Darren Aronofsky and even Danny Boyle did better jobs this year.

Overall, The Fighter is another fantastic boxing film that is, as I said, a mixture between Rocky and Raging Bull. Outstanding performances from the majority of the cast, well directed and a solid script so should be a strong Oscar contender. It is definitely the best sports film since Ron Howard's Cinderella Man.

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The Fighter

Posted : 3 years, 8 months ago on 24 December 2010 01:47

If there's something I've said in several other reviews of movies that are inherently cliche-based that deserves to be repeated here, it's this: if you can do something interesting with the conventional material you're working with, or if you can at least make the characters worth caring about, the film is certain to be at least good, despite the familiarity of the material. Such is the case with THE FIGHTER, a predictable film about boxing that has more strengths than weaknesses (the tragically humdrum title being among the latter). The boxing sequences in the film aren't anything special, and for the most part, we can easily predict who will win which fight, but that's of little importance when the film's emotional conflicts are so well-developed and when we get a couple of outstanding supporting performances in the midst of it all.

In fact, if you look at THE FIGHTER from the perspective that I viewed it, you'll find that it's more of a love story than a film about boxing. But it's not a rosy love story. It's about how one tough bitch, Charlene (Amy Adams) tries to save the guy she's fallen in love with, Micky (Mark Wahlberg), from being controlled by his family, mainly his mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), and his brother, Dicky (Christian Bale). Perhaps without noticing, Alice and Dicky are basically "using" Micky's boxing talents for purposes that are more self-serving than they may even realize. Charlene not only realizes what Micky's family is doing to him, but she realizes that she believes in Micky's potential as a fighter, and decides she's going to do whatever she can to help him succeed, even if that means separating him from his mother and brother. Family dynamics unravel, and much drama ensues.

What I described in the above paragraph might make the film seem corny, but the reason why it's not is that the character of Charlene isn't one of these weak females who sobs as she watches the man she loves take a beating on the ring (cough, CINDERELLA MAN). I don't know how else to put this, but Charlene is one tough bitch ("I'll see you in Micky's corner, otherwise go fuck yourself"). She exemplifies that several times verbally, and even physically at one point. And something similar can be said of the film as a whole: it has no qualms about displaying a fucked-up family life. THE FIGHTER doesn't try to sanitize anything. The film's best scene takes place in the living room on the first occasion that Micky's entire family meets Charlene and everyone lays out their (very) different ideas of what Micky's immediate future as a boxer should look like.

Mark Wahlberg's lead performance is decent. It's not a particularly showy role, so he correctly goes for subtleness more than anything else. Christian Bale is getting loads of acclaim for his work as the frenetic, crack-addicted older brother, and as great as his work is during the film's final act, I found his performance during the first half hour to be a bit cartoonish: you can only widen your eyes so much before the audience members are going to want to yell "OKAY, we get it, you're really high right now." It's another story with Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, though. Both women give two of the year's best supporting performances, and they both easily deserve Oscar nominations. This is outside Adams' comfort zone, because she's not playing a weak, soft-voiced character this time around, and the interesting thing is that she's a playing a character that you would normally EXPECT to be like that. The mental fortitude and toughness that she exhibits in the role of Charlene is something to marvel at, and she is absolutely fantastic in the climactic scene when Charlene and Dicky have their final showdown of sorts on her front porch. Leo is unrecognizable. I can't believe this is the same person who, two years ago, gave an astounding lead performance as the struggling wife and mother in FROZEN RIVER. She plays a different type of mother in THE FIGHTER for sure, but she's tremendously good here as well. Plenty of other actresses would've played Alice as a straight-up villain, but Leo gives us something much better. We get someone who means well, yet can be savagely selfish and mean-spirited in the process of meaning well. She does an expert job at avoiding going over the top (unlike Bale) during a scene in which she's standing at the kitchen throwing pots and pans at her husband.

THE FIGHTER doesn't do as many wonders with the boxing cliche as Clint Eastwood did six years ago when he directed MILLION DOLLAR BABY. After all the intense drama that we're exposed to during THE FIGHTER, the resolution feels a little too pat for my taste. Still, the strength of its performances and the expert way in which all the layers of the film's conflicts are handled make it easily recommendable.

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