Fighting with My Family may have heart, but the mind and the soul are nowhere to be found. It’s a yawner, both pedestrian and trite, obviously designed as an extended promotional video for WWE.
The movie is handicapped from the outset by being based on a true story — normally a good thing — which by all appearances is itself not particularly interesting. One wonders whether a documentary on the subject would have been even less compelling. Certainly, embellishment of the story via more adept filmmaking would have resulted in an improved product.
The film’s star, Florence Pugh, is good, of course, but she was a lot more interesting in Lady Macbeth. And despite her performance, the whole thing felt artificial. I never felt like “Paige” had nowhere else to turn. A far cry from The Wrestler, or even Patti Cake$. Her claimed passion was not conveyed.
At one brief moment near the end, Fighting with My Family did strike me on an emotional level, but by then it was too late. An easy skip; two weeks later and I had completely forgotten watching this one. 3/10
Comparison Notes: (all much better): The Wrestler, Patti Cake$, Honey, 8 Mile, The Fighter, Flashdance, The Pursuit of Happyness; not recommended or better: Soul Surfer
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PS on RT: Fighting with My Family has a preposterous Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%. So — another broken meter incident. Anyone who thinks this is a good movie should not be wasting their time looking at my blog. And they should definitely not be a movie critic, professional or otherwise.
FOR FANS OF TRUE CRIME, THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS
Almost exactly two years ago I wrote: “Making a Murderer on Netflix is a magnificently compelling, gut-wrenching, and heartbreaking series.” Part 2, released in October last year, doubles down on being among the most riveting television ever aired. And where Part 1 might have been shortened by a couple episodes, that is not at all the case in Part 2 — every minute is used to its full value. For fans of true crime, this is as good as it gets.
SPOILER ALERT! — Referring back to my previous spoiler comments, I will add that the Avery case, in the absence of anything to contradict the evidence raised by Kathleen Zellner — is even more solidly, and clearly, on the side of his innocence. Zellner is in a different league than the original defense; we will see where she can take it. Does this mean a Part 3 is in the offing?
[End of Spoilers]
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So I never was able to produce a TV 2018 part 2 post as intended. Those items, including Roseanne without Roseanne, are hereby tabled for a future post.
My only issue with Welcome to Marwen is that it’s boring. Promulgating a scant storyline is the only crime I see being committed. The prurient choices so disturbing to many critics are, to the contrary, highlights of the film. Still, this disappointment from Robert Zemeckis is an easy skip-it. 4/10
Can You Ever Forgive Me? struck a chord with me — it brought back those times being down-and-out and/or drunk in New York City. I wanted a little more plot-wise with this true-life story, but then it is a true-life story. I would have welcomed more about the earlier parts of our heroine’s life and career. Still: this is one of the better movies of 2018, on the high end of 7/10.
PS Kudos again to Fox Searchlight.
Comparison Notes: Norman, The Visitor (2007)
The Old Man & the Gun, possibly Robert Redford’s last picture, had some problems along with its requisite charm. It also had a lively spirit more times than not. A high 6/10
American Animals mixes actors and the real-life characters they portray in a sometimes very effective and other times distracting suboptimal way. On top of that, the movie dragged out too much. There’s no reason for it not to have been 30 minutes more compact. But the performances were good and compelling, and the movie redeemed itself at the end. The climax and immediate aftermath swung American Animals back into positive territory. 6/10
Comparison Notes: every heist film ever, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Bernie, Donnie Darko
Sometimes it takes a true story to make the best movie of the year. This is one of those times. The first half absolutely soars. Once the movie shifts to “the incident,” it gets a little off track and bogs down, but is redeemed by the end.
I, Tonya opens with the following blurb:
Based on irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly
Like a Michener account, and the disclaimer above speaks to this, there is a sense that this is not necessarily the verbatim truth of everything exactly the way it happened — but boy it sure feels like it is. It really puts you there — and it’s highly compelling.
Propelling I, Tonya is a glorious tour de force by Margot Robbie — clearly the best female performance of the year. Allison Janney as her mother is utter perfection as well. Both should be winning Oscars on March 4th — but sadly won’t.
With the Winter Olympics next month, the timing could not be better. You’ll definitely come away with an understanding of the tricky triple axel that you didn’t have before. And one final note: make sure to stay for the end credits.
Best of the year, but shy of a ‘perfect 9’. 8/10