22 January 2009

Beautiful but flawed

I didn't like the film The Wrestler very much when I left the theater. The brutality of the wrestling scenes is so sick there are parts I wish I hadn't spent an hour and a half etching upon my visual memory centers.

Today I saw the Oscar nominations (I know -- I don't know why I still care about them, but I absolutely, unstintingly do) and I muttered my agreement that Darren Aronofsky didn't get a Best Director nomination. Ever since, I've been thinking about that film, though, and about how it stuck in my head long after the last reel had unspooled. I think about Mickey Rourke all pumped up like a human erection, with his blond locks pouring out of the top of his head, and I think that Aronofsky's achievement in creating that vivid, if sometimes turgid, impression of a human being is a powerful achievement, one that the Academy in all its conservative wisdom has overlooked this year. What I'm trying to figure out is how much of that is the actor and how much is the director. Isn't that always in question?

Although adhering strongly to biopic conventions -- not as experimental as Van Sant's more edge-seeking work -- I'm still rooting for Milk because of Sean Penn's lit-from-within portrayal of Harvey Milk. I guess I'll have to see The Case of Benjamin Button, although I'm not otherwise drawn to that one so far. And I think The Dark Knight got just the right number of nominations. But there's a lot I haven't seen yet, as always.

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