Monday, December 22, 2008

Thoughts on The Wrestler, Once Upon a Time in Hell, and Grand Theft Auto

Saturday the Beefcake and I went to see The Wrestler at the Arclight.

There's this really, really long moment after the film fades to black before the credits come up and it is completely necessary so we can all gain our composure before we have to start concentrating again.

"That was a good movie," was pretty much all I had to say when we left the theater. I didn't want to ruin the film by overanalyzing it.

But then a little while later we started to talk about it and I said there was a bit of point-of-view violation. And then I couldn't think of anything else to complain about. It's just a fucking great movie. Much like Mikey, The Beefcake hates everything that isn't Robocop, but he loved the hell out of The Wrestler.

This weekend I also tore through three screenplays. I'll get to Inglorious Bastards later, but I also read Once Upon a Time in Hell and Grand Theft Auto because I really enjoy being depressed about the human condition.

Both of these scripts were well constructed and both were really violent tales about revenge and greed and women whose men treat them like shit. Once Upon a Time in Hell is not quite as clean a read - there were parts where I was a little confused as to what was going on, mostly because Brian McGreevey & Lee Shipman change people's names regularly depending on how they've been described. For instance, they'll start out by calling a guy "MAN" then later somebody will call that guy "PORKY" so they'll change his name to that, then later on we'll learn that his real name is "BOB" so they'll start calling him that. That's not literally what they did - nobody's named Porky - but that's sort of how it reads. Once Upon a Time in Hell also flips back and forth between past and present so frequently that it gets hard to follow the timeline.

Very mild spoilers follow.

The story itself is pretty good - really gritty and violent, as the title would imply. The young son of a mobster is ready to begin a promising career as a lawyer with his beautiful fiance at his side when his brother betrays him and takes everything he had. Which of course leads to some pretty nasty revenge.

The movie has one of those "happy" endings that's sort of like "Oh. Everybody's fucked but they're kind of okay-ish for now. yay."

I also read Grand Theft Auto.


Usually when you get a video game adaptation it blows big fat goat chunks because they either have to blow off the game aspect to make a good story or they try too hard to make it feel like the game so that the story sucks (*cough* Doom *cough*).

But Grand Theft Auto, written by Jason Dean Hall, felt like both a solid story and a transfer of the video game. Our protagonist, Emile, is a reformed criminal and drug addict trying to make it right by working a legitimate job as a repo specialist, but it seems like everything in his life is in foreclosure, so he gets back into his old life for one more job.

Then the shit hits the fan. Drugs, gunfire, lots of stolen cars, a helicopter, a naked lady, cops, Yakuza, Mongols, decapitations, betrayals, suicides, you name it the shit's in there. But somehow it all feels organic to the story.

I think what works here that felt a little forced in Crank - it has pacing like Crank or Shoot 'Em Up, fast as fuck - is that our protag is not just trying to get away or maintain, he's actually on a mission, a mission with a clock. This film is GO GO GO from the second you hit the first page. Usually when I read a screenplay I get sleepy in the middle and have to break before I can finish it. Not this one. This puppy was rock 'em sock 'em.

I'm not sure which one I want to read next. Maybe Butter.


  1. I'm reading Butter right now, it's great, totally reminds me of Christopher Guest's movies.

    I want to see The Wrestler so bad, but it's not yet released here in shitty St. Louis.

  2. THE WRESTLER is pretty great and that ending is one of the best things about it.

    Was the ROBOCOP mention because Aronofsky is slated to direct a reboot? I wasn't sure. But as good as he might be, I say that we've gotten the best RoboCop movie we're ever going to get. It's called ROBOCOP.

  3. No, I mentioned Robocop because the Beefcake really loves Robocop.

    I did think the ending was fantastic. Tragic but beautiful.

  4. As well he should, but still an interesting coincidence.

    Agreed 100% on the ending.


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