Saturday, 31 January 2009

'The Wrestler'

I’ve just been to see The Wrestler, the new film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Mickey Rourke. I really loved it. Mickey Rourke’s performance is just totally mesmerising, but I really enjoyed the way it was filmed. It had a terrific naturalism and , with a great eye for detail. Qualities I really admire.

Mickey Rourke’s body was fascinating too. It was a landscape of scars, cuts and bruises and corned beef like skin. His whole life’s story seemed to be held in it, particularly his face. It was very moving. I’d really recommend it.

I found myself questioning the violence that the sport celebrates , which was graphically represented in the film. Our young nephews are both obsessed with WWE and collect all the toys etc. It is so marketed at kids and a young audience that you do have to question them celebrating the values of smashing someone violently around the head with a metal chair (or an artificial leg)!

It’s all a far cry from the likes of Big Daddy, Mick McManus and Kendo Nagasaki, the wrestling I enjoyed as a kid on Saturday afternoons. For fans of that era and this peculiar strand of British sport, I’d recommend Simon Garfield’s book, ‘The Wrestling’.

One of the other things I liked was the New Jersey locations in the film. I love those post- industrial, bleak and banal places, often captured almost romantically in the songs of Springsteen. They remind me of places like Sandwell in the Black Country, where I grew up; places always on the tipping point of survival, with lots of faceless industrial units and giant supermarkets. Funnily enough, I’ve recently discovered the wonderful landscapes of Rackstraw Downes. He depicts locations like this in a wonderful, unflinching way.

Springsteen contributes a great song to the closing credits of the film, which can be found as a bonus track on his brilliant new album, ‘Working On A Dream, which I’ve been enjoying all week.

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