Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Mickey Rourke

Thoughts on February 22nd’s Oscar Night

oscarsJust a few thoughts on this year’s Academy Awards of Sunday, February 22nd.

Back on February 2nd, I predicted a win for “Slumdog Millionaire” as Best Picture, citing its “Rocky” factor. That prediction has turned out to be true, and “Slumdog”, by my unofficial count,  carried off 9 awards, total, with the next biggest vote-getter being “Benjamin Button” with a mere 3.

Most of the winners were as had been anticipated, although Mickey Rourke lost in his bid for Best Actor, losing out to Sean Penn’s portrayal of Harvey Milk. This was very disappointing to those of us who root for the underdog and, in “Rocky”-like fashion, would have liked to have seen Mickey make it all the way back to the top in this role that was tailor-made for him. Still, “you’ve come a long way, baby,” and one can only hope that he continues to be cast in roles that let him show the talent he undeniably possess. Whether any of them will ever again be as strong as this Darren Aronofsky film is a good question, but I hope Mickey “lives well and prospers.”

I was pleased to see Kate Winslet win for Best Actress, and it was a thrill to see the likes of Sophia Loren, looking stunning in a diamond choker and a svelte gown (along with Halle Berry and other previous Oscar winners for Best Actress) salute the nominees. That stylistic change-up was a welcome bit of theater, as was the lack of a long, boring speech by the outgoing President of the Academy, who merely stood and waved.

“Slumdog” could not be stopped in the major categories, carrying off Best Picture, Best Director for Danny Boyle, best adapted screenplay, best song (“Jai Ho”), best film editing, best cinematography, best original score and best sound mixing. Only “Benjamin Button” and “Milk” (with 2) earned multiple awards thereafter, with “Benjamin Button” snagging awards for art direction, makeup, and visual effects, all of which it richly deserved.  Sean Penn’s win as Harvey Milk gave “Milk” one of the 5 major awards, and it also won for best original screenplay. It also came as no surprise that “Wall-E” was named the best animated feature, competing against “Bolt” and “Kung-Fu Panda.”

For me, the tribute to Heath Ledger that was provided by posthumously awarding him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor was touching, as it brought Heath’s entire family to the podium to give some very heartfelt and grateful comments. I do have this question, however: where was Heath’s picture during the tribute to those in the Academy who died during the past year, like Charlton Heston, Van  Johnson, Paul Newman and Sydney Pollack?

Best Supporting Actress was snagged by Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” I had read that she was a favorite, but I was secretly rooting for Marisa Tomei of “The Wrestler.” (Any actress who can play almost her entire part in a G-string and pasties and look that good and do that well deserves to win!)

In the Foreign Language Film category, I rooted for “Revanche,” an Austrian film I saw at the Chicago Film Festival. It was an engrossing story with a complicated plot, and I was sorry that it lost to “Departure.”

Other random comments on the night’s festivities: Why did Jessica Biel wear a dress with a huge bow on it that completely hid her gorgeous figure? And what was up (or out) with Sarah Jessica Parker’s falling-out-of-her-dress cleavage situation? Best presenter of the night? Ben Stiller, who did a lethal riff on Joaquin Phoenix’s recent appearance on David Letterman, complete with mountain man beard, chewing gum, and a genuinely out-of-it demeanor. The other light-hearted moment that all of us at home enjoyed was Kate Winslet telling her father to whistle to let her know where, in the gigantic auditorium, he was seated, which he promptly did.

All-in-all, Hugh Jackman did “okay” in a musical performance that teamed him with Beyonce, although I would have given anything to see Billy Crystal in one of his funny parody songs, instead, and the show seemed to move along more swiftly than in some recent years. The two songs from “Slumdog Millionaire” nominated for Best Song (“Jai Ho,” which won, and “O Sayo,” which did not), allowed for some lavish Bollywood song-and-dance numbers, and the Jackman/Knowles collaboration was  Busby Berkeley Redux.

“Man on Wire” won for Best Documentary. While the view from the top (this was the Frenchman who walked the wire between the World Trade Center towers) was fantastic, the film seemed overlong and really boring, to me. However, the acceptance antics of the aerial artist responsible rivaled Jack Palance’s one-armed push-ups, as he even did a little magic disappearing coin trick while at the podium.

All-in-all, with a few questions like the Heath Ledger one posed above, a fairly good Oscar night. Barbara Walters did her usual pre-show interviews, and most choices seemed logical to me, with one exception: why did Barbara interview the Jonas Brothers? Since when are the Jonas Brothers movie stars? With no songs in any of the nominated films, and no reason (other than the desire to attract younger viewers) to be sitting on Barbara’s couch, I found that insertion into the pre-Oscar interview program to be as puzzling as the omission of Heath Ledger from the tribute to those who died during the last year.

Mickey Rourke Roars Back as Randy “The Ram” Robinson in New Darren Aronofsky Film

Mickey Rourke as Randy "The Ram" Robinson“The world don’t give a shit about me.  You can lose everything that you love, and I’m not as pretty as I used to be, but I’m still standing and I’m the Ram. You people here are my family.” So says Mickey Rourke, roaring back to the big screen in Darren Aronofsky’s (“The Fountain”) low-budget film “The Wrestler” as Randy “the Ram” Robinson. The role was supposedly modeled on Randy “Macho Man” Savage, although Rourke gives credit elsewhere for his gritty portrait of a washed-up professional wrestler facing retirement due to a heart condition.

(www.chicagotribune.com). In an interview with Michael Phillips about this entry in the Chicago Film Festival which is receiving Oscar buzz for Rourke’s strong performance, Rourke said (October 12, p. 5):  “My younger brother, Joe, back in the day in Venice Beach, we used to go lift weights at Gold’s Gym, which was the mecca of bodybuilding back then.  And there was a guy named Magic.  He had long blonde hair. He had two hearing aids and couldn’t hear a (expletive deleted) thing.  He was a character, a biker dude who lived in a bus behind the gym.  He wrestled on the side, and I based my character on this guy Magic more than on anybody else.”

Wherever the inspiration for his wrestler character, the character’s words ring true in Rourke’s career and life when he speaks lines like, “I just want to tell you: I’m the one who was supposed to make everything okay for everybody, but things didn’t work out.  And I left. And now I’m an old broken-down piece of meat, and I’m alone, and I deserve to be alone.  I just don’t want you to hate me.” That bit of dialogue is uttered in a touching scene with Evan Rachel Wood, who plays his estranged daughter. Their trip to a deserted, run-down amusement park/arcade previously visited in her youth is symbolic of “The Ram’s” broken-down status in his career and in his life.

Randy is struggling to connect with someone…anyone. He tries to romance a local stripper (Marisa Tomei, showing a lot of skin in her role). He tries to win back his daughter, who shouts at him, “There is no more fixing this.  It is broke. Permanently.”  The Ram is even reduced to waiting on customers wearing a nametag that says “Robin” and a hair net at a deli (Abraham and Charlotte Aronofsky have bit parts here).

Most critics are predicting an Oscar nomination for Rourke, who, in the Phillips interview, said, “For a while there in the dark years before “The Wrestler” I needed to get away, to just…I had too much crap going on in my life.” He adds, “I didn’t know it was going to take me 13 years, but what are you going to do?  I was really bad for a long time, and it wasn’t anybody’s fault except mine. Change is hard, especially for a guy like me. And it’s not that I wanted to change.  I had to change.  And I’m very thankful now that I did.”

No young actors in this country in the early eighties were more promising than Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn. Acting class colleagues used to spread the word when either was going to do a scene, as all admired the duo’s intensity.  Rourke was in “Heaven’s Gate” in 1980 (cited as one of the biggest financial failures of all time) and in “Diner” in 1982. He had a real run of films in the mid-to-late eighties, with “9 and ½ Weeks,” “Angel Heart”(1986) and “Barfly” (1987). Then he made the controversial “Wild Orchid” in 1990, a critically panned film that paired him with Carre Otis, a former model whom he would marry and, later, divorce in 1998.

The number of roles that Rourke supposedly rejected, which turned out to be big box office and bad career decisions, is legion. Rourke actually retired from the ring to box professionally from 1991 to 1995, a move that left him with a battered face that is almost unrecognizable when compared to his early acting years. Born in 1956, he was told he was too old to really be good when he resumed boxing, so he took beating after beating. His love of boxing began at age 12, when he won a bantamweight fight at 118 pounds.

For this latest film, Rourke trained with professional wrestler “Afa, the Wild Samoan,” and many other pro wrestlers are given credit at the end of the film, such as Brutus Beefcake and The Flesh Eaters. With an 80s soundtrack (guitars by Slash on the original music composed by Clint Mansell) and the line extolling the eighties with the sentiment “That Cobain pussy hadn’t come around and ruined it (rock and roll)” the low-budget look into the life of Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Ramzinsky), who lives in a trailer and is nearing the end of his career, is depressingly realistic. It gives both Rourke and co-stars Evan Rachel Wood (as his daughter) and Marisa Tomei (as his stripper friend) meaty roles. The fight against “The Ayatollah” that climaxes the film is supposedly based on the WWF wrestler “The Iron Sheikh.” (www.FilmSchoolRejects and www.NYA.com).

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