Lounging Larry spars with the Ward Family

THE FIGHTER (2010)

Mark Wahlberg stars, produces, and gets a knock-out!

THE FIGHTER follows Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), who became a pro boxing champ in 2000. It’s about tragedy to triumph, boy meets girl, and everyone speaking with funny accents (but there’s no need to use the DVD’s subtitle option).

It’s a film that’s been there (like RAGING BULL, a “true” story) and done that (like ROCKY, the ignored bum). No real surprises.

Except for a huge Oscar-winning surprise. Christian Bale created a character (Ward’s brother Dicky) that clings to old dreams and always babbles about new plans. You know people like Dicky. Mostly, you wish they’d leave, but then they do something graceful and generous and you can’t imagine life without them. Whether Bale’s Dicky hunkered in the background or silently reacted to another character, I couldn’t stop watching him. He deserved his Best Supporting Actor award. Melissa Leo, playing Micky and Dicky’s mother, also won her supporting category. (I would’ve voted for Amy Adams as Micky’s worn down, but fiercely independent girlfriend.)

Image from IMDb...The Fighter

If you don’t care for fight films, get in “the ring” anyway. The Wards will drive you nuts, but the film provides 115 minutes of flawed people struggling to realize dreams along an honest, entertaining path.

Questions you are invited to use or ignore:

A question I’d ask you over a cup of coffee: Who has been a Dicky in your life . . . where did he or she really make a positive difference for you?

A question I’d ask to get a church group talking: what dream have you had where your persistence/faith did pay off?

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Not An Unknown Fellow

Luke’s walk to Emmaus is a favorite of mine.

It simultaneously feels believable, magical, realistic, eerie, down-to-earth, and spirit-filled. As Snapple ads promote, the twenty-two verses contain some of the “best stuff.”

The 3rd Sunday after Easter – for May 8, 2011

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road…” (Luke 24:32)

The story feels gritty, possessing a you-are-there realism. Two guys, Cleopas and an unnamed fellow, tramp toward a village seven miles from Jerusalem. It’s been an awful and awesome weekend. Jesus was killed. Jesus’ resurrection was reported. Did the two need to “get out of Dodge” because of turmoil over the events? Or were they clearing their heads and their zip code to discern feelings? Thus, they scurried for Emmaus, a well-known and safe spot on the map. Then again, perhaps they’re Emmaus-bound because it’s an unfamiliar village, and its newness will help them build a future. Regardless of why they departed Jerusalem or chose Emmaus, I easily picture them.

Cleopas and Unnamed Fellow are so dull-witted. I relate to their stunning ignorance about who joined their Emmaus sojourn. They walk and talk . . . and don’t recognize Jesus. They share “today’s” news and engage in scriptural discussion . . . and don’t recognize Jesus. How often do I search for my cell phone or the book I’m currently reading and not find it? Too often! And how often will my wife calmly point to the table where the “lost” object brazenly rests? It can be worse with friends and family, as I overlook another’s expressed fears or hopes. Cleopas, Unknown Fellow, and I should register for a “Be Here Now” workshop. Continue reading →

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Lounging Larry meets Marilyn Hotchkiss…

MARILYN HOTCHKISS’ BALLROOM DANCING & CHARM SCHOOL (2005)

A film with flaws, some dancing moves, and it asks an essential question...

Most films are flawed, but even ones with a dance floor full of stereotypical characters and plot holes—like MHBD&CS—can still show off some good moves. Frank Keane is a baker with burdens, including the recent death of his wife and chancing upon a road accident that thrusts him into another’s life . . . and death. As far as stereotypes go, Keane attends a widower’s support group (with predictable fellow grievers) and risks joining a dance group (with predictable dance partners). But I liked Keane (Robert Carlyle) and was thankful he’d “accidentally” run into John Goodman’s dying Steve Mills. It is because of Mills that Keane ends up at Marilyn Hotchkiss’ dance studio. Before dying, Mills got Keane to keep a long-ago promise made to Lisa, Mills’ 1960s junior high “crush.” Meeting Mills also causes Keane—and perhaps you and me—to wonder about the choices we make in life. A moment that deeply touched me involved the grown-up Lisa. Played quietly by Camryn Manheim, the brief scene reinforced MHBD&CS’s central question: what did you do with the choices you had?

 

Questions you are invited to use or ignore:

A question I’d ask you over a cup of coffee: How did you feel when the “adult” Lisa closed the door and sat at her desk?

A question I’d ask to get a church group talking: What are some of the choices you’ve make in your life that you’re . . . proud of or regret or question or are still in flux?

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