Movie seen 12/26/10 – 1/9/11
Thoughts on “Black Swan” — it’s a very good movie, one that stayed in my thoughts days after I saw it. The kind of creepy horror/suspense movie shown in drive-ins during the 1970s. Jim Emerson accurately compared it to a Roman Polanski thriller (I’ll write more about Polanski later this week).
Natalie Portman did a good job showing a woman straining under the intense pressure to achieve perfection (and make that perfection appear effortless), finally succumbing to her dark side in the final fantastic minutes of the film.
The camera shots that followed directly behind Portman while she walked around were similar to other Aronofsky films such as “Pi” and “The Wrestler”. The ending was also similar to “The Wrestler”, lots of cheering and name-chanting.
The old lecherous guy on the subway is Stanley Herman, who also appears in “Pi” as a man on the subway in a suit, though in “Pi” he simply signs, whereas in “Black Swan” he wags his tongue and jiggles his naughty bits. And Vincent Cassel reminded me a bit of Mark Margolis, Sol from “Pi”.
Thoughts on “True Grit” — a great movie, and one of the better films I saw in 2010. It’s been many years since I’ve seen the 1969 original with John Wayne, so I can’t make any snap comparisons, but I remember thinking Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn was pretty much just a caricature of most cowboys Wayne portrayed in his career, whereas Jeff Bridges’ Cogburn was a drunk and a scoundrel and a dangerous man with a gun.
Hailee Steinfeld, as Mattie Ross, steals every scene she’s in, and deserves an Academy Award for her role. Barry Pepper was creepy as Ned Pepper, and the way he spoke during the famous charge scene near the end sounded as though he were channeling Robert Duvall, who played the character in the original.
The best scenes were Mattie bargaining with the horse trader in town near the beginning, along with Rooster proving his marksmanship while drunk on the trail. The dialogue in most scenes was quick and witty, on par with most of the Coen Brothers’ film.
I remember Mattie being bitten by the snake in the original, but I don’t remember the snake being hidden inside the empty chest cavity of a corpse, as happened in this version… no matter, it was an effective, creepy touch that only further highlighted the danger Mattie was in after she fell into the cave.
In the first nine days of 2011 I’ve seen “Force of Evil”, “The Secret of Kells”, “Wall-E”*, “Signs”*, “Sin City”*, “From Beyond”, “Pitch Black”*, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”*, “A Clockwork Orange”*, “Robin & Marion”, “Shakes the Clown”, “The Uninvited”, “Withnail & I”, “The Man with the Golden Arm”, “California Split”, “Eyes of Laura Mars”, “Gumshoe”, “The Town”, “Machete” and am currently watching “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”*. I’d say I’ve kept myself fairly busy with movies these past two weeks, more so than I have in the final few months of 2010.
Of the films I saw for the first time over the past nine days, the ones I recommend are “Force of Evil”, “Robin and Marion”, “Gumshoe” and “The Town”, that one being an entertaining cross between “Heat” and “The Departed”. I absolutely loved “Withnail & I” and will re-watch it soon before writing about it in detail.
The stinker of the bunch is “The Uninvited”, an American remake of an Asian horror film, bloated with tired cliches and ripping off the ending of “The Sixth Sense” without any reward. “Machete” was trash, but at least it was fun trash.
[*film I have on DVD, which should automatically imply recommendation]