Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's Award Season in the Wild Wild West *Snore*

After a 2008 Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (No Country for Old Men), Joel and Ethan Coen have apparently struck gold again, grabbing the nom again this year for their adaptation of the Charles Portis novel True Grit.  Unfortunate, considering the film's many flaws.  The nominations, just announced this afternoon, seem to leave something to be desired.

The Coens' True Grit stars Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn (filling John Wayne's boots from the film's 1969 release directed by Henry Hathaway), newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon.  It is a genre-bending risk for the Coen brothers, who seem to over-refine their normal quirky style in this brutally honest American Western.  Going in with high expectations, I felt bitterly disappointed by my usual directorial standbys.

Problems with casting, continuity and general interest and charm plague this film.  Matt Damon's performance as Texas Ranger LaBoeuf tip-toes on the border between comical and tragic.  At one point in the film we waste five minutes watching Jeff Bridges drunkenly shoot cornbread in the sky--a scene that we later find contributes nothing to the film.  And sure, the desolate Texas landscapes sell the grit of this flick, but the raw gray settings do little for the audience's senses otherwise.  While I could not (and certainly would not) appeal for a remake closer to Hathaway's original glamorized interpretation of the 1968 novel, I can unquestionably conclude that the Coens' 2010 remake (and the Writer's Guild Award nominations, for that matter) falls short of my expectations both as a piece of their impressive body of work and as a major player in this year's award season.

4 comments:

  1. I definitely agree with you. I saw this movie on Christmas day, and I found it disappointing. I remember wondering why I was watching it in the scene where Jeff Bridges shoots cornbread in the sky, and I was very unsure about Matt Damon's performance. It was an abnormal character for him to portray, and I'm not sure he fit the part.

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  2. I really like to stay away from remakes in general. They are often so disappointing! I knew this was going to be the case. Matt Damon is such a terrible actor to begin with, crime number one.

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  3. - This sentence is so long that not even the punctuation saves it: "The nominees, just announced this afternoon, seem to leave something to be desired: including films like Nicole Holofcener's Please Give, released to limited theaters in the U.S. and faring poorly in the "awards hunt" thus far, while notably excluding titles like Toy Story 3 and The King's Speech not within the Guild's jurisdictions." Break it up into two next time.

    - Yet another long sentence made hard to read with lots of parenthesis: "Problems with casting (Matt Damon's performance tip-toes on the border between comical and tragic), continuity (why am I wasting five minutes watching a drunken Jeff Bridges shoot cornbread in the sky when it contributes nothing to the rest of the film?) and general interest and charm (sure, the desolate Texas landscapes sell the grit, but the raw gray settings do little for the audience's senses otherwise) plague this movie."

    Instead of doing all these parenthetical asides just say "Many issues plague their film: Matt Damon's performance tip-toes on the border between comical and tragic, we waste five minutes watching a drunken Jeff Bridges shoot cornbread in the sky when it contributes nothing to the rest of the film, and while he desolate Texas landscapes sell the grit, but the raw gray settings do little for the audience's senses otherwise."

    - Use paragraph breaks to break up that big block of text.

    - Overall, this post sounds very "information" laden and we don't really get your voice or stance until the end of the piece. You should have started with "The Coen Brother's latest film, the Western epic True Grit, just got nominated for a Writer's Guild Award—unfortunate considering it's a deeply flawed film."

    I also don't know why you mentioned Toy Story 3, Please Give, and The King's Speech. Who cares if they're outside the guild's jurisdiction? Do you consider them good writing? Yet again, get to the point in your own voice and leave out anything that doesn't contribute to your argument.

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  4. Sorry, I meant also to add that otherwise you have an overall good argument and the last paragraph really shines.

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