Posts tagged with “Coen brothers”
TRUE GRIT (2010/IN THEATERS) Finally! I have been waiting since its December 24th opening to catch the Coen Brothers’ latest—what a treat. As always from the Coens, the film is tight: perfectly cast, perfectly shot, with moments of sly comedy as well as moments of true violence. Those who have read the Charles Portis novel (I have not) say the movie, as promised by the Coens, is true to the book. The dialogue—wonderfully “stilted” with formal phrasings—is representative of the period and includes the occasional scripture quote from the young heroine Mattie Ross, out to revenge the killing of her father (and also to do a bit of “horse trading” with a wonderful character actor Dakin Matthews as Col. Stonehill). Mattie is beautifully portrayed by young Hailee Steinfeld, selected from a field of 15,000 candidates for the role. Steinfeld was13 years old when filming occurred and this is her first performance—she is 14 now. Jeff Bridges is perfect as Rooster Cogburn and Matt Damon is wonderful as the pompous Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (pronounced La Beef). The trio of Mattie, LaBoeuf and Cogburn make up the “good guys” for this flick—on the “bad guys” side we have Josh Brolin as Tom Chaney, murderer of Mattie’s father, and Barry Pepper as Lucky Ned Pepper, head of the gang Chaney is with at the time of the action. Neither Brolin nor Barry Pepper have much screen time, but their few minutes are spot-on. Altogether a wonderful Western and one not to be missed.
BTW: Catch this cute interview with Steinfeld at the movie’s premiere. She is a normal teenager.
As a service to anyone who may have missed them, allow us to guide you to the full-length and teaser trailers for the Coen brothers’ Oscar-buzzy True Grit remake, due in theaters on Christmas Day. I think our levels of Coen devotion vary here at Serious Movie Lover, but I am an unabashed enthusiast of most of their vast catalog. If you subscribe to the “every other movie” theory of Coen-watching, they’re due for a serious-minded, large-scale, painstakingly detailed, HIGH QUALITY offering, and this looks like it will fit the bill. Reliable Oscar winners/nominees in leading roles, Roger Deakins in the cinematographer’s chair (Do they get their own chairs? If not, they really should. Everyone needs a place to sit!), and prestige source material, all present. I haven’t seen the 1969 original since watching it on TV with my dad about 20 years ago, but it was John Wayne’s sole Oscar win and therefore universally beloved from what I can tell. The trailers have me more excited for this one than anything else coming up in this last few months of the year that I’ve heard of so far. We’ll be watching to see if it can live up to my already ridiculously high expectations. See you in December, Coens!
A WOMAN, A GUN AND A NOODLE SHOP (2009/IN THEATERS) What to say about this little oddity of a movie (at least for US audiences)? Also titled A Simple Noodle Story, this wild and crazy film from Zhang Yimou (Hero, Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers) is a pretty literal remake (story-wise) of the Coen brothers early masterpiece Blood Simple and lets you know that right in the opening titles. So, just to refresh your memory, it’s the story of a husband with an unfaithful wife who hires a sheriff/private eye to kill her and her lover. Sounds simple enough, but the movie offers many wonderful Coen-ish twists and turns and a seriously kick-butt ending. In Zhang Yimou’s remake, the action has been moved back in time to an early Chinese era, making this a costume piece, set in a small outpost and noodle shop surrounded by gorgeous red desert hills and big blue skies. Characters come and go by horseback to and from these hills into the noodle shop where most of the action is set. The colors in the film are completely saturated, giving it a sort of Chinese-spaghetti western feel. There is also a comic book feel to the performances—especially from the two side-characters, a young girl and a buck-toothed buffoon—who live and work in the noodle shop as well. In true Chinese comedic fashion, we’re treated to a bunch of slap-stick combined with extremely stylized treatments (my favorite involves noodle dough), plenty of slo-mo and much wailing! A definite bit of culture clash, but fun nonetheless, although my viewing companion and I walked out saying “WTF” for sure. Enjoy.
Heads Up: Evidentally, there is a terrific Bollywood-style song and dance number at the end of the credits, which we were unaware of and unfortunately missed. Bummer, but definitely not worth seeing this film again in theaters to catch that.