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The Wrestler

USA 2008
produced by
Darren Aranofsky, Scott Franklin, Vincent Maraval (executive), Agnès Mentre (executive), Jennifer Roth (executive) for Protozoa Pictures, Saturn Films
directed by Darren Aronofsky
starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry, Wass Stevens, Judah Friedlander, Ernest Miller, Dylan Keith Summers, Tommy Farra, Mike Miller, Marcia Jean Kurtz, John D'Leo, Ajay Naidu, Gregg Bello, Scott Siegel, Maurizio Ferrigno, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Andrea Langi, Armin Amiri, Vale Anoai, Ryan Lynn, Michael Drayer, Alyssa Bresnahan, Jeff Chena, Vernon Campbell, Felice Choi, Bernadette Penotti, Johnny Valiant, Ron Killings, Giovanni Roselli, Robert Siegel, Scott Franklin, Sylvia Kauders, Alissa Reisler, Willy Rosler, Rebecca Darke, E.J.Carroll, Abraham Aronofsky, Charlotte Aronofsky, TJ Kedzieerski, Jen Cohn, Henry Kwan, Maven Bentley, Douglas Crosby, Larry Legend, Nick Papagerio, Kevin Foote, Jon Trosky, Andy Anderson, Austin Aries, Blue Meanie (= Brian Heffron), Nicky Benz, Brolly, Lamar Braxton Porter, Claudio Castagnoli, Cobian, Doc Daniels, Bobby Dempsey, Billy Dream, Whacks, Rob Eckos, Nate Hatred, Havoc (= Kit Cope), DJ Hyde, Inferno (= Jeff Joslin), Joker (= Kai Nuuhiwa), Judas, Kid USA, LA Smooth, Toa Mairie, Kevin Matthews, Devon Moore, Pete Nixon, Paul E.Normous, Papadon, Sabian, Jay Santana, Sugga, Larry Sweeney, Elizabeth Wood
written by Robert D.Siegel, music by Clint Mansell, stunt coordinator: Douglas Crosby

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Randy 'the Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a big wrestler once - but that was back in the 1980's. Now he tries to make a few bucks off his former fame wrestling with a small-fry promotion (but at least he's that promotion's star), putting more of an effort into it than it's actually worth, while still having to work part time in a supermarket storeroom to make ends meet. Then, after a hardcore match, Randy has a heart attack, and when he comes to, his doctor tells him he will never be able to wrestle again - while his big comeback match against the Ayatollah (Ernest Miller), a reprise of a legendary fight they fought 20 years ago, is just weeks away.

Still, Randy, realizing he's no longer as young and healthy a man as he used to be, quits the wrestling circuit, gets a job at the deli counter of the supermarket he has been working at, tries to make up with his estranged daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), and tries to take his relationship to stripper Cassidy (Marisa Tomei) to the next level. However, Randy's life outside of the ring goes horribly wrong, the deli job totally freaks him out, he fucks up with his daughter - again -, and Cassidy, though she really cares for him, can't get too involved with him since she still sees him as her customer. So ultimately, Randy decides to return to the ring again despite everything, and take on the Ayatollah (who has since found success as a used car salesman).

Much too late does Cassidy realize that she does indeed fell more for Randy than she dared to admit even to herself, but when she finally catches up with him to tell him, he's just about to enter teh ring to beat the crap out of the Ayatollah, and he won't turn back now.

In the match itself, Randy's failing health begins to show more and more, so much so that the Ayatollah asks him to finish him off quickly, but still Randy is determined to win this bout in style, and for his killer move, he takes to the top rope, jumps and ... and this is where the film ends.

 

A compelling drama and an interesting insight into the world of (small-fry league) professional wrestling, The Wrestler is quite an ok movie, but it's far from perfect. Especially the finale, in which Randy gives a passionate speech before probably killing himself in the ring is extremely cheesy and destroys much of the authencity the movie has accomplished earlier on, plus the ambivalent ending (we see Randy jump and suspect he won't survive, but do we know?) seems to be taking the easy way out rather than tieing up all the (narrative) knots.

The main capital of the film though is Mickey Rourke, who effortlessly carries the film even through its more boring spots, and who seems to bring a certain authencity to his role, as he, just like Randy, is a washed-up star from the 1980's - but while Randy might have died in the ring at the end, for Rourke it is an impressive comeback to former glory and quite possibly his best performance ever.

And for Rourke alone, this film is an almost must-see.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD