Celebrating Great Films

Thursday, February 24, 2011

True Grit

#223 at time of writing.

I admit Westerns are generally a genre I avoid, but this remake of a 1969 John Wayne film serves up perfectly entertaining fare. Possibly no more than that, but an amusing way to pass a couple of hours for sure.

The core of this film is Mattie Ross, the spunky 14-year-old played impressively well by Hailee Steinfeld, and her relationship with slurring drunkard bounty hunter Rooster Cogburn, delightfully portrayed by Jeff Bridges. She hires him to find and capture her father's killer - cue sweeping American landscapes, horses in sunset, and plenty of gunslinging.

For all their place as darlings of Hollywood's quirky fringe, this is the first time the Coen Brothers have managed to generate over $100 million at the US box office, so clearly it went down very well across the pond...

Click here to read the script.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Fighter

#222 at time of writing.

Boxing has generated a film genre all of its own. As a sport, only baseball has inspired more films. But there's something about boxing that is intrinsically cinematic: the build up and climax; the mano-a-mano face-off; the psychology; the brutality. The fact that one unguarded split second can be a reversal of fortunes that makes or breaks a career.

Any new boxing film has a grand legacy to live up to. Rocky, Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby all feature in IMDb's Top 250, and indeed in the annals of silver screen legend.

So, does The Fighter compete?


It's the true story of "Irish" Micky Ward's career, often held back by his autocratic mother-manager and his gregarious crack-addicted half-brother. Micky Ward was known for his fighting style rather than his winning record - his ability to take a relentless beating in the ring, without quitting, and then somehow summon up the power to fight back made him the most televised fighter in boxing history.

The core of this film is the relationship between the two brothers, played by Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. It's compelling stuff, with a satisfying climax. And then, just before the credits roll, we see a clip of the real Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund which is enough to believe that the actors have captured the characters perfectly.