IBJNews

LOU'S VIEWS: Grown-up movies dominate holiday multiplexes

Lou Harry
December 18, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

I intended for this to be a column focusing on holiday film releases. Unfortunately, technicalities got in the way of my being able to comment on some of the better ones.

For instance, there’s “True Grit,” the Coen Brothers’ take on the novel that became a hit film for John Wayne back in 1969. When the Indiana Film Journalists Association gathered to argue the merits of our favorite films of the year and come up with a Best of List (which you can find at www.ibj.com/arts), “True Grit” was one of the films I advocated for a top spot.
 

A&E Jeff Bridges fills the shoes (and eye patch) of John Wayne in the “True Grit” remake. Hallie Steinfeld co-stars. (© 2010 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.)

Why? Well … I can’t really tell you. The film was screened for journalists under an embargo agreement that keeps us from sharing our specific thoughts on the film until its release date, Dec. 22—even though national press has already chimed in with its thoughts. I’d love to tell you that the film is rich in character and sharp in dialogue, and that nearly every frame looked like it could hang in the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

But I’m a man of my word, so I can’t.

So I’ll move on to “I Love You Phillip Morris,” the Jim Carrey comedy that is the most … oops, can’t really review that one either. Not until Dec. 24. Anyone who has seen previews or reads entertainment news knows that Carrey plays a gay con artist. What you may not be able to tell is that it’s full of other surprises, making it the most unique comedy I’ve seen all year. Remind me later in the month to tell you that there are fun performances from Carrey, Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann. And that the easily offended should stay away. This ain’t “Will and Grace.”

So what can I tell you about? Well, there’s “The Fighter,” which opened Dec. 17, so it’s not a problem. Even though there are other films I’ve liked better this year, “The Fighter” is the easiest to recommend. That’s because this story of boxing half-brothers, one on the way up and the other on the way down, tells a compelling, unfamiliar story (avoid reviews or feature stories with spoilers for this one) and is peopled with terrific characters with optimal casting in the leads.


A&E Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale play boxing half-brothers in the gritty drama “The Fighter.” (© 2010 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.)

Mark Wahlberg plays the younger, coming into his own and out of the shadow of his brother, tackled with humor and edge by Christian Bale. Melissa Leo may finally get the recognition she deserves (Heartland Film Fest-goers should remember her as the flight attendant in “The Space Between”) as their would-be-controlling mother. More of a drama of family dynamics than a typical boxing movie, this one has heart and soul—and a mob of extremely creepy sisters.

Also in theaters now is “127 Hours.” Much has been written about a particularly grueling and gruesome segment of this film, which tells the true survival story of an adventurer whose arm is pinned by a rock. But that detailed scene is necessary to this surprisingly hopeful film directed by Danny Boyle, of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame. James Franco is outstanding, holding our attention on his own for most of the running time.

Filmmaker Tom Hooper (of the “John Adams” TV miniseries) sometimes gets in the way of “The King’s Speech” when he’d better serve the material by just cleanly telling the story. But that’s a minor complaint in a winning historical film built around George VI’s efforts to wrestle his stuttering under control as World War II and radio combine to make the monarch’s ability to communicate forcefully a matter of global importance. Colin Firth is everything you’d want him to be as the temperamental royal, Geoffrey Rush is terrific as the teacher, and Helena Bonham Carter is refreshingly gimmick-free as the queen.

For more real-life drama, “Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman proves that political action can be as exciting as physical action with “Fair Game.” The film compellingly tells the complex story of CIA agent Valerie Plame and her enraged husband Joe Wilson (Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are both excellent). What could have been dry, yesterday’s news emerges as a riveting and perhaps important look at what can happen when power becomes more important than people.

If you’ve got a younger tribe, skip “Tron: Legacy” (which felt like “Speed Racer” meets the worst of the “Matrix” sequels) and, instead, visit—or revisit—“Tangled.”

This Rapunzel redo demonstrates a return to Disney magic that, for my money, is the best non-Pixar film from the mouse factory since “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s a shame that “Toy Story 3” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” two terrific flicks, may crowd it out of the awards running.

And, finally, if you are looking for a wonderful family film on DVD, grab a copy of “Ramona and Beezus,” based on Beverly Cleary’s popular book series. It’s deceptively difficult to craft a movie with all-ages appeal that doesn’t become hokey or forced. This story of a misfit kid and her family is funny, gently moving, and has just the right cast to keep it from being cloying. It’s on my short list of my favorite films of the year, along with “Never Let Me Go,” “Tangled,” “The Social Network” and (shhhh) “True Grit.”•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com. Twitter: IBJArts and follow Lou Harry’s A&E blog at www.ibj.com/arts.


 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The Affordable Care Act is not the reason for the slow recovery and lack of high paying jobs for low skill workers. This is a trend that has been going since the early 80's. The recovery is real in the sense that GDP has been growing steadily at a rate of roughly 2.5% since the recession ended in late 2009 (newsflash, the stimulus worked) and the unemployment has been steadily dropping. The reason issue we are facing deals with a skills gap (not enough workers with the right credentials / experience) and wage stagnation due to corporate America being focused solely on maximizing profits for shareholders and not caring about the American middle class. Why should they? Multi-billion dollar mutlinational companies keep offshoring their profits in order to avoid paying taxes (which makes our deficit worse) they convince Americans to fight amongst themselves. If you want to create jobs and reduce the deficit, raise the minimum wage and change corporate tax laws. Of course, if you want to continue to belive that tax cuts for wealthy create jobs (which they don't) and allow corporations and the wealthy to continue to make you cover more and more of the costs of maintaining infrastructure, funding the military and other government services, then keep voting Republican. Hopefully someday you wake up and realize what's been going on since Reagan took office.

  2. Helloooooo, my name is Kate. I am so joyous to share this wonderful testimony about what Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, did for me and my family. I wedded a year and 6 months ago, we were very happy during this whole period, i really love my husband so so much. I started noticing changes when he started coming home late at night, he stop paying attention to me, i later found out that he was having an affair with another lady, i dont know what she did to get to him but she really got a hold on him. He started spending weekends with her, and threaten for divorce. I was so heart broken and devastated, i spent many night thinking on how to get my husband back. A friend took it upon herself to to introduce me to one Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, who once helped her with a spell that reunited her family and helped her husband secure a very prolific job. Though i had my doubts and never believed, but i decided to give it a try because i was helpless. I contacted Dr. Osoijiakhena, the Spell caster, to help me reunite my family by bringing back my husband from that other woman and break whatever hold she had on him. He only just told me that it's a minor issue, once i provide and do everything he will ask me to do, then i will have my family back again. I did everything he required. And he did it!!!!! My husband returned back to me and pleaded for forgiveness, and i also secured a well paid job in a big company, just as the great spell caster, Dr. Osoijiakhena said. I am so so happy to share my testimony on this wall. I am using this medium to tell every one that has same or similar problem to try the great Dr. Osoijiakhena through his mail: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com......he is so real!!!!! He can also help you with: (1) IF YOU WANT YOUR EX GIRL/BOYFRIEND TO RETURN BACK TO YOU (2) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE BACK (3) IF YOU WANT TO BE PROMOTED IN YOUR OFFICE (4) IF YOU WANT YOUR MAN OR WOMAN TO LOVE YOU (5) IF YOU WANT A CHILD (BARREN) (6) IF YOU WANT TO BE RICH/WEALTHY (7) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE TO BE YOURS FOREVER (8) IF YOU'VE BEEN SCAMMED AND WANT YOUR MONEY BACK (9) IF YOU ARE HAVING DELAY IN GETTING MARRIED (10) IF YOU HAVE A COURT CASE AND WANT TO WIN (11) IF YOU'RE A DRUG ADDICT AND YOU WANT TO REALLY STOP (12) IF YOU CANNOT IMPREGNATE A WOMAN (STERILE) (13) ALL TYPES OF DISEASES I advise you to contact the great Dr. Osoijiakhena, the spiritualist for solutions via his email: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com

  3. Sergeant McNally is buried in Cathcart Cemetery on a hill known as McNally%u2019 Hill. The Cemetery is in a natural bushland setting and is very well maintained.The emergency department at Ararat Hospital is known as the John McNally Emergency Department. Cathcart is approx. 4.6 km from Ararat and is approx. 345 m above sea level.

  4. My spring chicken of a Mom is turning 75 years young. She is a big fan of Frankie and I think she would get a big kick out of the film. I wanted to take her to the Broadway play but am priced out. Thanks for your time and consideration. Oh yea, Wildwood! Joie

  5. I thought this company would go bankrupt in 2013/2014. I predicted that four years ago. I was wrong. It will take another couple of years, but they will get there.

ADVERTISEMENT