Friday 18 Apr

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04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Drama · The Wrestler

The Wrestler

None January 22nd, 2009


Mickey Rourke ("Sin City," "Domino") stars in "The Wrestler" as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a lumpy, trailer-dwelling professional wrestler who performs in church halls and recreation centers to augment the meager income he earns working in a grocery store stockroom.

Randy's body is a 50-something mass of scars and torn soft-tissue injuries, but he doggedly hangs onto his wrestling persona, despite the physical and emotional wear and tear it obviously causes him.

It's difficult for Randy to let wrestling go because his attachment is really to his past. During the 1980s, he was on the very top of the wrestling scene, and had his own Nintendo game and action figure to prove it. He drives around in his old van, listening to Ratt and Quiet Riot, pining for the days when his long, bleached, product-filled hair and fake-bake tan were actually as cool as he still thinks they are.

But those days are long gone, and Randy inhabits the bottom of the sporting barrel, consoling himself with the fact that there's no place to go but up. In the meantime, he has to debase himself quite a bit just to stay in the barrel at all. What he doesn't realize is that even if he still thinks of himself as a 25-year-old wrestling star, his body knows how old it really is, and won't hold out forever.

One night, after an especially unpleasant run of psychotic theater involving barbed wire and a staple gun, Randy's body sends him a clear message that it's time to hang up the tights. He toys with retirement, and tries to establish a normal human romance with Cassidy (Marisa Tomei, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"), a stripper to whom he has given a significant portion of his cash for lap dances over the years. But it isn't long before his crappy job and the pull of the ring "” strengthened by the prospect of a rematch with his old nemesis, The Ayatollah (Ernest Miller, aka real-life pro wrestler The Cat) "” keeps "The Ram" from going quietly into his good night.

What makes "The Wrestler" really work is its sharp understanding and portrayal of human nature. While Randy himself isn't the most likable character in the world, and is actually a bit infuriating in his insistence to self-implode, his actions are a true portrayal of a washed-up, emotionally crippled narcissist. And it's made clear that he is not only unable to let go of his identity as a wrestler, he can't let go of his old selfishness, either.

His attempts at reestablishing a relationship with his estranged daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood, "Across the Universe") illustrate that Randy doesn't live alone in a dingy trailer without good reason. In pursuing the fame and glory of the wrestling ring, He has alienated everyone he ever loved or ever loved him. What's saddest is that he knows and regrets it, but can't stop himself from perpetuating the dysfunction.

A large part of "The Wrestler"'s larger narrative appeal comes from the downward spiral of Rourke's career path since the 1980s. While it's debatable that there's a neat arc at play here about an up-and-coming actor who falls on hard times, only to rise phoenix-like from the ashes of failure, the idea certainly adds a dimension of color that gives "The Wrestler" a level of significance it wouldn't have had otherwise.

"”Mike Robertson

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