Thursday, August 16, 2007


Another hot day today. I don't know why these keep surprising me. After Monday's shots, I've been a little under the weather. Last night I ached so bad I could hardly lift my arms. The second movie I saw on Monday was John Huston's gritty Fat City (1972),* a film so remorselessly and drably realistic that it's almost flamboyant. Tully (Stacy Keach) is a down-and-out juicehead, née contender, waking up daily in a queasy clapboard tenement on the mean streets of Stockton. Some days he works for pay in the nearby orchards, others find him down at the Y, shadow boxing and reliving the amateur fight circuit he's all but spiraled out of. One of those days he discovers lean young Ernie (Jeff Bridges), just out for the exercise. Convinced that he knows talent when he sees it, Tully suggests the young man seek out a boxing manager and try his luck in the ring. For his own part, Tully is trying to discipline himself to do the same, if only he can curb the drinking and habitual abject turpitude. Ernie really is showing signs of coming up in the boxing world, winning a few and losing a couple. At times he provides a counter-point to Tully's trajectory, but it's not all that simple. This really is Tully's heroic sports story, or as near as real life comes; the older fighter ultimately manages to follow the younger man's example, weaving around what pitfalls he can. Huston's patented environmental texturing is at the forefront in a document so steeped in grainy hardship that it's almost unendurable. Characters wallow in scenes that are surely found objects, preserved on film stock that's as cheap and tawdry as everything else. And watching this movie is the trial that it's supposed to be. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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