True Grit. Review.

 

 

In the past two years, the western genre hasbeen revived by various creators.  Rockstar’s epic video game Red Dead Redemption was loved by many and now director Jon Favreau is releasing the hotly anticipated comic book adaptation, Cowboys and Aliens later this year.  Along with the recent release of Verbinksi’s Rango and Warner Bros. dismal Jonah Hex, there still seems to be some steam left in the genre.  Whilst the genre seems mostly seems deserted by others, there are still a few people interested in making quality westerns.

Take the Coen brothers for example, whose prodigious cowboy film True Grit tells the tale of Mattie Ross, a young girl attempting to find and seek vengeance on the man who killed her father.  Mattie is joined on her travels by two men, anti-hero Rooster Cogburn and law-man Labouef.  Along their journey of tracking down the murderous Tom Chaney, they come across various challenging trials.  The film features a stellar cast, with the likes of Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon.  

True Grit sets itself to be a return to form for the stagnant genre, so thankfully, the film reminds certain people that there is still life in the western.  This is purely due to the great storytelling of the Coen brothers.  Most tales of the west come in the form of revenge stories and True Grit is no exception to that rule.  Hailee Steinfield plays the incredible role of Mattie Ross, as she breathes life into a believable character.  She provides the gusto to Mattie, who is an exceptionable individual stuck in a frightening situation.

Brolin plays the evil Tom Chaney effortlessly, proving to be a reminder as to why the Coen’s picked him for yet another film.  He’s sinister, dirty and everything an outlaw should be. He is a mysterious figure at first, but when he finally makes his appearance, he is a threatening figure, making for a commendable villain.

On the other hand, there’s the Texas Ranger known as Laboeuf, played by the amiable Matt Damon.  He’s clean-cut and straight to the point, portraying a man who is worthy of finally catching Tom Chaney.  His methods may be strange, yet it fits for a character such as Labouef.

Unsurprisingly though, it is Bridges that steals the show here.  Playing a dangerously armed drunk, Bridges’ trigger-happy Rooster Cogburn is an entertaining sight.  Dressed in drab wear, overwrought with facial hair and with a keen eye for his targets, Rooster is a character who will be adored by many.  Some may be unsurprised by his motives towards the end of the film, but it’s a welcoming change of pace.

However, the ending comes with a surprising turn of events much like the book, which is perfect for the Coen’s brothers who are rather keen on ending their films on a unique note.  It works to their advantage and fits well within the frame of the story.

All in all, this western is a return to form for the genre.  It is no surprise that the Coens deliver here, but the performances really add weight to the classic tale.  Some scenes will stick in your mind, especially those concerning Labouef’s incredible aim.  Full of fantastic cinematograghy throughout, look no further then True Grit to experience a modern take on the western, as it builds upon the Coen’s great catalogue of film.

We have to go deeper.

The Adjustment Bureau

Review

After the general release and praise of Inception, film studios began to understand the importance of having a blockbuster film with originality and intellect. Due to this understanding, a large amount of films were marketed towards an audience which appreciated Nolan’s achievement. The Adjustment Bureau was one of those films from Universal Studios, attempting to capture interest with slogans such as “Bourne meets Inception!” and cleverly edited trailers, using the same techniques which were employed for Inception‘s marketing.

The film had an intriguing set-up, which tells the story of two lovers whose fate was not to be determined by themselves, but by a strange group of suits called the Adjustment Team. Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s short story, Adjustment Team, a US Congressman is attempting to run for the US Senate. He is David Norris, a man who has never had a real connection with any person up until he meets Elisa Sellas, a mysterious and charming woman who he encounters whilst he rehearses an important speech in a public bathroom. There’s an obvious chemistry between them, but their embrace unfortunately doesn’t last long. A slight interruption breaks them apart, only for David to abruptly discover her during a bus journey the following morning.

Everything seems kosher, up until the moment the Adjustment Team get involved in their new found relationship. Their task is to make sure that the human race follow their correct paths, as certain fates have already been determined for them by a higher force. For some reason, David and Elise shouldn’t be together – so it’s up to them to make sure they never fall in love with each other. However, David is adamant on being with Elise, which makes the situation much harder for the suits.

The premise works surprisingly well. Blending romance and science-fiction together seamlessly, The Adjustment Bureau pulls off a convincing, heartfelt story with a neat sci-fi edge. It never concentrates too hard on either of the two and it doesn’t falter when explaining the much needed details concerning the suits, which are at hand to adjust David’s fate accordingly.

Matt Damon is one actor who never fails to impress, and here his acting chops are on show. Bewildered by the new happenings that surround him, he still manages to focus his attention on Elise. He presents us a man who still believes in the concept of love, whose strength and intelligence leads him onto the correct path. Emily Blunt manages to maintain the look and feel of a strange, excitable woman brilliantly. The pair feed off each other effortlessly, as the chemistry helps evolve their on-screen romance. Blunt manages her character so well, that it’s a wonder as to why she just doesn’t appear in more films.

The action never slows down and manages to pace itself fluidly throughout, reaching a climactic ending scene which is a delight to witness. The film plays with the general idea of an omnipotent God, but it never truly explores that theme. The director George Nolfi, hoped that the film just raised general questions, about a particular higher force and the discussion of fate vs. free will.

There’s no doubt about the fact that The Adjustment Bureau is an intelligent film, boasting with its own artistic style and ideas. So perhaps the marketing team knew what they were doing. Inception may have bred a new slew of films with a high-concept attached to them. Thankfully, this one pays off as a film which brilliantly manages to attach two different genres together for an engaging, thought provoking experience.