Friday, 21 January 2011

Long Overdue 99 Cent Word Reviews: True Grit; Conviction

I saw both of these quite some time ago and have been mustering up the will to review them. I feel a bit terrible, because – really – little is coming. But, I must, because duty calls or something like that.
On Conviction
It feels like lazy journalism to say that this seems like one of those low-rent films that would be on Lifetime, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Sure, Goldwyn tries to do some interesting things in trying to make us care about this filial pair but it’s all so terribly tepid and there’s a surprising lack of urgency in a film that should feel a little bit more profound. Rockwell sure is diverting, but even he ends up seeming eventually disinterested in it all. Swank tries, too, but she’s just not luminous enough to make this work.

And True Grit
There’s just something about the tone of True Grit that seems a bit pleased with itself, perhaps it’s the Western genre but it doesn’t really feel like a true Western. I’m not one for the genre, and sure being a western is more internal than external but it’s more striking as a straight coming of age drama than a traditional western which doesn’t make it a worse film but makes me wonder why we’re being built up for the appearance of Brolin’s Chaney which falls limp – and is wholly flat, easily a disservice to the fine attempts before.
As an aside, it’s weird how both Conviction and True Grit set their lead women up for glory – character-wise, and role-wise. The general cast end up bowing down to them both and they’re both given roles that we’re almost forced to appreciate on face value.
Ask me some question, and I’ll elaborate. What did you think of True Grit and Conviction?


Robert said...

Good reviews. I also found it strange how much Brolin was built up and then he's in it for like, five minutes. It's really Barry Pepper's character that's more interesting. I'm curious - what did you think of Hailee Steinfeld?

Nicholas Prigge said...

I don't if it's because it's a Coen movie - I haven't seen the original film or read the novel - but I felt like a lot of "True Grit" was attempting to subvert the traditional western. Like with Josh Brolin the whole film we're expecting this consummate badass and then he's....well, that guy. It just totally flips our expectations. That's kinda what I most dug about it.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

It's bizarre b/c you're seeing everything from Mattie's eyes, so that Nelson Chaney is this ruthless, son of the Devil, villain; then you meet him and it seems like he's semi-handicapped. Pepper is clearly the Villain, but the Coens didn't devote enough time to building him, either onscreen or through dialogue. What did you think of the climax (the gunfight)? Where do you stand on Carter Burwell's score?

I haven't seen Conviction. I feel like very few people have.

Anonymous said...

I actually like Brolin/Chaney's five minute appearance. He's less interesting, yes, but it's a step of her character evolution to know that Chaney is a pathetic, mislead figure than evil.

Also, I like the 99 word format. I might just use that for TIFF.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

robert oh robert, where do i start? (just kidding.) like i say, she's literally built up for this performance to work to her advantage, and she's fine in it but were it not for her age i don't think she'd be getting any support, or maybe i'm wrong. she amuses me, but never slays me with reality or anything.

nicholas that's something i think about too, and it IS better than the original which i almost loathed...but something just seemed off. the thing is, i'd say no country for old men is a western. not superficially, but at the heart. this one LOOKS like a western, but doesn't play out like one.

walter all astute points, there. it's well directed, but sometimes just a bit too MUCH - not very subtle, which is unlike them (even when i'm not fond of them). the score is good, but it wouldn't make my top 10.

paolo i like brolin in the role, but i don't like how the film approaches the character.

really, nothing more than 99 words was coming for either, i feel a bit guilty.

anahita said...

hehe are there any of the big hyped up films this year you really liked? tbh I kind of feel the same - I liked lots of them but haven't massively fallen in love with anything yet... xx

rtm said...

I like True Grit (despite Westerns not being my cup of tea) but I hear ya about Brolin's character not living up to the build-up. He just didn't seem all that menacing when we finally see him and I agree w/ Walter, Pepper's character should be much more developed.

I was having second thoughts the second I put True Grit on my top five best list over Social Network, and I question myself all the more now.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

anahita i'm such a wet blanket, no? no an education or bright star to fawn over no coraline or fantastic mr fox to praise good animation. some fairly good, but much is just bleh.

ruth it's not that i'm against true grit but the detachment throughout the story doesn't seem to work here, as well as in other pieces of there. i sort of wish i'd liked it more.