Add to Queue 85: Breaking kayfabe

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Media | A2Q Archives | A2Q on Twitter | A2Q #85 | April 21, 2009

It’s okay to like The Wrestler even if you don’t like pro wrestling. In fact, I think if you aren’t invested in that sometimes barbaric and brutal “sport” you might get more out of it. As a kid growing up in the ’80s, I was a fan of the soap opera that was the WWF, cheering for the babyfaces and booing the heels. One of my pre-adolescent birthdays was spent cheering on Jake “The Snake” Roberts at a non-televised event. I grew up and stopped watching wrestling, and if I thought of it at all I did so with an adult’s eyes, wondering what I ever saw in something so obviously fake.

These days, I know it’s only fake in the sense that the outcomes are predetermined. The enormous physical toll it takes on the performers is real, and the mid-level guys are performing not only on the televised events, but the non-televised house shows as well. The more interesting a wrestler is to watch, the more athletic and acrobatic the performer’s moves are, the more likely that person is to end up crippled and/or in constant pain when they get older — if they even live that long. It is a sad state of affairs that many wrestlers die young. Wrestlers aren’t protected by a union and, last time I checked, don’t have post-career health coverage.

This is the world that Darren Aronofsky’s The Wreslter portrays. The life of a faded star, once world famous in the world of wrestling, now living in a trailer park working a job he hates, living only for the weekend when he can perform for audiences that are only a fraction of the size of the crowds he once drew, dreaming of a comeback. The movie is as good as you’ve heard, and don’t let any preconceived notions about the nature of wrestling keep you from seeing this important work featuring a powerful performance from Mickey Rourke, who, like his character, is similarly on the comeback trail.

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I am told by one of my legion of Twitter followers that purchasing the three X-Men movies on Blu-ray bundled together is actually cheaper than just buying the first two movies a la carte. “Unbelievable”, I wrote back. “They are actually paying you to buy X-Men 3!” I still wouldn’t take advantage of that “deal”, as while I’m not the biggest environmentalist in the world, I still can’t bring myself to buy something made of plastic just to throw it out.

The role that might have kicked off Mickey Rourke’s comeback was as Marv in Sin City, which I remember quite enjoying. I’ll check out this BD release, as I never caught the extended cut on DVD, and have been curious if it was any good.

I’m quite fond of Hellraiser — what’s not to love about S&M demons from hell? — and while it doesn’t immediately leap to mind as a movie that would benefit greatly from HD, I’m still moving it to the top of my Netflix queue. However, the many rereleases of Hellraiser on DVD have me gunshy about buying any movie that Anchor Bay is debuting on BD. Their whole business model on DVD was constantly rereleasing the same movies with additional features. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they put out more than 10 editions of Evil Dead 2 on the market. I know I was suckered into buying at least three different versions of that movie.

Criterion has been killing it with their Blu-ray catalog. Had I the disposable income, I would buy everything they put out regardless if I had ever heard of it or not. Thank goodness for the rental model! Add to queue? Don’t mind if I do!

Thanks for reading Add to Queue, GameSpite’s weekly round-up of US Blu-ray release highlights. Sorry, rest of the world; region locks are the industry’s way of saying they still don’t understand the Internet. No tears, please. It’s a waste of good suffering. Cover art courtesy of Amazon. Follow Levi Tinney on Twitter, or add him to your PSN or XBL friends list: VsRobot. You can also contact him via e-mail via levivsrobot [at] gmail [dot] com.

12 thoughts on “Add to Queue 85: Breaking kayfabe

  1. Sin City’s extended cut is mostly just extra scenes of violence, but the one part I wish they’d kept in the theatrical release is the scene where Marv goes to his Mom’s house.

  2. I hated wrestling when everyone around me just lived for the drama and the machismo, but since those people have gone far, far away, I find I’m fascinated by the behind-the-scenes craft that goes into it all. Obviously, I need to see this film.

  3. Calling me one of your legion makes me sound crazy. But I’ll be picking up the X-Men trilogy just to get the first two movies.

    damn brett ratner and killing cyclops….

  4. The wrestler’s story is a familiar one. Usually a crime movie of a guy trying to quit the life and go straight, leading to similar results.

    The detail in which the world of the movie is crafted is on the same level of obsession I can only compare with Bladerunner. That and all the choices, the subjective awareness, the constant presence of the physical anchor and the absence of the character’s internal thoughts, it’s actually a very experimental film after all. This movie is like an attempt to push film techniques for audience immersion as far as possible. In this movie, the audience isn’t some incorporeal floating spirit, you’re in the guy’s head looking out.

  5. Speaking of pro-wrestling and criterion, will they ever grab Kurosawa’s Sanshiro Sugata? I’ve always wanted to watch that after finding out it inspired Sega’s Segata Sanshiro.

  6. I loved wrestling growing up, then thought I grew out of it until a few years ago, when some buddies and I were reminiscing about the olden days. I’ve since come to realize most ACTUAL wrestling fans aren’t in it because they think it’s all real – wrestling is just a male soap opera, with story lines, feuds, and awesome wrestling moves. As long as you don’t get sucked too far in, it’s good stuff.

    Oh, and The Wrestler was a pretty good movie.

  7. Simon,

    You should check out Le Fils (The Son), a 2002 film from the Dardenne brothers. It’s the story of a carpenter who takes on an apprentice, but the style of the movie is even more immersive than the Wrestler.

    Also, I’m the real Patrick, the other guy is an impostor!

  8. Wages of Fear is one of the best movies EVAR. To link it thematically to this blog, two of the characters are named Mario and Luigi.

  9. Even though I’ve barely watched any wrestling since probably ’95 or so, I got to go to a Raw house show with my brother (who is still very much into wrestling) a few years back. I had a blast.

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