DID YOU READ

“Warrior,” reviewed

“Warrior,” reviewed (photo)

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“Warrior” was the third of three films I saw Wednesday. At the first movie, I took five pages of notes. At the second, I took four. At “Warrior,” I took less than two. In other words: I got lost in this movie. I stopped thinking about the fine points of cinematography, editing, and score and simply gave myself over to the story and characters. Right up until a poorly chosen ending, I was caught up in every twist and turn. This is a fun movie.

It’s set in the world of mixed martial arts, and done in the “Rocky” style, only this movie has two Rocky figures. They’re brothers, Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton). Life dealt them both the same bum hand; each played it in different ways. Their father Paddy (Nick Nolte) was a a great wrestling coach and a terrible alcoholic. The exact dimensions of his abuse are left vague but from the way the brothers treat their father in the present day, this much is clear: he was one bad dude. Tommy and his mother left, but Brendan stayed so he could be close to his girlfriend Tess (Jennifer Morrison). Years pass. Brendan and Tess are now married, living in Philadelphia with two daughters and one mortgage they can’t afford. To pay the bills, Brendan works as a high school physics teacher by day and a mixed martial arts fighter at night. Meanwhile Tommy returns from a tour of duty in the Marines to Paddy’s house in Pittsburgh. He hates his father, but he’s thinking about fighting, and he needs someone to train him.

A few enterprising MMA promoters devise a new eye catching elimination-style tournament called Sparta: 16 fighters, one winner. You see where this is going. Despite the fact that Tommy and Brendan are both unranked nobodies, each will get the opportunity to compete at Sparta and, potentially, have the chance to settle years of festering animosity in a final cage match.

The climax of “Warrior” is never in doubt. And the contortions the film takes to put the brothers into that climax are ridiculous. But the journey to that destination is nonetheless very satisfying. So many movies pit a hero against a villain; this movie gives us a battle between two heroes of equal stature, a much rarer but arguably more suspenseful conflict. After all in a battle of good and evil, the ending, especially in a Hollywood movie, is never in doubt. In a battle of good and good, either outcome is plausible. “Warrior” reminded me — in a very good way — of watching “WrestleMania VI,” and the fight between the two biggest good-guy wrestlers of my childhood, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. The tension was incredible because either man could win, and you had no idea what was going to happen. The same holds true here.

Hardy, Edgerton, and Nolte, all from different countries — Hardy’s English, Edgerton Australian, and Nolte American — do a very credible job of creating a cohesive, if effed up family. Nolte channels all of his well-publicized problems with substance abuse into a powerful portrait of addiction. Edgerton has great chemistry with Morrison, and makes both a believable prize fighter and teacher. And Hardy, who gets very few lines, is terrific as a bottled-up beast of a man, who, with his wide open stance, enormous muscles, and jittery hands, looks like a bull charging a matador when he’s in an MMA cage. He is an intimidating figure.

“Warrior” was directed and co-written by Gavin O’Connor who made the very solid hockey movie “Miracle” and the very underwhelming cop movie “Pride & Glory.” The former film was about the sacrifices a husband makes to achieve a career goal; the latter, the thorny connections between family members who share a common vocation. O’Connor combines both those themes here, with strong results: the drama is intense but not overly melodramatic, and the sports movie cliches are all effectively deployed — at least until the finale, which I will not spoil, but which left me scratching my head for its total implausibility and its maudlin sentimentality. Even worse, it totally derails the big confrontation we’ve been waiting all movie to see. And it’s overly sentimental without actually resolving a lot of the major emotional conflicts between the characters.

Up until that ending I really enjoyed “Warrior.” It’s the sort of sports movie you want to see: one that acknowledges its forefathers (there is a very pointed “Rocky” reference early in the film) but isn’t above embracing all the tropes we love to see in this sort of story. But the last few scenes lost me. That’s when the funniest thing happened. I started taking notes.

“Warrior” opens today. If you see it, we want to know what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

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It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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