We've been seeing a lot of movies over the holidays. I thought I might share my opinions with you on three movies that I didn't particularly want to see, but that pleasantly surprised me.
The first movie, that I just saw this morning, is Black Swan. This is a dark, psycho-sexual thriller. I was surprised when the movie was over, it certainly didn't feel like an hour and fifty minutes had gone by. We were sucked in pretty quickly, getting a lay of the land, figuring out the characters and then falling down the rabbit hole into the mind of the lead ballerina, or so we thought. The pace was excellent, neither rushed, nor drawn out. From one scene to the next, everything was believable and in character and not until the very end would we find out what was real and what was in the mind of the dancer. The stand out performance definitely goes to Natalie Portman. She completely disappears into this role. I've never seen her act at this level before. Amazing.
Next up is True Grit. I saw the original with John Wayne and didn't particularly want to see the same story again because I wasn't all that impressed with the original. My favorite John Wayne movies are The Quiet Man and The Shootist. This version of True Grit is not like the Wayne original. This screenplay put together by the Cohen brothers is true to the novel and I enjoyed this version much more. Jeff Bridges does a fine job in the role of Rooster Cogburn really making it his own part so that no one would draw comparisons between him and John Wayne. Josh Brolin does a great job being simple-minded and creapy all at the same time, but the real stand out role in this one belongs to the young lady in the original Kim Darby role.
Hailee Steinfeld plays the young girl enlisting Cogburn's help in tracking down her father's killer. You have to see this girl on the screen and listen to her voice and delivery of the lines, then remind yourself she is not an experienced actress. She was nothing short of phenomenal in this role and if she doesn't get a nod from Oscar for her performance, the judging is rigged. She was so precocious, self-possessed and BELIEVABLE!! Wow, I wonder if she'll stick with acting and how much better she could be if this is her example of being fairly new to the business.
The last movie was The Fighter featuring Mark Walberg and Christian Bale. This is the story of two brothers, the older (Bale) a former boxer (I could have been a contender) who took the wrong path and became a drug addict, and his kid brother (Wahlberg) who actually does become a prize winning boxer. The story was just okay for me. Though the characters of the brothers were believable, the sisters seemed a little too much like caricatures instead of real people. The real person to watch in this movie is Bale's character. He was completely riveting every moment he was on the screen and I thought his performance was so many levels above his co-stars that it was like watching two different movies. At the end of the movie, they show a short clip of the real brothers. When you see the clip of the brother that Christian Bale plays and you see how impeccably he nails that character, then you'll know his performance was even better than you thought. I'd see this again just to watch Bale's performance.