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Reviews for December 10th, 2010

And Everything is Going Fine

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at the IFC Center.
Released by IFC Films.

The Fighter

Directed by David O. Russell

Based on a true story. “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) aspires to become a professional boxer, but many obstacles come along the way to his rise to fame and success as a welterweight boxer. Those obstacles include the tensions between him and his crack-addicted brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), a former boxer who’s now his trainer. Micky comes from a working class family in Lowell, Massachusetts, and lives his domineering mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), and seven sisters. Alice has poor parenting skills because she can’t seem to let go of Micky to give him the pride and inspiration to follow his own passion for boxing. The individual who does provide that inspiration that ignites his passion and confidence is Charlene (Amy Adams), a bartender who becomes his girlfriend and treats him with the genuine respect and support that’s missing from his mother. In another subplot, Dicky struggles to overcome his problems with cocaine addiction which eventually lands him in jail before he agrees to confess his battles with drug abuse in an HBO documentary. What makes The Fighter a cut above your average sports drama is that it’s grounded by a heartfelt, compelling story with characters who are fallible and believable. Director David O. Russell films the boxing scenes in such a way that provides palpable tension sans the use of nauseating camerawork. Melissa Leo steals every scene she’s in with her impeccable acting skills because she really makes you really loathe Alice. Christian Bale also nails the role of Dicky with such ease that you’ll forget that he’s Christian Bale---when an actor gets lost inside a character like that, it’s a real triumph. Mark Wahlberg also gives a stellar performance that tackles Micky’s complex character of strength and fragility with utter conviction. His performance, on top of the well-written, organic screenplay by co-writers Scott Silvery, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, will make you stand up and cheer for him until the very end just like you felt while watching Rocky Balboa in Rocky or Jake La Motta in the much grittier Raging Bull. Just like those boxing classics, The Fighter is not fundamentally a story about boxing fundamentally; the dramatic and even romantic struggles of Micky remain at a foreground to propel the film so that even those who aren’t avid fans of boxing can find themselves entertained by it and perhaps even relating to what Micky goes through to fulfil his dreams in the midst of adversity. At a running time of 1 hour and 55 minutes, The Fighter is a rousing, captivating and heartfelt sports drama filled with terrific performances. It's a knockout!
Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at the AMC/Loews Lincoln Square.
Released by Paramount Pictures.

You Wont Miss Me

Directed by Ry Russo-Young

Shelly (Stella Schnabel), a 23-year-old Brooklynite, leaves a mental hospital because her doctor doesn’t think she belongs there anymore. She doesn’t have a boyfriend, although she’s still good friends with a guy she met a decade ago. That friend isn’t boyfriend material because, as he admits so himself, he’s afraid to treat her like shit just like he treats every other woman he’s been with. When she’s not having sex, drink, smoking, spending time with her friend, Carlen (Carlen Altman) or with a much older guy who pampers her with money every now and then, she’s auditioning for acting roles without any success. Director/co-writer Ry Russo-Young deftly combines music and various forms of cinematography in an attempt to help you grasp what Shelly’s going through on an emotional level. Clearly, Shelly comes across as a confused, emotionally unstable, lonely and depressed young woman who has yet to grow up, overcome her deeply-rooted issues and to find a purpose within this alienating world. Those tasks are easier said than done, though, especially for someone like Shelly whose mother has been absent in most of her adult life and has caused her to feel inadequate without that maternal love and support. While much of You Wont Miss Me seems as aimless as Shelly at times, what keeps the film captivating is Stella Schnabel’s raw performance that covers a wide range of emotions. Shelly’s often annoying and stubborn, yet, on occasion, you get to observe that she’s innately fragile and has the capability of being sweet and charismatic. Russo-Young wisely includes a few sprinkles of comic relief to balance the drama so that it won’t be too heavy on the audience; otherwise the film’s tone would have been too sad and monotonous. Even if you can’t relate to Shelly and her problems, you’ll still find yourself curiously observing her struggles in an almost voyeuristic sense like when you pass by a car accident and can’t help but staring at it no matter how hard you try to look away. At running time of 1 hour and 21 minutes, You Wont Miss Me is a poignant, true-to-life portrait of an emotionally scarred, lonely and depressed soul struggling to grow up in this often cold, alienating world. Stella Schnabel delivers a raw, captivating performance.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Opens at the Cinema Village.
Released by Factory 25.

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