The Wrestler

Mickey Rourke stars as a has-been wrestler named Randy the Ram, once a star in the glitzy rock 'n wrestling era of the 1980s, now in his 50s and relegated to a minor local circuit. The bush league action is similar to what wrestling was like back in the territory days when the matches would feature wild gimmicks and the wrestlers would cut themselves to make the blood flow more dramatically. Rasslin' may not be a sport in one sense, because the outcome is pre-determined, but the best wrestlers are spectacularly athletic, and many grapplers endure as much pain as NFL interior linemen. Maybe more. In the minor leagues, the stunts are even wilder and more daring because the matches have to be sensational to attract fans away from the heavily marketed big-time bouts on TV. Director Darren Aronofsky portrays the small-time wrestling world in excruciating detail, and populates the action with the real denizens of that demimonde, who team with Rourke to recreate the grittiest extremes of their existence.

After one particularly bloody battle involving shattered glass, barbed wire, tacks, and a stapler gun, Randy the Ram collapses in the dressing room and doesn't regain full consciousness until weeks later, after a by-pass operation. He knows he's going to have to live with the agony, but that's the easy part of his new life, because he's no stranger to pain. The difficult part for him to accept is that he is going to have to quit wrestling. This pill is particularly hard to swallow in light of the fact that he had recently been signed to compete in a match that could have been his big comeback, a rematch of one of his legendary battles from the 1980s against an "Iranian" wrestler named The Ayatollah, who is now actually a used car dealer in Phoenix. That comeback is now off the table.

The Ram tries to create a life after wrestling, but is largely unsuccessful. He is treated with contempt by a supermarket manager, who tells him there is no work available except on weekends, and even then only on the deli counter, where he will have to stuff his long blond hair into a hairnet. That situation leaves The Ram unable to pay the bills. He tries to establish a normal relationship with a woman, but doesn't really know how to go about it, choosing the wrong woman (an aging stripper), and courting her clumsily. He tries to mend fences with his estranged daughter, but just as he starts to make some progress, he screws up and makes everything even worse than it was. What else can he do but go back into the ring?

The film is rich with details, foreshadowing and parallels, in the manner of a work of literature. The stripper and the wrestler sometimes don't seem to realize how similar they are, both too old to be in an entertainment form that requires perfect physicality. Her frustrations are presented in synch with his own. Randy's experience in the deli counter is presented with deft flair by the director, as the camera follows The Ram's walk through the back corridors of the store and the employee break room until he goes through the curtain into the customer area, his stride evolving from a bedraggled shamble to a cocky strut. That's all presented as a perfect parallel to the routine he used to follow to get from the dressing room to the arena, missing only the rock anthem and the roar of the crowd.

Great little touches.

The script would not work if we did not care about Randy the Ram, because he just plain blows every chance he's given, and has only himself to blame. He could have mended his relationship with his daughter with only a minimal effort, but he got high and got laid instead, thus forgetting an important appointment with her and continuing a lifetime streak of broken promises. He could have made a living in the deli. He was doing a great job after he realized he could get the hang of customer relations by flattering the women and amusing the guys, but he wasn't patient enough to put up with the bull we all have to put up with in real world jobs. He could have gotten the girl of his dreams. When he finally broke through the defenses of the stripper he had been courting, she walked off the stage during her own routine and drove hundreds of miles to keep him from endangering his life by going back into the ring. But he ignored her pleas and decided to fight anyway.

He's just a big time screw-up who's incapable of handling anything outside the ring.

Yes, he would be easy to dislike or to pity. But the script and Rourke's empathetic performance bring us into his world, and allow us to forgive him his trespasses. Sometimes we pity him. Sometimes we want to slap some sense into him for screwing up everything outside the ring. But most of the time he engages us, and we can see his decency. Most important, we can see that we might screw up in similar ways if we had to wear his shoes.

Can we imagine anyone else but Mickey Rourke in this role? He's basically playing himself. After all, wrestlers are actors, so this is a story about an actor who was big in the 80s, but "the nineties fuckin' sucked," and he has to struggle to make a comeback in the new millennium. The Mickster has not only lived the role, but he has the body for it. The Ram is a wrestler, and Mickey himself was a boxer, and thus has both the physique and the pain tolerance necessary for the role. His performance is not just the result of having already lived the part. He also worked his ass off to deliver the role. He built up plenty of extra muscle before filming began, and learned wrestling from the insiders. His performance is in every sense, to resort to a cliché, a tour de force.

Despite the best reviews of the year (98% of them were positive, according to Rotten Tomatoes) and a sure-fire Oscar nomination for Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler will struggle to find an audience.

  • It's a work of art in the sense that it was not created to be commercially viable, but to tell the story the way the filmmakers wanted to tell it. The film is never afraid to be unsatisfying. That fact would ordinarily make it a natural for the indy circuit and the arthouse crowd, but the turtleneck set is not really the natural audience for a story about the nuts and bolts of small-time pro wrestling.
  • It's certainly not going to play for family audiences because it has some ten minutes of strip club action, a short but wild sex scene, and various graphic looks at the S&M aspects of the local wrestling bouts.
  • Mainstream audiences are going to find it simultaneously too arty and too violent.

I'm thinking that the box office numbers will be unimpressive, but I hope I'm wrong because everyone who loves movies should see the Mickster pour his heart into this role.



Marisa Tomei is in various stages of undress for more than five minutes in this film. Here is a long film clip which consolidates all her nude and nearly nude scenes. Some sample snaps are seen below.


Here is the brief but crazy sex scene with Andrea Langi


  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.











Ultra HD film clips of Virginia Madsen

Samples below.







Notes and collages


1001 Nights


Catherine Zeta-Jones


The Moon and the Stars


Catherine McCormack






Risky Business


Most people would agree that this comedy really gave Tom Cruise's career a kick in the butt. It was recently released on Blu-Ray, which I felt might give us a slightly better view of the nudity.

Young Joel (Tom Cruise) is left alone in his wealthy family's beautiful home with the Porsche also available, and he decides to make the best of it. Joel entertains beautiful call girl Lana (Rebecca De Mornay), but when it's time to pay, Joel realizes he has no money, so he turns to his friends.

When Lana meets Joel's friends, she realizes there is a great opportunity to make more money by brining in some of her colleagues. Joel is at first against the whole thing, but when the Porsche winds up in the lake, he becomes desperate to get cash any way he can.

A cool comedy with some classic moments, it's still fun to watch even today.

Rebecca DeMornay Francine Locke






enter the DragonScan

Nancy Allen in Carrie
Laura Bottrell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Greta Gerwig in Baghead
Kelly Huddleston in Orgies and the Meaning of Life
Nancy Tate in 13 French Street







The latest from Defoe, part 1 of 2

From Comment Draguer tous les Mecs


 ... and ...

Jezabel Carpi in La Nuit Porte Jaretelles










Joanna Frank in Always

Melissa Leo in Always

The top of Aniston's bum

Shu Qi (the babe from The Transporter) in her younger, more explicit days


Film Clips

Marieh Delfino in Penance. This is from the redband trailer. I don't know how much nudity she does in the actual film. (Sample right)
Nikki Sanderson in Boogeyman 3