09 January 2005

"Million Dollar Baby," Other Stuff...

First, before I get to anything... I had to mention this. FINALLY. My favorite movie of all time, and I been putting up with that ancient, horseshit DVD all these years. And now? We're a go. Special Edition, 25th Anniversary. Check out the special features, too:

  • Commentary by director Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker

  • Commentary by producer Irwin Winkler, music producer Robbie Robertson, producer Robert Chartoff, actress Theresa Saldana, actor John Turturro, and supervising sound effects editor Frank Warner

  • Commentary by writer Mardik Martin, writer Paul Schrader, boxer-author Jake LaMotta, and LaMotta's nephew Jason Lustig

  • "Raging Bull: Before the Fight": documentary on the writing, casting, and preproduction of the film

  • "Raging Bull: Inside the Ring": in-depth look at the choreography and the shooting of the fight scenes

  • "Raging Bull: Outside the Ring": Behind-the-scenes stories

  • "Raging Bull: After the Fight": featurette on the sound design, music, and impact of the film

  • "The Bronx Bull": making-of documentary

  • "De Niro vs. LaMotta": shot-by-shot comparison of De Niro and LaMotta in the ring

  • Newsreel footage of the real LaMotta

  • Original theatrical trailer

  • I mean, c'mon- my favorite movie, EVER. February 8th, dudes. I can't wait...


    Saw Million Dollar Baby tonight, and unless you've really been reading up on this movie, and are willing to go into it knowing all the turns of the story, there's really nothing to prepare you for it. It is an absolutely devastating movie- in every way, shape and form. In fact, the film's great payoff scene, where Hilary Swank's Maggie Fitzgerald is told by Eastwood's Frank Dunn what her nickname means (Gaelic- "Mo Cuishle"), is one of the more unbelievable moments I can remember in a movie. It was literally staggering.

    I think this is true of the entire movie because of the expectations you harbor for it- I felt I was going to enjoy the movie, but going into it, the image of a hardened, old trainer taking a young figher under his wing and teach her life lessons and right hooks is a bit cliched. If not cliched, then at least beaten path- we've been there. The opening scenes do nothing to change that.

    Which isn't to say they're bad- they're certainly not. I really wonder if Eastwood isn't the greatest steady-working filmmaker in America today- almost like an Ansel Adams or Robert Frost; maybe they're not your favorite, but they work along the universal path better and more honestly than anyone else in their field. Everything about the beginnings of Million is familiar territory, but it isn't disappointing in that way, it's comfortable, it's understood. Like an old blues progression that's used again- but with a whole new tale of woe or damnation or whatever.

    Hilary Swank is literal perfection cast as Maggie- there's determination, and sincere, bone-tired determination, the kind that comes off as naive and stubborn, but can be revealed to be all too weary and informed. This isn't a movie of showey acting and big, gimme-an-Oscar grandstanding (*coughKevinSpaceycough*), it's just people relating a story with some sort of stake in it's being told right. Maggie is soon begrudgingly taken on by Eastwood, and off we go- he teaches her to box, and she does it well. He shows her the ropes, shows a silent, honest example and there is a wonderful symbiosis between the characters that gives the movie an earnest feeling of Americana, or nostalgia.

    These are characters that have serious hardships, but we're never inundated with them, they're only on the screen in their day-to-day existence. Morgan Freeman's character, "Scrap," a down on his luck former fighter, keeps up Eastwood's gym, the Hit Pit. He watches Maggie go from a green but dead-set girl into a capable, fierce competitor soon vying for the title.

    The rest of the movie is the rest of the movie- it is what it is, and really can't be broken down. It's beautiful without wanting to be, and just simply a story. With the way narration in cinema nowadays being much about overstatement, a disciplined understatement- maybe even borderline "non-statement" seems to speak louder and more volumes on the viewer's terms. The goofy character "Danger," a scrawny dim-witted kid that provides comic relief through the first two acts, brings the story full circle in one of the more affecting bits of narration I've ever heard (it's Freeman's character narrating). Without spoiling any of it, the final two scenes of the film will knock you on your ass.

    I loved the movie, but not in the way you get visceral joy from a film, not in like a drug-like buzz, but in the way that you absorb and can never really shake what it means to you. It truly is a sacred and beautiful thing to take things and ideas that never happened and never came to pass and make them a part of people's lives, make you care about them. That's what great movies are, and that's absolutely what Million Dollar Baby is.

    There were problems- her family was a bit of a caricature, and there are elements of her Title Fight opponent that are a bit unbelievable (last I checked, boxing doesn't fly by the rules of "anything-goes-when-the-ref's-back-is-turned" like WWF)- but this is a great story to hear, and to really appreciate how honestly and cleanly it was told to you. It's just as good as Unforgiven, Eastwood's other masterpiece, and it is a stronger movie than Mystic River, even. A truly felt, devastating movie.


    Anyway, before the movie, the Woman (who was rendered literally incapacited in sobbing by the movie) and I partook in some snackery at Lincoln Square Cinemas. Suffice it to say that the refreshments were un-GOD-ly priced, but I had a gift certificate, so I was ok. I got the nachos and a large soda, she got the popcorn and a water. It was a shitload dollars and too many cents. Unreal.

    Anyway, there's this little PSA that runs before movies in Loews theaters that I feel like a total douche laughing at, but sorry, it's really really funny. It's called "Inconsiderate Cellphone Guy," and the dude is on the phone in really inconsiderate places. The guy is funny- at Lamazz (sp?) class, he's yelling,

    "Dude, you're at the CONCERT?! Do they have a SMOKE MACHINE?!"

    I dunno, I like it. The guy in it, Rob Huebel, is on all those VH1 panelist shows, and is routinely the funniest one on them. I think the hilarity is like, 95% his doing. I laugh, that makes me a nerd. Oh well.

    And so anyway, we saw the trailer for Batman Begins in front of Million, and it looks so fucking good, I got really, really excited. Everybody knows Batman's the coolest superhero of all time, and thankfully Joel Schumacher isn't around to gay the whole thing up anymore. Nolan looks like he's gonna make it dark, like the first one... and good. I can't wait.

    Which got me thinking... what are the ones I'm really looking forward to in 2005? Well, shit, here's a list.

    1. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas (May)

    2. Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan (June)

    3. The Brothers Grimm, Terry Gilliam (November)

    4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tim Burton (July)

    5. George A Romero's Land of the Dead, George A Romero (October)

    6. Walk the Line, James Mangold (November)

    7. Sin City, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller (April)

    8. Fantastic Four, Tim Story (July)

    9. Wallace and Gromit, Nick Park and Steve Box (October)

    10. War of the Worlds, Steven Spielberg (June)


    Beltran bolts from the Astros (they had to sign him by midnight tonight or relinquish the right to negotiate with him til May, effectively ending his time there. That's what happened)- root hard for the Mets to make it quick, Sox fans, cos I can smell the Yankees jumping back into this. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to wake up tomorrow morning reading that very fact...

    And for what it's worth, if the best ESPN can do on a given night for baseball rumoring is Buster Olney, they may as well just take a deeper look at the Cavs- Hornets game that night, cos he brings NOTHING to the table. Seriously. Read his columns.


    Also, Mom: I think I have bronchitis. Should I come home and have Dr. Levin check me out?

    ______________________________ |


    Can't wait to see this movie...wonderful review...good respiratory chart:)yes, come home to get checked out...the moms:)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/09/2005 8:52 AM  

    Looks like someone figured out how to use a computer...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/09/2005 5:26 PM  

    Tim im glad you got nachos with your gift certificate....i hope they were good....love colleen

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/17/2005 2:25 PM  

    Colly- thanks for the nachos. They were delightful. Isn't Xmas weird too? Cos you basically treated me to a movie and refreshments. But if like, in May, I was all, "hey Colly, wanna take me to the movies, get me some food?" itd be sort of ridiculous. No, you'd say. Pay your own way, and no one would blame you.

    So thank you. The cheese was even really hot!

    By Blogger BS Memorial, at 1/17/2005 2:50 PM  

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