Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oscar Marathon: The Fighter and 127 hours

The Fighter: Like most sports films this flick is an underdog story, and therefore rather cliche, but it is a well done cliche.  You've seen this story before. Boxer fights. Boxer loses. Boxer trains for comeback. Along the way, boxer meets girl. I bet you can guess the ending.

But, the meat of this story isn't the boxing, but the family dramas and struggles. And, that is where this film shines, telling of the hardscrabble life of a working class Irish family, with their hopes and dreams riding on a "stepping stone" boxer who is taking one last shot at glory. Melissa Leo and Christian Bale give remarkable performances as the manipulative mother and junkie brother. The best performance I've ever seen Bale give. He should be a shoo in for Best Supporting Actor.

If you haven't seen it, do so.

127 Hours: Spoiler Alert I don't know why I say spoiler alert. You know he cuts off his fucking arm.

I get weak at the sight of blood, real blood that is. Movie blood and gore doesn't bother me at all, but this film did. The amputation scene was awfully damn hard to watch. To be honest, I kept my eyes closed during it. It was just too damn real. Perhaps knowing it was based on a true story is what made it so real and painful to watch.

Fuck Firth and Eisenberg. James Franco shines in this film, and he deserves the Oscar. His portrayal of a man's slow descent into near total madness, but with enough sense and strength to survive is superb. Especially good was the scene were he interviews himself. He was alone for most of the film, and carries it with no problem.

The director was faced with the challenge of filming most of the film with only one actor stuck in one claustrophobic spot. He succeeded admirably, but he did use a few too many tricks like weird camera angles and unnecessary split screens. He should have trusted his actor more.

The film succeeds brilliantly were Black Swan fails so miserably; the slow descent of a person into madness. I don't think the movie deserves Best Picture, but it's in the top three.

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