The Wrestler

Here’s the Quicktime trailer.

The trailer quotes Newsweek: “Witness the ressurrection…of Mickey Rourke,” with the words fading in on a delay. The implication is that to see this movie is to witness the resurrection of the actor via the resurrection of the character.

Try to imagine what it would be like to watch this trailer with an unknown actor in the lead. The “has-been on the rebound” story works best when the main character is played by an actor whose own glory days somehow correspond to those of the hero. Mickey Rourke is not a has-been, but, excepting his turn in Sin City, he has been out of the limelight for a while. Someone whose glory has raged and then faded can’t come back as if the fading never happened… they can only come back in a way that somehow simulatneously points to their disappearance, and rebukes it. Nothing can be reborn without first ritualistically dying, and sometimes, in order to make the rebirth plausible, the ritualistic death must be performed publicly.

In Cop Land, Sylvester Stallone plays the emasculated sherrif of a town brimming with corrupt cops, including Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta. Robert DeNiro is the internal affairs guy trying to get Stallone to do the right thing. It’s stroke after stroke of perfect casting, with the actors inseperable from the characters. Can Stallone, or his character, get taken seriously again as a tough guy? Can he really go toe-to-to with Harvey Keitel and stand a chance? Will Stallone’s character, or Stallone, seriously listen to advice from DeNiro’s character, or DeNiro, on how to trasform his career and regain his self-respect?

Saturday Night Fever made John Travolta into such a definitive 70s icon, that he would not really be taken seriously again until he joined the movie-going world by directly making fun of his own image in Pulp Fiction.

Paul Newman was never a has-been, but by bringing Fast Eddie (of The Hustler) back to life in The Color Of Money, he reinforced his own image as timeless and unassailable. Half the viewers went to the theater to see Tom Cruise play pool and bed Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The other half went to see Newman put Cruise in his place.

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