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This week:
The Wrestler

Filthy says:
"Good acting, hokey story."

The Wrestler's title probably is meant to be deeper than telling us the movie's about a guy who wrestles. Which is what it is. Wrestler could represent some deeper meaning othan just squaring off in the squared circle. Maybe pile-driving one's conscience, or giving the suplex to the demon thoughts of life's meaning, or having your nagging doubts about self-worth clothesline you from the top rope. Hollywood does that sort of shit, you know, come up with that deeper meaning. Usually pretty ham-fisted. It makes them feel like they're a Goddamn Immanuel Kant or something when they're taking a dump.

There isn't a lot of introspection to The Wrestler, though. It's a straightforward story of a once-famous fighter (Mickey Rourke) who is aging--not too gracefully--forced to face his mortality and what he's lost. In his thirties, he was the featured event of pay-per-views and on the cover of magazines. Now in his fifties, Rourke's "Randy the Ram" hangs on, performing on weekends in front of a couple hundred people in Elk Lodges and high school gymnasiums.

After suffering a heart attack, Rourke learns he can no longer wrestle. Doing so could kill him. This strips the man of his one purpose, and he can barely stand life without the adoration of a crowd. Absent his weekly grappling, Rourke tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). Except, he fucks that up and she tells him she never wants to see him again. He also tries to find companionship in the arms of a stripper with a heart of gold (Marisa Tomei). Ultimately, though, he needs the roar of the crowd and admiration of the other wrestlers. He even tells us so during a corny speech prior to his farewell wrestling performance. And it's not farewell because he's retiring. It's farewell because, well, remember what the doctors told him?

Mickey Rourke is really fucking great in this movie. He's nothing short of fantastic and genuine. The guy looks like an old wrestler, except his entire face seems to have been injected with botox or something. It's permanently swollen and immobile. His lips barely move when he speaks. Still, the guy expresses more sadness than the Harelip did after she dropped her Percocet down the storm drain and then got her shoulder caught in the grate until the cops dragged her away. And he does it with way less screaming. He nails the sorrow of a character that isn't smart, believes his favorite stripper cares about him, wants to be happy, can't understand why his aging body is betraying him, and destroys his chances for happiness in exchange for instant pleasures and cheap gratifications that keep the sorrow at bay. In his fifties, Rourke's wrestler still shoots up steroids, pretends it's the 80s, can't pay his rent but can splurge on a lapdance. You can see how he would have no money saved from his glory years because it probably never occurred to him that they'd end.

Tomei's stripper is pretty undeveloped, as all strippers-with-hearts-of-gold tend to be. In fact, if you meet a real stripper who pretends to care about you, it's because she's going to take you into an alley so an associate will beat the shit out of you and take your wallet. When Tomei falls in love with Rourke, it doesn't feel legit The only thing he has to offer her is a need for pity, and what single mom has time for that? It is a mechanical necessity of the script. When she quits her job mid-danceto be iwht Rourke, it's a moment out of a much, worse, cheesier movie. Still, Tomei seems sad enough, and aware that she's no longer young. She reminds me of a saying: all unhappy strippers are unhappy in the same way; and happy strippers are each happy in their own unique drug-induced stupors. There was one I met in Vegas once named Gemni (she removed the "i", not me) who told me she knew she wasn't an alcoholic because she only got drunk at work (Goldschlager and a beer back). She also wrote poetry so powerfully sad that it made her cry, and her friends refused to read it. Oh, and she had two kids with genetic heart defects alone at home. We didn't talk about her being molested as a child, but only because I was out back getting the shit beat out of me.

Tomei is 44 years old and, holy shit, she has really nice-looking tits. Man, I wish all girls that age looked that good, and were willing to show them off like this. That's exactly what I need to convince me to pay for subscription to a MILF site, rather than just look for free samples.

The main problem with The Wrestler is not the acting. It's that Tomei and Rourke are surrounded by a tired story and an overly sentimental climax. After Rourke has his heart attack, the ending is obvious. Director Darren Aronofsky makes it even more obvious by having Rourke repeatedly clutch his chest during the big wrestling bout. His interaction with his daughter Wood has a few nice moments, but it isn't authentic, either. It plays out too Lifetime Channel. Wood has a thankless job of just acting very sad without a personality, and the equally thankless task of giving in quickly to Rourke, just so his fuckup can hurt her.

I have no idea if there is a golden age of wrestling. Probably everyone thinks it was when they were a kid. What I do know is that The Wrestler is rooted in the characters of my youth. Rourke could be playing Ric Flair, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, the Ultimate Warrior, Ted Dibiase or Paul Orndorff. All of whom I watched beat up on B. Brian Blair at the Olympic Auditorium on Saturday mornings. I haven't spent any time seeing how debilitated and sad these old characters are today, but the movie feels like it's probably close to the reality. Maybe it's closest to Flair, who still thinks he can wrestle as he pushes sixty. That's just fucking creepy. The movie's fights scenes are excellent, visceral and cringe-inducing. It's like Aronofsky is going for a wrestling Raging Bull and mostly succeeds. However, the action in the ring takes up a hell of a lot of screen time. Wrestling just ain't that interesting to me.

I want to tell you some cute and vulgar story relating my own concerns about mortality. I can't, though, for two reasons. First, I've given so much joy to my community that I'll never be sorry for my life. The smiles on adult's faces when I fall off my bike or vomit in a planter are precious moments I will always cherish. The public service I provide when I speak to kindergartners as part of the Arvada Police's "Scared Straight" program is a gift. Second, I'm immortal. I will never die. If I thought I would, I'd go to the doctor about the growing lump in my armpit and the increased difficulty breathing. But I don't need to worry about that shit because I won't ever get old or die. Me and Wilford.

If I were worried about mortality, though, and the sort to reflect on the meaning of life, The Wrestler would be a decent reminder to find my purpose. Three Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Mark S. Allen of CBS

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Filthy's Reading
Paul Bibeau - Sundays with Vlad

Listening to
Silver Jews - American Water


The Mexican