If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Well, I'm one film closer to having seen the majority of the potential Best Picture contenders of the year! So, many have been wondering about this movie, if this story was worthy enough for a remake. Since I have not seen the original John Wayne classic which won him his only Oscar, you will not find the answer to that question but I will answer the question about the validity of people saying if the film is truely as great as it is as best I can.
Well, I think we all know the plot by now and I think it's a pretty standard one at that. Man is killed, daughter seeks revenge against said killer, hires the biggest badass in the whole West, and they go to hunt down. It's a simple story but I think what's so great about this story is how it's brilliantly and beautifully told by the Coen brothers. Now, like Carlyle, I've had some very big problems with the Coen brothers especially when it came to the way the Coens made their most-regarded film of late: No Country for Old Men. I loved practically the entire movie and thought it was one of the few perfect movies I had ever seen but then, they had to piss me off so much with the whole "no ending for old men" thing. Now, I don't hate the movie for that like lots of other people but that always bothered me about the Coens. Well, it looks like they redeemed themselves with this pitch-perfect Western! I can not think about any flaws to this movie at all! That's what's so amazing about this fine film. It seems like one of the most perfect films technically and otherwise. The only problem with the movie was that I didn't come out loving it! I really, really like it but sadly, I'm not totally in love with it and I can't really explain why. Still, it was such a good feeling to just sit back in plush cinema and just take in every piece of brilliant glory that the Coens had to offer. What's so great about them too is their ear for dialogue because they are just fine craftsmen when it comes to taking words and constructing them into brilliant lines for many of the great actors they work with to read. I mean, the dialogue is so great in this film that I almost felt like I was watching a Western that was written by William Shakespeare! That's how amazing the dialogue is in this movie, even though given the cadence of some characters' speech, I couldn't understand them at times. Even though I think that Aaron Sorkin is locked in for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar this year for The Social Network, the Coens are a close second and deservedly so for their beautiful and eloquent words coming out of such gruff and sometimes scum-like men and being able to make that work perfectly on screen.
Roger Deakins also deserves an Oscar this year with his beautiful cinematography! His pitch-perfect work on lighting the scenes make this one of the most beautiful-looking films I've ever seen! In a way, I almost felt transported into the old West and it made the movie that much more enjoyable as an experience. Still, like many other people are saying right now, what makes this movie as great as it is is the performances from each member of the cast! Yet again, what makes the Coens so amazing is that they're some of the few select group of directors that actors in Hollywood beg with every ounce of their being to work with because even from seemingly mediocre or bad actors, they can get unbelievable performances out of them! I mean, these were the guys who took Josh Brolin when he was just considered a disposable actor and made him a superstar powerhouse of an actor! Now, the only problem that I had really was that we didn't spend enough time with Tom Chaney to really see why he's as despicable and evil as people say he is. I realize that they were trying to build tension to his big reveal but I feel that he didn't really do his "shooting the dog" moment which makes the audience despise him with a cold passion like Mattie does. Granted, Josh Brolin does a great job with what little content he was given but I felt that his character could've been fleshed out a bit better but that's a very small complaint that doesn't take all that much out of the enjoyment of the film. I will say that his character gets a great payoff and it's something he deserves at least in my eyes.
Matt Damon also delivers another great performance (as always) as the Texas Ranger. He kept his accent, his character was consistent, his motivations were just, and he manages to be the greatest thing in this movie for breaking the tension with some pretty good laughs. However, the two people that people keep talking about long after the movie is over is the iconic Jeff Bridges and the newcomer Hailee Steinfeld. What did I think? They were absolutely God awful! No, just kidding, both actors were unbelievable and both of them made the movie what it was (especially with their scenes together)! I know that John Wayne had famously won an Oscar for this same role but as far as I can see, Jeff Bridges totally disappears behind this legendary character of Rooster Cogburn and he's just awesome! His voice, his clothes, his eyepatch, his beard, and even the way he walks and talks is unlike anything like Jeff Bridges seems to be like in real life! He's definitely worthy enough of an Oscar nomination and even if he wins over somebody like Jesse Eisenberg (who I think deserves it), I'll completely understand and I'll even accept that possibility with open arms! Now, is Hailee Steinfeld as great as everybody is saying that she is? Well, of course! She's already won over many of the critics organizations, she's been nominated for the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award, and if she gets nominated by the BAFTA Awards, then I'm pretty sure she'll be nominated for her first Academy Award and so far in the game for Best Supporting Actress, I'm championing her to win! Sorry Blake Lively, I love you with all my heart but Hailee is the reason to see this movie! She's only 14 years old but she comes out and just steals the show from everybody else and when you're sharing the screen with legends like Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, that's almost impossible to do! But, damn it, she did it! She's gorgeous, she's so talented, she completely disappeared into character, and I'm shocked that this is first movie ever because that means I have an entire lifetime of her career to watch and since I want to be an actor myself in Hollywood, I would absolutely die to have the chance to work with her! She is one of the best new actresses to come along and I will love the fact that I now have another actor/actress on my list to watch for the rest of their careers.
The pacing is perfect and the fact is that while the movie moves at a slower pace to obviously build more importance around the characters and the story, it never feels long or boring EVER! Sure, it may not have car chases, explosions, gratuitous nudity, violence, and foul language, but that's what I love about it! Just being able to sit back in a theatre and just be able to escape into this glorious time in movies called The Wild West and just have a fun and wild ride! Now, while I whole-heartedly recommend this movie with all my heart and soul because it deserves to be seen, I do realize that this movie is not going to be for everybody. If you like Westerns (especially old-school Westerns), you will fall in love with this! If not, then I'm not sure if you'd enjoy it all that much. It was also a good bonding experience to see it with my Nana and my dad who both love Westerns! So, all of you guys or girls with daddy issues out there, if you need some bonding experience with your dad, this is the movie to see! Then again, I think every great Western is like that! It's one of the few perfect films to come out in a while and it deserves to be seen by as much people as possible because it's just a new, old-school Western which reminds you why you go to the movies in the first place!
Rating: High Full Price!!