THE FIGHTER (David O. Russell, 2010)
Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Saturday, November 23, free with museum admission, 7:00
Series continues through December 19
A lot of professional fighters face adversity in and out of the ring, but “Irish” Micky Ward took it to a whole new level on his quest to be welterweight champion of the world, as documented in the winning motion picture The Fighter. Ward (Mark Wahlberg) surrounded himself with his family, with his mother, Allice Eklund (Melissa Leo), as his manager, his half-brother, the Pride of Lowell (for once knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard), Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), as his trainer, and his many big-haired sisters, including Tar (Erica McDermott), Little Alice (Melissa McMeekin), Pork (Bianca Hunter), Red Dog (Dendrie Taylor), and Beaver (Kate O’Brien), part of the team as well. Despite getting pummeled over and over again and continually finding his brother at a condemned crack house, Micky stands by the family until Dicky is back in prison and Micky finally decides to go with a new promoter. As his stock begins to rise again, he is deeply affected by his separation from his family, who are blaming the parting on his new girlfriend, local bartender Charlene (Amy Adams). Based on the true story of the Ward/Eklund clan of Lowell, Massachusetts, The Fighter is a poignant tale of fighting and family, of love and responsibility. Bale is a whirlwind as the effusive, drug-addicted Dicky, who dreams of helping his brother get a title shot even as he misses training sessions because of his dependence on crack. Leo, who nearly steals the show, is virtually unrecognizable as Alice, who can’t understand why Micky would go with a new crew and has quite a few battles of her own with Charlene. And Walhlberg, who trained for several years to get himself in shape for the film, is strong and solid as the conflicted yet determined potential boxing champion. Director David O. Russell (Three Kings) gives The Fighter a realistic feel, at times echoing the documentary that HBO made about Dicky in the movie, and even hiring Ward’s trainer, Mickey O’Keefe, to play himself. In fact, much of the cast got to meet their real-life counterparts, all of whom loved how they were portrayed onscreen, which is actually quite funny once you see how some of them come off. You don’t have to love boxing to love The Fighter, although fans of the sweet science will be impressed by the carefully choreographed fight scenes, complete with the original HBO commentary (and shot by some of the same cameramen). Nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, with Leo winning Best Supporting Actress and Bale taking home the trophy for Best Supporting Actor, The Fighter is screening November 23 at the Museum of the Moving Image, kicking off the series “Three by David O. Russell” in anticipation of the December release of his latest film, American Hustle. The series continues December 7-8 with Silver Linings Playbook, followed by a special presentation of American Hustle on December 19, with Russell on hand to discuss it.