1. Is it OK to dislike a movie for having too-humble ambitions?
2, The other day I saw 'The Wrestler', the new movie by Darren Aronofsky, the dude who did 'Pi', 'Requiem for a Dream' and 'The Fountain'. I won't say I unreservedly loved all three of those movies, but at least I felt like I wanted to talk about them afterward. Aronofsky seemed like he was getting more ambitious, interesting and … cinematic, I guess, with each movie.
3. Which is what makes 'The Wrestler' so disappoiinting. The only way I can describe it is that it's precisely what you would expect a movie about a washed-up wrestler to consist of.
4. Seriously, you could have diagrammed the whole thing on a napking during the previews. Dude has health problems. Dude doesn't perform as well as he used to. Dude reached his peak decades ago (telling that story would have had much more potential for Big Drama, making it unsuitable for Indie Storytelling). It gets even more standard as it goes along. Dude has an estranged daughter. Dude falls in love with a stripper.
5. Literally the only detail of the movie that was unpredictable was that his daughter is a lesbian. Eyebrows raise, lower. That was the only exercise I got.
6. It sounds like I'm bashing the movie, but I don't really mean to. All the performances are great, it never panders to you and it hits Roger Ebert's 'three great scenes, no bad scenes' rule of Great Movies.
7. So it's not painful. It's just that it hits its verisimilitude marks a little too hard. The camera is shaky, the dialogue is succinct, exposition is kept to a minimum and each character's arc is shallowed down to real-life scale.
8. But that's sort of the problem. So-called 'indie' movies have become as formulaic as blockbusters. From the hop-right-in beginning to the unresolved ending, I've seen all this before. And I don't even watch that many movies anymore.
9. I went out of my way to see this movie because I thought Aronofsky would do something interesting with a genre that needs a facelift more than Mickey Rourke ever did. All I could really say after seeing 'The Wrestler' was 'It is what it is.' That's what I said after I saw fucking 'Get Smart'.
10. I'm getting to the point where I'd rather see an ambitious failure than a day-labourer like 'The Wrestler'. Again, it's not that it's bad. It's just that, considering the talent-density of the opening credits, it's like having dinner at Julia Child's house and being served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.