I've had to sit through three nearly good movies in the last few days.  The first, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and second, Inception struck surprisingly similar themes revolving around what is and is not real, true, or whatever, and the nature of inspiration, creativity or whatever. Both succeed, where they succeed, for similar reasons. Namely an ingenuity of initial idea and well-crafted execution. Both fail for roundly the same reason: mainly a hook that becomes conspicuous and a plot that is neither lost nor found but is rather smugly intoned, in the way filmmakers tend to intone when they reckon a lot about themselves .  To that, I'd say being vague is not tricky.  It is lazy.  In the case of the third, True Grit, the success and failure tends to hinge perhaps not on the movie-making itself, but rather in the viewer's expectations.  That is, my expectations.  There is something about the thought of a "Coen Movie" that elicits a skip of the beat.  There never seems to be anything standard about Coen films and the inevitable wackiness set amongst the deadly serious doesn't fail to pique that part of my brain that yearns for intelligently glib bloodshed.  Emotional or literal.  And so maybe it was my expectation that ruined True Grit for me. Of course, my expectation that Jeff Bridges is a great actor, and Matt Damon is a great Actor, and Barry Pepper is a very good actor, and Josh Brolin is quite a good actor pretty much ensured that they lived up to their billing.  And the girl who plays Mattie Ross is ridiculously fluent.  The problem, oddly, came with that niggling expectation that the Coen movie itself would draw me in, show me something different, be so goddamn weirdly beautiful I'd sit there swept up in the sheer visual oddity.  I'll just say this: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, to which my mind instantly turned as the credits rolled, was far, far more satisfying.  And it's got Barry Pepper too.

No comments: