Tag Archives: Jeff Bridges

The Year End Review: Movies

Let me start off by saying that, if you don’t read this, I won’t hold it against you. I know this list is almost too small to even justifying being written, but I’ve been doing it for a few years now, and as the musical says, “Traaadiiitiooooon!!” I’ll say that I really enjoyed all three of these films and thought they were a cut above the standard A-Team crap we have thrown at us all year long. But still, this list feels a little like it looks the way it does more because of the movies I didn’t see this year rather than the ones I did see. Anyway, keep reading, if you dare!

Inception. It’s nice to see Hollywood taking a chance on an expensive sci-fi flick that actually makes you think, although they probably wouldn’t be if someone like Christopher Nolan weren’t in charge of the whole thing. This one also scores points because it managed to keep Leonardo DiCaprio out of a falling tank, shooting planes out of the sky. It was also one of Ellen Page’s first films that didn’t make me want to hit her. But seriously, folks, although the first half was a little exposition heavy, it was a great story that did a better job of incorporating its action scenes into it than most films. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Tom Hardy.

The Social Network. Everything Aaron Sorkin writes takes place in a sort of heightened reality where people have mountains of raw data and statistics at their fingertips, and almost everything they say is quotable. And if his cocaine habit is the price we have to pay for that, then I’m more than willing to make the sacrifice. I think we all understand that his version of Facebook’s creation was embellished just a little bit, but who cares? We expect that sort of thing, right? Major props to Jesse Eisenberg for snapping out of his Michael Cera funk, and Andrew Garfield, who just might make a proper Spiderman yet.

True Grit. I reviewed this one just a few days ago, so I’m not sure what else I could really add here. I’ll just say that nobody does it like Jeff Bridges. And nobody really does it like Jeff Bridges wearing an eye patch. And why haven’t we seen Matt Damon in more westerns?

I admit that this is a pretty generic list. But it does represent the best of what I saw this year. I don’t get to watch as many movies as I’d like, so some, like The Fighter, Winter’s Bone and Toy Story 3 passed me by. I’d apologize, but none of you are here to read my movie reviews. You check back every week in the vain hope that I’ll start LOSTWATCH!! back up. Well, who knows what 2011 will bring. More movies, definitely. More LOSTWATCH? Definitely maybe.

Advertisements

“I can do nothing for you, son.”

I feel like the Coen Brothers making great movies is one of the few constants in my life. That, along with death (although I’m not throwing in the towel on that one), taxes, and vacation constipation. Sure, every now and then they throw a Burn After Reading at us. But they make up for it with a Big Lebowski, a Fargo, and a No Country for Old Men. Yes, what a time to be alive.

And before you ask, you can go ahead and add True Grit to the pantheon of Coen favorites. As the last film I’ll see at the movies in 2010, it more than made up for the bitter disappointments the year opened with, with films like Daybreakers and Legion kicking me in the balls and leaving me curled in the fetal position.

The film — the second adaptation of the 1968 Charles Portis novel — is narrated by Mattie Ross, a 14-year old girl whose father was murdered at the hands of outlaw Tom Chaney. After some questioning around town, Mattie seeks out Rooster Cogburn, whom she believes possesses the titular true grit to track Chaney down and bring him to justice. Accompanying them on their trek is Texas Ranger La Boeuf, who’s after Chaney for separate crimes. Together, the three learns lessons about each other, life and each other.

Those of you going into the theater expecting another No Country may be a little disappointed, as True Grit is a much more straight up western than that previous film, but at the same time it’s no less good. It’s superbly acted all around, which should come as no surprise. Tron notwithstanding, since when does Jeff Bridges not bring a healthy dose of badassery to the roles he plays? Matt Damon was a big surprise here. His portrayal of La Boeuf seemed to be one part Jason Bourne, two parts Mark Whitacre and Linus Caldwell. What was so great about it was that it was funny without trying to be funny. And oh, how wrong things could have gone there. I mean, how tired are we of the snarky sidekick who’s only snarky to be snarky?

But the real showstopper here is Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Mattie Ross. She’s come out of obscurity and proven in just two short hours how capable she is of rolling with the big dogs. Now, if you’re asking who Hailee Steinfeld is, I don’t imagine you’re much different from the rest of the world, and that’s including her parents. But fear not, because you’re probably going to be hearing her name much more in the future.

True Grit is definitely one of those the-journey-is-more-important-than-the-destination films. The relationship between Mattie, Cogburn and La Beouf and how it develops is what keeps you glued to the screen. The actual resolution to their journey, the reason they’ve all banded together in the first place is over so quickly you daren’t (DAREN’T!) blink for fear of missing it. And once it’s all over, the film peters out a bit, with its coda feeling more like a, “Well, we sure had some fun, eh?” than anything that really adds to the story. I’ve never read the book, so I couldn’t say how faithful this is to that, although I’ve heard that the film as a whole toes the line pretty close.

I really liked this one. The chemistry (as we say in the hard sciences) between the leads is more than enough to make up for whatever small shortcomings the story has. And at two hours, the whole thing goes by pretty fast. As westerns go, this is probably one of the purest we’re going to see in a while, which is a credit to the Coen Brothers and the tone they’re able to set in their films. Tickets cost about, what? $30 apiece now? Go out and spend it. It’s completely worth it.

“We’re Jedi. We don’t fight with guns, we fight with our minds.”

The Men Who Stare at Goats is one of those movies you see a commercial for a couple of weeks before it’s released. It has some big names attached, so after you see it you say, “Hmm. Might have to check that one out.” You go the movies by yourself, because hey, you like to do that every now and then. That night at home, your wife asks you what you did that day, and you reply without even looking away from the TV, “Uhh…oh yeah. I saw that movie. The goats one.”

Ewan McGregor plays Bob Wilton, a reporter who, after a messy separation with his wife, has come to the Middle East, not only to report on the war, but to prove to himself that he has what it takes to do it. Wilton finds more than he bargained for when he meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney), who tells him that he was once part of a top secret military unit involved in psychic warfare. Wilton goes into Iraq with Cassady on a mission to find Bill Django (Bridges), Cassady’s former commander and the founder of the Army’s psychic battalion.

To me, The Men Who Stare at Goats has a lot in common with the The Informant (which you may or may not remember). Both are lighthearted, quirky comedies, and both are pretty deadpan in their presentation. I think Goats works out better in the end because you understand why it’s a comedy. The thought that the Army would actually invest money and resources into creating psychic soldiers — or as Jeff Bridges calls them, warrior-monks — is ridiculous. Another reason the movie is like The Informant is because of how forgettable it is. After seeing it and telling your friends that it was pretty funny, you’re probably not going to think about it much more, if at all. Which is a shame because, judging from the trailers, this is a movie I felt should have been bigger.

Clooney turns in a solid performance. His character is funny without coming off as a borderline schizophrenic (Burn After Reading?). Ewan McGregor is pretty solid himself, although it takes you a little big to get used to him talking in an American accent. One of the funniest parts about his role is the fact that the movie keeps making references to Jedis. I remembered, “Oh yeah. He was in Star Wars. I had forgotten about that because of how much the prequels sucked.”

Kevin Spacey works really well as Kevin Spacey. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great actor but his role here is so small I almost wonder why he did the movie at all. Maybe it’s that after you make a certain amount of money, you can start taking on roles just ’cause. I’d say that Jeff Bridges as psychedelic love child Bill Django really makes the movie. Watching Bridges prance around with his hippie necklaces and ponytail while tripping on LSD is going to be fun for anyone, not the least because of the fond memories of The Big Lebowski it brings back.

The movie is funny. It’s well-acted. Why would it be forgettable? I think that in the end it’s because the movie doesn’t really know what to do with itself. The plot meanders throughout and only seems to finally settle on something because, damn, it’s been 90 minutes already and we need to start wrapping this thing up. At first we’re focused on McGregor and his desire to prove himself as a man, then we settle on Clooney and his role in the Army, and finally we’re focusing on Bridges, who gets a chance at redeeming himself after being drummed out of the military. It’s not a lot to keep track of, just not what you were expecting.

I liked this movie. It’s funny and I had a good time with it. But in the end it seems more like a placeholder that’ll be buried by the masses rushing out to see 2012 and The Fantastic Mr. Fox next weekend. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, check this one out. I doubt that the theater will be packed. B

TRAILER MONDAY

Ever since Robert Pattinson made sexing up prepubescent girls cool again, everyone’s been eager to jump on the vampire train. This January, Daybreakers will be bringing the sexy back. Except instead of Pattinson’s junkie skin, we’ll have Ethan Hawke’s snaggle tooth, which come to think of it, would be really difficult to bite people with.

After 27 years, some studio exec finally wised up and said, “Hmm. Tron. What can we do with that?” Unfortunately, we still don’t know. We do know that the new movie DOESN’T feature the Tron Guy, which is a disappointment in and of itself.

Lastly we have the teaser trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. After watching it, I’m not sure the movie’s actually supposed to be good so much as scare the shit out of little kids and give Johnny Depp another opportunity to run around in crazy makeup. It’ll bring down at least 300 million in the US.

“I am Iron Man.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that comic book movies have to be rated on a different scale than regular movies. I think everyone would agree that you shouldn’t walk into The Incredible Hulk expecting to see Schindler’s List. So if we rate Spiderman 3 as a one (and I really can’t stress how sh***y that movie was) and Batman Begins as a ten (which will soon be replaced by The Dark Knight), Iron Man rates about an 9.

I never really read any of the Iron Man comics, so I can’t say how faithful the movie was to that story. I can say however, that the movie did what a lot of comic book movies don’t: present it’s story in a way that doesn’t make you want to immediately call BS. As I read that back to myself it kind of sounds like I’m saying, “The movie was good because it didn’t suck,” but that’s not at all what I mean. If you can take a crazy story, about an iron man and present it in a way where I’m not thinking the entire time, “There’s no way!”, you’ve won me over.

In the movie, millionaire playboy and weapons magnate Tony Stark is attacked and captured by terrorists during a missile demonstration. They make him a deal, build them a batch of Jericho missiles — the newest and most high-tech in Stark’s arsenal — and they’ll let him live. Instead, he builds an Iron Man suit and kicks everyone’s ass. And as I watched this magnificent superhero single-handedly defeating the forces of terror I knew America’s path and the cause of freedom was righteous and true, and I went home and enlisted in the Army. No but seriously, can you imagine?

Standing in Tony’s way is Obadiah Stane, who’s been secretly selling Stark brand weapons to terrorists and wants to use the Iron Man technology for his own gain. When Tony finds out that it was Stane who engineered his capture in the first place, the gloves come off, and all sorts of smash-’em-up-bad-assery ensues.

SPOILER ALERT!

Casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was a stroke of genius. He was really able to sell the idea that Iron Man is a different kind of superhero. He’s not a Superman or Spiderman, who lives somewhat insulated from his actions behind a secret identity. By the end of the movie, the world knows who he is and what he’s been doing. I loved Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, although every time I saw him on screen I wanted to say, “Yeah, it-it’s a, it’s a bummer, man.” And special kudos to the filmmakers for making me like Gwyneth Paltrow, a feat that before seeing this movie I thought impossible.

It’s always struck me as funny that these days, movies like this have sequels and franchises built into them, and I don’t think there’s any question that we’ll see at least two more Iron Man movies. I’m wondering where they’ll take the whole thing. Anyone who stays for the secret ending after the credits knows that reference is made to superhero group The Avengers. Terrance Howard plays James Rhodes, who in the comics eventually becomes War Machine. And the terrorist group responsible for Tony’s kidnapping is The Ten Rings, backed by Iron Man’s comic book nemesis The Mandarin, so there’s plenty of material there for a few sequels.

Too often, we walk out of superhero movies feeling disappointed, so it was nice coming out of this one thinking that the filmmakers had done things right. Don’t wait for the DVD, catch this one in theaters. A

5 Things We Love About Movies With Guns – The Big Lebowski

Up this week is the first R-rated movie I ever snuck into…

1. The endless quoting.

Head over to IMDB’s Lebowski quote page and you’ll find the entire script cut and pasted there. Some of our favorites…

“You mark that frame an eight, and you’re entering a world of pain.”

“What the hell is this?” — “My dirty undies, Dude.”

“Life does not stop and start at your convenience you miserable piece of s**t.” — “What’s wrong with Walter, Dude?”

2. Nihilists.

Any movie that reduces a nationality or ethnic group to it’s base stereotype is awesome on general principal. Yes, it might be smart or responsible to learn about the rich German culture, but it’s much funnier to think of them all as goose-stepping, bratwurst-eating National-Socialists who say things like, “Ya Lebowski. You give us ze money or vee cutoff your chonson.”

3. Bootleg porno.

Seriously, who’s making this stuff? Music, production, acting, story, whatever. This stuff is horrible, but the names are big, fat pieces of comedy gold, every time.

“Which one’s Logjammin’?”

4. Shomer Shabbos.

“Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means I don’t work, I don’t get in a car, I don’t f**king ride in a car, I don’t pick up the phone, I don’t turn on the oven, and I sure as s**t DON’T F**KING ROLL! Shomer Shabbos!”

5. The Jesus.

Did John Turturro licking his bowling ball get funnier after you find out he’s a pederast? Seeing him wearing a tight purple jumpsuit was both hilarious and oddly arousing. Everything about him, from his jewelry and hairnet to his thick accent was like a Perfect Storm of hilarity.

I know some of you might be saying, hey, aren’t there only a few scenes in The Big Lebowski with guns? Yes, that is correct. While this one might not fit in with our premise as well as other movies like The Departed, come on. It’s The Big Lebowski, and that’s logic you can’t argue with.

Something we missed? Movies you’d like to see reviewed? Write us at fuggidup@yahoo.com.