Friday, January 14, 2011

A trio of reviews! I am behind…

Dear Readers – my apologies! I am well behind in reviews – both here for the Patriot and on my Blog. It has been incredibly busy and while I still make the time to go see more movies than I should – actual time on the keyboard has been pretty darn scarce! So, in order to catch up and start getting everyone ready for the awards season, I am offering a trio of reviews for your reading pleasure!

First up: ‘True Grit’ – the outstanding remake of the classic John Wayne western from Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coen brothers have consistently served up films of Academy Award caliper for years now; they are truly directors for this and any other generation. Their genius continues with ‘True Grit’, a version much more faithful to the novel by Charles Portis; the story of the young Mattie Ross and her quest to track down and capture her father’s killer. Mattie is central to the novel and in the Coen version she remains that way. Played with a skill that transcends her years, Hailee Steinfeld (Hitgirl in Kick Ass) proves to be an actress of note and worthy of the Best Actress nod rather than the Best Supporting Actress nod she will most likely receive. Adding to the mix are the wonderful performances from Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and Matt Damon as LaBoeuf.

The film is filled with the richness of dialogue that we have come to love of the Coen brothers – the cinematography is flawless, each scene more stunning than the next and while it may not win the Best Picture trophy, it will get a nomination for sure. While far in structure from the John Wayne version, aficionados of that version will not be disappointed! This is a 4 star effort worth a big screen viewing!

Next, we have ‘The Kings Speech’ – with the performance of the year from Colin Firth, who will finally get his due with the Best Actor statue for sure this year. It is the story of the soon to be King George VI, played by Firth, and his struggle to overcome a nearly debilitating speech defect. Geoffrey Rush is simply outstanding as his speech therapist and the always wonderful Helena Bonham Carter is strong as the King’s wife.

Firth performance is nothing short of stellar here; we can feel every bit of pain and shame he experiences dealing with this issue. The soon to be King is a proud man and his family far too hard and cloistered to allow his defect to be anything but an embarrassment. Anyone having to deal with such a defect will immediately identify with the character. Firth connects us with the pain in a manner and honesty that will impact you long after you have left the theater. Any misconceptions you may have had about the pampering of royalty may fly right out the door with this true story.

Rush is brilliant and irreverent as the therapist, who actually lacks any accreditation, who not only befriends the future King, but cures him as well. This is a Best Picture nomination as well as a Best Actor nomination (and win) for Firth. If you like to see all of the nominated (or soon to be nominated) films, this 4 star inspiration is worth the trip!

Finally, we have ‘Country Strong’; while not Academy Award material, this often predictable yet enjoyable film is well worth the effort if only for the fine vocal performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester and Tim McGraw.

Loaded with fantastic, richly romantic country tunes, ‘Country Strong’ tells the story of the attempted comeback of country superstar Kelly Canter (Paltrow), battling her own inner demons (substance abuse) while trying to live up to the demands of her manager/husband (McGraw). Talented, beautiful but with enough inner demons to crush anyone, Canter I the picture of ‘Country Strong’ battling her way back into the hearts of her fans. The script is cookie cutter and you can practically guess each next scene before it happens. But the music and the vocal performances are nothing short of wonderful.

You may not want to sit through this 2 ½ star effort (although it is well worth the trip to a discount show), but you will want to pick up the soundtrack!

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