My wife, being a member of the Costume Designers Guild, gets a fair amount of DVD screeners so we are able to watch current movies that want votes. So far we have recieved 5 new movies, two of which are True Grit and The Fighter. I regret now that I didn't see True Grit on a big screen the first time I saw the film. I think I lost a bit of it's bounty on a TV screen.
Both of these movies, top to bottom, are just staggeringly great. What a payoff to careers colliding at the right time. Everyone involved, (except Hailee Steinfeld, the newcomer, who, by the way, went to school with my daughter out here in Ventura County) delivers on their years of time digging in and getting better. Hailee doesn't act like a newcomer either. She's scary comfortable and a pleasure to watch. This whole movie hangs on this little girl. It's really intimidating.
I think I have become an apologist for studio movies. They often, and I mean very often, deliver mediocrity that sells tickets but wastes the talents of the folks involved. I'm sure you experince this like I do; People treat you like the suggestion box for the studios and anxiously relay the disappointment in their latest movie outing because you're in the biz, and hence, somehow involved and responsible.
Both of these movies shocked me by being big spectacles that delivered on their hype. When Pedro Almodovar makes a movie I always end up wondering how he pulled it off because it's always so subtle, so sharp and so damn honest. As I watch his movies I draw conclusions as to where the story is heading and they never pan out. I feel like I'm the typical American moviegoer writing the ending in my head before the film ends, and doesn't he just knock those sentiments for a loop with his story telling.
That same thing happened in these films, even though I knew the endings! The execution in each was so strong, so reliant on the actors being true to the writing and the directors ignorning the accepted "10 second MTV attention span rule" that the actors were allowed to let the script play them. So nice to watch and be affected by. You cannot hang enough superlatives on the performances of the actors in these films. Christian Bale, who is said to have never taken an acting class, is truly, truly, truly, remarkable.
Special mention goes out to my friend Jack McGee who plays George Ward, Mickey's father in The Fighter. I met Jack in 1990 on my very first TV job in LA. He is the kind of actor that makes you feel like you are the center of his world when you're with him. Acting with him is dead easy and he makes everyone around him better. Bump into him, and you can count on hugs and kisses like you're his favorite irish cousin. He was one of my early examples of how not competeing with every actor you meet makes your actor's life so much fuller. I called him to tell him how impressed I was with him in the film and how I know he'd be swamped with movie hype stuff and that maybe we could talk in a few weeks when he had time. I got a call back 20 min later with; "I always have time for my Flanagan!" They don't make better people or better fellow artists than Jack McGee.
I have The King's Speech, 127 Hours and Black Swan ahead. Lovely holiday fare.