Monday, January 12, 2009

Two Perfect Things

by Marcus Sakey

I had a whole other post planned for today. But in the last week I've discovered two works of surpassing beauty, and I decided I'd rather write about them.

The first is a free online game called Auditorium, and when you're done reading, I urge you to take a couple of moments to check it out, even if you think you don't like computer games.

I discovered this last week in a column written by my brother Matt Sakey, a respected industry columnist, occasional guest here, and owner of the review website Four Fat Chicks. I intended only to check it out as context for Matt's article. But when I clicked "Play" I was captivated.

I'm not going to tell you much about the game itself, because part of the joy is in the discovery. What I will say is that it is a gorgeous experience, one that manages to simultaneously engage a number of different parts of the brain: problem-solving, aesthetic, emotional. The half an hour I played was the magic part of that day.

Click here to try it. You'll need your speakers turned on. Don't look for instructions--there's a reason they aren't there.

The second recommendation is for a film, Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler. I'm a big fan of Aronofsky's work; I love the way he tells a story, the way he uses the whole breadth of the medium to engage the viewer. The intersection of ontological puzzles and commercial thrills in Pi was remarkable; after watching Requiem for a Dream, I just wanted to crawl in bed and have someone hold me; The Fountain had its flaws, but it was so lushly beautiful on an emotional scale, so grand in its intent, that they were easily overlooked.

The latest is his most accessible film, the story of a professional wrestler who was at the top of the sport, performing in sold-out stadiums--but that was 20 years ago, and now he works small fights in VFW halls to a crowd of a hundred. His body is shattered, his life is a mess, he lives in his van when he's locked out of his trailer, but he keeps coming back, weekend after weekend, because, well...watch the movie.

Besides this being an absolutely stunning piece of film-making, it also features one of the finest performances I've ever seen. Mickey Rourke completely submerges himself in the character. In a role that would be so easy to overplay, he keeps it subtle, expressing himself as much through his physicality as through his words. He quite simply becomes Randy "The Ram."

It's not a happy movie--none of Aronofsky's work is--but it has its moments of triumph and beauty, and I haven't been able to stop thinking of it since I caught it last week.

So there you go, two things that blew me away recently. Now, my requests to you. First, if you check either of these out, pop back here and gimme a post to let me know what you thought.

And second, if you have time, post about something that moved you recently. I don't care if it's a book or a song or a painting or a sunset or a recipe or a sports car. I'd just love to hear about it.

29 comments:

Lesa said...

OK, I know this sounds really hokey. But, I've lived away from my home state of Ohio for 23 years, and haven't even back back for over ten years. My high school had all of the same fight songs as Ohio State, as well as the same school colors. When Ohio State was here in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, I was lucky enough to have press passes to two events. When the band came marching straight at me, as I stood in the street to take pictures, I choked up. It's a memory of home. For me, it was perfect.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Jesse Jackson's face as he watched Obama make his acceptance speech. I know some people say it was feigned but I don't think so. The faces of many African-Americans for that matter. Our secretary at work who couldn't believe white people would vote for a black man and was so joyful when they did.

The list of people who within hours donated money and goods to a blogger called Travis Erwin whose house burned down last week. The power of the Internet.

Sorry I am having an emotional day.

R.J. Mangahas said...

I have to agree with you on this one Marcus, The Wrestler is probably one of the best movies I've seen in quite some time.

FizzWater said...

I moved my bowels this morning.

Jude Hardin said...

I moved my bowels this morning.

Why? Were they in the way?

Marcus:

I plan to see The Wrestler soon. Sounds great.

I have to say I was pretty much blown away by Slumdog Millionaire. Stunning visuals, superb acting, some of the most ambitious editing I've ever seen. Really a beautiful film.

Marcus Sakey said...

I've heard great things about Slumdog Millionaire. Looking forward to it.

Lesa, Pattinase, those are both beautiful. Thanks for including them!

BlogSmacks said...

I'm sorry, are you supposed to be a talented writer? Your uncreative, hackneyed prose makes me wretch, well, actually, it inspires a florid complexion: the reification of my embarrassment for you; reading one of your books is like listening to a benighted hick-state imbecile intoning some vacuous, all-too-familiar pop song before the panel of American Idol judges. I didn't read this article. You aren't fit to comment on The Wrestler. Darren Aronofsky is a genius; you are not even close. However, I will proffer a modicum of praise your way for offering writing tips on your website. Although I'm sure this was done solely to further fertilize the narcissism you've cultivated thus far, it is still, I suppose, "nice." Keep up the mediocre work! God knows if Hollywood-- i.e., IDIOTS--understand and approve of your work, then you must be quite the sui generis thinker and novelist.

Rob said...

Hey, BlogSmacks. WTF dude? Get a freakin' life.

Marcus Sakey said...

Ahh, the Internet. The ultimate triumph of pure democracy, or simply a forum for anonymous twits to vent their spleen?

Hard to tell some days.

Steerpike said...

I'd say offhand he's a more talented writer than someone who uses "wretch" when he means "retch," but then I could be wrong.

Beyond that your comment just has the sorry ring of someone who's swallowed a thesaurus in hopes of sounding more intelligent, but the effect is less stunning than I think you believe it to be.

However, having just clicked your name and looked at your profile, I realize I've given you way too much credit - you're just a jackass.

You're mistaken, Marcus - the danger of the Internet isn't that fools can vent their spleens, it's that they might meet like-minded individuals and breed.

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