I do most of my movie watching on the weekends and between Netflix, Classic Flix, cable and even an occasional trip to an honest-to-God movie theatre, I can see a very eclectic bunch of stuff over any given weekend. This is what I just saw over the past three days:
Shutter Island - Coming from Martin Scorsese, the man who gave us Taxi Driver, The King Of Comedy, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, this is relatively small potatoes but it's a serviceably creepy thriller and when the big twist comes along, you see that this was Scorsese's way of paying homage to one of the most seminal horror films of all time. I'd had trouble buying into spindly Leonardo DiCaprio as a serious leading man in the past but here I can see him finally maturing into a convincing noirish tough guy.
A Matter Of Life And Death - By coincidence, Scorsese does a short commentary on the DVD of this classic Michael Powell film about a British World War II pilot who is supposed to die when his plane is shot down but doesn't thanks to a Heavenly mishap and instead falls in love with an American WAC leading to a massive trial in Heaven to determine whether he shall die now or go on living.
On a first watching, I'm not as overwhelmed by it as other Powell films like Black Narcissus, The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp and Peeping Tom but it's still an audacious and very well made romantic fantasy with fine acting from David Niven, Roger Livesy and Kim Hunter. I was slightly confused, though, when the trial sequence detoured into several minutes of debate on the merits of America vs. Britain.
The Wrestler - The weekend of the 2011 Oscars, I finally saw Darren Aronofsky's previous film about a fatally obsessed performer. I've followed professional wrestling off and on since the 60's and by now, I've heard plenty of the stories of broken families, ruined bodies and early deaths that the business has led to. This movie captures the feel of that world so authentically it's chilling. I know I'm very late to the party in saying this but Mickey Rourke does give the performance of his life as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a man who only seems to feel alive when he's crashing and bleeding in front of an audience, someone who has let every real relationship in his life slip right through his fingers, someone far too reminiscent of Hulk Hogan, Terry Funk, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Curt Hennig, Brian Pillman, and other real living and dead wrestlers for comfort. When he gives a speech to the audience near the end about how he loves to perform for them, I immediately thought of speeches I've heard by Ric Flair more than once and The Rock on Monday Night RAW a couple of weeks ago. Marisa Tomei, who has become a scary good actress in the last few years, was equally as affecting as an aging stripper.
I noticed that the very end was eerily like Aranofsky's Black Swan with both main characters leaping to their deaths, but where you know Natalie Portman's Nina is bleeding to death at the fade of Swan, The Wrestler goes black as Randy The Ram leaps off the top rope. All the signs are that his heart is about to give out on him but you never actually see that. I thought that was a really classy way to send him out.