issue 3, part 2: Skate! or...
"Santa" and something rad
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When watching Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, a feeling of cringe tends to wash over one’s eyes every time Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Comedian pops up. It’s painful to write this about Mr. Morgan, but his performance relied too heavily on gruff and grunts, making it feel too one-note and unusual. For a movie so “epic” and “visionary,” it just couldn’t get right its most central figure - at least not from its actor or its direction.
The short film Mr. Marvelous, not having the resources of Snyder’s production or the grandiose sense of proclaiming its own brilliance beforehand, does more in just over ten minutes than Watchmen tried in almost three hours. Now, this is not a Comedian adaptation, nor really all that inspired by Watchmen, but what it shares and transcends is the sense of time gone by, the sense of identity, and the potential that every tomorrow can bring.
Mitch Landry plays the titular Mr. Marvelous who, decades after his heroics have ended, now works dead-end jobs. His current role is that of a thankless Mall Santa, whose time involves humoring babies that cry and scream in his face. His introduction is in slow-motion, where the farther we pull back from his fake-bearded face, we see the struggled ho-ho-ho’s covering for his near tear-filled eyes. He walks with heavy shoulders, a large gut, and weakened knees, not put down by the job so much as the weight of life. He’s exhausted.
This is The Wrestler of superhero tales.
Mr. Landry gives such pain and life to a character we’re with for only a short time. Even when confronting a robbery attempt in his home - which is where we learn of his past - his now aged and limited powers and strength can barely shield us and himself from his overwhelming sadness. An estranged relationship with his daughter, a life alone, and trinkets from the past placed on his bedroom wall as if to remind him of good days on his bad nights, adds up to a most impactful story.
This is a film of wonderful craft.
Mr. Marvelous at times feels like an extended music video, with a pace that matches the down and out songs with the very presence of Landry. There’s undoubtedly a rhythm to the cutting here, and an eye for what’s working at the moment and where the focus should be in the next. An impressive direction is incredibly refreshing, and director Evan Falbaum leads his MovieSauce crew to a successful outing.
Not every Xmas makes for a happy occasion, but sometimes they can be exactly what we need, even if for a moment. Call it Watchmen, call it The Incredibles, call it The Wrestler. You’re right. But it’s also just Mr. Marvelous. No comedian needed here.
This movie is indeed a marvel.
(Currently running the festival circuit)
It’s truly amazing how one space can bring about so much history and love. Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad showcases the singular skatepark Rom, based in a suburb of London. It’s an English Dogtown absolutely, pulling together such a diverse array of athletes and artists, and enthusiasts from all over the world. With a design that’s as mature as it is rough and aged, Rom has birthed many superstars of skating, and many more memories and creatives.
If these half-pipes could talk.
If this film were a bit shorter.
There is a greatly interesting history to this park that’s covered rather well in Rom Boys, by those who lived it, bruises and accomplishments all. Unfortunately, that history is stretched a little thin. Too often, the documentary uses modern-day b-roll of skate tricks to compensate for essentially the same story being told by different people a few times over. The themes may change, but the message remains the same: this park is special. Indeed, but that can only carry a movie and the audience’s collective attention so far.
Drama occurs during filming, when the park suffers quite a functional disaster. Whole sections are left in disrepair, and the future of the property left uncertain. The veterans of this sacred place band together to save it through various fundraising and advocacy/outreach means. These acts are lovely to watch, but again wear so easily.
Rom Boys presents a history and a culture with meaning beyond the pop exposure. It deserves credit for keeping the land alive, but the film itself never really picks up a pace. It’s just stuck.
Still, if one is to get stuck in any place, let it be at Rom.
(Currently streaming on VOD)