Posts Tagged ‘John Wayne’

The Art Of Darkness – Apocalypse Now & Full Metal Jacket

Posted 17 Jun 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Apocalypse Now, USA, 1979

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Full Metal Jacket, UK / USA, 1987

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

pocalypse Now is considered by many to be the greatest war film ever made. “War is hell,” the cliche proclaims, but it seems to be entertaining hell. Along with other ghastly subjects such as murder and vampirism, war ranks among the most popular and commonly used subject matter of filmed entertainment, and no war has yielded more or better films than the one in Vietnam between 1955 and 1975. Whether detailing the effects of the war by studying its aftermath or getting right into the heart of the battles, the Vietnam War has proven to be a source of boundless interest for filmmakers and moviegoers alike. Perhaps it is the moral ambiguity of Vietnam that makes it the most interesting war for film adaptations, and no films illustrate this ambiguity better than Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) and Stanley Kubrick‘s Full Metal Jacket (1987). Read More

True Grit – A Classic Western From The Coen Brothers

Posted 19 Feb 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

True Grit, USA, 2010

Written and Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Based on the Novel True Grit by Charles Portis

The Coens' True Grit is better than the original.

If I were going to direct a Western, I wouldn’t even consider any other cinematographer than Roger Deakins. A frequent collaborator of the Coen Brothers, Deakins shot two of the best films of 2007 – the Coens’ No Country For Old Men and Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (quite possibly the best Western ever made) – and it was his painterly eye and excellent use of light that created the mournful, elegiac and distinctly American feel of both those excellent films. Now he has reteamed with Joel and Ethan for their first true period Western, True Grit, and more than their wonderfully dry humor or the excellent performances by Jeff Bridges and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, it is his work that makes the film as good as it is.

Don’t get me wrong – the Coens have created a truly classic film here, a real Western with all the best parts of the 1969 original intact and amplified, and with a much stronger sense of the other characters besides Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn (whereas the original was mainly a vehicle to showcase John Wayne’s finest performance). Bridges is utterly believable and likable as the irascible Cogburn, and Steinfeld is a talent to watch in the coming years, imbuing young Mattie Ross with a steel resolve that makes me think the 14-year-old could probably beat me in a fight. As mentioned above, the script is full of wonderfully dry humor and startlingly realistic violence (I can’t imagine what they had to cut to whittle it down to a PG-13); there is much to praise about all aspects of the film, but for me it is definitely Deakins’ work that shines the brightest. Read More