Along with the holiday festivities over winter break, there came an onslaught of movies ranging from the Oscar contenders to the family-friendly films, all looking to eek out a little bit more money. I had the opportunity to see a few of them over break and, for the most part, I liked what I saw.
Directed by David Russell and starring Mark Walhberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams, “The Fighter” tells the typical tale of the athlete underdog who has some large obstacles to overcome. Even though it’s a true story, what’s special about “The Fighter” is not the plot. What really shines are the performances.
Mark Wahlberg is a solid main character, Micky Ward, struggling to separate the two worlds of boxing and his family. Amy Adams departs from her normal role of the cute innocent girl to a college dropout with a sassy attitude. She demonstrates versatility, hopefully meaning she will be cast in more roles like this in the future.
The real standout, though, is Christian Bale. He plays Wahlberg’s cocaine-addicted brother. Although he is cast as a supporting actor, I feel that he really stole the show. The end credits show the two real Ward brothers being interviewed and it is amazing how close Bale’s performance mirrored his real life counterpart.
The plot may be a bit stale, but the performances more than make up for it. “The Fighter” is definitely worth seeing.
The day after Christmas I was able to see the Coen brothers’ remake of the 1969 western film “True Grit.” I had seen the original only a few days before and had high expectations for the remake. It met them. Although the two are quite similar — the dialogue was almost word for word — it was the subtle differences that I really ended up appreciating.
Jeff Bridges is wonderful as the drunken gun-wielding Rooster Cogburn. The film follows his journey with 14-year-old Mattie Ross and Matt Damon’s character, LaBoeuf, as they attempt to bring Mattie’s father’s killer to justice.
It was so refreshing to see a new western. Western films have lost their popularity over the years, but “True Grit” proves they can still be great.
The third, and my favorite film I saw, was “Black Swan,” directed by David Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman. The film centers around Nina (Portman), a young ballet dancer in a prestigious dance company, striving to capture the lead role in the performance of “Swan Lake.”
The lead role involves the dancer being both the innocent and cautious white swan and her evil sister, the lustful and tempting black swan. Nina is perfect for the white swan part, but she lacks the passion required to be the black swan. “Black Swan” centers on her obsession over being both.
I’m probably belaboring this, as many critics have already stated it, but Portman’s performance is stellar. She is truly able to embody both the white and black swan, literally and figuratively. “Black Swan” is elegantly shot, reminding the viewer that film is more than an entertainment medium, it is art. It is quite a dark movie, but also one of the best films of the year.
“Little Fockers” was the last film I saw, ending my break on a bad note.
Un-funny would be a kind adjective to describe it. Peter Weitz directed, replacing Jay Roach, previous director of the “Meet the Parents” franchise. My hopes for the movie weren’t especially high, but with a cast consisting of Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman, I expected much more.
There were maybe one or two times that I smiled, but the rest of the jokes were painfully void of humor. “Little Fockers” is yet another sequel that was obviously made with no care of how bad the movie turned out. I would only recommend watching this film if there is absolutely nothing else to do. But even that would be a compliment. There were many other films released over the winter break, and I hope to get a chance to see more of them. But, for the most part, I liked what I saw and am optimistic for the films of 2011.