Wednesday, December 22, 2010

True Grit (2010)

It's rare that a remake is all that respectful to the original, and even rarer that it is a true update that keeps the feel of the original without making it an entirely different movie.
The Coen brothers managed to take a film from 1969 that they clearly loved and make it into an updated film that was reverential to the classic John Wayne movie.
The new True Grit was an update more than a remake. They added some details and moved some things around, but there was a lot of dialogue and action that were directly from the original.
Acting was not one of the strengths of the 1969 version, but the 2010 film is full of great performances to complement the strong story that was what made the original worth watching.
Joel and Ethan Coen maintained the feel as well, keeping the somewhat goofy tone popping up through a serious tale of a child's revenge.
True Grit is nowhere near as dark and heavy as No Country For Old Men, but that is the one of the Coen films that people will probably compare it to.
What impressed me the most is that they managed to make the new one stand on it's own as a brilliant piece of cinema while maintaining the familiarity with, and clear respect for, the source material.
True Grit (2010) gets an A-
--John Berry, online editor--

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

True Grit (1969)

In preparation for the upcoming release of the Coen brothers' remake, I figured it would be good to check out the original True Grit with John Wayne.
With the realization that film-making was not as sophisticated in the 1960s as it is now, it was still kind of shocked at the lack of real acting in this movie. The young girl who is the lead is just kind of annoying and not terribly convincing. Wayne himself goes from sober to drunk in no time flat with a couple of swigs of whiskey. I wasn't aware that a man of his size would get drunk that quickly.
Other than that, it was a interesting story with some strangely light moments.
I'm not a great fan of classic westerns, but this one was watchable even if it wasn't the greatest film overall.
I'm interested to see how the main elements of the original are handled in the remake. Just a guess, but the goofy drunken John Wayne scenes will probably be told as a serious drinking problem for Rooster, and not the comic levity. And hopefully the little girl in the new one can actually act.

Monday, December 20, 2010

127 Hours

Leave it to Danny Boyle to make gold out of something that seems less than thrilling.
We've all heard the story of the dude who got trapped while climbing and had to cut his hand off to escape with his life.
When I heard there was a movie being made of this true life tale, I really thought that there was little to be done with the story that could make it a whole movie. One guy, alone trapped for days until he realized nothing would save him and he makes the gut-wrenching move to remove his own hand. A logical decision since it was crushed and probably gangrenous by that point. Losing it meant he would be able to get out of there and actually live.
The summary probably more interesting than the real story could have been.
Then Danny Boyle gets on board. Anyone who has ever read my reviews before (and I thank both of you) knows of my man-crush on the British director.
He delivers on this one as well.
Aron Ralston (played by James Franco) is the real outdoor enthusiast who made one mistake and ended up trapped for days alone.
In the beginning of the movie, he seems like a typical narcissistic jackass as he bikes through the wilderness with his video camera mounted on his handlebars positioned to film his own face rather than the terrain he's on. I kind of hated him at the start of the movie.
Through an interesting character study and some decent acting, you actually end up happy for this guy by the end of the movie when he finally escapes.
Beautiful imagery and creative telling of a man's flirting with madness make this a film that will certainly get some talk come Oscar season again.
127 Hours gets an A.
--John Berry, Online Editor--