The golden age of boxing had glimmers of brilliance years ago with Louis, Marciano and Ali and the big screen has benefited from exposing boxing’s grit and glamour over the years. Going all the way back to William Holden’s debut in “The Golden Boy,” to “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “Raging Bull,” and even the first “Rocky,” boxing has captivated many non-sports enthusiasts.
Along comes “The Fighter” and the first thought that comes to mind is, “Do we really need another movie about boxing?” The answer to that rhetorical question is “Yes.”
As a producer, Mark Wahlberg was instrumental in bringing this biopic about Boston fighter Mickey Ward to the screen. As Mickey, Wahlberg delivers a believable one-two punch and has the confidence to surround himself with an exceptional supporting cast.
Christian Bale is unrecognizable as Dicky, Mickey’s older brother who at one time had success in the ring only to sabotage his career by hitting the crack pipe. Melissa Leo delivers one of the best “I’m glad she’s not my mother” performances on film, and Amy Adams, as the love interest, once again morphs into an entirely different screen persona from the ones she previously created in “Enchanted,” “Doubt” and “Julie and Julia.”
“The Fighter,” directed by David O. Russell, is a story about family and loyalty and missed opportunity. The film delivers a knockout punch on all counts.
Ed Zwick is no newcomer to telling stories. His directorial credits include “Glory,” “About Last Night,” “Courage Under Fire,” “Legends of the Fall” and “Blood Diamond.” So, how come his latest film, “Love and Other Drugs,” doesn’t quite work?
The story centers around Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), an ambitious salesman who stumbles onto a pharmaceutical gold mine — Viagra. While pursuing doctors to recommend his product brand, he stumbles onto an intriguing dating challenge in the form of Maggie (Anne Hathaway).
The “catch” in turning their sexual attraction into a more meaningful relationship is Maggie’s diagnosis of early onset Parkinson’s.
Herein lies the dilemma. Is “Love and Other Drugs” a romantic comedy as advertised? (Ergo the “Love” in the title.) Well, there are funny moments — a few. Or is the focus more on “… and Other Drugs,” with the boom of interest in male performance in the form of a blue pill vs. the lack of research producing any definitive hope for Maggie’s disease progression? Director Zwick and fellow writers Marshall Herskovitz and Charles Randolph never quite decide.
Gyllenhaal and Hathaway give it their all, and I mean that in a very literal sense. These talented actors have credible bodies of work; alas, in “Love and Other Drugs” the emphasis is far more on their naked forms, lovely to be sure, but far too exposed in far too many scenes. It would have been so nice to have a script that matched their talent.
Daniel Daréus is a world-class orchestra conductor and he is booked for years into the future until, quite unexpectedly, he has a heart attack after a performance. Rest is mandatory for his physical health to recover and reflection is necessary for his emotional stability in the future. What meaning will his life have without music?
The shy, introspective musician decides to return to the village where he spent his early youth (memories that weren’t particularly pleasant). When the parish minister learns of this talented celebrity residing in the old schoolhouse, he implores Daniel to take over the struggling church choir.
So many characters blossom in the Swedish film “As It Is in Heaven” that you may start to feel like a member of the choir. There’s Lena, the free-spirited beauty; Gabriella, a lovely soprano who is unfortunately married to the town bully; Arne, a businessman with high aspirations for the group; Tore, a challenged youth who is enamored by the choir’s rehearsals; Siv, the miffed former director; Stig, the self-righteous preacher and so on. You get the picture. It is no easy task to create distinct personalities for such a large cast; however, director Kay Pollak not only succeeds, she triumphs.
Beyond the choir, there are two equally powerful roles in the movie: Michael Nyqvist as Daniel and music. It’s all about the music. In this intimate, Swedish rural community, one cannot survive without the other.
Grading this week’s DVDs: the ABC’s
Mon, Mar 19, 2012
Politics, political figures and spies
Tue, Mar 6, 2012
Tue, Feb 14, 2012
And now, reality
Mon, Jan 30, 2012
Looking back on the year that was (Part 1 of 2)
Wed, Dec 7, 2011
Film buffs should revisit ‘Northwest’
Wed, Nov 2, 2011
Conspiracy theories played out on film
Tue, Oct 18, 2011
Mix-ups, marriage and horse management
Mon, Oct 3, 2011
Going ‘Grease,’ locally and on DVD
Tue, Sep 13, 2011
It’s All About the Music
Fri, Sep 9, 2011