A man with true grit: Date Night with Sherlock Holmes

I came up with this title as I laid myself down to sleep around 1:30 this morning after my animé block.
Man, do I hate it when “Bleach” leaves me hanging for next week… a lot happened, but it felt like we ain’t gettin’ nowhere. The worst part of the series is that they actually make the villians appear unbeatable and even the most talented of soul reapers and (in one case) Quincy have trouble with them.

I kinda get that Ichigo is a “substutite” soul reaper/vizard and he’s not nearly as powerful as some of the captains of the 13 court guard squads… but actually, there were times earlier in this series where he was able to defeat them. Even Byakuya Kuchki, captain of squad 6, who nearly killed Ichigo in one attack the night they met… he was able to eventually defeat him.

But it seems like the villians get infinitely more powerful and it seems like he rarely stands a chance. Perservence is pretty much the only explanation for it.

Never-mind him, though. The lieutents of the court guard squads are supposed to be just as powerful, but it never seems like they are quite as powerful as they’re supposed to be.
I think I’d only seen maybe one fight where Renji of squad 6 didn’t have trouble triumphing and it wasn’t the first time he battled Ichigo either… but as much as I like the character, I hate that it seems like he’s at a disadvantage all the time.

The same goes, in fact even more so, for Rukia Kuchki. The series started when she was on a mission to protect Ichigo’s hometown from hollows, which are pretty much evil souls… soul reapers have the job of sending good souls to the afterlife and cleansing the bad ones, cleanse, not kill (the one thing that sets them apart from Quincys, whose arrows destroy hollows)…
Rukia got into trouble and came across Ichigo and in a last ditch attempt, she transfers her powers to him… thus giving him soul reaper powers. Eventually he develops his own…
Back to Rukia, the series starts with her staying in the world of the living for a month and training Ichigo to take over her assigment. Then when the soul society discovers that she’d stayed so long, they bring her back and actually sentence her to death for giving her powers to a human… an entire episode arc of nearly 50 are about Ichigo and his friends going to the soul society to rescue her.

Her powers eventually come back and we see her at her strongest. But even then, she doesn’t seem to stand a chance against anyone she faces. I’d hate to think of her as weak as far as soul reapers go, but considering she was one of the main characters when the series started, you’d think she’d be much more powerful… kinda disappointing really.

 

So anyway… back to the title… within a 4-hour period… wait, let me see… 6… I saw three movies, two of which were for the first time. And between 7:15 and 8, I was flipping back and forth between a couple movies, which don’t really count, I’d seen them recently.

We checked into another of our “bootlegs”… the remake of “True Grit”…

And quite honestly, I was expecting a lot more… okay, maybe I’d already kinda developed a bias for the original and I came in expecting this to be a play-by-play remake of the original. It’s not so off base that its going into “Clash of the Titans” territory… the storyline in the original was Perseus getting the head of Medusa as a wedding present to the king who wants to marry his mother, and along the way, he comes across the Kraken and defeats it for Andromeda’s hand.
The remake starts with the scene where Zeus sneaks into Danae’s bedroom and therefore, we have Perseus… his family then gets killed by the gods and therefore he shuns Zeus as a father. Then he helps the kingdom by getting Medusa’s head to defeat the Kraken… the only thing constant with the two versions is that Perseus is son of Zeus, defeats Medusa and wins Andromeda’s hand after saving her from the Kraken… everything else is completely skewed and offbase in the remake.

That’s not the case with “True Grit,” though it is a different take on the story. The narration is told by an older Mattie (I swear to god in the trailer she said her name was Betsy Ross or Hattie Ross… didn’t sound like Mattie to me).
Strictly speaking, I think that this movie felt a bit more rushed than the original. Might be because there weren’t commercials every 10-15 minutes, but they cut out a lot of the previous exposition just to get to the storyline and all the action-packed stuff.
I’m definitely biased because I was looking at Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cockburn and didn’t really feel quite the way I did about John Wayne’s incarnation of him… I didn’t feel like Jeff Bridges really carried the role the same way to the point I’m completely fascinated by the guy. The courtroom scene in the beginning was my first sighting of him and he had me slapping my knee cuz I was laughing pretty good… Jeff Bridges, I got one laugh out of the same scene and it was when he said something about “going backwards” when he was “backing up”…

I’m going to see The King’s Speech in an hour or so, and then I’ll have my opinion about Colin Firth as best actor… cuz I sure as hell don’t see Jeff Bridges getting the same honor that John Wayne got with the same role (which was one of two awards the original got, by the way).

The best Oscar winners are the people that literally disappear into their roles to the point they’re unrecognizable as the actors themselves. They become the people they play and you believe that act for nearly the film’s entirity.
Although… I may be going from that same biased place… cuz RDJ literally disappeared when he played Chaplin and Kirk Lazurus… and he still didn’t win… what the hell does the guy have to do to win a bloody oscar anyway? (a few things come to mind and I’d rather not come forward with them, god forbid they actually come to pass… losing body parts, getting cancer, blindness… in real life, mind you)…

I guess I think I’m gunning for Jesse Eisenberg to spoil the category for best actor, and I hadn’t even seen the movie. I’m just with him cuz he’s kinda cute and he’s a young guy. I’d certainly take him over James Franco, also a young guy, but he doesn’t give me the same kind of performance I enjoyed from Jesse in two roles… I guess I’m in the business of good looks.
Although I think its safe to say that Heath Ledger completely disappeared during the radar of The Joker and although it had dire consequences for him personally, it was maybe a cut above RDJ as Julian because he wasn’t “so good that its scary”… both roles had similar effects on these guys and this certainly isn’t me saying that RDJ is a better person because he survived the ordeal and the ones to come… not at all. Before all the Oscar buzz (which I still think is kinda ridiculous), I was as stunned as anyone else when the news about Heath Ledger came about.

 

Anyway, back to True Grit.
Hattee Steinfeld is up for best supporting actress for this role… I guess I can kinda see it, but right now, I really don’t. I still see the original actress in that role and I guess I thought Hattee was a bit too serious playing Mattie. This begs the question “she’s after the guy who killed her father and wants revenge, what’s wrong with being serious”…
I dunno… In the original, it felt like Mattie was really in awe of Rooster Cockburn that she’d do anything to hire him that it gave an edge of playfulness to their relationship. I mean, when John Wayne played the role, he always called her “little sister” and that said something about how he related to her and vice-versa. I just felt a stronger chemistry between the two in the original.

Matt Damon might be a cut above the original actor in the same role… but what’s not to like about Matt Damon, really?
I do confess myself disappointed though because I swear to god that Brad Pitt was in this movie somewhere… his “Aldo Raine” accent was in one of the trailers and it sure as hell sounded like him… I guess maybe I got those two mixed up… I guess I also wanted to see Brad Pitt do another role with the same accent… and maybe I like Inglurious Basterds a little too much.

In the original, Mattie found out earlier on that LaBeouf was going to join the hunting party and she was completely opposed to it. She didn’t find out until much later in the remake… and then when she catches up to the two of them, he actually gives her a couple licks of the switch for thinking she can come along…
Sheesh, that wasn’t in the original and I’m not too crazy about it here either.

What I didn’t like was how much they cut out between when Cockburn decides to take Mattie’s offer and when she meets the two guys on the other side of the river… she actually goes with them up to that point and they try to leave her behind.

Overall, the cast didn’t have the same chemistry as the original cast did. Even when Tom Cheney takes Mattie hostage, she develops somewhat of a relationship with one of her captors and that doesn’t last nearly as long in this version. The snake pit was also a little dark… in fact, there were some scenes in this version that took place at night and were in daylight during the original… doesn’t quite have the same feel to it.

The way it ended kinda left me cold too… we flashforward to 20-30 years later, Mattie gets the news that Cockburn had died and fact of the matter, she didn’t seen him or LaBeouf after she returned home…

There’s chemistry and there’s chemistry… that’s part of the reason I thought the original wasn’t too bad and why I managed to stick with it even with all the commercials. It was subtle and it was delightful.
I guess that means they sure don’t make ’em like they used to. Tee-hee, look at me… arguing for a movie that’s over 40 years old over a remake of the same movie… I didn’t think of myself of that old school.

 

“Date Night” with Steve Carell and Tina Fey, I’d been looking forward to for a while. Both are great actors and I loved them in their individual roles. Although I’d only really seen Tina Fey in a couple ep’s of 30 Rock and as Ms. Norberry in “Mean Girls”.
I don’t know… the overall movie left a lot to be desired. For a comedy, there weren’t as many laughs as I expected. Sure, there’s the “that’s a killshot” line from the trailer. And there’re a couple jokes Steve Carell gives Mark Walberg about putting on a shirt, especially the last one.
Aside from the surprise ending where cops and a chopper appear on the count of three on a dramatic rooftop standoff, there wasn’t a lot about the movie that made me want to come back for second helpings.

James Franco and Mila Kunis had one scene as the true “Triplehorns”… the night begins at a fancy restaruant where Steve & Tina take the reservation under this name so they can get a seat… therefore they run into two rouge cops who think they are the Triplehorns and don’t believe them when they say they aren’t who they think they are…
The real Triplehorns are pretty cool, but at the same time, its pretty lame that they decide to skip out when its really their heads on the chopping block… couldn’t have casted them any better, though.

The highlight of the film was definitely a shirtless Mark Walberg… holy crap, did he look good, better than he ever has, in my opinion… probably even better than he might look in “The Fighter” despite him not getting nominated… whatever, I’m still very not into that movie because of Christian Bale and the fact I’m not really into boxing movies… I was ticked off when “Millionaire Dollar Baby” won best picture and the title made no f’in scene… all I need to know is that Hilary Swank (who won an oscar for this) plays a boxer coached by (and directed by) Clint Eastwood and she dies at the end of the movie for whatever reason… they say she’s a great actress because she’s won a couple Oscars to her name… fact is that “Freedom Writers” made me love her as an actress, converted me, if you will… and I think she should have won an Oscar for that. Hell, when I saw the trailer, I said it should win best picture… but noooo… it came out in March, far too early to be considered for best picture… its about a teacher turning around a group of troubled kids and makes them care about getting an education, what more do you need?

And hey, Mark Walberg had all kinds of technology in his house that I swear that he raided Tony Stark’s basement… you should see the computer system he has… and he also stole Tony’s Audi R8… which Steve & Tina take when they’re running away from the rouge cops…
A hilarious chase scene ensues and there’s a first here that I’d never seen in any car chase… they crash the Audi into a yellow taxi cab when they unknowingly drive into a one-way street… the crash is so bad that when they back up to make their escape, they take the taxi with them… in the crash, the car ultimately got stuck together. Meanwhile the cabbie is screaming and freaking out when all this stuff is going one while Steve tries to help his car get unstuck. This ends with the taxi in the East River, just as the two cars finally separate.

The storyline just got unbelivable after a while and there really isn’t much chemistry between Steve & Tina, which I was really looking forward to seeing.
Sheesh, I should have titled this entry “there’s chemistry and there’s chemistry”… that’s a big thing with me about last night.

Yeah… I guess now I’d pretty much gotten to the point where I can talk about chemistry and really stand by what I say about it… I don’t know quite what it is, but that’s a key ingredient in any role played by Robert Downey Jr. It’s whether or not he has chemistry with his supporting cast or just the cast that makes for a great movie.

I guess that’s two things that make for a good performance: chemistry and the disappearing act.
That’s what he does in Chaplin, which I really don’t so much see the chemistry he has with any of the other actors because he’s in far more scenes than the rest of them combined.
The exception is probably Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks… the two have had a little something going on that enabled them to play off each other.

Tropic Thunder was a two-for… he literally disappeared as “the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude”… god forbid that quote ever gets old.
And he has such a chemistry with his fellow cast members. Especially hilarious is how he and Brandon T. Jackson play off each other. The one dude went through a controversial procedure to play a black platoon leader and the other dude wants to represent his race because he thinks the other guy is full of it… he takes pretty much everything that could be offensive to the black audience and plays it up so they have something to go on.
There’s also a couple of good scenes with him and Tugg Speedman. The first is where he tells him the truth about his role of “Simple Jack.”… “you went full retard, never go full retard”… which is the reason why the movie tanked so bad and he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar… He notes Sean Penn in “I am Sam” as an example of someone who didn’t get an award because he went “full retard”
Then of course, the climatic scene where he tries to snap Speedman out of this brainwashed state he’s in… and the tables turn when he realizes how disillusioned he’d become as an actor.
Lest I also forget the “you’re my brother” scene… the movie begins here where Speedman can’t cry and Kirk Lazurus is a complete mess, completely outdoing him. By the end of the movie, they actually achieve something doing this scene… I guess you need to live in it before you can feel it, that sort of thing.

The Soloist is another good example, although on a smaller scale. RDJ and Jamie Foxx play off each other so well that its positively insane. Steve Lopez gets to known Nathaniel so well and tries in every way he can think of to help him… even if its the worst possible idea, he feels he needs to help him and in the end, he manages to do just that. There’s something going on there that I can’t even give it a name, but its a thing of beauty.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang- him and Val Kilmer play off each other to another point of insanity. Now that’s what I call chemistry… it goes in the way of one thinks one way and the other plays devil’s advocate and goes the other way, questions the other one’s judgement when all kinds of hell break loose. I guess it kinda plays to the way Ferris Bueller and Cameron play to one another. Ferris is the ego who is foolhardy and doesnt’ think of the consequences of his decisions and Cameron is the superego, the voice of reason, if you will…
not to say RDJ and Val have the ego/superego thing going on here… but it’s almost like the persusaive essay, where you have a couple paragraphs backing up one point of view and you have a third one arguing for the other side. It dares to think where the other one refuses to go.

Tony Stark might be a little harder to pinpoint, but you can’t deny that he has a special relationship with Roady and with Pepper… especially Pepper. You can taste the sexual tension and you can really tell, even if you know nothing about the Iron-man comic books, that she’s a special girl in his life, unlike the hundreds of woman he has one-night stands with, like any other billionaire playboy (which kinda makes it funny that Stan Lee cameos here when Tony mistakes him for Hugh Hefner)

The ego/superego thing could probably be best exemplified in the movie Due Date where RDJ plays the straight, serious guy who is both worrisome and angry, very angry… and Zach plays the happy-go-lucky idiot side-kick who actually holds his own pretty well in the situations they get themselves into.

 

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson… that’s what I’d like to call a grand slam (shoot, I almost forgot what that was called)… I got the idea early on that this wasn’t just unlike the Sherlock Holmes we’ve gotten to know and love… but also that the two characters play off each other here like an old married couple… what people in today’s movie industry like to call a “bro-mance”
There is a tiny bit of sexual tension between the two of them, especially in one scene where they’re at the prison yard and Watson rants about how he never complains about Sherlock playing the violin at 3 in the morning or his lack of hygiene (among many other things).

You really see here that the two masterminds are on equal footing where until now we’d been under the impression that Sherlock is the brilliant one and Watson is a bumbling idiot that gapes at Sherlock’s every word… the kind of relationship you see with Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering in “My Fair Lady”…

RDJ and Jude play it off in such a way that it’s like a samurai weilding a sword… the sword is like the extension of his hand… much the way Watson is an extension of Sherlock’s hand… he does one thing, Watson takes it a step further (like the scene noted by many where Sherlock picks the lock and Watson breaks down the door)… as brilliant as Sherlock is and how Watson wants to get away from him to start his own life, he knows that Sherlock would be lost without him… that’s why you see in multiple times in this movie that Sherlock will go ahead to investigate something and while Watson has somewhere else to be, he knows he has to be there in case his partner needs his help.
I mean, their partnership is to the point where they can finish each other’s sentences, that’s how close they are to one another.

It’s hard to really see one without the other is what I’m ultimately getting at.
Jude Law has been known to steal a scene or two in this movie, although RDJ gets to do most of the really cool stuff… like the whole boxing scene or when he accompanies the Scotland Yard to crime scenes…

I can’t say this about a lot of movies… but I must say that Sherlock Holmes gets better everytime I see it. I hear something different, figure out something I didn’t notice before… and its worthwhile for every new bit of dialogue I can decipher from RDJ’s heavy British accent…
strangely enough, in an interview when he was asked to do it, he said its better left for the film because he wouldn’t do it quite as much justice… i.e. he was being coached on stage on his British accent, what’s why its as tight as it is.

Of course its fascinating as always to hear him try different accents and speak diffent languages even. His French in this movie is quite good and its as hot as it is hilarious… it wasn’t all that bad in “Only You” with him speaking in Italian, but I dunno… it wasn’t quite the same turn-on as Antonio Banderas and his Spanish accent.

So today’s the night… Oscar Night… below, I’ll list who I’d like to win the different awards.
I can’t wait to see James Franco and Anne Hathaway take the reigns…
and I’m willing to bet that RDJ will be back with his Tony Stark look when its his turn to present an award.

Best Picture: The Social Network
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network (not very likely but I’d love to see it)
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (wouldn’t like to see him win but I can’t see anyone outdoing him)
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter (she’d been getting a lot of buzz too)
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best adapted screenplay: The Social Network

Yeah, I’m pretty much predicting a near sweep for The Social Network… and I hadn’t even seen the movie

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