My friend Sascha hates blood. But she also hates when people talk during movies. So, as Katherine Heigl prepared to give birth in Knocked Up and I suddenly remembered that it contained graphic, bloody, real-life footage of childbirth, I tried to warn her, only to get violently shushed. So, let her — and you — be forewarned that The Wrestler is exactly like Knocked Up, except that, instead of childbirth, it contains graphic, bloody footage of Mickey Rourke slicing his head open with a razorblade and getting shot with a staple gun. And yes, the blood is real; Mickey Rourke is a method actor. He is also, as he proves here, a great one. Should he get the Oscar for his performance? No. As part of his preparation for the role, he took steroids. Again, he is a method actor. But these are literally performance-enhancing drugs. It doesn’t get more clear than that. We must keep the playing field level for other actors such as Sean Penn. Still, The Wrestler is a great movie, albeit one so depressing that as the credits rolled, I said to my girlfriend, “Let’s go kill ourselves.” It’s kind of a fictional Beyond the Mat, and fittingly, one of that documentary’s subjects, former WWE champion Mick Foley, reviews it at Slate. It stands with erstwhile wrestling fan Bill Simmons’s take on it at ESPN as my favorite piece written on the film.
Whether you’re constipated or just hate being at your desk, if you find yourself spending a lot of time in your office washroom and wish you had some reading material, I recommend printing out public domain short stories, which may be freely found on the internet at resources such as Wikisource. First, you’ll be expanding your brain with some classic literature. Second, you can easily fold the pages to fit in your pocket, which is more subtle than carrying a book or magazine. And third, you can take satisfaction in wasting your hated employer’s resources by squandering reams of printer paper. I particularly recommend the pulp fiction of Robert E. Howard, though, having already read his Conan stories, I currently lean toward the lesser known yarns about Sailor Steve Costigan (a name I’ve occasionally used as a pseudonym.) On a related note, here’s a retelling of a classic Dr. Seuss tale in Howard’s swashbuckling style that I meant to link to before Christmas: “Night Falls on Whoheim”. And speaking of pulp-fiction mash-ups, this is what you get when you mix Howard’s pen pal H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Chick comic tracts.