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The Fighter

Scott Tennant April 24, 2018
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Boxing holds such an elevated status in film compared to it’s real life “the occasional big fight gets national attention once every five years but then people watch boxing and realize that it’s actually sort of boring” status now. Boxing is a grueling sport, twelve rounds of oftentimes slow, strategic fighting culminating in a satisfying 3-5 second string where someone lands a good sequence and maybe there’s a knockout. So much happens in the corner and in the boxer’s head, it’s a tough sport to be really satisfied by.

That’s why boxing movies are so much better than the real thing. In The Fighter we are treated to a total of maybe ten minutes of in ring action, but we still get the drama, the knockouts, and all the satisfaction. It also makes a compelling backdrop for fantastic character and family drama. Sure, boxers usually are evenly matched in size, but you still have the skeleton for a satisfying underdog story and you get one man (or woman, looking at you Million Dollar Baby) to throw the punches and deliver the in ring moments, but it’s almost secondary to the drama you can build.

David O. Russell made one of the best renditions of the boxing movie of all-time with his 2010 drama The Fighter. I hadn’t revisited it in some time but knew that it was a very satisfying film upon its release (seven Oscar nominations and two victories can help attest to that). This was Max’s first rodeo in Lowell, MA, and we both enjoyed the excellent script which helped create phenomenal acting performances across the board.

What We’ve Been Watching

Outside of our countdown, we’ve had a few other things on our screens. I revisited the forgettable Avengers: Age of Ultron ahead of Infinity War to try and settle my thoughts on it. It felt like ages had gone by since I saw it but I was surprised that it came out in 2015; I guess since Marvel churns out three or four movies a year it makes them all feel older. Their cinematic universe really does move quickly, and Joss Whedon’s direction feels outdated already. The most recent Marvel fare has been noticeably more unique and coherent (like Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok) and this one very much lacks a unique voice amongst the rest of the cinematic universe. It’s noticabely better than Justice League however, because it takes the time to have good character moments and real development.

I’ve also been rewatching New Girl and diving into the now airing final season. It’s one of my favorite sitcoms, and is pretty harmless in the grand scheme of things, so I’ve enjoyed revisiting it. I’ll be sad to see it go, but it hasn’t done much to deviate from its formula over its six seasons, so I’m just happy that we’ll get a few episodes here to wrap up these characters. Someday I’ll get Max to watch it.

Max watched a 2017 quirky indie darling Ingrid Goes West with Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza. He was satisfied with its story and commentary on our modern consumption of social media and mental illness. It’s streaming on Hulu too, so anyone with an account there can check it out. You’ll have to search for it, because Hulu has an awful layout/dashboard and it’s hard to find the good stuff to watch.

He also finished up the hit documentary series Wild, Wild Country on Netflix. He spares any real details though, since I haven’t seen it, and many of our listeners are probably working on it too. We’ll go more in depth once I get around to it.

But we have a lot of fun with The Fighter. The performances are everything here; Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams are all really excellent, as they usually are. Mark Wahlberg even brings it, which we were happy about. Less Transformers Marky Mark, you can bring it when you try. David O. Russell, despite not being the first choice to direct, certainly suits the film; just like in Silver Linings Playbook, the director is able to handle pretty sensitive material and maintain a satisfying story and bring some much needed levity without sacrificing the power of the subject matter. Here it’s crack addiction and an abusive family causing issues for Mark Wahlberg’s Micky Ward.

Marky Mark thinks this movie should have had more boxing action, but we discuss at length how this reallllly isn’t a boxing movie. There’s boxing for sure, but it’s all about the family drama and Dicky’s addiction and the troubles he’s having with that. It’s hard to watch at time, but it’s because of how the situation is often times frustrating- a feeling Russell brings to the forefront of the film very well.

Next episode is our discussion of Galaxy Quest, your pick for our 90% movie to watch. I’m really excited to revisit it and discuss it with Max.

Scott (or Uncle Scootz) is a business analyst in Charlotte, NC. After graduating from Clemson University and enjoying some time in Atlanta, Scott has embraced the Queen City. He likes basketball, board games, Back to the Future, and his Baby Little Pug named Mickey. Yell at him on instagram at breakdown_scott!