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Month: February 2009

The Wrestler

Ack, I never wrote about The Wrestler. Well, there’s not that much new to say, really. It’s fundamentally a simple tearjerker, which is where Darren Aronofsky does a lot of his best work. Like Pi and Requiem for a Dream, he’s telling a story about outsiders. I think that’s his niche as well: people who can’t relate or participate in what we might cynically call the world of the squares. Or marks.

Mickey Rourke is really good. It doesn’t hurt that he’s reiterating his own story of burn out and stupidity, of course; still, he’s really good. I’ve seen a fair number of the movies he’s made in the last five or six years. He’s not just acting the same part repeatedly. He gets the pain and suffering and — eh, call it what it is; Randy “the Ram” Robinson is not smart. I tend to think that’s a commentary on twenty years of concussions, but regardless, Rourke’s playing a dense caring guy with a lot of skill.

This sadly overshadowed Marisa Tomei, who was also really excellent. Pained, cynical, allows her caution to get in the way of happiness — I’ve seen a few reviews which talk about how the two characters are the same story, failure and redemption. But that’s not it. It’s contrast. Rourke is the guy who refuses to be cynical and suffers the consequences. Tomei is the woman who accepts cynicism as a lifestyle and suffers the consequences. Hey, it’s Aronofsky. He is not prone to happy endings.

Now, Mick Foley covered the wrestling realism better than I ever could, but just in case, go ahead and read that last link. The weird beard guy who rips the living shit out of Rourke in the second wrestling scene? That’s Necro Butcher, a staple on the East Coast indie wrestling scene, and that’s what happens. All the wrestling was filmed at actual Northeast promotions. As far as I know, that’s pretty much exactly how it goes down behind the scenes.

Which, yeah. After Benoit, it’s hard to watch wrestling. This was hard for the same reasons. It’s a tearjerker, and I cried, but it’s not melodramatic. It’s too grounded in reality to be melodrama.

Fringe Not Redux

Looking back, I never did talk about Fringe outside of some RPG wanking. That was because I wasn’t that enchanted with the show. John Noble is a superior being, and his Walter Bishop is a great TV character, but I found Anna Torv to be fairly dull and uninteresting. Her FBI agent was bland and played the victim a bit too much for my tastes.

As of the 11th episode, “Bound,” things changed. Agent Dunham… let’s say she revealed her inner badass rather than claiming her characterization changed, because I haven’t gone back and watched the early episodes to see if I missed something. She is now really interesting, because we’re seeing this vast well of anger inside her, which she mostly has to keep repressed. But man, it comes out sometimes. She is ruthless without being apologetic and without making a big deal of it.

This means I want to see what she does next. It also heightens the importance of the problems she’s facing. Boring characters can’t support epic threats, in the same way that bland villains can’t support epic heroes. So this is all very good.

Meanwhile, John Noble is still awesome, and the plot has taken a giant hiccup forward with “Ability,” the most recent episode. Odd as this may seem for a J. J. Abrams show, we have been provided with a basket of answers. And more questions, because it’s still Abrams, but the outline of the season makes sense.

Oh yeah. And there was a Jonathan Carroll reference in the last episode.

So: if you had been dissing Fringe, it might be worth another look. I’m not saying great, because not great, but way better than it started.

100 Best Films You’ve Never Heard Of — Done!

Finished entering the 100 best films you’ve never heard of etc. Man, for a site with a cool concept, the interface for adding things to lists is painful. Well, no, more correctly, the search interface is atrocious. You can literally search on a full title, find nothing, then search on the first two words of the title and get the movie you want.

It could also use some data normalization. They key on Amazon entries, which is wise, since the revenue stream is Amazon affiliate links. However, there’s no linkage, so if you note that you’ve consumed a movie in one format there’s no record of it being consumed in any other.

… OK, that’s nitpicking. I know it’d be a huge amount of work. I’d love to see a way for users to do the work, though.

Job Hunt Progress

The job hunt is going quite well. I had a face to face interview Thursday, which I feel optimistic about; I also had a good phone interview today, and will be hearing back from them on Monday. Plus a couple more phone interviews next week. Plus maybe an interview in California. So I couldn’t feel too much better about my progress so far, although there’s obviously a ways to go.