Monday, February 23, 2009

New Father's Survival Kit #8: A DVD of Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler

Now, I, the Unit Parental, am a fan of the director Darren Aronofsky. On the plus side, he is making films like no one else on planet earth... His films are always interesting and thought-provoking. However, I'm not a blindly loyal fan. I can see his film making blemishes. For example, on the less-than-plus side, he tends to clobber you, his audience, over the head with his THEMES. It is like, either he thinks we are idiots, or he is so insecure about 100% of his audience getting it, and thus, he errs on the side of a good ol' 2X4, like the legendary Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

Let's look at one example from his oeuvre:

Okay, what a weighty title. Whoa. Something not so good is going to happen here. And lo and behold, Darren gives us a holy trinity of addicts: Jared "Indie film hunk" Leto, Jennifer "Look into My Eyes" Connelly, and Ellen Burstyn. Leto and Connelly are the most attractive and hip heroin addicts you will ever meet. Ellen, meanwhile, is addicted to prescription drugs... to uppers. Darren draws the parallels so clearly, that he succeeds, as always, to clobber us over the head with his moral: AREN'T WE ALL JUST A NATION OF ADDICTS...

I mean, yes, we are. Yes, Darren, you are right. I mean, dear reader, be honest with yourself: Just count the number of family members you have who are on some kind of CURE FOR SADNESS... It's alarming, is it not? The numbers are enough to make you wonder what's wrong with the family members who are still, in this state of the economy, of the nation, still experiencing life au naturel. (I, the Unit Parental, wish I could take some kind of drug to quiet the voices... but I'm afraid it would get in the way of my clear-seeing blogging. Drugs would dilute my message...)

...But even though Darren has a point, having a point is no excuse for inelegant film making, is it? No, it fucking is not. That's all I'm saying.

He's just a broken down piece of meat, and he doesn't want her to hate him.

And now, let's look at his latest film, THE WRESTLER.

Here, too, Darren wields his cat-o-nine tails with something less than subtlety, imprinting on your flesh, and on the flesh of Mickey "Career Comeback from the Dead" Rourke, what the moral of the story is: That we as a society have a voyeuristic and exploitative relationship to sex and violence. That we are sadistic and cruel and that we, perhaps like all societies (maybe it's just human nature, from the Ancient Romans and before...), are little better than screaming, braying animals who love to take part in ritualistic killings. Randy the Ram is a modern day gladiator if you will.

Taking this critical approach, we can argue that our sacrificial lambs here are: Marisa "I'm now into being naked" Tomei, the stripper with a genuine heart, at least; and Mickey Rourke. The latter is our Christ figure, of course... How do we know this? Well, we know it because Director Aronofksy TELLS us so. At one point in the movie, in the strip club, Randy the Ram links himself with Jesus, in dialogue, for Chrissake! I mean, talk about clumsy storytelling. I mean, could Director Aronofsky have spoon fed us his Jesus and Mary Magdelene analogy any more obviously? I'm gagging here... The tale of the tape: We, as a corrupt, foaming-at-the-mouth society, love to see Randy the Ram take punishment, be it from staple guns or 2X4's... (I have it from a source who worked on the film, btw, that Rourke did his own stunts, including having staples REALLY stapled into his bod'... The thespian...)

I could go on critiquing Director Aronofsky, whose films I actually like (to clarify). But I won't.

I will, however, give Rourke props. He was the bleeding, steroid-stressed heart of this movie. This movie would have been a lesser thing, I'm sure, without him. I felt for him. I was rooting for him. I wanted him to come back all the way from the dead... He made me care about Randy the Ram like the washed-up fuck up was some good friend from high school who had fallen on tough times.

But to my point! What does all this Film Criticism 101 pretentiousness have to do with Life Force Suckers and new Brooklyn Dads?

The point: Get yourself this movie on DVD, and watch it at least once a week. Or at least watch the scenes between Evan Rachel Wood and Mickey Rourke, that whole father/daughter drama. Because that is the kind of relationship you will have with your kid if you FUCK IT ALL UP. If you let your Life Force Sucker/s down now and damage their little souls, your children will cut you off, even if you have money.

Do you want to be forever trying to bridge the gap that you, errant father, created when you did whatever fuck-up thing you did early on in his or her childhood? Do you want to be going to some thrift store hoping to buy some present that will salve the hurt, because you kept going to bars and hooking up with New Jersey floozies and missing your Life Force Sucker's birthdays! Like Randy the Ram...

So there you have it folks--keep a copy of this movie, this not-so-subtle cautionary tale of men in tights, close by. Swear by it, and most importantly, live by it! Do not be Randy the Ram!

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