Today I have to play a bit of catch up so instead of one big review of one big thing I'm going to post three little reviews of, well, three big things. Just go with it.
True Grit -- The new Coen Brothers production of True Grit is, simply, one of the reasons movies were invented. It's not a "great" movie in the sense that it will change or influence the world in any significant way or that it shines a light on the human condition. It's just a very entertaining film about some very interesting characters. I recommend you read the book as it is a masterpiece of simple, straightforward storytelling and this new cinematic adaptation of the book can be described the same way. Jeff Bridges gets all the attention for the role of Rooster Cogburn, the harsh and pitiless U.S. Marshal, but the main character is actually a 14 year old girl named Mattie Ross and the Coen Brothers should be commended for having enough confidence in an inexperienced newcomer like Hallee Steinfeld to play this crucial role. They turn out to have made the correct decision and she turns out to be someone who can hold her own with the likes of Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. True Grit is a movie I'm going to see again on the big screen, something I rarely do anymore, and I guess that's the best recommendation I can give it.
Toy Story 3 -- Much as I wanted to last May, I was just never able to get around to seeing Toy Story 3 in theaters. It's a shame there isn't some method for viewing movies in your home after they leave theaters BUT WAIT there is. The DVD of Toy Story 3 was a pleasurable way to spend the morning after Christmas. I remember everyone talking about how sad the ending was and I thought I was prepared because the other two Toy Story movies. I thought two things as the movie was playing. First, I considered what a shame it is that too often in life something wonderful has to end in order for something else that's wonderful to begin. We have to leave behind the pleasures of our childhood imaginations in order to partake of the wonders of adulthood. If we're lucky, of course, we manage to keep a little of that childlike sense of wonder as we grow older and I always have pity for people who weren't able to accomplish that. The second thing I thought of was, "Oh my God, can you imagine how horrible it would be if toys really were sentient beings and we just kept abandoning them like that?" I'm surprised these characters from Toy Story haven't founded their own version of Skynet by now and just taken us all out.
Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol -- My favorite show had a new episode on Christmas day which, of course, officially made Doctor Who the new Reason For The Season. Still, I keep going back to the fact that this episode took some of the rules that govern the Doctor Who universe and tossed them out the window. Michael Gambon played Kasran Sardick, a horrible, wealthy and powerful old man who's refusing to help a spaceship that's about to crash even though he could easily prevent it from doing so. The Doctor then decides to go back in time to when Sardick was a child and see if he could make him a nicer person. Thing is, this really isn't supposed to be possible. One of the major plot points of Doctor Who is that once he becomes part of events, he can't alter them. From a storytelling point of view, it's a necessary weakness or else he could just go back in time every week and prevent stuff from happening instead of dealing with it in the present. So why was he able to do it this time? And why not just go back and tell the ship not to take off in the first place? It's all good, though. If you read yesterday's post, I went on about how I could excuse certain plot holes if a story is done skillfully enough. This is one of those times. It was an enjoyable episode written by Steven Moffat, one of my favorite writers, and at least now Doctor Who fans will have something to complain about on forums for the next several months while they're waiting for the new season to premiere. By the way, I have a theory about what the Silence is. Maybe someday I'll tell you about it.