Category Archives: Independent

We Love Movies! (Jeff Bridges 2010 edition)

(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.

We Love Movies!

Nerdcore Rising (2008)

A quick synopsis might read: MC Frontalot and friends get an idea to tour across the country in hopes of making it big. The band toils in quiet obscurity as they trek through America’s heartland, leaving underattended show after underattended show a little bit more defeated each time. The final stop of their tour is in nerd mecca Seattle, where thousands of adoring fans worship at the alter of Frontalot and his quirky bandmates. All the work pays off, and they all probably got laid.

Yawn, right? It’s a story that insists that you can be weird and make bad music (sorry to any nerdcore fans), but if you find your audience, you will be loved and adored and successful. You just need to sacrifice and work hard. Americans love these stories of bootstrap-pulling, hardworking, underdog successes. Its been a central tenet in our cultural milieu since conception of nationhood, and it will persist far after I question it in this review.

My bias firmly lies in my distaste for the music. MC Frontalot represents a lot of what is wrong with cross-cultural art theft. I’m not saying that white people can’t enjoy hip-hop, or even perform the genre, but I am saying respect the roots. Hip-hop rose out of the embers of a destroyed Brooklyn, ravaged by drugs and poverty and lack of voice. Nerdcore rose out of geeks wanting to play their weird music for each other and to try and harness to elusive cool factor of hip-hop. These privileged nerdcore musicians decide that they can contribute something to the lexicon of hip-hop, and never once acknowledge the struggle or heart or history of the genre they are performing. If the music is the heart of the film, it falls flat. The music reeks of privilege and lack of authenticity.

I admit I liked parts of the film, but only because it ends showcasing how nerdy and awesome Seattle is. PAX is awesome, and I’m glad to see that the attendees can find it in theirhearts to love this guy who may or may not deserve the attention. WEIRD PEOPLE UNITE … or something.