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A man strong enough to bend a penny with just his fingers, Stanless Steel reaches middle age, career disappointments and difficult personal relationships that begin to test his strengths ... See full summary »

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A man strong enough to bend a penny with just his fingers, Stanless Steel reaches middle age, career disappointments and difficult personal relationships that begin to test his strengths and force him to struggle with the weaknesses around him -- including his own. Written by Zachary Levy

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25 January 2011 (USA)  »

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moving portrait of a strongman
26 September 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Strongman" follows Stanley Pleskun (who goes by the goofy moniker "Stanless Steel") as his career as steel twister, car lifter, and penny bender stumbles and he finds his day job as scrap metal collector taking over his time and energy.

He's surrounded by a girlfriend, Barbara, who had dreamed of Hollywood stardom and money and now finds herself stuck with Stan, a scruffy brother who's got a drinking problem, and a grandmother who resembles a corpse. As the turmoil of his life rises (things get tough with his girlfriend) he has to finally admit, "you can bend steel, but you can't bend people." "Strongman" isn't structured with an edge-of-your seat payoff or ticking clock (some kind of contest, or a final big stunt) and because of that it feels honest, and real. It sticks to one slice of life moving to the next resolving to its poignant end. It's shot with a traditional cinema verité aesthetic: no voice over, no title cards, no musical score.

While documentarians who take their cue from Errol Morris and seek out the quirky oddballs of society can often make films that feel exploitive (hipsters getting a good laugh at some nut's expense) this wonderful film succeeds where those films fail in its respectful heartfelt look deep inside the life of a man trying to find strength.


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