I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010)

The casualties keep piling up as Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes) becomes more powerful.  An alliance formed against Voldermort attempts to protect his prime target, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe).  Unfortunately, several people are injured, and a few are killed.  Harry, not wishing for anyone else to become hurt because of him, decides to strike out on his own.  He has to find the horcruxes, pieces of Voldermort's soul that are hidden in various places, and destroy them.  If Voldermort gets to them first, he'll be practically unstoppable.  The late Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) left some things in his will to Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) that point to clues to find the horcruxes.  Hermione and Ron go along with Harry to find them. None of the action takes place at Hogwarts, the wizards' school, because it has become too dangerous for Harry to be there.  The story, which covers the first half of the last novel in the series, has Harry and friends on the run and being involved in narrow escapes. 

The movie does a good job in following the novel, and appropriately ends on a note that perfectly sets up the next and last film in the series, which will be released in a few months.  It is nice to see Harry, Hermione and Ron growing into young adults.  The supporting characters -- Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter), Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane)  -- gear up for their part in the final showdown between Voldermort and the good guys.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

True Grit (2010)

Fourteen year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), determined to avenge her dad's demise, decides that Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) is the perfect lawman to hunt down her dad's killer.  Cogburn, an ornery sort who's interpretation of the law is suspect, doesn't want to work for the girl, nor take her along for the hunt.    She intends to catch up with the murderer, a petty criminal named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), and put the "eye for an eye" rule into effect.  LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger is also on Chaney's trail.  He and Cogburn disagree on how to conduct the search, and LaBoeuf doesn't want Mattie tagging along either.  However, Mattie is articulate, focused, determined, and not one to take no for an answer.  The men have no choice but to take her along.

This version is a little more closer to the tone of the book of the same name than the original version of the film (1969) starring John Wayne.  Bridges' version of Cogburn is much more rougher than Wayne's interpretation of the character.  There is a lot of humor, especially in scenes where Mattie is out-talking people in her quest to get justice for her late dad.  The look of the film is rich in detail; it feels like what the Old West probably was -- dusty, hard, and dangerous.  There is also a nice wrap up at the end of the story featuring a middle aged Mattie (Elizabeth Marvel). 

The Coen brothers, who are known for more quirky and twisted fare such as Fargo (1996), directed this movie.  Mr. Bridges won a Best Actor Oscar for his work in Crazy Heart (2009).  Josh Brolin was a crooked cop in American Gangster (2007).  Matt Damon won a Best Screenplay Oscar (along with Ben Affleck) for Good Will Hunting (1997). 

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Fighter (2010)

Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is a good fighter, but he hasn't received good breaks.  His family encourages his boxing career, and his half-brother Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale) has been training Mickey since he was a kid.  But family doesn't always know best.  The guys' mom, Alice (Melissa Leo), as well as their sisters, turns a blind eye to Dickie's crack addition problem.  After Mickey is pressured into taking a fight where he gives up nearly 20 pounds to his opponent, Micky begins to wonder if he should continue boxing. 

Mickey meets a tough barmaid named Charlene (Amy Adams) who believes in him.  She also sees how his family is holding him back, and she's not afraid to speak up about that.  Then Dickie gets into major trouble with the law and briefly drags Micky along with him.  Mickey slowly starts to realize he has to take charge of how things go in his life, but his family is not going to let go without a fight. 

The real "Irish" Mickey Ward and his half-brother Dickie Eklund appear as themselves during the closing credits of this movie.  The love between the two men is apparent, but as the film shows, it was a love that went through some hard times.  Family loyalty can be a good thing, but it can also be stifling if it runs amuck. 

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