Saturday, May 2, 2009

5-2-09: The Wrestler; Lawrence of Arabia

I'm on a bit of a roll with good movies from Netflix recently. The two most recent rentals were The Wrestler, a 2008 film starring Mickey Rourke, and the 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O'Toole.

I heard a lot of good things about The Wrestler (again, I have to pay tribute to the Totally Rad Show for their great review). I grew up watching the WWF (now WWE), but stopped watching some time in middle school. I was able to catch a little bit of this year's Wrestle Mania because my landlord, who lives next door, invited me over to watch it. Wrestling is a true spectacle, and is good entertainment for those who maintain the suspension of disbelief.

The Wrestler brings in the reality of the situation. These guys beat the absolute shit out of each other, and themselves. Mickey Rourke plays the role of a famous, fictional wrestler named Randy "The Ram" Robinson, who was a big star in the 1980's. Alas, "The Ram" had no fall back career, and kept on wrestling, in whatever fashion he could. The film takes you through all of the low end wrestling shows, most held in rec centers and high school gyms. It's a powerful look at the torment, self abuse, and agony these athletes go through. It's gripping, and Rourke is absolutely perfect in the role, especially with his checkered past. A truly great film.

Then you have Lawrence of Arabia, which has a run-time over twice the length of The Wrestler, as well as a longer shelf life. The epic film stars Peter O'Toole and Alec Guinness (who much later takes on the famous role of Obi-Wan Kenobi), and centers around World War I era Arabia. Right now I'm only halfway through the film, but find it pretty breathtaking. Its cinematography is second to none, especially for the time, and the acting is superb. It's odd to see a film like this today, though, since it has English actors taking on Arab roles. That's just not done any more. It's also nice to see a film set in that part of the world that's not focused on modern terrorism. It's quite lengthy, but it hasn't felt too long so far. Can't wait to finish it.

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