(aka The Post In Which We Fawn Over Jeff Bridges circa 2010.)
TRON: Legacy (dir. Joseph Kosinski)
I left the my local theater feeling really uneasy about TRON: Legacy. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Disney totally screwed me over by pulling the rug from under my feet. All of the innovation and philosophy and tension and weird art of the original TRON film were gutted by discombobulating CGI and fancy-looking distractions to make the viewer not notice the lack of innovation and heart. Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn is interesting in a distanced way that lends nothing to the story. It pains me to say it, but too much of The Dude, not enough of Kevin Flynn. Ultimately, I didn’t care about a single character. In fact, I cared so little that I couldn’t suppress laughter when Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn would cry. I’m a dick.
The Daft Punk scene was nice, as were the light cycle battles, but the overarching impression is that the film was flat and uninspired. It’s a damn shame because as weird and scary as technology was in 1982, its even more pervasive and insane now. Disney screwed the pooch, which most likely surprises no one.
True Grit (dir. Coen Brothers)
First, everyone involved in this film, from costume production to cast deserve applause. The casting is spot on, location scouts did a great job (NM represent!), and this film restores the Coen Brothers in my eyes after the painful A Serious Man.
Jeff Bridges as the hero of the hour did a damn fine job as Rooster Cogburn. In fact, the whole cast was stellar. Everyone down to Barry Pepper got dirty and grimy and donned their costumes with an impressive commitment to their craft – especially Barry Pepper, because that man got UGLY for the film.
While this review is included under a proverbial marquee in which Bridges’ name flashes brightly, the fire and guts and awesome of this film is firmly on Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. It is rare when a younger female is given the space to carry the film AND be the hero. In this film, she is the glue that binds the bad, the ugly, the human, the beautiful, and the touching. As these stories circulate around her – Cogburn as a sad drunk without direction, LeBoeuf as an eager but bumbling hero, Chaney has a hick idiot with a wicked trigger finger – the center of the chaos is Ross and her ability to harness the wild personalities while proving her skills.