Film Club of the Air: ‘True Grit,’ ‘The King’s Speech,’ ‘Black Swan,’ ‘Tron: Legacy,’ ‘The Fighter’
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
There are some nicely wrapped cinematic gifts as well as expensive coal in area theaters this holiday season. We'll ask our critics about the new Coen brothers movie "True Grit," see how "Tron" stacks up as a sequel, and find out if the hype is deserved for "The King's Speech."
There are some nicely wrapped cinematic gifts as well as expensive coal in area theaters this holiday season. We'll ask our critics about the new Coen brothers movie "True Grit," see how "Tron" stacks up as a sequel, and find out if the hype is deserved for "The King's Speech."
Beth Accomando is the KPBS film critic and author of the blog Cinema Junkie.
Scott Marks is the author of the film blog Emulsion Compulsion.com
Anders Wright is the film critic for San Diego CityBeat.
ALISON ST. JOHN: I'm Alison St. John in for Maureen Cavanaugh. Well, it's film club of the air. And since it's the end of the year, and award season, we've got some top to which films to talk about. Not that all our in-house critics will necessarily like them, as always, I expect some heated debate. But the reviews that I've been reading suggest some good quality entertainment in the films that our critics have picked to review am so just before we start that list, let's talk about the latest news from the San Diego film critics, because Beth, and first of all, of course, I should remind our listeners who our three critics are because some of you may not remember even although they're familiar names to most of us. Beth Accomando, is KPBS's film critic, and author of the blog cinema junkie. Beth, great to have you here.
ACCOMANDO: Morning, Alison.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Scott Marks is author of the film blog, Emotion Compulsion.com. Scott, good morning.
MARKS: Good morning.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And Anders Wright is the film critic of the San Diego CityBeat.
WRIGHT: Great to see you, Alison.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Great to have you here. So you all met with a bunch of film critics from San Diego yesterday, I believe, and you picked out -- what were your favorite films of the year? What came up top?
ACCOMANDO: Well, what was interesting for us is that only one film had repeat awards, winter's bone won for best film, best actress and best supporting actor. But otherwise the awards were pretty spread out. And we also managed to avoid a lot of the films that are getting the bulk of the nominations and awards, films like Social Network and Inception. So they were spread out, one of my favorites, 44-inch chest won best acting ensemble. But it was a nice diverse selection of films.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And what about best performance of the year? What did you come down on for that one?
WRIGHT: Well, Jennifer Lawrence from winter's bone was given best actress, which I think is a very good choice, but our best actors' selection is I think is the one that was certainly the furthest out from all the other critics' groups. Colin Firth, who is in the King's Speech, has picked up I think the bulk of the awards, and Jeff Eisenberg in the Social Network. We actually gave the award to Colin Farrell who appears in a smaller film called an dine, which not very many people have seen, but it's a terrific movie, he gives a really wonderful performance.
ACCOMANDO: It was the battle of the Collins.
WRIGHT: Yeah, it was, it was Colin Firth versus Colin Farrell.
ACCOMANDO: It was down to the wire.
WRIGHT: Yeah, but I think it's the one big award that we gave out where people have been, like, Colin Farrell? For what? What movie? What is that? ? Not enough people have seen this film, but it's Neal Jordan's move, it's well made, well directed, and [CHECK AUDIO].
ALISON ST. JOHN: And Scott, in the film category, I am loved was the winner. Tell us about the category that you guys talked about.
MARKS: I don't have the list here. I don't have my glasses, but I walked out of the house thinking I had a pair of glasses, they were 3D glasses, so I'm doing okay. [CHECK AUDIO] for Social Network, and Debra Cranner for Winter's Bone, and we gave it the best director to Daren Arenofsky. Oh, you wanted foreign film. I don't have my glasses. Beth, be my -- I'll be your Jerry Mahoney.
ACCOMANDO: We had nominated Beautiful from Spain, Mother from South Korea, No One Knows about Persian Cats, and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from Denmark. And the winner was I am Love which is a wonderful film from Italy with Tilda Swinton and just a magnificent performance. She did a great job. She was a Russian transplant to Italy speaking Italian with a Russian accent.
WRIGHT: She was also nominated for best actress by our group as well.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And it sounds like you've got some ideas about some films that San Diegans may never had heard of or seen, but that they might benefit from seeing. Where would they find this list?
WRIGHT: Well, our [CHECK AUDIO].org, or really, at this point, if somebody wants to just Google San Diego film critics we'll pop right up.
MARKS: And dose our site have the nominees too?
MARKS: Okay, not just the winners. [CHECK AUDIO].
ALISON ST. JOHN: If you want to see some films, the best of San Diego's critics have recommended, go to that site and check them out. So let's start now with the big films that we're gonna be talking about today, and the first one is the king's speech. And this year's nominations for the golden globe awards were announced just justice. And the King's Speech is leading the pack with seven nominations issue it's a British period drama about king George the sixth, and his struggles to over come a chronic stammer. Colin Firth plays the king, and Geoffrey Rush plays -- [CHECK AUDIO] begins by asking the king what he should call him.
What'll I call you?
Your royal highness.
And after that?
How about Ferdy?
Only my family uses that.
Well, in here it's better if we're equals.
If we were equals, I wouldn't be here. I'd be -- at home with my wife, and no one would give a damn.
Well, please don't do that.
I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
My physician said it relaxes the -- the throat.
They've all been knighted.
It makes it official then.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay, is that any way to treat a king? Of all the films that we're talking about today, this one seems to be the most like Oscar bait. So Anders, what do you think? Is it Oscar bait?
WRIGHT: It's certainly Oscar bait. I think that the best picture, when the Oscars role around issue there are gonna be two films that are really sort of at the top of the heap, and it will be this and the Social Network. I actually -- there are film things about this film that I actually really enjoyed and appreciated. Will Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are terrific together. But in terms of being Oscar bait, it's British, it's a period piece, and it's about royalty. Which are all things --
MARKS: If they could work the Holocaust in there, wow.
WRIGHT: Yeah, exactly.
ACCOMANDO: Sort of. It's the beginning of the war.
MARKS: Forget about Social Network. Home run.
WRIGHT: But actually, I also really thought that the biggest prospect was Tom hooper's direction. It's really lack luster and fairly limp you've got these two terrific actors, and you almost never seen them in the same frame, working off of each other.
MARKS: When was the last time you sa somebody using a fish eye lens? That's all this guy does. [CHECK AUDIO] and he shot in some pretty impressive places. Will I think it's because the guy is an amateur. This is Ia master piece theatre made for TV movie with great performances, a great story, and as Anders said, really mediocre direction.
ALISON ST. JOHN: So maybe he's appealing to the public's affection. Maybe he thinks they like the fish eye lens.
ACCOMANDO: Well, no, the best I can say about their director is maybe he stays out of their way sometimes. [CHECK AUDIO] and the direction is just inn inspired. It does nothing to add to the film or to bring anything to it. But they are great actors. Some of of the exchanges they have are a lot of fun.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Do you think there's something about the fact that there's this monarchy, but they're suffering from this very human problem, the stammering, and it arouses a certain sympathy in the viewer?
WRIGHT: Absolutely, and I think much of that comes from how good Colin Firth is. Of he -- I'm of the mind, he should have won the best actor for a film last year, for a film called a single man. And he didn't, but I'm fairly sure that he will win it this year.
ACCOMANDO: Because they always give thea, ward late.
WRIGHT: Yeah. And he's very very good. He really does turn this suffering, shy man into a Congress who has -- who is really not in touch with his emotions at all, and is completely out of touch with his subjects and yet has to find a way to over come this terrible impediment, and to bond with someone who he considers to be beneath him.
ACCOMANDO: And during a very difficult time critical in history, because it's right at the beginning of the war where he's going. And adding to that, it's not just a point in time when the war is about to begin, but it's a point in time when radio and the media are suddenly requiring a king to speak publicly, whereas 50 or a hundred years before that, he could have got ebb away with having a stammer and maybe not having to worry so much about it.
WRIGHT: Stand up and look good and wave.
ALISON ST. JOHN: It's so interesting that that happened right at a time that the British empire was crumbling. You've gotta almost sort of ask about the synchronicity of that. Do you think that that adds to thea appeal of the movie?
WRIGHT: Yes, I think the part of the sort of intrigue of the film is that he was never supposed to become king at all. He basically took on the thrown when his brother abdicated.
ACCOMANDO: And actually, that was another flaw in the film was guy pierce was badly cast as his brother Edward. It just did not work.
WRIGHT: Just foppish.
ACCOMANDO: Not even foppish. It just -- he -- first of all of course he was Australian, and it seemed very -- that seemed to add to the problems of the fact that his performance wasn't that good on top of it, and he just seemed wrong. His voice seemed like he was postdubbed or something afterwards. So there was this disconnect whenever he came on and was talking.
ALISON ST. JOHN: So the strength of the movie seems to be the relationship between the king and his --
MARKS: But as Beth pointed out, they're never in the sim frame together. I don't understand why a director would do that. And the scenes with the two of them, that's the only reason for seeing this movie.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Really. So you like their relationship.
MARKS: I was waiting for a flash back in the beginning. In any other movie, you walk up to the microphone, open his mouth, and then dissolve to flash back.
MARKS: And uses his stammer almost as a cool plot point, you be, a plot device to bring it back later on. After that, all hopes of film making are just out the window.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Well, Scott, is there requesting wrong with an audience pleasing human drama about the human spirit over coming --
MARKS: If it's -- well, at this time of year, okay, I guess this film is happy, you have this and yogi bear, those are the only two frolic -- ordinary care to beingers too. No, I think there is something wrong, I mean, if you're gonna make a movie, make a movie, don't just sit there and finger paint.
WRIGHT: You know, I think people are gonna hike this movie. I really do. And the sort of tragedy of it, is this could have been a great film. And instead, I think, it's good, it's fine. But it's not a great film.
ACCOMANDO: The other thing about it is, it's getting all these awards too. It's like awarding it for bad film making of it's fine if people enjoy it and get a kick on the of the performances, and get a kick out of the script.
ALISON ST. JOHN: It's the direction that you really --
ACCOMANDO: The direction was just --
ALISON ST. JOHN: Disappointing?
MARKS: It's also just such a safe choice for the academy. Look at the black swan, I can't believe the academy is even watching black Juan.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Now, Tom Hooper, the director this you're all dissing here. Many people might know him because he produced that HBO miniseries, John Adams which I personally thought was very well done. But do you think he works better perhaps on TV than on the big screen.
ACCOMANDO: It's possible.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Perhaps you didn't like that series?
ACCOMANDO: I didn't quiet to see that series. So I don't know, I can't compare his direct from that to this.
WRIGHT: Yeah, it's just -- I mean, notally, you really have to sort of look at every project on an individual bases. But you hook at this film, when you break it down into the various components that went into it, you can see the sort of things that are terrific. Of and you can see what isn't?
ACCOMANDO: But he also directs it for [CHECK AUDIO] which will play better on TV where you may have a much smaller screen but --
WRIGHT: Maybe he was thinking about DVDsales.
ACCOMANDO: I don't know.
ALISON ST. JOHN: There's another one of my favorite actresses on this, Helena Bonham Carter. How did he do as his wife?
ACCOMANDO: It was [CHECK AUDIO].
WRIGHT: She came up doing roles like this.
ACCOMANDO: Yeah. Where she's grateful and charming and funny and interesting.
ACCOMANDO: Merchant ivory film.
WRIGHT: Yeah, and then sort of went off into the Tim Burton land.
ACCOMANDO: Tim Burton land.
WRIGHT: She's had, like, giant hair and crazy make up and bizarre -- she's been over the top for years.
ALISON ST. JOHN: I couldn't help thinking about her role, of course in Harry Potter.
WRIGHT: No, yeah, of course.
ALISON ST. JOHN: It's very difficult to see her as anything but that witch.
WRIGHT: And she was in Alice in wonder land earlier. And stuff like that. And it often peoples like, wow, what happened to the Helena Bonham Carter that we all fell for so many years back. And she's back in this.
ACCOMANDO: And she's back. And she's very good.
ST. JOHN: Okay. Well, that's the King's Speech, and it opened this Friday in are theaters. We've gotta take a break, but we'll be back with our three critics, Beth Accomando, Scott Marks, and Anders Wright.
And you're back on film club of the air, with me, Alison St. John sitting in for Maureen Cavanaugh. Beth Beth, and and, and Scott Marks, author of the film blog, Emulsioncompulsion.com, and Anders Wright, film critic of San Diego City Beat. So guys, the next film we're gonna talk about is the Black Swan, and the film is directed by Daren Arenofsky, who was the acclaimed indie film [CHECK AUDIO] and passionate ballet dancer who suffers enormous pressure to live up to expectations when she's picked from the class to dance the lead roles in swan lake, and that role has a dark side, ands the pressure mounts, Nina begins to enravel psychologically. In this scene, the artistic director of the ballet company, played by Vincent castle, tells Nina what it takes to be a star ballerina, and at the end, he grabs her and he kisses her. So let's take a listen.
In four years, every time you dance, I see you obsessed, getting every move perfectly right. But I never see you lose yourself. Ever, all the discipline for what?
I just wanna be perfect.
Wanna be perfect.
Perfection is not just about control. It's also about letting go. Surprise yourself so can surprise the audience. Transcendence. And very few have it in them.
I think I do have it in me.
You bit me? I can't believe you bit me.
ALISON ST. JOHN: You can't help sympathizing with her after that, can you? Beth what did you make of this movie.
ACCOMANDO: Well, I liked it, but it's flawed. And one of the main problems that I had with it is that I wanted to see more of a decent. I wanted to see her start at a point that was a little more normal. You talk about her unravelling, to me, she was unravelled from the beginning. She seems very kind of skiddish and off balance. And --
WRIGHT: I think that's in there too, you're right.
ACCOMANDO: And to me, it would be more interesting to see her start from some place that's normal and descend to this kind of questioning what's going on. Because I never doubted that these kind of flights of fancy or these moments of, you know, where you're not sure if it's real or it's not, I always felt that those were from her perspective and it was her losing her mind. I never was, like, caught in this moment of tension thinking like oh, is she crazy? Or is this really happening?
ALISON ST. JOHN: You knew from the start 92 and for me, that was the biggest problem I had with if. Buzz I thought -- there was a lot of things in it that I really liked. And I admire Arenofsky for being ambitious, and if his film fails I think it fails in interesting ways but I just didn't feel that this was tightly put together.
WRIGHT: Don't you feel that this idea of her starting out as crazy and getting exponentially worse, that was definitely a choice that he made.
ACCOMANDO: Yeah, I think so. But for me, it made it harder to get into the film because I already knew that she was losing it and there wasn't any sense of tension or surprise or suspense.
MARKS: [CHECK AUDIO].
ACCOMANDO: No, she starts out being totally unravelled, she skittish, she --
WRIGHT: She's seeing things even early on.
MARKS: But you want an explanation?
MARKS: Because this film is not about explanations.
ACCOMANDO: No, I don't want an explanation. I want her to seem a little less insane from square one.
ALISON ST. JOHN: It as you understands like this is the kind of pressure that would drive anybody crazy, even if they did start relatively normal at the beginning.
MARKS: But this film is not about truth of it's all about melodrama. And people who are sitting and looking at this film like it's some profound piece of film making, accept it for what it is, it's a hysterical mellow drama, it's all about eve with a little bit of baby Jane thrown in there. It's just a crazy over the top mellow grandma, it's oozing with style. There's enough style in this film to fuel the King's Speech.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay. Well I think that's one thing that a lot of people really respect your perception of style. So tell us, what is the style that's so good about this movie?
MARKS: The camera, just the whole insanity with this film, the whole purposely trying to make you feel uncomfortable. I like that. I mean, I like when movies try to do that. When I will say, can we talk about blue Valentine compared to this? Blue Valentine got an NC17 rating for a scene of --
ACCOMANDO: Which has been changed.
MARKS: And this gets an R because I think Hollywood finds lesbians appeals. Oh, there's something kinky and hot about it, but if it's just a couple in disarray, that's wrong. That's dirty. So I don't know why this film was favored, why it got a pas. Because I think ultimately when you look underneath the feathers, there's not really anything [CHECK AUDIO] than a great time thea the movies.
ALISON ST. JOHN: So I am will confused here, which is unusual with you. On the one hand, you like it, you said it's great style, and on the other hand you're sort of dissing it here and saying --
WRIGHT: I think if I might jump in.
MARKS: Knock yourself out.
WRIGHT: But I think it's exactly that. It's a very well made film. Again, we did give it the best directed film yesterday. But I think what you're saying is that underneath it all, there's not as much depth as some people are trying to put on it. Of it's really just about what it's about.
MARKS: It's about a movie. He's making movie genre film.
ALISON ST. JOHN: No, you were talking about movie blue Valentine. But it's also been compared to this movie, the red shoes.
MARKS: That's insane. The red shoes is one of the greatest movies ever made. To compare this to that is just crazy. Stick with all about Eve. Just because it's about ballet --
ACCOMANDO: I think they make fun companion pieces.
ALISON ST. JOHN: In what way, Beth.
ACCOMANDO: Well, because they both look at the world of ballet, they both have these flights of fancy to them. But they're very different. The red shoes is a beautifully made film, and it's a classic. But I think they make nice companion pieces. I don't think it's a bad idea to watch all about eve, red shoes, and Black Swan as a trilogy together.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And of all three, would this one be the edgiest?
ACCOMANDO: The least. No.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Oh, the least. Okay.
ACCOMANDO: But one of the things I did like, I thought the backstage seen of the ballet was really well done.
WRIGHT: Yeah, and sort of did the same thing in the wrestler too, sort of seeing this subculture world, sticking his camera right into the nitty-gritty of it, seeing the things that you don't necessarily -- that you would never think about if you don't exist in that world.
ACCOMANDO: And getting a real feel for that.
MARKS: I don't know, the wrestler -- I mean, I think it's his best film.
WRIGHT: I agree with you.
MARKS: And all the other ones are just this out, flights of fancy disturbing stuff. But when he has a great script, which I think the wrestler has, I think he makes a better film.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And what about the actors? He had Mickey Rourke for that, how does Natally Portman do in this one?
MARKS: She's terrific. I mean, your heart goes out for the kid. She's terrific. I don't think it's her best performance. I don't know what the hell Barbara Hershey was doing.
ACCOMANDO: I was so wishing it was Jessica Harper.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Is the mother?
MARKS: The mother. Yeah.
WRIGHT: Because she lives with her mother who is a failed ballerina and basically has been also completely over bearing and over protective her entire life. She's only basically been between the apartment and the ballet studio.
MARKS: But she turns it on and off. In the scene she's nurturing, she's wonderful, and she comes home and she goes nuts.
ACCOMANDO: The other thing is, you don't know what she really is like. You don't want know if this is just her perception of what her mother's like, because at the end, you see the mother in the theatre, in the audience, and she has kind of a completely different look to her.
ACCOMANDO: Than she's had any time else. And Vincent casals' character too. In the end, he almost looks sort of goofy and naive, which is very different from this strong, manipulative director this you've seen early on. So there are certain point where is you're not sure which perception is giving us the real character. But at the end, I think you see some of these people differently than you have during the course of it, and that they are much more normal in those, like, final moments that you see.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Huh.
ACCOMANDO: Than they have been.
ALISON ST. JOHN: But it drives you to feel a little schizophrenic even as the viewer.
WRIGHT: The other thing that we really haven't gotten to with this movie, is it's creepy and weird and violent and bloody.
MARKS: And dirty.
WRIGHT: Yeah, I mean, it's a very sexual film.
WRIGHT: It's a violate movie. I mean, there's a lot of stuff going on here, a lot of it's psychological. But a lot of it is physical as well. And that's where I think people are looking at it as somewhere between high art and down and dirty.
ACCOMANDO: You could make it a quartet of films if you want to throw in repulsion there.
WRIGHT: Sure. Yeah.
ACCOMANDO: All about eve and the red shoes.
MARKS: And it's because of this diversity that I think Natally Portman's gonna get the academy Awart.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay.
ACCOMANDO: Wait, wait, wait. Nicole Kidman took off her makeup. That's gonna give her --
MARKS: Oh, that's right.
ACCOMANDO: That gives her points out.
MARKS: She's so bad.
ALISON ST. JOHN: The jury is out on this one.
ACCOMANDO: I think it's definitely worth seeing.
MARKS: No, the jury's in.
ACCOMANDO: It's flawed, yeah.
WRIGHT: That's nothing like this out there. Especially being like a holiday --
ACCOMANDO: And it's really gorgeous on the big screen.
ALISON ST. JOHN: On that note, it's just say that the Black Swan is playing [CHECK AUDIO] True Grit, this is a new film from Joel and Ethan Coen, known as the Coen Brothers. And it's a remake of the 1969 John Wayne western, True Grit. It was the role that won John Wayne has Oscar, so it's got a lot to live up to. Fills his shoes or boots, rather, is Jeff Bridges, [CHECK AUDIO] and they're joined by another bounty hunter, by the name of LaBeef, played by Matt Damon. Let's listen to a scene from true grit of the three avengers are searching for the killer, and in this scene, Jeff Bridges throws a bottle in the air, and shoots it, to prove he's still a good shot, even through an eye patch. Let's listen.
Damn it, I do not accept it in the given that I didn't shoot labeef. There were plenty of guns goin' off.
I heard the rifle, and I felt the ball. You missed your shot, Cogburn.
Missed my shot?
You are more handicapped without the eye than I without the arm.
I can hit a 95 [[CHECK]] 90 yards. That salesman is running them cheap shells on me again.
I thought you was gonna say the sun was in your eyes. That was to say, yer eye.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Got great dialect. Anders, did you like this version?
WRIGHT: There were things I liked about it. I wish I had liked it more. I'm such a huge fan of the Coen brothers. And I make a concerted effort with any of their films to not go in with heightened expectations. But it was hard with this one. And honestly, I liked -- I loved the cinematography, I really liked Matt Damon, I really like Hailee Stanfeld.
WRIGHT: Is that how you say it? Yeah. And actually Barry Pepper in a very small role I thought was terrific. I didn't really like Jeff Bridges, and I didn't feel like as a whole it all came together for me.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And of course, that's what everyone is comparing, is did he do as well as --
WRIGHT: Well, I also think it's also very, very hard to remake something like true grit. I mean, it's a legendary western for a lot of reasons.
MARKS: Is it a legendary western 'cause it got the academy award.
WRIGHT: No, it is.
ACCOMANDO: I think it's a memorable --
WRIGHT: I don't mean to say it's a great film, but I'm saying on the landscape of westerns, it's up there.
ACCOMANDO: Well, one of the things about true grit, it was one of the summations of John Wayne's career, he was almost caricaturing himself. Of and that's kind of why he got the Oscar. It's not that it was his best performance, but it had kind of pulled from all the films that he had done before. And it's a good story, and in the first film --
ALISON ST. JOHN: Can you sum up the story for us? Remind us?
ACCOMANDO: It's the story of a young girl, 14 year old girl, who's very self-possessed, very confident, a great bargainer. It's based on a novel by Charles Portis, and basically her father gets killed and she takes it upon herself to go after the killer. And she will do anything that she needs to do in order to satisfy that vengeance. And the book is really her story. And the first true grit was really more about rooster Rooster Cogburn. This film, at least, I think it tries to have more of a balance between the characters.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Mattie? Is that --
ACCOMANDO: Mattie. And to make it more of her story again and to follow up more of what happens to her afterwards and how this whole thing affected her.
MARKS: Which did you see true grit? The original.
ACCOMANDO: Years ago.
MARKS: I watched it two days ago. I think when the Coen brothers said, we have to remake this, we have to make Charles Portis -- [CHECK AUDIO] this is the Coen brothers at their worst. They're tracing. They book a book and they trace it. [CHECK AUDIO] pretty well, all the sophomoric, sniggering sense of humor, none of that is on display here. There was nothing in this -- well there was no defense between this film and the original true grit.
ALISON ST. JOHN: So do you think it was more for commercial reasons?
ACCOMANDO: To me, this is what I call the tweener films. The films that they do in between the films that they're more passionate about. And it's just kind of like to keep them in shape. Like we need to make a film, we don't have to spend too much time. This is an easy one.
WRIGHT: They've made four movies in the last four years, the first of which was No Country for Old Men which was terrific, then they made Burn after reading, which was sort of like --
ACCOMANDO: A tweener.
WRIGHT: -- what is this? Last year they made a movie called a Serious Man, which I think is just phenomenal.
ACCOMANDO: And they're back to the tweener. See?
WRIGHT: And they're back to True Grit.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Now, the clip that we just heard, the dialog sounded pretty realistic. What did you think of the spoken dialog?
MARKS: It's Jeff Bridges doing Slingblade.
ACCOMANDO: But the script itself I don't think is bad. I think his performance is bad.
MARKS: I look at Matt Damon and I'm, like, where's Glen Campbell? I really miss Glen Campbell. His delivery about the one eye, his delivery is so bad. The one comedy -- or should I say, ONE eye.
WRIGHT: But that's basically it. He's not a funny person. I actually think --
ACCOMANDO: He's awkward.
WRIGHT: Yeah, he's got this way with language.
ACCOMANDO: He's also bitten off his tongue at this point too.
MARKS: So everybody sounds like sling blade.
WRIGHT: The thing about the Coen other brothers, is there are people who can take their dialogue and make it sound both natural and funny.
ACCOMANDO: She can, the young girl.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Tell us about her. Of.
ACCOMANDO: She was great.
MARKS: Another kid talking beyond her years?
ACCOMANDO: But that's what the character is like in the book. That's what -- the whole -- the book was about a young girl who goes through something like this, and it changes her, she doesn't want to get married, nobody ever lives up to her expectations after she's gone true this. Her life seems kind of dull by comparison. So she never gets married, and she keeps this connection to rooster Rooster Cogburn her entire life. Of and then she ends upbringing his body back to the family cemetery years later when she's an older woman. And I mean, that's -- but that's what her character was. She was this, you know, woman who was very confident, very secure at a time when that wasn't really veritivical for women. And that's what the story is about.
ALISON ST. JOHN: She's only 14 in the film.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And highly Stein field, how old is she.
ACCOMANDO: I don't know, I think she's a little older than that. [CHECK AUDIO].
WRIGHT: She holds it together. If they'd have someone who doesn't play that role as well, the movie completely fails.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Ah.
MARKS: And bridges, I never thought I'd say this, I don't think he's good in this movie.
MARKS: He gives a better performance in trial. He walks through this, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. That's his whole performance.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And what about the cinematography then?
WRIGHT: I think we differ. I thought it was terrific.
MARKS: Considering it's Roger deacons, I expected so much more. But then again, they didn't have the bulk turned up all the way at the ultra star cinema. So maybe that has something to do with it. [CHECK AUDIO].
WRIGHT: Cold and sparse and spread out. It's this idea that they're going into what they call Indian territory, these cast expanses where people can get lost for, you know, lost in the wood, lost in the caves, lost in the canyons, and you get these beautiful Vistas with just dotted by people in the smallest little part of them. I thought it was beautiful.
MARKS: Will you agree that this is it an unnecessary remake?
ALISON ST. JOHN: That's a good question.
ACCOMANDO: Most are.
WRIGHT: Yeah, I guess I would say they -- what they have been saying is that it's not a remake, it's a different adaptation of the same book. All I can tell you is this. I wish I had enjoyed this movie more.
MARKS: It's not that different than the original.
ACCOMANDO: No, it's not --
ALISON ST. JOHN: Did you enjoy the original, Anders?
WRIGHT: Yeah, but again, I haven't seen it in years. But I've certainly seen it a couple times. I love westerns. And you know, you sort of wish somebody would come up with a real western today that captured what those films of the 60s --
ACCOMANDO: I think what makes remakes unnecessary to me is that either you need to bring some sort of new vision to it or -- I mean, you have to have some real reason for remaking it.
MARKS: Remake bad movies.
ACCOMANDO: Oh, yeah.
MARKS: Children of the damned is a terrible movie. That thing would be sick.
WRIGHT: -- oh, they did remake that. John carpenter remade it. Of.
ALISON ST. JOHN: But for people who love true grit, maybe the Coen brothers thought that'll bring them in. Of.
ACCOMANDO: But the problem with this particular remake is they neither remake the original in a way that refreshes it, nor do they make it a Coen brothers film, which would have made it enjoyable on that level.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Ah, yes. Of.
ACCOMANDO: So it fails as both a remake --
ALISON ST. JOHN: So speaking of expectations, the two films that we talked about before were about trying to live up to high expectations and it looks like perhaps this one didn't, because there were high expectations that the Cohen brothers --
WRIGHT: They didn't live up to my expectations.
ACCOMANDO: Well, and I don't think they set up high expectations for themselves and I think that's part of the problem.
WRIGHT: There's one interaction very early on, where Mattie is negotiating the sale of these pony where with this --
ACCOMANDO: Poor exasperated man.
WRIGHT: And right there, is where you're like, this is a Coen brothers movie.
ALISON ST. JOHN: All right, we'll watch for that moment.
ACCOMANDO: It's over quickly and early.
ALISON ST. JOHN: [CHECK AUDIO] more film club of the air to talk about the fighter. Right after this.
And you're pack on film chub of the air on KPBS, with Beth Beth, Scott Marks, and and and. And the next movie we're gonna be talking about is the fighter. It stars mark wall berg and Christian bail as brothers who box. [CHECK AUDIO] who's now a crack detect. Walhberg plays Mickey [CHECK AUDIO] and his quarreling mother and girlfriend. The film is based on the real life story of a film in lower Massachusetts where the film is set. This screen from the movie gives you a sense of the quarreling nature of the family. Mickey's trying to keep his family and his girlfriend from fighting over who should manage and train him for an up coming fight. Here it is.
We got a train. They gotta go.
They gotta go, Mick. Come on. Ask him, George. Ask him if he wouldn't won Sanchez without his brother.
No, I wouldn'ta won Sanchez if it wasn't for Dickie.
How can you say that to O'Keefe?
Because it's true. All right, I went in there without a game plan and it wasn't working, O'Keefe, okay? I mean, you know that. We worked hard.
You got your confidence and your focus from O'Keefe and from Sal and your father and from me. Dickie's a junk bag. He's a junk bag.
I'm his blood I'm his family.
I'm the one fighting okay? Not you, not you, and not you. I know what I need.
And you need Dickie.
I want Dickie back. And I want you, Charlene, and I want O'Keefe, I want my family. What's wrong with that?
ALISON ST. JOHN: Sounds like it's less about boxing and more about family feuding,ab customers what did you think about the fighter?
WRIGHT: Mean, I didn't like it at all, really. I mean people seem to be very divided on this movie. People are either like, this is it the greatest thing of all. Or they're like me, this is over acting, terribly written, poorly are put together, uninteresting. Yeah, not for me.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay. Scott, what about you.
MARKS: Come on. This is -- this is my new Precious, a film that when I -- it was oaf, it was just infuriated. And I watched it again, this thing is so bad it's hilarious.
ALISON ST. JOHN: But watched it again?
MARKS: Oh, it's so bad! I mean, I'm laughing my head off. I think Christian Bale is terrible.
WRIGHT: He's just over acting and chewing -- you expect him to, like, pull a locker room door off and start eating it.
MARKS: It's Hunts Hall and Billy Hallop in Raging Bowery Boys, these are the stupidest -- why would anybody want to spend time with these imbeciles -- to call them trash is just a profound insulate to trash. These people are horrifying.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Why do you stand on this, Beth?
ACCOMANDO: I mean, I didn't hate it. I didn't think it was great. I thought the acting was entertaining.
MARKS: Sure was!
ACCOMANDO: I thought the family dynamics were amusing. I didn't think the fighting was good at all. That was very mundane.
ALISON ST. JOHN: But if it's a movie about family feuding, did it succeed on that front?
ACCOMANDO: I think it succeeded looking at the family dynamics. I don't think that the fight aspect of it worked that well, but I mean, I think it was an interesting story in the sense that you had this family managing this fighter as opposed to somebody who was really in the fight world. And there were some interesting conflicts that come up, you know, when you're -- you need to pay mortgage or rent or get money and you're forcing your son to go fight just to, you know, get some cash coming into the house --
WRIGHT: It's an interesting story, but a poorly put together film.
ALISON ST. JOHN: What did you think about Christian bail in this?
WRIGHT: Just thought he was chewing scenery. There's this very fine line between good acting and over okaying. And I think he was never on the side of good okaying. It's also -- it's a movie about accents. All of the professional actors have the pa'k yuh ca' [NEW ENGLAND TYPE ACCENT] accents that are actually all over the place. And Mark Wahlberg who is from that world has the least accent of all. The funniest bit for me, his mother has these 5 or 67.
WRIGHT: Ace [CHECK AUDIO].
ACCOMANDO: I enjoyed them.
WRIGHT: They were very funny and I think they're all nonprofessional actors.
MARKS: Oh, really?
WRIGHT: But they all show up, they all basically they show up in different scenes and they're liking what's goin' on? Who's this? I can't believe it, what's happening? Somebody's like you gotta go. Like [CHECK AUDIO].
ALISON ST. JOHN: Well, apparently they actually -- really do exist, these are real sisters right?
WRIGHT: Sure, absolutely.
MARKS: But that doesn't make them interesting to look at for two hours. I mean, they put these people up there, and it's like, you knowing you are so pathetically deformed and hideous to look at, we're gonna give you a cleanup. There's one great scene in this move. He want talks the girl to see a subtitled film because he knows his friends are so stupid and so illiterate, they would never go see a subtitled film. Explain this to me. Amy Adams has been working in this bar for how long?
ACOMANDO: Two years. She's one of the sisters.
WRIGHT: The whole family comes into the bar regularly, and Mark Wahlberg never notices here, never notices her, and what's gonna get her off? Some guy comes up and hits on her, Mark Wahlberg walks over, takes the guy's head, and bashed it into a bar. Boy, there's a guy I want to hang out with.
WRIGHT: Like I said before, I think it is a good story, but I don't think it's well executed.
MARKS: I would much rather see the HBO documentary.
ALISON ST. JOHN: [CHECK AUDIO].
WRIGHT: There's a lot of boxing sequences later on.
ACCOMANDO: He gets pummelled.
WRIGHT: Yeah, he does. But in many ways, you might say that Black Swan is more violate of it's more intensely violate in a lot of ways.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Well, now, the director, David rus, he's famous for being combative. Is this perfect material for him?
WRIGHT: I guess so. And I telly like some of his work. And I was looking forward to the film because I always 789 to see what he's doing. But I didn't really see much of what I think of his style.
MARKS: I look at this, lilly Tom Lynn was right. The way he abused that poor woman. Go on YouTube, and you'll see a break [CHECK AUDIO].
ALISON ST. JOHN: What kind of a director is David Russell?
MARKS: I think three kings is a master piece. Of I think this is good any film made since George bush got us into the war. And there are parts in this film, honest to God, I felt embarrassed for him. I think this is it a really badly made, sophomoric movie. [CHECK AUDIO] with the mark shot accents in this entire film, these are not real charactering and even though it's based on truth, these are cartoon characters ump all of that said, though, Christian wail and Melissa Leo are getting a lot of notice from a lot of people. Yeah.
WRIGHT: And they were both nominated in our group yesterday. There were a lot of people who really think a lot of this film and identity a lot of these performances.
ACCOMANDO: To be fair to Christian Bale, there is a clip at the end of the film of the real brothers, and he's in the that far off the mark.
MARKS: But I don't think -- who played Nixon? Anthony hop -- nobody ever looks like Richard Nixon. But these are all good films of Nixon's a terrific performance, and it's a terrific film. And he looks nothing like him.
ACCOMANDO: No, but would you fault him for looking like him? Would you fault him for sounding like him.
MARKS: I would fault him for doing an impersonation. And I think that's what they're cooing in this film.
WRIGHT: The question is, [CHECK AUDIO].
ST. JOHN: Okay. So even the acting of the family feud said did not quite come off. I just like they've taken these characters completely over the top. Now issue I've been told that the real life people are, but if I don't believe the performances, I don't believe the movie.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay, well, there are some opinions on you of the fighter. Which opens in area theatres this Friday. Let's move on to Tron legacy.
ACCOMANDO: Movingly down.
MARKS: Oh, boy.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay. Gives us a foretaste. But the original movie Tron, in 1982, and it was ahead of its time in special effects. And it's a story about a hacker who gets sucked into a virtual world. It was very beloved by computer geeks and Sci-fi fans, and now these fans get to revisit the obsession 30 years later, called Tron Legacy. It stars Jeff Bridges [CHECK AUDIO] you're in a good position to tell us what your impressions were. Beth?
ACCOMANDO: Oh, my God. It was so bad. And to say it's in 3D is false advertising. For one thing, they actually have a disclaimer on the film which says not all of this was shot in 3D, and it was intended that way. And even what was shot in 3D doesn't look very good at all.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Isn't it kind of neat the way they use the 3D where it comes in in the movie?
MARKS: Oh, boy. No.
ACCOMANDO: No. Here's the thing, first of all, I think a lot of people remember Tron with more affection than if they were to see it again right now. What was cool with Tron wasn't so much that it was really state of the art effects or that it was this really great film. But it was the first film that really put you inside of a game, into a gaming world, and they had cool toys, and when you're a kid that kind of stuff is appeals. But if you go back and watch the film, it was slow, and the effects were kind of cheesy. And this film does not improve on anything, even with all the new technology. I mean, there are some things that look kind of pretty. But it's slow, it's pretentious, I mean Jeff Bridges, you know, youthened, is terrifying.
WRIGHT: It's just digital.
ACCOMANDO: Digital. And it actually rips off a lot from star wars, some of the fight scenes, the, like, dog fight, yeah, I know you hate that.
MARKS: Oh, boy.
ALISON ST. JOHN: All right, Scott.
MARKS: Lasers in here just like Star Wars?
ACCOMANDO: No, not lasers. What are the races -- some of the fighter stuff was either like the pod race in Phantom Menace or it was the dog fight [CHECK AUDIO].
MARKS: That's frightening.
ALISON ST. JOHN: So Scott what was your impression of it.
MARKS: This thing is unwatchable.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Oh.
MARKS: These people should be jailed for making a movie as bas as this. You ever wonder what -- what it would be like if Ingmar Bergman directed a live action Disney film?
MARKS: This is so cold and so boring and unengaging, it's like watching guys throw a lighted frisbee among Tivoli lights for two hours.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And Anders?
MARKS: I think you underestimated the original Tron. That was a major breakthrough in digital film making, whether it was good or not. That was [CHECK AUDIO].
ALISON ST. JOHN: So Anders were you a fan of the original one?
WRIGHT: Yeah, absolutely, and I was a kid when it came out. I was absolutely the perfect target audience for it, and I loved it am and I have a lot of affection for if, and I certainly, like, grew up playing that video game too. The big problem here is that people who want to enjoy this movie are really going to enjoy it because they're not gonna really care, but it's really all style over substance.
ACCOMANDO: It's not even style.
MARKS: Style? Where?
ALISON ST. JOHN: It was such a big deal, up, Comicon, they promoted this thing up. They have been trotting this thing out at Comicon for years, this is, like, the third or fourth year in a row. And I saw some footage at Comicon, and it got me kind of excited for it. But the fact is that the story is really what's lacking.
ACCOMANDO: You came out at Comicon all pumped up.
WRIGHT: Yeah, I was.
ACCOMANDO: The panel and then the Tron party.
WRIGHT: The Tron party was terrific. But, you know, the story just gets more and more and more ridiculous as it goes on. Because, you know, if you're gonna create a world like this, you've gotta make everything that's inside it make sense of it's all got to be true to the world that exists.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And it is moving into a virtual world, right? And that's where the 3D comes in.
MARKS: They try to do the wizard of oz, where it's flat, and as soon as they go into the computer game, it's 3D.
ACCOMANDO: It barely looked 3D. I recommend seeing it in Imax [CHECK AUDIO].
THE COURT: But you were saying that far Jeff Bridges was better in this movie than in true grit.
ACCOMANDO: That's a meager comparison. But yes, he is better in this.
WRIGHT: Here's the thing. This is occupying what Avatar did a year ago. It's the big 3D tent pull movie of the year. And that movie, Avatar, no matter what you think of it, it was an immersive 3D experience. Of this really isn't. It's still like you're looking at it instead of being in it.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Any good action sequences at all in this movie.
ACCOMANDO: They pretend there are.
WRIGHT: Actually early on, there are some light cycle battles that are pretty cool.
MARKS: I never knew what restless leg syndrome until I sat true this thing.
ALISON ST. JOHN: What about the director?
MARKS: Who? Who directed it?
ALISON ST. JOHN: Joseph Kazinski.
MARKS: Never heard of him, and I hope I never hear from him again.
ACCOMANDO: Oh, who he is, he's gonna do the remake of the black hole, which came out around the same time as Tron, from Disney, another one of these big kind of bloated Sci-fi films.
WRIGHT: What's really disappointing is this movie will make a bucket and a half a money.
MARKS: Don't be so sure. I think the first week gonna kill them, it's gonna be like the tourist.
ACCOMANDO: It is gonna do a huge opening week, and [CHECK AUDIO].
WRIGHT: There are people there who loved. The person who I took, people are sort of determined to like this, to enjoy themselves. And maybe they should be because they're dropping 15 bucks to see it in 3D.
ACCOMANDO: Your not gonna talk anyone who was a fan of the first Tron out of skiing should sequel.
ALISON ST. JOHN: In your view, was that a topnotch movie in its own right.
ACCOMANDO: I didn't think so.
WRIGHT: The kid in me will tell you that the time it came out, and the anal I was at, I absolutely adored it.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Uh-huh and have you gone back and seen it again.
WRIGHT: It's been at least ten years.
MARKS: But the original Tron did do that well in the box office, so why Disney 30 years after the fact? Because someone at Comi-Con is a big fan of Tron.
WRIGHT: No, they're basically saying, look, we've got this 3D technology, what better place to put it than into the computer. It makes sense of however that doesn't mean you can skip on the story.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay, well, Tron legacy opens everywhere on Friday. So you'll have a chance to make up your own mind. I'd like to thank you you guys for coming up. We have had Beth Accomando, KPBS film critic, thanks Beth..
ACCOMANDO: Thank you.
ST. JOHN: Scott Marks, author of the film blog, Emulsioncompulsion.com. Scott.
MARKS: Nice seeing you again.
ALISON ST. JOHN: And Anders Wright, film critic for the San Diego City Beat. Anders, great to have you.
WRIGHT: Good to see you, Alison.
ALISON ST. JOHN: Thanks so much for listening, I'm Alison St. John in for Maureen Cavanaugh.