The Cardboard Boxer

Okay, I am not usually a movie reviewer, but I will recommend this one flick my kid found on Netflix for our family to watch tonight.  I never heard of it before and was surprised by it.

Is it the greatest movie ever?

No.  Far from it.

Is it realistic in my street experience?

No… not really.

I have seen fights on the streets, but nothing like this.  I have seen homeless men make friends of other homeless men, but not like this.  And the whole diary angle is pretty far-fetched.  But…

But…

But, time and time again, I have heard homeless men (and a few women too) say they are looking for connection with others.  They want friendship.  The yearning for true friendship is real.  The unrealistic way Willie (Thomas Haden Church) goes about seeking friendship nevertheless depicts that deep yearning of the heart which I have found expressed time and again.

The surprise ending, just when Willie rejects a manipulative offer of Jesus’ saving grace, will bring it all HOME for you if you care to watch.  And for that, I will give the flick my two thumbs up.

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5 comments

  1. T. F. Thompson · February 11

    Okay, I downloaded it and will watch it tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. T. F. Thompson · February 13

    I liked most aspects about this movie. The part I didn’t like was making homeless people appear to be mentally retarded. My experiences teach me that many of the homeless are highly intelligent. Still, I enjoyed the movie. In particular, I liked how demonstrated well-meaning Christians who think all you have to do is perform a simple prayer and a person is some-how ‘saved’. Never mind the discipleship.Again, the message is well-meaning, but somehow the ‘good’ people to come and announce the message of the gospel is lacking and this film demonstrated it well. In fact, the ‘hero’ the lovely burned girl revealed herself more as a Christ-like figure for her pure offering of love. The scene was heartbreaking and tore away any bad elements of the movie. I give this 4 stars of its informative qualities if nothing else, but it’s ability to illustrate love is nothing more than a perfect 10.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · February 13

      Thanx for that endorsement, Tommy. I hear ya. The movie lacked some things that keep it from being a truly great movie. However, I am not a film critic, so I am at a loss for words to put my finger on it. (I know even the experts get it wrong sometimes.)

      I think all the characters, except for the young girl (who is a flat character (I know enough to recognize that)), have a bit of dirt on them. No one is entirely good (except the girl). There are parts that seem unrealistic, but like you, I am moved by the final scene which redeems the weak spots in my mind.

      Yeah… makes me want to write my own. I am sure it can be improved, but it was a worthwhile effort.

      Like

      • T. F. Thompson · February 13

        This is my start on it as well:
        Nadia Greye had already been gone for over three hours when Sasalita, her brown-headed Puerto Rican friend, spit out the report that the cops had hauled Nadia away to jail long before she was ever to hit the streets for work. She didn’t stand a chance as Vice had set up an undercover team that had worked the perimeter of Cassette Ave. and SR-228 around Ramona Blvd. via the Interstate. Apparently, Nadia was nailed on mere suspicion as a time saving measure for the men in blue and that was the end of the story. Sasalita was gone. That left Tom Milhouse on his own for the next three days, as Nadia would probably plead ‘guilty’ as usual upon review at the hearing. Naturally, she would get time-served, fined and let out once again, but this was Friday and she wouldn’t be out until Monday, probably in the latter part of the afternoon. That left the woods in the park for Tom for the next three days. It wasn’t exactly a carbon copy of heaven but then again he had slept in worse. However, the open air of the night woods invited all those nasty attacks of mosquitoes and other varmints that would bite the shit out of you and rob any moments of precious sleep or other nuisances that is otherwise produced by sleeping in the dampness of an open marsh.
        All he could think about for the moment anyway was the dire need of a steaming cup of coffee and so headed to Denny’s to drown himself in caffeine. He had already counted and had about seventy bucks on him, mostly in ones, and so knew at least he would eat for another day. He ate what was only necessary and later, joined Cecil and another friend who hovered around a fire barrel down near the by-dock on the murky waters of the creek.
        “Where’s that fox, Nadia?” asked Cecil Mullins, the tall elderly black man who wore a camouflaged shirt and trousers.
        “Jail.”
        “Why don’t those stupid fuckers leave her the fuck alone?” Cecil slurred between jagged, rotten teeth.
        “Yeah, Fuck the Police.” Brian said, a young white kid of 23 years, joined in. “Say, Tom, do you want a fucking beer? We’ve got plenty of that?” Without waiting for an answer, he reached down behind a stack of newspapers, revealed a Styrofoam cooler filled with a several cases of cheap Milwaukee cans and passed one to Tom.
        Cecil poked a long, crooked, bony finger to Tom. “We been at it here for three years, you and me. I say we should drink one for that.”
        Knowing that Cecil didn’t need an excuse to drink, Tom played the gesture off. They drank together for at least four, maybe five hours until the night grew late and where they were just beginning to feel good about themselves. About that time when they were really getting into some serious drinking and feeling a good buzz, there was the glare and intensity of a bright light. Cops.
        Pushed away from the scene by the cops, they beat it out to the woods and opened another case to continue their drinking spree, smoking cigarettes, the other two smoking weed and whatever else they had on them or could find. To them, it didn’t really matter what they smoked as long as they could feel that tingle rush into their heads, numbing their bodies.
        And while it was late august, a thunderstorm had cooled the hot air. Yet, a heavy mist blanketed the landscape. A thick sweat pored out of all of them drenching their face, their shirts and dripped profusely off their brows.
        “Going to try and bail Nadia out?” Cecil asked.
        “No use.” Tom said. “It’s all part of the game. You know her color. To the cops, the judge, she’s guilty simply because she lacks an attorney, and was on this side of town at the wrong time. I’ll simply have to buy my time and wait until Monday and then we can go at it again and try and make some money.”
        “Fuck the police!” Brian yelled with a shrilled voice as he adjusted the volume of his headphone to his pocket radio and dropping a beer in the process. “Damn. My fucking beer spilled. Damn.”
        “Yeah.” Tom said as he sipped with loose lips on a can of beer. “Fuck the fucking police.”

        Early that next morning, Sasalita stumbled into camp and found the three passed out like three urban wine-o’s. One was half-on, half-off the seesaw; another, Brian, laid face down in the dirt while Tom was sprawled out on the wet grass near a swing. “Wake up! Wake up, Tom!” She commanded while shaking him.
        “Damn. What’s going on?” Tom said, mumbling and fumbling for a cigarette. “Oh, it’s you, Sasalita.” He said, looking up, getting up and brushing himself off. “Okay, give me the goods. What is it that you want?”
        “What makes you think I want anything?” A sly look possessed her eyes and Tom zeroed right in on it.
        ‘I know you don’t come here and get us up without asking for anything. Out with it. What do you want.?”
        Brian and Cecil fell back to their sleep in their identical postures and Sasalita combed out her brown hair with one hand, fidgeted with her purse with the other. “Well, Nadia’s not here and won’t be here for several days. I thought that you and I could like, you know, hang out together.”
        Tom laughed. “Sure. Sure you want to hang out with me. Of course, you do. You’ve known me for three years and all of a sudden you want to hang out. What gives with you anyway?”
        Sasalita’s face grew stern for a retracted moment, “Probation.”
        “And what exactly about probation?” Said Tom
        Sasalita’s voice was low, mellow and sweet. “Not much, really. Only $40 bucks. That’s all. I need $40 dollars to stay off on Monday when I go to my probation officer.”
        “But that’s most of the money that I have now,” replied Tom.
        “Then you have enough. Good. I knew you would go to bat for me!” And with those words, Sasalita knew that she had him, for Tom was a sentimental sucker, a bleeding heart, and she knew it. Moments later, two twenties lay in her hand, and after receiving the money, she sped out of the woods towards the hotels where Tom felt, more than likely, she would have it spent up on white powder before the day was over.

        Two hours later, Tom briefed a nearby shopping center, bought a pair of sneakers and still later hoofed it to the downtown area on the river where he sat, watched the sailboats, fed the seagulls and then met up with a friend whom owed him money. Friends always owed him money. There was nothing new or unique about it. Anyone who lived on the streets was like that. They loaned money, owed money at various times and had money loaned to them. That was the nature of the beast on the street. It was street legal along with most other behaviors that occurred on the streets that were considered away from the norm. To Tom, all of it seemed natural, for after all he had lived that way for three whole years and accepted the consequences of that style of living. For the moment, he glanced at his watch and noted that it is a Saturday and already 3:00 PM. He longed for the comfort of a motel, a clean shave, and a hot shower, but knew that wasn’t coming until at least Monday night when Nadia would be with him. Too, it could be very late on Monday night as business may not be what it should. And that was the breaks of living on the streets, on the edge. You never knew when or where your next meal was coming, but then again, it was a living: nothing to brag about, but it was surviving at it’s worse, to eke out a living, a day-to-day subsistence.
        “Have business to perform here?” a nightstick behind a blue uniform probed along Tom’s neck.
        “Don’t you have anything to do, but to go around bothering people?” Tom demanded. “Why don’t you go out and find another John Gotte, Scarface or someone like them. A real bad guy. Why do you have to hassle easy targets like me?”
        The officer laughed and poked with his stick. “We don’t want you worthless bums scaring off customers. Now, go on and get out and away from here!”
        So Tom did as the officer said and it wasn’t long before he was back on the Westside indulging in his penchant for coffee. After toying with a crossword out of a newspaper, he slapped a deck of cards on the table and began a fresh game of solitaire. He soon grew bored with that and sped off to a pool hall not far away and sipped away at a beer. A jukebox played Country & Western, four guys were at the pool tables, two at a foosball arcade, another at darts, and still others watched TV at the long sports bar that decked the back and sides of the building.
        “I see that foxy babe of yours, Nadia isn’t with you today,” a voice that sat down beside him in the booth said.
        Tom knew the voice well. It was Justin Dylan.
        “Still trying to get your grubby hands on her ass, aren’t you, Justin?”
        “What can I say? She ‘s one sexy-ass mother fucker.”
        “Fuck you, Justin.” Tom growled.
        “Hmmmmm Now aren’t you the cranky one,” Justin retorted. “After all. What does a 24 old Afro-American chick want with an old fart like you. How old are you anyway? You’re at least in your mid-fifties. You’re an old, old man. You’re over the hill, a fucking goner.”
        “Fuck you again.” Tom said. “Fuck you, your dog, your cat and your Goldfish and your neighbor’s pet as well.”
        Justin laughed. “Calm your fucking ass down. Here just to show you that we are friends, I’ll even buy you a beer.”
        And while Tom waved off his gesture of the beer, he knew that Justin was right. Nadia was in fact way too young for him and he was too old for her. Age was more than just a number and he knew it. Hell, he really didn’t dislike Justin. He simply didn’t want Nadia being used for sex is all. He wanted her to be with a man that loved and cared for her. That wasn’t really a big deal as he saw it. He simply didn’t want to discount what men usually saw in Nadia. Sure. She was slim, but perfectly voluptuous. She had golden brown skin, clear face, long brown hair with curls: shapely, Pamela Anderson Lee style legs, a sweet full butt with just a little bounce, and a wonderful, and friendly, innocent smile. Her breasts were extremely well developed, almost swollen with womanhood and matched the rest of her body that was carved with delicate, exacting, French Curves. Aside from that, she possessed big, round, luminous effervescent brown eyes that could seduce you with a simple flash; a tantalizing wink of her long lashed lids. Yet, that was the most obvious. It didn’t allow for her personality. It didn’t account for her soul, her spirit, her wants, needs or aspirations. It didn’t figure into the equation those assets that best described not only Nadia, but also any other creature of God. And that is what he wanted for her. He wanted more than what he could give her, but more than anything else, he wanted her to establish her true sense of worth that would last her a lifetime. It didn’t matter that she was a street urchin simply trying to survive. Hell, she wasn’t a prostitute because she wanted to be. She was simply forging out a living against the odds of life that were stacked against her is all. She did what she did to support herself, her three children, and most of all: to pay the state all the fines, fees, costs that plagued her like a breeding swarm of locusts. However, no matter what the circumstances with Nadia were, Justin didn’t know her occupation. He simply knew her as Nadia, a girl that he met on the streets.
        “I’ll tell you what, Justin. You can stay. You can even buy me a beer. Simply agree that you won’t bring up Nadia’s name is all that I ask.”
        Justin grinned a large grin in sign of complete victory. “Alright. It’s a deal. Now let’s get on with the beer.”

        Now it was dark and it would get darker as it was a moonless, starless night. A light drizzle had crept up from the east by route of the Atlantic Ocean and was pushing in a fine layer of misty water which quickly intensified into a hard rain. A cold, gusty breeze howled along with the rain and Tom, drenched, sought cover beneath the bridge at the by-dock. He had stashed all his valuables there to include an emergency umbrella, tattered and soiled, but good; he also kept a vinyl poncho among the rocks near the water and he quickly utilized the two.
        “Go away, I tell you.” A voice muttered in a pathetic cry.
        Tom looked around. There was a man lying just beneath the pilings near the top and underneath the bridge. He ran to the man and, “Cecil. Is that you?”
        Cecil was there sure enough. He was all laid out underneath three layers of cardboard and a smelly wool blanket. Sweat steamed off his face and his eyes were wide, blank and watery.
        “What’s wrong with you,” Tom asked as he checked his forehead. “You’re burning up with the fever.”
        Cecil moaned a moment and drifted to sleep in a stupor; his arms flailed at his sides as if swatting mosquitoes. Tom panicked, then dashed off to a pay phone and called for an ambulance. He noted the time from his watch at 10 O’clock, and rushed back to Cecil.
        “Hang in there, pal. Help is on the way.”
        “Water. Water. Give me some water,” groaned Cecil.
        Tom grabbed a half-filled plastic milk jug used as a water container and pressed it to Cecil’s cracked, jaundiced looking lips. He took slow, deliberate swigs and dropped the jug by his side. “God. I’m glad it’s you, Tom. I’m glad it’s you and not someone else. I was praying for you boy. I was praying for you to come.”
        “I’m here with you now,” Tom said.
        Time was passing quickly and there was no sign of the ambulance. “Where are they?” Tom shouted at the top of his lungs. But then, he quickly felt stupid as he saw that Cecil was upset over the situation. He could see it on the tired lines of Cecil’s face.
        “Never mind, them boy.” Cecil quipped. “It’s too late now.”
        That comment puzzled Tom. “What do you mean, it’s too late? Everything’s going to be alright.”
        “It doesn’t matter, Tom. It don’t matter no more. I’ve had it. I’m through, finished.”
        Those words saddened Tom for he knew that Cecil had given up. He had known Cecil ever since he first hit the streets and had hung out with him off and on at the by-dock for most of that time and all during that stretch, Cecil was never a quitter. He hung in there, fighting life with the rest of them. But now, he was losing it.
        “What do you say I light up a blunt for you, Cecil?” Tom asked.
        “Sure, sure, light me up.”
        Locating a pack of matches, half-wet from his knapsack, Tom lit up a blunt and attempted to hand it to Cecil.
        “I don’t have the strength to . . . “
        Tom gently stuck it in between his lips and held his own head down low in sorrow for he couldn’t bare to see him the way he was. Cecil was never like this. He had endured the Viet Nam war, the civil rights era as a protester, was a successful mortar man, that is, until his back went out on him. As an ammo carrier in Nam he tripped a land mine, was lucky enough to escape that, but failed to hold up against the weight and strain of daily work in supporting his family of seven. The crew supervisor had pushed him hard, very hard and his body had failed. That was obvious. He was a rugged, 51 years old and seemed able, strong. Not an ounce of fat could be found on his muscular body and his arms felt like belts of cast iron. Everything about Cecil was like a Charles Atlas, except his back. Now, Cecil seemed more or less like a lifeless corpse.
        Suddenly, a siren noise came from out on the pavement and Tom went out to hail the ambulance.

        As the gurney was heaved to the van, a worker muttered, “I thought that this was going to be a simple rescue. Wow. Man, this fellow doesn’t need rescued. He’s dead.”
        “What do you mean, dead? Tom demanded, caught aback by surprise.
        The worker, a young man, scrawny but tall, and just out of his teens, stepped back away from Tom as a precaution. He then put a finger to his face and scratched at a place near his temple as if to think. A bright reddish boil or carbuncle rested itself only inches away from his finger. It was the size of a ripe strawberry and seemed near the point of rupture. “I don’t know precisely what to say, except that this gentleman is no longer breathing. His heart isn’t ticking which indicates that he is dead. What else can I say?”
        “You can say that you’ll do everything you can to bring him back to life. He was alright just a moment ago. Go ahead, idiot. Do your fucking job!”
        The young boy shook his head slowly, wiping the rain from his face. “I am truly very sorry, but there is nothing that I can do.”
        Before Tom could react, Cecil’s now wet body was shoved into the van and it sped off down the road and out view into the darkness of the night. Cecil, his best friend was gone.

        That next day, Sunday was a rough one for Tom. The night had toiled its effects on him for it was a hard one. The image of his friend, Cecil still burned within his mind and he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Why hadn’t they tried to revive him, he thought. Why didn’t they think to check for foul play? Clearly, Cecil, an old black man was discarded, and disposed of as he was seen only as a societal nuisance that they, the public didn’t have to put up with any longer. Post Script: And thank you for fighting the war.
        He knew too that Nadia would take it hard as well for Nadia was like that. She grew on people and they had also a tendency to grow on her. Nadia’s feelings were anything but phony. They were real, alive, vibrant, quicken to the core. When it came to the game of life, Nadia was not only all of that, she was more than all of that. She didn’t give a damn about impressing others, or what they thought of her, possessing a real genuine love for people that surpassed normal affections. When she decided that she liked you, there was no more discussion concerning it. She liked you and that was that. It was the end of it for her feelings were set no matter the facts, or whatever else happened. You could actually be the worst person on the face of the earth, but the mold was formed within her, the die cast. She was like that.
        And although it was still early, it didn’t seem that way to Tom. It was Sunday. Sundays were always special to him. It came from his more traditional values he grew up with as a kid: church, family, friends, and a chosen vocation. As for reflection on the passing of Cecil Mullins, he even believed in heaven and hell. He simply didn’t think it should begin here on earth. And that in particular was the hell part for Tom felt that life was final and while the spirit continued on after his body left, he felt too that we had to answer for ourselves while here on earth. He would let God take care of heaven and earth.
        It wasn’t long before he passed by a Gate Service Station and there he followed a small trail beside the store wall to the trash compacters.. To the far back of the compacters, squatting on a milk carton sat Bo Eaton. Bo called out to Tom and immediately offered a beer.
        “No thanks, Bo. I’ll pass on it today. All I’m doing is passing time.”
        “So then,” Bo said, clearing his throat. “How is your girl, Nadia Greye, doing these days?”
        “She’s okay, how about yourself?”
        Bo took a long drag on a hand-formed cigarette he had fashioned in obvious haste. Most of the tobacco particles flew out and scattered on him and the ground. After realizing it, he greedily went through his trousers and pulled out a joint. “Tom,” he said. “I don’t know about you, but I used to be fucked up!”
        Tom laughed. “What do you mean, used to be fucked up? Bo, you still are!”
        “No, no, no.” Bo protested. I mean I used to be really fucked up! Man, I was on crack, heroin, and sniffing powder big time. I went through $30, 000 of my inheritance in less than three months, I used to be really, really fucked up. Now, I drink a little and smoke grass, but, hey, man. That’s a major improvement over where I was before.”
        Tom shook his head neither confirming nor denying Bo’s affirmations.
        Bo continued with pride, boasting, “Oh, yes, there was a time when I was really messed up for sure, but now, I’ve got my fucking shit together.”
        “You’re really quite a specimen, “ Tom added.
        Tom knew there was no use in arguing with Bo. It didn’t matter anyway for Bo wasn’t going to change. He was a drug addict and an alcoholic and nothing nor anything was going to influence him one way or another. Besides, it came with the territory. It came with life on the street and Tom knew, understood and appreciated it. He knew that all types, all walks of life were on the street and he didn’t judge it. Sure, he didn’t endorse or think it was a lifestyle he would want for anyone, but then again, he was just like them, homeless. He lived on the streets the same as they did and didn’t feel himself any better about himself for it. There was no glamour in the lifestyle, only survival.
        “Are you still living out of that ‘66 Mustang in the parking lot behind Winn Dixie?” Tom asked.
        “Shoot.” Bo sighed. “They hauled that car away long ago. Ever since the feds came looking for Wiley and drugs, they had a tow truck come along and haul away our house. Damn ‘em all.”
        Bo’s comment struck Tom with memories about Wiley and the others that hung around him. Like the time they were out in the woods barbequing Pete Clifford, the Bosnian was there. Alongside him by the campfire was Jennifer, the tawny, two-bit whore who charged five bucks a trick, or anything at all at times if she wanted drugs bad enough. Paul Pollack the midget was there. He strummed on a guitar, singing whatever tune that could possibly be sung. He didn’t do a bad job of it either. And too, there was of course, Smiley Wood who caught his clothes on fire while drunk and stumbling into the hot ashes; Naturally, there was Cecil who would sit silently, stately-like while everyone else around him bitched about the world and hard times. Those were good nights and were nights all before he joined up with Nadia. At times he missed those moments with his friends for during those moments he hadn’t a care in the world. Those occasions were spent in jolly times, booze and long talks from those who had nothing to hide about themselves. They were special people to Tom and he counted it as dear, precious events that he would never forget. “I’ll tell you what, Bo. I’ve got to run. Catch you later. By the way, where are you staying since you’re no longer in the car?”
        The question didn’t even seem to register with Bo, so Tom let it go, walking back towards the main road and stopping at a bus stop. There he sat on a bench and mused over all the possibilities. He envisioned himself in Mexico sometime in the near future as he approached retirement age. He dreamed momentarily about cruising around the world in a sloop or perhaps even roughing it on one of the islands in the Pacific, alone and away from everybody and everyone. And no matter how illogical his thoughts for the moment it gave him an inner peace. It drew his mind away from his homelessness, from poverty, from fleeing from cops at his every move, from his thoughts of inadequacy and for a few brief seconds, even from his first love, Nadia. He hated those times when the two of them were separated, when he wasn’t able to assist, be near her and hold her tight and when, during other times, she had to run off with someone: to a party maybe, off with a bunch of guys hustling money for survival. And that would change soon once again when Nadia was back out of jail. He was sure of it. He wouldn’t feel lonely anymore and maybe even they could break out of what they were doing and go off to a happy life.
        His thoughts were interrupted.
        “Hey man, got a cigarette?”
        Tom failed to look up. He nodded no, and attempted to go back to his thoughts as he was aggravated that his mood had been broken. Yet, it was no use. He couldn’t maintain a steady thought and thus, decided to make it to Denny’s once again.
        There was nothing all that unusual about Denny’s yet, anyone on the streets was always fighting off the task of boredom. It was boring to hang around or simply to walk around, yet, too, killing time in a restaurant wasn’t all that exciting either. It was simply another task that killed time and another way to eat if you had the money.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Agent X · February 13

    A nice start! You took me there…

    btw, I once was homeless in Denver (early 90’s) briefly. I lived out of my 66 Mustang! Go figure. Spent most of my nights sofa surfing with old high school buddies/friends, but a couple nights in that car.

    Like

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