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Archive for December 23rd, 2008

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by Sam Juliano

After a ninety-degree turn that yielded a phantasmagoric futuristic science fiction film named The Fountain, which dealt with mortality and eternal life, (a film that stretched the boundaries of modern cinema and moved audiences on a level not experienced in recent years) eclectic American film artist Darren Aronofsky has returned to the gritty and disturbing images of his earlier Requiem For A Dream with a new film about a wrestler making a comeback.  Unpretentiously titled The Wrestler, this often painfully intimate character study features at its heart the quintessential American sports concept – the sportsman fighting against all odds to reclaim the glory of his past, against long odds.  We saw such a formulaic enterprise with the Rocky sequels, as America loves comeback stories, but we have never seen this kind of cinematic artistry crafted in the service of such a seemingly pedestrian subject.      

Randy “The Ram” Robinson was a major wrestling star during the 1980’s, reaching pinnacles of popularity and financial success.  But as can well be expected with this kind of bruising endurance test that limits one’s moment in the spotlight, Randy eventually plays the part of a has-been, and engages in matches staged in high school auditoriums, eyeing that  break that would precipitate a hoped-for comeback.  Randy is physically scarred, and he injects himself with steroids and engages in a gruesome staple-gun war with another wrestler (where he repulsively shoots thick sign staples all over his body to show his mettle).  This stomach-churning episode induces a serious heart attack, and Randy, who is also a heavy drinker, is told by his doctor that his body can no longer take this kind of abuse.  Two relationships then come into the wrestler’s life, that of an affable bar stripper named Cassidy (played by Marissa Tomei) and the other of his rarely-seen daughter (played by Evan Rachel Wood) with whom he hopes to repair hostile relations with.  He has little cash, and on occasion is locked out of his trailer home due to non-payment and even has to take on an embarrassing job at a grocery department in a supermarket, where one nagging elderly woman repeatedly tells him to add and take away from  the weight of a salad she ordered.      (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1940 77m) DVD1/2

Conscience, first class

p  Walt Disney  d  Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton S.Luske  w  Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Webb Smith, William Cottrell, Joseph Sabo, Erdman Penner, Aurelius Battaglia  novel  Carlo Collodi  md  Paul J.Smith  m/ly  Leigh Harline, Ned Washington, Paul J.Smith

VOICES BY:-  Dickie Jones (Pinocchio), Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket), Christian Rub (Geppetto), Walter Catlett (“Honest” John Worthington Foulfellow), Evelyn Venable (the blue fairy), Frankie Darro (Lampwick), Charles Judels (Stromboli), Sterling Holloway, Mel Blanc,

If ever Disney had a golden era, this was it.  Pinocchio was released in the middle of a five year period that saw Disney not so much raise the bar of animation as to change discipline from high jump to pole vault.  The bar was now out of sight.  Yet in spite of this, I selected just three of the ‘Golden Five’ for the list, leaving behind Dumbo and Bambi, and including just Snow White, Fantasia and this censored adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s occasionally brutal tale.  (more…)

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