The Fightah is a Winnah

Peter Keogh, writing in The Boston Phoenix, compiled a list of the year’s best "Boston" accents on film.

Prior to having seen The Fighter, I would have agreed with him that Jeremy Renner’s accent in The Town should be at the top of the heap. It was spot on perfect and yes, even better than "native" Ben Affleck’s.  (Renner deserves a nomination for the role in any case.)

I would also agree that Boston/Dorchester native Mark Wahlberg’s is not as good as Christian Bale’s, but for different reasons.  For one thing, Bale is British (they seem to have an easier time with regional American accents like those in the Northeast and the deep South, probably because they all drop their ‘R’s) and a talented mimic of accents. (Bit of trivia: he has used a different accent for every single role.) For another, he seems to be the only one who gets that Lowell is not Dorchester (or Charlestown or Boston.)  Just as you wouldn’t mistake a Geordie accent for one from Manchester, Liverpool or southeast London, not all Massachusetts accents are the same either, even if they all seem equally hard for actors to master. (Mel Gibson, or anyone else, in Edge of Darkness? Please.)

(In fact there isn’t really any such thing as a "Boston" accent anymore, in my opinion. Like any cosmopolitan city and especially one with 92 colleges and universities in a 50 mile radius, its inhabitants come from all over.  However, if you’re dealing with a movie about Massachusetts natives in a specific town or neighborhood, then you’re talking about a specific accent with its own attendant colloquialisms.)

So having said all that, I vote for Christian Bale’s accent in The Fighter as the best of the year. I also have to say that while I don’t get all of the comparisons the television ads are making, ("It’s Rocky, The Blindside and The Departed rolled into one…") the movie itself is one of the best films of the year. 

The Blindside? Didn’t see it so I cannot comment on whether the comparison is apt. The Departed? The only thing The Fighter has in common with that film is that they both contain otherwise talented actors struggling with local accents. I’ve lived here for more than twenty years and I can’t do justice to all the variations. (Another Brit, Ray Winstone, probably does the best job. Oh and that one had Mark Wahlberg in it too!)

Does it have anything in common with Rocky? Of course it does. It’s about a down-on-his-luck boxer.  If Wahlberg is Rocky then Bale is a combination of Paulie and Mickey. It has its Rocky-esque moments to be sure. There wouldn’t be a movie if it didn’t.  This time they’re set to Whitesnake instead of Bill Conti. (More trivia: 2nd soundtrack from a Mark Wahlberg sports film that I must have. The first: Invincible)

Before I get to the main event, I have to say that the entire cast of this film deserves to be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. (Why there is still no Oscar nor Golden Globe in this category is a travesty.) Melissa Leo is a fierce harridan of a mother, even if she tries too hard with her accent,  in the same vein as Jacki Weaver’s in Animal Kingdom, only without the murder. Although if the situation arose…. 

Amy Adams must have been either pregnant or had just had her baby when she filmed this movie. Her body is soft and lushly curvacious in a fleshy non-Hollywood way and unabashedly flaunted in low cut tops and tiny skirts. Her accent might not be the best, but she plays a tough, working-class bar wench better than I ever thought she would and certainly better than Enchanted could have suggested.

The main reason I want the cast nominated for a SAG though? I HAVE to see the "actresses" who played Dicky and Micky’s seven sisters up on that stage to accept it. I have no idea where they found those beauties. I can only assume they’re as local as the real members of the Ward/Eklund clan that fill out the credits.

I have to marvel, (and I know I’m not the first,) at Marky Mark’s transformation into Mark Wahlberg, in-demand, Golden Globe Award nominated actor and producer. Take a look at his list of credits on imdb just as an actor. It’s pretty impressive, with very few missteps. His acting chops get better with every role and since 2007’s We Own the Night, he’s also a producer. In addition to Entourage, he’s a producer for HBO’s "Boardwalk Empire" alongside Martin Scorsese (among others.)  Is there anyone who could have predicted that those names would appear in the same sentence? 

A lot of actors seem lately to have discovered that the best way to get a good role is find it for yourself and have turned to producing their own films. (Gerard Butler, no dummy, has entered this arena and I fully expect the caliber of his acting choices to steadily improve because of it.) Wahlberg is listed among the producers for The Fighter, along with Darren Aronofsky and Ryan Kavanagh and many others. (Does Ryan Kavanagh OWN Hollywood yet? He’s everywhere. The soundtrack is even on Relativity Records. Relativity Media seems to be the only game with money to spend these days. I want to start a campaign for them to back the next Bond film so the damn thing will get made already!)

Much has been made about Christian Bale’s performance and his physical transformation for his role as Dicky Eklund and indeed the first 20 minutes of the film you can’t take your eyes off of him. Not to mention, he’s always good. Christian Bale hasn’t given a bad performance since his first in Empire of the Sun and yes, I’ve seen Newsies.

But the movie belongs in equal part to Wahlberg. He underwent an amazing physical transformation as well. (Girly moment: Damn he looked good! Not ‘Gerard Butler in 300’ good, but still…)  Like the brothers sparring in the ring, the movie seems to trade punches, jabs and heavy hits from both actors, shifting its focus accordingly. Dicky is all bluster and showboating. Micky is quiet perserverance. They are two sides of the same coin and i don’t see how one could be singled out over the other. One of the last thoughts I had as the credits rolled was that a more appropriate title should have been "The Fighters."

It occurs to me I need a rating system. Thumbs are obviously taken, as are tomatoes, popcorn tubs and now scally caps. Of course, I could always go with stars. Those seem to be exempt from trademark. They’re also ordinary. This is my blog, I don’t want to be ordinary if I can help it. I think, for now, I’ll go with wee tigers (or as we say in these parts…tie-gahs)

As my first rated film, I will not-so-arbitrarily give The Fighter    (out of 5) That felt tremendous!  Ahhh what power I wield! LMAO

Alright ya greedy bastids…here’s ya treat:


One response to “The Fightah is a Winnah

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