'The Fighter', which opened in the UK this weekend, demonstrates how an exceptional cast can transform what could have been a disappointing 115 minutes.
Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams star in the gritty true-story of boxing brothers - Mickey Wark and Dickie Eklund - who come head-to-head with each other when trying to prepare for the former's final attempt at a major boxing title. Issues such as loyalty, the painful process of realising and accepting change, and the power of love make this film's emotional punch so powerful.
The Fighter has already done the rounds in many of the awards ceremonies so far. Bale picked up Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes, as did his on-screen over protective mother, actress Melissa Leo, who won the same award but in the actress category. And both of them are deserved of their awards - the honesty and believability each convey throughout are outstanding. Unfortunately, playing the solid and 'rock' character, Wahlberg has been overlooked this awards season, which is a true disappointment. He is what holds the film together; without Wahlberg the film would lack an element of charm that none of the other characters can bring.
That being said, although the acting in The Fighter is none short of a master class, the film is let down in other departments. Direction is inconsistent and fails to find its own style; switching between heavy handed camera work to wide shots of Ward's apartment. Throughout it feels like director, David O. Russell (I Heart Huckerbees, Thee Kings), wants to show every way in which a movie can be shot, which at times sadly distracts the audience from the real selling point - the story. The music falls short also as it misses an opportunity to add drama to many of the most important scenes.
Nonetheless, this film gives us a fantastic insight into family disfunction and the lonely world of chasing glory. It's definitely worth a see if you're a fan of these actors too, as The Fighter showcases them at their best.
'Computers and Blues' represents The Streets at their best; each song is nothing like the one before and the sound is completely engaging. When I was first properly exposed to The Streets it was with their second album 'A Grand Don't Come For Free'. The story telling nature of the record and each song giving you a different insight into the mystical mind of Mr Skinner was something that impressed me the most. And his latest, and perhaps last, venture is nothing less. We get the feeling from 'Computers and Blues' that The Streets have come to a natural close, and so consciously play homage to what they know to be their strengths. Honest lyrics, sensitive melodies and an emotional arc are all there. The tracks that stand out to me are 'Blip On The Screen', 'We Can Never Be Friends' and 'Trying To Kill M.E.' as they demonstrate how Mike Skinner is not perhaps the hard edged bad boy that we may understand him as through the media, but actually a reflective yet troubled individual who finds his comfort in his music.
The final song on the record, 'Lock The Locks', ends rather abruptly, as if it has been accidently cut-off before it's finished. Is this purposeful? Is Mike Skinner trying to suggest that in fact he isn't ready to retire just yet? It might be wishful thinking but I really hope so. The Streets offer us a rare, refreshingly original side of British music that is quickly being overlooked with the likes of Cheryl Cole and X-Factor contestants dominating the charts. It has been said that Mike Skinner has recently become a father for the first time, so if the break in music has coincided with his choice to stay at home more and shy away from the public glare, than that must be appreciated. I just hope that 'Computers and Blues' won't be the last we'll hear from the man and The Streets.
You can stream 'Computers and Blues' on The Guardian website here. The album is out on 7th February, 2011.
I came across this really lovely short on www.hypebeast.com. The film follows the production of Linen - from soil in the ground to catwalk shows. I never knew the fabric went through such an intricate process before it appears as we know it. The film is beautifully shot and Millot fantastically conveys the importance this material is to the people that love it; the awe and respect they feel towards it is something that's captured brilliantly.