Welcome Scribbler movie fans! While Cult and I mainly stick to horror here I do watch a little of everything just like I don’t just listen to all metal all the time. Since award season is fast approaching I thought I’d take a look at a couple of standouts that are getting all kinds of buzz. So first let’s take a look at…
I had no real idea about what Foxcatcher was about going into the film other than wrestling of some sort was involved. This immediately caught my attention as I started wrestling in 6th grade with (Kids) USA Wrestling which is a great organization. Even though I grew up in a small rural area (my graduating class was only 82 kids) our school was known for turning out some of the best wrestlers in the state with several state champs and several that went on to be named All-American in college and even one coach who was very nearly an Olympic wrestler in his younger days. So wrestling is very special to me and there are almost no movies that depict it even slightly accurately. The only one I had growing up was Vision Quest which even though it has a couple technical flaws is a good depiction of high school wrestling (we also stole the Red Rider song as our warm up music and a quick trivia note Vision Quest was Madonna's first appearance in a film). So anyway back to Foxcatcher.
I’ve heard nothing but Oscar buzz about this one since before it even came out with critics praising Steve Carell’s performance. After now viewing it I really can’t disagree that much though I don’t think it’s an Oscar caliber performance though it is damn good. The real surprise to me was the performance of Channing Tatum who I don’t think I’ve liked in any movie ever. Yes, I didn’t like 21 Jump Street and I only saw about half of 22 Jump Street though I had intended to see none of it. Sorry I thought the first was stupid and the second even stupider. Tatum has honestly never impressed me even a little but his portrayal of Mark Schultz in Foxcatcher was phenomenal. It was so good I forgot it was Tatum after awhile. Then there is also the always excellent Mark Ruffalo as the other Schultz brother, Dave. If you don’t know your Olympic Wrestling history and I suspect 99% of you don’t, the Schultz Brothers were both Gold Medal winning Olympic Wrestlers. Being an Olympic champion in any event isn’t easy but quite honestly there may be no finer tuned machines than Olympic wrestlers. The sheer hundreds of hours of training it takes to get to that level is truly astounding and the only real complaint I have with Foxcatcher is you don’t really get the magnitude of the training these guys go through. Don’t get me wrong it is shown but there wasn’t quite as much emphasis on just how much it has to do with being one of the world’s best in this sport but that is a very minor complaint that probably no one else would have.
I should mention that this is based on a true story. While liberties are always taken to make things more dramatic the factual events of Foxcatcher are true. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen this one or don’t remember the real life events, I won’t spoil the ending. So why the funny name Foxcatcher? This one I didn’t know until watching it either. Foxcatcher is the name of the ranch on which first Mark Schultz (Tatum) and later his brother (Ruffalo) come to stay and train at. This is not just any ranch, what brings the Schultz brothers there is heir to the Dupont Dynasty John du Pont played by Steve Carell. du Pont turns out to be kind of the momma’s boy of all momma’s boys living in constant fear of upsetting mother. He has the idea that he is the most patriotic person ever but to his credit has a fondness for Olympic wrestling which is a sport so unglamorous that the fuckwits of the Olympic committee cut wrestling from the Olympics (the oldest sport in the fucking Olympics!) but that’s a whole other topic. So du Pont first brings Mark Schultz (Tatum) to Foxcatcher ranch to train and things go well as Mark ends up taking Gold at the World Games which are still the precursor to the Olympics taking place on off Olympic years. du Pont’s ego quickly starts to run amok as no one dares tell him he’s a worthless idiot since he’s writing all the checks. Don’t look a gift horse… as they say.
When Mark gets tired of being treated like a child and basically as du Pont’s bitch, du Pont brings in older brother Dave as punishment though he (Ruffalo) is unaware of what is going on thinking he is just there to help his brother train. Dave is no dummy and realizes fairly quickly what’s going on. He doesn’t like du Pont but he has a family and needs the money. du Pont’s ego only grows as the movie progresses truly believing he is the greatest thing since sliced bread and no one dares tell him otherwise. After an argument with Dave (Ruffalo) over Mark’s training he goes to apologize only to find out that du Pont’s mother has passed away. With momma no longer there controlling John’s strings his ego really starts to go haywire leading to Mark wanting out of the Foxcatcher ranch and away from du Pont though now his brother is stuck there in attempts to not uproot his family (wife & 2 kids) as the brothers had constantly been as children. Dave (Ruffalo) negotiates a deal to stay on as the Foxcatcher team coach as long as his brother is allowed to leave but taken care of financially. du Pont and his lawyer reluctantly agree to let Mark leave after the Olympics (still about 90 days away). Careful getting too close to that gift horse’s mouth…
Completely stressed and his heart not in it Mark only takes Silver at the Olympics. After dealing with du Pont you really can’t blame him for just wanting it all done and over so he can get the hell away from Foxcatcher ranch. Obviously for an ego maniac, control freak like du Pont it doesn’t go over well that someone he sheltered and took care of just walks away. But who does he blame? du Pont lets it eat away at him and eat away at him until finally he essentially loses his shit. Like I said I won’t give it away if you haven’t seen it or if you don’t remember it but even though you can see where it’s all leading it’s still a bit of a shocker just how it all happens. The truly amazing thing is that du Pont didn’t just get away with all he did as the uber-rich in this country so often do.
In the end this was a compelling story with great acting from everyone all the way through. Again I’m not knocking Carell’s performance but if you didn’t know Carell was that good you haven’t been paying attention to him. However, it was Tatum that wowed me as again this was the first time he has ever been great IMO. I didn’t care for him before this film and I may not check out much he’s in after this film but I can give him the proper respect by saying the man deserves the Oscar nomination over Carell. Now if you know me you know that I can’t stand the Oscars or the Golden Globes or any award shows to be honest as I have my own taste and I really don’t care if others agree with me or not, if I liked a movie or an album or whatever then it really makes no difference what someone else’s opinion is. To me the Oscars and any other movie award shows are stupid. Actors get paid a shit ton of money to do what they do so why do they need us patting them on the back telling them how fucking great they are when that happens without a boring ass award show? Like most of them don’t have an ego bigger than du Pont’s in this film to begin with. It’s like “Hey, I know we pay you millions for you to do what you do but let’s spend a few nights telling you how great you fucking are too!” Ahhh sorry didn’t mean to rant about that shit it just kind of happens. So moving on to wrap this up, this one went straight to Old Man Feind’s heart by having a backdrop of wrestling and won my heart by being a fantastically well written, directed and acted film. The Scribbler Clock Test almost failed though as I think they could’ve cut maybe 10-15 minutes out without hurting anything in this one. That said, I can say to Channing Tatum, "do a few more films this good and I may actually stop thinking you’re a no talent hack" but for now there is no doubt this will get some Oscar noms and is definitely…
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What did you think Scribbler fans? Have you seen this excellent film? What did you think? Is Old Man Feind out of his mind or do you think Tatum deserves the Oscar nod over or at least in addition to Carell (and don’t forget about Ruffalo who is excellent too)? Let us know in the comments below.
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