THE BLEEDER (former title: CHUCK) (USA 2016) ***

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chuckA drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner.

Director: Philippe Falardeau
Writers: Jeff Feuerzeig, Jerry Stahl
Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, Liev Schreiber

Review by Gilbert Seah

 Quebec director Falardeau has made some excellent Quebec films like CONGORAMA, MONSIEUR LAZHAR (his most famous and critical acclaimed film) and MY INTERNSHIP IN CANADA. THE BLEEDER with all its good points, however, is unable to reach the director’s high point, probably due to its depressing subject matter, though based on a true story.

The film is based on the life of Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber). It traces the rise to fall to redemption of Chuck, the man concentrating on his personal life rather than his boxing. It is tough to see a man from the Bronx, go down after gaining fame. The life of fame and riches seduced the man, resulting in him leaving his wife, doing drugs like cocaine and flirting around.

The atmosphere of the 70’s where the story takes place is authentically created. There are 70’s period films that do not look as if they were made in the 70’s, The BLEEDER looks as if it was made in the 70’s. Everything from props, dialogue, hair, music and sets is perfect.

This is the life of Chuck Wepner, best known for his 1975 fight with the heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali. The film is called THE BLEEDER because Chuck is able to take punishment, which allowed him to stay that many rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali.

Live Schreiber plays Chuck the loser that he is. He is not too bright either. When he learns that Stallone stole his life story, he calls United Artists and asks to speak to directly to Stallone. When Chuck finally meets Stallone, he does not even ask him for royalties. One problem with the film is that Chuck is not a likeable human being. Worse, is that he is a loser with few redeeming qualities. It is hard to feel sorry for a man who was married three times who keeps cheating on his wives. His daughter is understandably upset with him. Everyone would be, including the teacher at a PTA meeting who walks away disgusted. Unlike the film ROCKY, which is based on Chuck’s life a film that became so popular because ROCKY was about a winner, THE BLEEDER is about a loser.

The boxing scenes are violent and necessarily so, as the film has to show the character living up to the name of Bleeder. The main match, the one between Muhammad Ali and Chuck is convincing enough to look like the real thing.
Schreiber is excellent in his role as Elizabeth Moss is as his second wife. The film does not really explain how Sylvester Stallone learned about Chuck’s life to portray him so accurately in his Oscar Winning film. The actor, Morgan Spector playing Stallone is totally laughable in his look – looking like a skinny though toned version of the Stallion.

THE BLEEDER is not a bad film. But a depressing film about a loser is going to be a tough sell to attract audiences.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AQXwOOqNNw

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Film Review: Goon: Last of the Enforcers

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goon2.jpgDirector: Jay Baruchel
Writers: Jay Baruchel (screenplay), Jesse Chabot (screenplay)
Stars: Elisha Cuthbert, T.J. Miller, Liev Schreiber

Review by Gilbert Seah

Hockey is a Canadian sport with lots of fights and violence. Hockey films have been made when this essential characteristic was removed and looked down upon. This has resulted in the worst films (SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL; HELLO DESTROYER) ever made on the sport. Fortunately GOON captures the violence and rowdiness of the sport and the two GOON movies can arguably be considered the best Hockey films.

When the first GOON was released, the film poster (with the tongue between the two fingers) created an uproar and all the posters had to be taken down in Toronto. Director Burachel who co-wrote and directed the second GOON, taking over the directing reins from Michael Dowse (IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG, FUBAR) knows hockey and loves to create ‘shit’ like his supporting character, Pat in the movie. In real life, Baruchel is an avid Hockey fan who has worked in raunchy comedies before with the likes of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. So, GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS uneven though it may be (as this is Burachel’s directorial debut), is still a good effort.

The story follows the first GOON film, with most of the characters still present. The film begins with a fight that puts the lead character, Doug (Seann William Scott) in hospital and unable to play again. Doug gets a job in insurance even though he (and his boss) know nothing about insurance. The insurance segments are very funny. Doug’s girl, Eva (Alison Pill) is expecting a baby. He promises to stop fighting, a promise he cannot keep. Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell, also seen in the recent TABLE 19), who put Doug in hospital is brought in as the new team captain. During the pro lockout, Doug’s team, the Halifax Highlanders, unites with a bunch of new players. Finally Doug is brought back in. Confrontation and a major fight between the two result.

For a comedy, this film is more violent than any boxing film (taking ROCKY and RAGING BULL as examples). Director Burachel knows how to shoot the fights and they are not easy to watch. Burachel also knows how to film hockey games, and the matches are well executed with all the excitement of a top sports film.

Jay Burachel has a few scenes as Pat, Doug’s best friend. Whenever Pat appears, there is trouble. But there are also laughs. The lead Seann William Scott appears here with full facial hair. Scott is a good enough actor, being in teen comedies like the AMERICAN PIE films and DUDE, WHRE’S MY CAR? This is the actor who plays a character that takes a dump in his enemy’s cooler at a camp fire (one of the AMERICAN PIE sequels), so a lot of toilet humour ca be expected from him. Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie plays the team owner.

GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS is a male comedy about hockey. So, don’t expect any messages or life lessons. The film is a lot of fun and laughs. It is like the game, very Canadian. I enjoyed it a lot.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4N__jY27zY

 

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Happy Birthday: Liev Schreiber

lievschreiber.jpgLiev Schreiber

Born: October 4, 1967 in San Francisco, California, USA

[on character Ray Donovan] She writes about violence, vulnerability, and the facade of machismo in a glossy, sexy way, but with depth, duality, and ­humanity. He’s very lonely and very isolated. The contract of ­marriage, sexuality, relationships, all of that stuff is outdated. Every other social group has­ gotten an upgrade except for the average white man, and Ray is working on old software, functioning in a world that no longer appreciates men as breadwinners and warriors, and there is a lot of pain in that.

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