Rocky: It’s Way Better Than You Think

This blog is already WAY more telling than I would like. So in keeping with the spirit of confession, I’ll admit that, while I can take or leave sports movies as a whole, I have an unnatural and consuming passion for boxing movies. Cinderella Man, Million Dollar Baby, Southpaw, Creed (most recently). But none of these, with the possible exception of Creed (thanks to the many talents of one Michael B. Jordan), are even in the same weight class as the most iconic boxing movie of all time…

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Rocky.

Rocky I, specifically.

This is a franchise that has gotten a weird rap. It’s become synonymous with bad 80’s acting-

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And still stands as the poster child for the Homoerotic Training Montage.

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But the first Rocky (1976) is a film of surprising depth and nuance. It’s two parts indie drama, one part underdog story.

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Rocky Balboa is just a young mook from Philly who thinks that opportunity has passed him by. Until world champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers, before he got a stew going) gives him a shot at a the big time.

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But the real heart of Rocky isn’t the big fight, or boxing, really. It’s the shockingly tender and grounded love story between Rocky and his main lady, Adrian.

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If there’s one thing you should take away from this movie, it’s that Rocky loves Adrian.

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Love.

But in between the shouting and the showdowns, we’re given the most unintentionally comedic training montage in the history of cinema.

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This movie hasn’t resonated much with millennials. Probably because it wan’t directed by Joss Whedon. But if you’re looking for a movie that is unexpectedly sweet, and smart, and subtle, take a chance on the Italian Stallion. I guarantee you’ll eat lightening, and crap thunder.

-Whitney Weldon

 

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The Reviews Are In: Mustang

It probably speaks to how far out in the Sticks I live that I am just now seeing this movie. But given that this film won Best Motion Picture-Foreign Language at the Golden Globes, I heroically braved 45 minutes on the freeway and a quest for elusive downtown Salt Lake City parking, all to get to one of the three art house theaters in the whole state of Utah.

229810Luckily, nothing puts white girl problems into perspective quite like a film about gender inequality and the on-going struggle for basic human rights in other parts of the world. Mustang is about five sisters growing up in a small Turkish village, where their idyllic childhoods are derailed by impending womanhood and all that implies in some cultures. They are pulled out of school. Bars are placed on their windows. Their futures are now at the mercy of extended family who seem less concerned with the girls’ happiness than with their sustained virginity and culinary competency. But the girls, strengthened by their bond and maybe the memory of former freedom, subvert the new expectations of their community and struggle to hold on to who they are.

I’m making this film sound really heavy, because it is. But it never feels overwhelming or heavy handed, because for each moment of frustration and tragedy, there are moments where the sisters are just sisters. There’s one moment in particular where the two youngest sisters, Lale and Nur, go for a swim in their bedroom by splashing around in their blankets because they aren’t allowed to leave their house. They spit fake water back maxresdefaultand forth, and dive off their bed onto the floor. The scene is so warm and painfully adorable that you almost forget the systematic misogyny that necessitated it. It’s part of the reason the film is so effective; the softer moments make the rest of the film so much harder by comparison.

And maybe the worst part is that the horror that these girls are subjected to should feel foreign. As a woman in a developed, ostensibly gender equal country, I shouldn’t be able to relate to the experiences of five girls living in a place where children are beaten for playing with classmates of the opposite sex. But for most women, this will feel familiar. When Lale wants to go to a football match, but can’t because she can’t be allowed to run around with so many men. Or when Selma is rushed to the hospital to have her virginity verified while she’s still in her wedding dress. The feeling of being cloistered and held to standards that don’t apply to the boys, but never trusted to meet those standards without having someone look over your thumbnail_23275shoulder.

If you’re going to see any Oscar nominees in the next few months, make sure this is one of them. Where ever you’re from and whatever you look like, you’ll walk out of the theater with five new sisters you never knew you had.

Whitney Weldon

Fangirly Poetry: Ode to Oscar Nominations

This time of year, if your hearing is keen

You’ve heard, drifting toward you, from the nearest screen

The sound of actor, director, and writer

(A group, I’m told, that couldn’t be whiter)

All wringing their hands and saying a prayer

That this year, a most coveted prize they will snare

A little gold nude that might help their careers

And earn them begrudging respect from their peers

To them, I offer some words of advice,

From a girl who’s won her Oscar pool (twice)

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Being liked is as important as paying your dues

I’d recommend, if I may, tripping over your shoes

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All awkward moments you must bare with a grin

Even if John won’t let go of your chin

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And if you want to rake in the awards in a heap

It’ll help if your name rhymes with Smeryl Schmeep

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So good luck, nominees, at the Oscars this year

May your acceptance speech be both short and sincere

Ratings will be higher than they ever have been

For this is the year our racist uncles tune in.

Whitney Weldon