Thursday, June 16, 2011
Quick Takes: Tron: Legacy, True Grit
Tron: Legacy (2010) with trepidation. Would I "get" it? Would it be another sci-fi effects-driven opus that would give me a headache if I tried to figure it out? A half hour into the movie, my fears were gone. Tron: Legacy is surprisingly accessible to newcomers, an easy-going, nimbly-paced adventure about a teenager (Garrett Hedlund, a fantastic presence and a star in the making) in search for his father (Bridges), who has gone missing inside of a super-computer. Sam comes across a digital, younger version of his father (Bridges again, in a technologically groundbreaking performance), who is at war with his real self. No doubt about it, the plot is silly and not without its share of corny sentiment, but it works. Newcomer director Joseph Kosinki has a strong grasp on this material and carried me through the film with ease and skill. Writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (best known from me for penning some classic Lost episodes) have a penchant for witty, fun dialogue and not taking the film too seriously.
I had a good time with Tron: Legacy. It looks great, Hedlund has a starry quality about him, and Bridges looks like he's having a ball. It is far from perfect, but what's not to like here? 3.5/5
True Grit (2010), the latest effort by movie gods Joel and Ethan Coen. Bridges is barely recognizable under that heavy beard, eye patch and punchy dialogue ("The jakes is occupied!"), but it's an indelible, layered performance, as good as anything he has ever done. Hailee Steinfeld is a remarkable newcomer; like Hedlund in Tron: Legacy, you just know she will be going places. Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper are as reliably good as you'd expect them to be.
The real star of this vengeance drama, though, is the script. The dialogue is like butter; listening to the exchanges between these characters is the main source of pleasure I got from True Grit. A sample:
Lawyer: So, you say that when Amos Wharton raised his axe, you backed away from him.
Cogburn: That's right.
Lawyer: In what direction were you going?
Cogburn: Backwards. I always go backwards when I back up.
Unsurprisingly, the Coens have a magical way with words. Like Hemingway or Dickens, you just know their voices. True Grit is a remake and an adaptation of a novel, but make no mistake: this is strictly a Coen film. I'm not a fan of westerns, but these guys entertained the hell out of me with this one. 4/5