True Grit (2010)

True Grit (2010)

Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Domhnall Gleeson, Ed Corbin, Roy Lee Jones, Paul Rae, Nicholas Sadler

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Expectations: Moderate.


It took the Coen Bros. to get me out of the house to see one of these new-fangled remakes, but unfortunately I cannot report that it is entirely worth the trouble. The original True Grit is a household favorite from my childhood and I’ve probably seen it through at least twenty times, with many half viewings and random scenes thrown in for good measure. It was such an integral part of my youth that certain lines became standard jargon around the house. Imagine my surprise when many of these lines are represented within this newer, shinier grittier version. I can’t say that I expected that.

Continue reading True Grit (2010) →

Fargo (1996)

Starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Harve Presnell, Kristin Rudrüd, Tony Denman, Larry Brandenburg, Steve Reevis, John Carroll Lynch, Steve Park

Directed by Joel Coen

Expectations: I’ve seen this a bunch of times, I expect to still enjoy it.


Fargo is a twisted tale that begins with a disclaimer that it is based on a true story. The Coens put this on their film because there are certain elements taken from true events, but the actual overall story is theirs. This doesn’t diminish its impact at all, in fact, it’s such a well-written story in its probable improbability that you can easily believe it to be true, which in the world of film is all that really matters.

Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) drives down a snowy road to meet two men at a bar. He has hired these men to kidnap his wife, in an effort to get her wealthy father to pay the ransom which Jerry will use to pay off debts and then give a small share to the kidnappers. It’s all so ludicrous that it has to be true, right? I mean, you can’t make that kind of stuff up.

Continue reading Fargo (1996) →

A Serious Man (2009)

Starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Fred Melamed, Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus, Alan Mandell, Adam Arkin, George Wyner, Amy Landecker

Written and Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

Expectations: Moderately high. I love the Coen Bros, but they’ve burned me before.


Wow. I don’t know what to say. I honestly don’t feel qualified enough to form a complete response to this movie. I loved it. Absolutely one of the best films of 2009, but this is so not a film for everyone. The Coen Brothers generally make polarizing movies, but this is even in its own league within their filmography. It is probably their darkest and most personal comedy, and it instantly ranks with their best work for me. This also makes it a tough nut to crack. Immediately after watching I felt that I needed to see it again, and I would say that most would need a couple of viewings to really get their heads around it. If the ending to No Country for Old Men left you scratching your head, then you will want to assume that position once again. If you enjoy that sort of ambiguity as much as me though, then you are in for a treat.

A Serious Man tells the story of Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), who just can’t seem to get anything going in his direction. His wife is leaving him for a widowed family friend. His kids have zero respect for him. He’s almost tenured in his teaching job, but now that is up in the air as well. Don’t worry, this is all towards the beginning, but viewing this film isn’t so much about the plot as it is about the atmosphere and connecting to the sad helplessness of Larry. The film takes place in the late 1960s and it feels like it. Period details and music abound and delight.

Continue reading A Serious Man (2009) →

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,600 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages

The Ghost Story (1979)
Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films
Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (1972)
A Man Called Tiger (1973)
Podcast
Empire International / Full Moon Films
Will's Reviews
Weekend at Bernie's II (1993)