Remakes of John Wayne movies are a rare thing. Stagecoach was remade twice, but never with memorable results. The Sons of Katie Elder was kinda/sorta remade as the Mark Wahlberg film Four Brothers, but the modern-day gang parable was barely recognizable next to the source material.
In True Grit, Jeff Bridges would be stepping into the iconic role that earned Wayne his Best Actor Oscar and the only character that I can recall that Wayne actually played twice. It was a ballsy move for an actor now permanently identified with “The Dude,” the memorable slacker from The Big Lebowski. Fortunately for Bridges, the Coen Brothers, also writer/directors for Lebowski, had the actor’s back.
I think we’re wasting money on all the “Just Say No” programs we think are going to keep kids off drugs. Two hours with someone like Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) should convince anyone that drugs are a one-way ticket to nowhere. The first time we see him in The Fighter, the ex-boxer is living for two things: his rose-colored memories of the time he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard and his next vial of crack.
The last Harry Potter movie (the Half-Blood Prince) was the first one to leave me genuinely cold when it was over. The first part of the film seemed to fritter about with various pieces of business until finally getting down to brass tacks in the last 30 minutes or so. I had to wonder if the connective tissue between these scenes was more apparent in the printed word and just didn’t translate readily to the screen.
Dreamworks Animation has always labored in the considerable shadow of Pixar. With the exception of the original Shrek, their output has had its merits but they have never matched the relentless consistency of Disney’s seemingly unstoppable CG animation house. I don’t know if they have turned that corner, but with How to Train Your Dragon, they have finally produced a film that belongs in the same league as The Incredibles and WALL-E. Continue reading →
A truly excellent movie always manages to boil its story down to the essentials. It’s the mediocre ones that fumble around trying to figure out what they’re about. I won’t say what the bad ones do, but it often involves some hand lotion and a back issue of National Geographic.
When I started this website, Facebook was just starting to be a blip on everyone’s radar. At that time, anyone stepping into the arena we call social networking was seen as MySpace’s prison bitch. If you need to be reminded about what MySpace is, you can Google it. It used to be big.
The original TRON was most impressive as a demonstration of technology that was, for the most part, still lingering just over the horizon. It was more of a demo reel with a plot, fondly remembered by the geeks who were wowed by its then-revolutionary visuals and couldn’t be bothered by the lack of an engaging story.
Let me be up front and say that Ben Affleck isn’t my favorite actor, especially when he’s not working for Kevin Smith. Somehow, he often seems out of his depth when he tries to stretch himself too far beyond that Good Will Hunting earnestness. Only two features into his directorial career, however, I’m quickly becoming a fan of his work behind the camera. We’ll see how he does when he moves outside the comfort zone of the Boston crime story, but maybe he shouldn’t bother. John Ford stuck mostly to westerns, and he did all right.