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Showing posts from February, 2011

Rabbit Hole

That John Cameron Mitchell?  If you have seen the the director's first two features, Hedwig and the AngryInch and Shortbus, you might well be surprised to see his name attached to Rabbit Hole, by all appearances a conventional drama about a couple trying to cope with the death of their son some months earlier.   There is, after all, nary a scene in Rabbit Hole in which a man performs fellatio on himself.   Nor are there any plot lines dealing with a transexual who laments not only rock stardom stolen from her but a sex change that resulted in a stump of a leftover penis (that the angry inch).   There's really nothing much about penises at all here.   But if you have seen Mr. Mitchell's first two full-length films, you know they were largely stories about longing and loss.  Amidst all the potentially sensationalistic trappings of "Hedwig" and Shortbus, the emotion vented was as universal as it was dead-on to the given circumstances.  Viewed in that light, Rabbit …

The Fighter

David O. Russel's The Fighter answers the opening bell like a boxer whose fight it is to win, but who comes out so pulsating with adrenaline that you're afraid he's going to punch himself out in the early rounds.   Christian Bale's eyes bulge as Dicky Eklund, the troubled, crack-addicted brother of "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg).   Melissa Leo struts around manically in high heels, tight clothes, a square helmet of frosted hair, her lower lip pushed up in so resolute a frown that it verges on the comic.  And then there are the sisters.   The seven female siblings of Dicky and Micky are ostensibly seven individuals, each with a nickname more colorful than the last  - Tar, Red Dog and Beaver, to name but a few - but speaking fiercely as one beneath their gravity-defying coifs of Irish fair hair.   They're scary.   

With a family and entourage - mom is the manager; Dicky is the trainer whenever he can pry himself away from a Lowell crack house - like this…

Blue Valentine

"I have to sing goofy... in order to sing.  Like I have to sing stupid. "   This the unnecessary disclaimer from Dean (Ryan Gosling), as he's about to serenade Cindy (Michelle Williams) in front of a Brooklyn dry cleaners one evening, early in their swoony courtship.   If you've seen the trailer for Blue Valentine, or the film itself, you've heard Mr. Gosling's "stupid" singing, a kind of throwback yodel of  "You Only Hurt the One you Love," that occurs while he strums a ukulele.   Cindy provides a shuffling, ragged tap dance.  The singing and dancing are both so beautifully goofy that it's hard to imagine not falling in love with either Dean or Cindy in that moment.  
Unfortunately, the couple and the film have to leave the cozy entryway of the Brooklyn dry cleaners with the heart-shaped wreath on the front door.  You know, the inexorable march of time and all that.  Blue Valentine, for its part, goes back and forth.   Director Derek…