Friday, December 31, 2010

True Grit

Forget the old True Grit. This one is better. Jeff Bridges plays Rooster Cogburn, an alcoholic U S Marshall, who is recruited to help the 14 year old Mattie Ross catch the man who murdered her father. Matt Damon plays a Texas Ranger who is also after the bad guy. The script is humorous in unexpected spots. It is brutal in the predictable spots. The stand out is Bridges with a lot of help from the determined performance of Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie. This is a true western- but one with the kind of spin that the Coen Brothers give to the films they make. It deserves the audience it has gotten. It is one of the year's best films.

The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg plays "Irish" Mickey Ward- who happens to be a real person. Mickey is the little half-brother of  Dickey Eklund (Christian Bale), a former welterweight whose claim to fame is knocking out Sugar Ray Leonard. Dickey is now a crack addict with not much of a brain left, but he is the prize of the family and the former pride of Lowell Mass, despite his problems. Mickey has let his possessive and toxic family ruin his chances, until he gets a street wise girlfriend (Amy Adams) who takes over. The story is  true and well written. Part of the curiosity of this movie is the role of Dickey Eklund. It is clear that it is a role that is so quirky and personal that only someone like Christian Bale could play it. Wahlberg could never have done it and been believable. So as a trade, Wahlberg plays the role of the manipulated Ward. In a way, he has gone the way of such notables as Winona Ryder when Angelina Jolie stole the entire film of Girl,Interrupted. Wahlberg had to know that Bale would walk away with the glory, but yet, he opted to make this movie. Curious. All of the cast is great. The story is entertaining. The boxing scenes leave a lot to be desired since there are such obviously faked punches. If you like boxing movies, and if you like Mark Wahlberg or Christian Bale, then you will love this movie. I was entertained by it, though Bale made me itch.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The King's Speech

Okay- I have to preface this review by saying we'd had a long airplane trip, etc etc, for Christmas and we decided to go see this because of the great reviews. That said, we both almost took a nap somewhere in the middle. I managed to stay awake, but Alex got about 2 minutes of good solid sleep in there. That may have been a sacriledge to some, but jeez louise, it was sloooow and overwrought in places.  Had Colin Firth not been such a great actor, this could have been a comedy. Cruel? Well, 2 hours of stuttering doth generate the occasion titter, no? But because Firth is so compelling and such a sympathetic character, he gets away with it. Some idiot behind us suddenly realized that the children grew up to be Queen Elizabeth and her late sister, Margaret. It took him about 90 minutes. Then he had to say it out loud for our entertainment. That did generate laughter.  The acting is truly wonderful. The script is fairly amusing in spots. I think it is getting rave reviews because it's so hard to believe you could drag a movie out for so long, on such a topic, and still have it watchable. Helena Bonham Carter really can be pretty- I don't know why she fights it so hard. Two second summary- because his idiot brother is sucked in by the dominatrix and black widow that is Wallace Simpson, the throne passes to George VI played by Colin Firth. George stammers but because of that darned invention, the radio, he has to conquer this problem. Enter pithy, witty, self-proclaimed speech therapist and VOILA!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

I liked this one the best of all the HP movies. J K Rowling should be canonized as St Jo for writing this brilliant series of books. Yes, they are brilliant. And the films are generally lockstep with the books. And for that reason, the final book is divided into two films. Radcliffe was one of the worst child actors ever seen- I slaughtered his first two performances on the old website. He was hammy and out of character. But over time he seems to have learned a lot from the series of wonderful directors as well as from his two castmates who have never missed a beat. This film is like watching a drama, relying far less on special effects and creatures. After all, by now we do know who everyone is and what their role is in the story. We truly admire Hermione and Ron in this one- big parts of the story are theirs. The scenery is lovely- it is nice to see them in the real world. The ending is perfect. I have to say that the critics who have complained about this being long or not exciting are missing the point. It is a great movie. We KNOW these kids. We have watched them grow up. We worry for Harry, even though we know he will live. I love being attached to this story. And I thought this movie was fantastic.
 PS my favorite characters have always been the Weasley twins and Luna. Just in case you wondered.


Yay! A captivating and musical story starring Rapunzel and her suitor. Yes, I DID just write that phrase. It isn't raking in the cash because it stinks now, is it? It is lovely. The animation is great, the story is cleverly told and moves along with great speed, and it is as much fun for the adults as it is for the kids. It has gotten to where animated stories are better than most of the movies out there. This is best seen in 3D. Parts of it are beautiful in 3D. Of course, it ends well- it's a fairy tale.

Love and Other Drugs

Oh please. This is really about seeing Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway naked. That's the most interesting part of the film. It's a boring story with a very predictable ending. Hathaway has Parkinson's and uses a hard shell to hide her internal pain. Gyllenhaal is a charming playboy drugs salesman. They meet, she resists, he uses his smoldering puppy looks, yada. At points, it feels interminable. If these two weren't such good actors to watch, this would have been flushed. It was part Love Story (minus the preppie remarks), part Up In The Air lonely horny man meets woman who won't commit. It isn't so horrible a film that they shouldn't have made it- they just shouldn't have made it with such good actors because that made it almost acceptable. Skip it.