PolySciFi Blog

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Million Dollar Baby

So I saw Million Dollar Baby last night; I think it's a little overrated but still really, really good. If you have any interest in seeing this at all, please see it in a theater. The lighting is Stygian, and I can't imagine how hard it would be to make out on a television screen. It's 75% one of the best boxing movies I've ever seen, and 25% an all right, not great, but all right, weeper. But see it for the boxing sequences, which are wonderfully directed, economical, and just good. Hilary Swank can really throw a hell of a punch. And Eastwood doesn't waste any time at all; one of the things I love about his direction is that he has almost no establishing shots; something is always happening on frame.

Other things about this movie: the script must have been irresistable for Swank, Eastwood, and Freeman; they get classic movie star roles. Hilary Swank's role especially is one of those "get this movie made and advance to the Oscars" type things; it combines body-type-changing training with a tragic end, both of which increase your Oscar chances. I also love it when a script can set you up for a payoff without you knowing you're being set up. In this script, it's the line "110," which I won't say more about, except to say that I didn't know that the payoff was coming ahead of time (unlike, say, the meaning of the Gaelic on H. Swank's robe, which you know you'll find out later). That kind of payoff is always satisfying, but when you don't expect it, it's the kind of thing that produces spontaneous applause in audiences, which is what happened during that scene when I saw it. Wow, that's vague, but there's no easy way to talk about that part without ruining it. And no, the "110" part has nothing to do with the "surprise" ending that Rush Limbaugh is falling all over himself to ruin.

Anyway, it's worth seeing. Hilary Swank spoke after the screening; she's giggly, not as impressive to me as Catalina Sandino Moreno (please give her the Oscar, Academy!). But she worked her ass off in this movie, so she gets some respect from me.

Also saw Spiderman 2 again recently; Alfred Molina = best supervillian ever, maybe. Toss up between him and Jack Nicholson's Joker.

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