I don’t understand the frenzy of critical praise for True Grit. Did the critics drink some kind of tainted water? I’m here to tell you save your $10, $12, $14—whatever it is they charge in your hometown for a movie these days and watch this one on DVD. I have not seen the original version with John Wayne, nor have I read the book, so I’m judging the movie strictly on its own merit. I’m also a huge fan of Westerns.

Don’t get me wrong, I like this movie but people are acting like it’s the second coming of Christ. The less hysterical reality is this is a classic revenge story told from the point of view of 14-year-old Mattie Ross who is out to avenge her father’s murder at the hands of brutal killer, Tom Chaney. Mattie is brought to life by Hailee Steinfeld, also 14-years-old, in a performance that does deserve all the praise and attention it’s received. She is the heart of the movie and completely owns the screen from beginning to end. Continue reading »

I’m going to admit right off the bat that I don’t completely understand the ending of Black Swan, although I do have ideas about what may have happened and what it means. The fact is though, it doesn’t bother me that I don’t quite know. Although there are certain movies, actually most, where you want or expect a concrete ending, this isn’t one of them. If you’ve seen the previews, you go in knowing that it’s a psychological thriller about a ballerina who is experiencing a nervous breakdown. Already the stage is set for a struggle between reality and fantasy in the mind of Natalie Portman’s uptight ballet dancer, Nina Sayers who slowly unravels after she gains the lead in Swan Lake. Continue reading »

Somewhere is excruciatingly slow and that’s coming from someone who is not a fan of frenzied, quick cuts and shaky cameras but this falls into the opposite extreme. Sofia Coppola, who does have a talent for casting and getting natural performances from actors, directs in an exceedingly languorous style and holds shots for so long that your mind wanders to the point you start composing your grocery list. I understand the point is to show how devoid of intimacy and rudderless the life of movie star, Johnny Marco played by Stephen Dorff has become. But, this is a movie and I need a story. What I get is a series of scenes, some of which I enjoy, make me laugh, and even draw me in. The problem is that they never fully take hold to become a cohesive whole. Somewhere feels like a film unfinished. Continue reading »

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