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January 10, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-01-10

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4o The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 7A

* The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, January10, 2011 -7A

My literary
lottery luck

"Say hi to your mother for me."
'Fighter' owns the ring

Outstanding acting
makes for genuine,
inspiring tale
By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
If anyone had heard of "Irish"
Micky Ward before late 2010, it
was for one reason - three epic
fights in the
early 2000s with
Arturo "Thun-
der" Gatti. Seven Th hter
years older than
Gatti - and At Quality16
laden with a day and Rave
job as a street paramount
paver to make
ends meet -
Ward was always an unstoppable
force in the ring: Two fights of the
unforgettable Gatti/Ward trilogy
were named "Fight of the Year" by
Ring Magazine.

So is it odd, then, that "The
Fighter" - a movie about Ward's
rise from everyman to world box-
ing champion - does not feature
those epic bouts with Gatti at all?
Perhaps, but that keeps with
the most important principal for
a successful biopic: The fame that
followed may have inspired the
film, but that isn't the most inspir-
ing part of the story. Ward's story
may have ended up on ESPN's
fight night, but, stripped down to
its touching core, it's really a tale
of a working man, his poor fam-
ily, his defeated brother and his
unstoppable will to overcome all
those odds.
Director David O. Russell
("Three Kings") allows that story
to play itself out with the attention
it deserves. Ward's (Mark Wahl-
berg, "The Other Guys") boxing
matches are here too, of course,
but the focus is on all the life lived
between those fights, not on the
few moments in the ring that fans

often think define a fighter.
Much more crucial to Ward's
rise, his struggles and his ulti-
mate triumph are Lowell, Mass.,
the town he grew up in (depicted
here as the gritty, rundown ghost
of industrial urban America),
Charlene, the girl he fought for
(Amy Adams, "Julie and Julia")
and Dicky Eklund, the washed-up
brother who trained him (Chris-
tian Bale, "The Dark Knight").
The result of the humanistic
focus is a remarkably genuine film
that rises well beyond its cliched
genre and into the territory of
serious Best Picture contenders.
Wahlberg brings credibility to
the part of working-class laborer-
slash-boxer better than any other
actor today possibly could. Even
nearing 40, he still has the phy-
sique of a legitimate boxer. And,
a product of the mean streets of
Dorchester himself, Wahlberg
needs no coaching or method
training for this role - he was lit-

erally born into it.
The exact opposite can be
said of his co-star Bale: In play-
ing Eklund, the crack-addicted
"Pride of Lowell," Bale is a long
way from home (Haverfordwest
in Pembrokshire, Wales, to be
exact). But, as well documented
from his dramatic weight loss for
"The Machinist," Bale takes the
authenticity of his art very seri-
ously. Here, he is considerably
slimmed down from his bulky
Bruce Wayne physique and sports
a nearly impeccable Boston accent
- the latest in a long line of pho-
netic marvels from a man who in
real life sounds very, very British.
Bale will likely snag an Oscar
for his convincing transforma-
tion, but credit must also go to
Russell, Wahlberg, Adams and
the supporting cast for present-
ing a holistically genuine canvas.
Ward's tale is a classic American
underdog story, but it hasn't felt
this fresh and true in years.

bile waiting in a Mexi-
can airport on the last
day of 2010, I played
the literature lotto. I had finished
all of my vacation reading mate-
rial (for anyone
who's inter-
ested: a Tom
Robbins classic r
"Even Cowgirls
Get the Blues,"
Orson Scott}
Card's lesser-
known "Past-
watch: The LEAH
Redemption BURGIN
of Christopher
Columbus,"
Aldous Huxley's "Brave New.
World" and a few archaeology and
music magazines). I was desperate
for somethingto read during the
lovely (read: awful and stressful)
travel day ahead of me.
Unfortunately, not being able
to fluently read Spanish left me
with only a dozen options in the
airport's convenience/book/
souvenir store. And of these
books - including such illustrious
works as "Eat, Pray, Love" and the
newest "Twilight" novella (yes,
unfortunately Stephenie Meyer's
brain has yet to be disconnected
from any mass communication
medium) - there were few actual
options. This fact alone could spin
off an entire pretentious column
about the sad state of the Ameri-
can novel, as self-absorbed mem-
oirs and a series about an abusive
vampire lover-boy top the best-
seller charts ... butI digress.
After browsing a few back cov-
ers, I settled on "The Passage," a
June 2010 release by fiction writer
Justin Cronin. I had never heard
of the book or the author, but
the description boastd "a secret
government experiment" that
goes horribly awry. It hinted at
apocalypse, creatures of the night
and a female protagonist. A sri-fi,

conspiracy-theory nerd at heart, I
was hooked.
About 200 pages in, I real-
ized that "The Passage," to my
surprise, was good. Like, really
good. Maybe it was the author's
expertly executed balancing
act - switching back and forth
between places, times and a host
of intriguing and well developed
characters - or maybe it was his
cunning style that made me terri-
fied to turn around and see what
genetically modified creature
may be causing my goosebumps.
Whatever it was that gave me this
epiphany, it encouraged me to
want to read the next 600 pages
(yes, this book is gigantic). I had
won the literature lottery.
Where did this book come
from? A little internet research
when I finally returned home
from this hell of a travel day
revealed that I had been com-
pletely out of the loop. People in
It's like Russian
roulette for
bookworms.
the book world have been excited
for "The Passage" since its release
in June. Apparently the movie
rights have already been sold,
which includes contracts for the
next two, unreleased books that
will make up the paper trilogy.
It's rumored that Ridley Scott will
direct the first installment. So
yeah, apparently "The Passage" is
a big deal.
Not only did Iwin the litera-
ture lottery, I won the jackpot.
Out of this random, desperate pick
in a godforsaken airport, I discov-
ered years of (hopefully) quality
See LOTTO, Page 8A

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