True Grit/Winter’s Bone

Because I can’t get to all the nominated films before the big show on Sunday, I’ve brought in a guest blogger. Although her motion sickness issues are not quite as pronounced as mine, she does have a trigger-hair gag reflex, so at least that’s something. Meet KADC, (pronounced like “catz” only the z sounds like an s), who will take you on a slow slow trot through two tales involving plucky teenage girls and meth dealers. Well, there’s meth in at least one of them, and who knows what Josh Brolin has in his saddlebags.

Shaky inner ears need not feel any trepidation when settling in to experience True Grit: go ahead and get that greasy popcorn and giant soda (though I’m adding “slurping” to cell phone checking and chatting on my list of annoying cinema behaviors). Almost universally this film is described by terms like “classic” and “old-fashioned Western.”

The Coen brothers leisurely unfold their story through wide, bright landscape shots, dim interiors lit by filtered sun or firelight, night scenes and enough silhouettes to rival a shadow puppet theater. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who also shot “No Country for Old Men,” “Fargo,” and a host of other non-Coen films, is up for his ninth Oscar nomination this year. His steady, beautiful camerawork adds nuance and context to the main characters: Jeff Bridges’ slovenly Rooster Cogburn, Matt Damon’s prissy LaBoeuf and Hailee Steinfeld’s preternaturally self-confident Mattie Ross. (Deakins is nothing if not versatile, though, since his work on the underrated 3-D How to Train Your Dragon rivals Avatar with its vertiginous flying scenes.) Continue reading