Monday, July 25, 2016

Foxcatcher, Difficult to Watch

It was mid-2014 when I first noticed that Foxcatcher would be released soon and wanted to see it immediately. I didn't know anything about what had happened to David Schultz, a member of USA Wrestling team unless being murdered back in early 1996. I resided in the old country at the time and was a wrestling enthusiast. Competing in 74 Kg class in the university, I once was among the 1st two people but never got the chance to compete nationally. Even if I had, I would not have gotten anywhere because the stupid system allowed national and Olympic champions to enter a university without passing entrance exam or checking their high school grades and we had to compete against them! Imagine you're an engineering student who has to work hard to pass the damn examination and you get a chance to work-out 3 times, sometimes only 2 times a week and then at the national university student championship you would have to compete against a recent Olympic medalist!!! Stupid as fuck like many other things in the old country!
Anyways I remember David Schultz competed against famous Iranian wrestlers at time but I don't remember much about the results because it was almost 20 years ago. I really enjoyed wrestling in those days but that affected my studies and my graduation very much. I was so excited when I first joined the practices that I thought I could be going all the way to become a member of the national team! I was young, ambitious and naive those years and despite the fact that I was good, I didn't know that no one would be a national team member in a country where there are thousands of wrestlers, by only practicing 3 times a week for an hour and a half!
I have good memories from those years but there's no position for them here. I'll go back to Foxcatcher.
I have to say first that it's a sad story. I felt bad for all of the 3 main characters of the movie and what they had to go through in their lives. Mark is David's younger brother. Their parent's separated when Mark was only 2 and he was raised by his brother, mainly. They moved around a lot, as he indicates in the movie for obvious reasons and after 1984 Los Angles Summer Olympics, Mark receives a telephone call one day from a representative of John E. Du Pont, inviting him to meet with the heir of wealthy Du Pont family, in his property, Foxcatcher Farms in Pennsylvania. Mark goes there and upon his arrival receives an offer from Du Pont to move to the little dwelling on the property and train for the upcoming World Wrestling Championship. Mark, who was struggling at the time, accepts the offer and moves to the farm. It is there that John Du Pont develops a relationship with him, according to the movie, although it is said that the two men's relationship had never been as deep as what's shown in the film. For that to be found out, I would have to read Mark Schultz book or talk to him directly! I had a rough idea of John Du Pont before watching the movie but when I finally had the chance to see the film, I realized how brilliant Steve Carrel's act was! He depicted the poor man very truly and genuinely.
Foxcatcher cast from left Tatum as Mark Schultz, the director, actress who played John Du Pont's mother, Steve Carrel as Jon Du Pont and finally Ruffallo as David Schultz. They are seen in Toronto International Film Festival and with all due respect how disgusting it is to appear in a international; film festival and in front of cameras in flip flops?!
Apparently John Du Pont was a lonely man for all of his life. When a child, he said that in the movie, that his mother paid their driver's son to be his only friend and then I read in his short biography that he barely had any relationship in his life but for a short time which ended only after 6 months. So did loneliness drove him to mental instability or did he become lonely because he was mentally unstable?! Regardless of the fact that what caused John Du Pont's insanity, you feel really bad for the guy. In the movie it's shown that he funds a wrestling championship for seniors and in there he wins a match only when his opponent who has been paid by his aid, give up and loses intentionally. This shows how much the man was looking for attention, to become the best, to become the first. He then calls himself a coach and gathers a bunch of guys around Mark and they together make Team Foxcatcher. This is despite his mother's dislike. His mother, who lives with him in the mansion, expresses her deep concern about John and tells him that she does not like wrestling because it is a low sport and she does not like to see John being low! It is of course a low sport for a millionaire family who has probably more than 30 horses which each worth thousands of dollars but I have to find out what average American think of this sport. In Iran which is one of leaders in sport of wrestling, it is definitely considered a low sport. This sport is mostly popular within poor families because it does not require special gear. In addition to that it's not a very technical sport and there's no progress in it. Consider Skiing, Archery, Swimming and even Running. There has been so much improvement in technique, gear, attire, you name it. Wrestling has the same techniques that people used in 1950's! They have been trying to make it more exciting to attract more people and more audience by, for example changing the length of each round or change the number of rounds per match, but they haven't been very successful. That's why they wanted to remove wrestling from summer Olympics but seems they haven't succeeded yet because I saw that it is still in the list of sports of Rio 2016.
John Du Pont in Foxcatcher exercise suit
It then appears that John had been after David Schultz and in fact used Mark to get his brother to the farm. A series of silly things happens then in the movie that I later read that in actual life they had not happened to Mark, such as the scenes that he does Cocaine with John and the times that John tries to separate him from his brother by saying things such as " It is the time to come out of David's shadow! " And in the movie Mark seems convinced!
John later uses an excuse to humiliate Mark in front of the other wrestlers and bring David in. David comes in and starts coaching the wrestlers. At the same time he realizes that this guy is crazy as he tries to impose himself to them as their coach and mentor! A few disturbing scenes are shown which indicates John does not like, at times, the things David does. In the meantime Mark realizes that there is no place for him on the farm. He consults David and David in turn requests a meeting between him and his brother at one side and John and his manager at the other side. David indicates in the meeting that if John wants him there, he also have to pay for Mark who would be leaving the premises soon. John agrees and Mark leaves the next day.
John now feels lonely. Mark's gone. His Mom has passed away and David and the rest of Foxcatcher wrestlers in general do not seem to be any type of healing. When I was reading about the whole story somewhere else, I also found out that a few foreign wrestlers were also being supported by John Du Pont, including at least a Turkish wrestler and a very famous Bulgarian Valentin Yordanov who, himself could be the subject of another post, but they're not mentioned in the movie although the second individual inherited a huge part of John Du Pont wealth after he died! In the movie it seems that Mark's exit has a big toll on John. It's shown that he's setting all by himself, watching a movie that had been made about him. Mark's shown talking about him and calling him his replacement for his Dad and then Mark's shown giving him a hug right after winning a match and stuff like that. The movie ends and he asks one of his guys to warm his vehicle up. Apparently he's upset that Mark's gone. He, alongside with the same guy, drives up to David's residence on the property. David's fixing something in his car and when he sees John's car, stops the work and walks up to the car. John rolls down the window and after asking " whether he has a problem with him " shoots him in the chest. He then shoots him two more times and leaves.
He later is arrested by the same police officers that he supported for years. Apparently there are differences between the movie and the book. The book is written by Mark. I liked the movie although its disturbing and I will buy it. I borrowed the book and started reading it. I will have another post about the book and the comparison. I also intend to contact Mark to see if I can ask him a few question and even meet with him. I will then have another post for that.
(Photo, top: David, on left and Mark Schultz compare their medals. This photo is probably from 1984 Los Angles but I'm not sure)

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