by Cassie Ochoa
Based on a true story, Bleed for This stars Miles Teller as Vinny Paz, a middleweight champion who’s taken out of boxing due to a car crash. The trailer showcases a fair amount of the plot, as well as a fantastic performance from Teller and an unbelievable story premise, but will it be an Oscar contender? The story is credited to the writers, Pippa Bianco (Picturing Barbara Kruger) and Angelo Pizzo (Rudy, Hoziers), but the screenplay is credited to the director, Ben Younger. Having written the screenplay and directed the film, Younger is definitely the largest creative force behind Bleed for This.
Ben Younger has two feature length films (Boiler Room; Prime) under his belt, both of which he’s written and directed. Aside from selling a few television pilots, Younger has not been very prolific in any aspect of production, with nine years between his most recent directing credit (Prime) and Bleed for This. According to interviews, the lull can mainly be attributed to problems getting different screenplays into production. It’s doubtful that a directorial rust could ever truly shake Younger off his game, but if the source of his silence is a problem selling screenplays, that might be something to consider. However, Younger knows how to sell high stakes.
Loosely based on the same source material as The Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room is Ben Younger’s directorial debut. Younger wrote and directed the film after a job interview and the writing reflects the sharp-tongued atmosphere of the stock trading world. This clip showcases Chris (Vin Diesel) as he sells chopped up stock to a doctor. The entire room is focused on the display, as is the audience. We’re forced into one focal point from the minute Seth (Giovanni Ribisi) starts his harder pitch to the minute Chris completes the sale. The center of the frame becomes the battleground as Chris makes his way to Seth’s desk. The editing consistently cuts with the focal point on the center of the frame. Only once Chris secures the doctor as a client does the doctor lose this center perspective. The cinematography by Enrique Chediak (127 Hours, The Maze Runner) may not be remarkable, but it sells the scene and compliments the action.
With a background in commercials and music videos, cinematographer Larkin Seiple has been working steadily in slight surrealistic imagery. Swiss Army Man (above) expands upon its absurdist premise with gorgeous visuals that paint the world with the colors of a lonely man’s psyche. Cop Car (2015) takes a wholesome premise and creates a gritty terror surrounding two young boys. Seiple’s worked on Trident ads and Sia music videos, and now he’s working his way up the independent film circuit.
Arguably the short film that put Seiple on the map, Turn Down For What (NSFW) lit a fire under the population, as this extremely bizarre music video circled the web. Currently standing at 590 million views, chances are you’ve seen it. Get past the catchy hook and the ridiculous practical effects, and Turn Down For What stands strong with it’s fantastic cinematography, particularly as the party reaches its climax. Seiple captures the frenetic energy and the confusing display of beat infused anarchy without losing any of the slightly grotesque humor of The Daniels’ direction. It’s insanity and lightening-in-a-bottle set to an EDM song, but the music video is definitely what set this track apart and made it memorable.
So, what can we expect from Bleed for This? One hell of a comeback, not just for Teller’s Vinny Paz, but also for Younger. The story is captivating and not well known, the actors are on their A-game, and Seiple is a fantastic cinematographer, if not an unconventional choice. Based on the trailer, the visuals balance the decadence of the boxer’s early career with the bleakness of his post-crash condition, something that helps amplify the feelings of desperation for Paz’s comeback. Younger is skilled in his depiction of the macho mentality, one of the key successes he showcased in Boiler Room. The stakes are high for everyone, but Younger and his team can hopefully pull through in the end and turn a biopic formula into a distinct success.