It’s 1:20 pm Telluride time, and that means no formal review of Ben Younger‘s somewhat familiar but hard-hitting Bleed For This, which I caught last night at the Werner Herzog. It’s a true-life comeback saga about a boxer (Vinnie Paz or Vincenzo Edward Pazienza) who not only recovered from a broken neck in a 1991 car crash but returned to the ring for over a decade and went on to beat Robert Duran twice.
Bleed is intense, gripping, pounding — at times familiar and difficult to watch but well assembled. And the acting is right in the pocket. Miles Teller delivers an obvious Best Actor-ish performance — he sweats, strains, gives it serious hell, shrieks, pushes hard, delivers. Paz isn’t a sweet or vulnerable character — he’s a hammerhead. His heyday nickname was “the Tazmanian Devil.” But Teller, no stranger to pain or blood or car crashes, owns the territory.
Aaron Eckhart, as Paz’s trainer Kevin Rooney, is also in line for some Best Supporting Actor action, and not just because he shaved his head and gained weight but jettisoned his natural speaking voice and really became this other guy.
Set in working-class Rhode Island and featuring wall-to-wall Italian-American goombah types (gold neck chains, loud emotional outbursts, flat vowels), Bleed For This will inevitably be compared to to David O. Russell’s The Fighter, but where is it written that only one film or one filmmaker can go to town with this kind of material?
Younger hasn’t directed a feature for over for a decade. Boiler Room (’00) and Prime (’05) were his first two films. I don’t what he’s been up to he’s definitely back on the stick. Bleed For This is about Younger’s comeback as well as Paz’s.
Open Road will open Bleed For This on 11.4.16.
I have to leave Telluride so I can get to Durango airport by 4:30 or 5 pm, at which point I’ll drop off the Hertz rental and rent a new vehicle from Alamo and drive on down to Albuquerque, which should take about three hours, maybe a bit more if I stop for a bite. I’ll have a couple of hours of filing time in Albuquerque airport before taking an 11:48 pm Jet Blue flight to JFK, which will arrive around 6 am.