10. True Grit
A movie that showed Hollywood it’s still possible to ‘make em like they used to’. And of course it took a pair of wiseass, cinephilic, (former)-enfant-terribles to do it and not some steady-pair-of-hands studio man. The Western is a fascinating genre in that we can see it’s life played out across the decades from birth, the establishment of ground rules with Stagecoach in 1939, the form perfected by Ford and Hawkes in the 40s and 50s, torn apart by Leone and Peckinpah in the 60s and then it’s carcass picked over solemnly by Robert Altman and various other revisionists over the years including Eastwood himself on the other side of the lens.
So whilst every now and then you get someone still trying to make that post-Western Western that’s been done to death, actually the Coens are smart enough to know the best place to go is back to the heyday. This film is played right by the rulebook of the Golden Age but with the Coens trademark acerbic wit to make it all feel just modern enough. The fact this did such solid box office must have meant at least one memo got passed round the studios saying ‘Maybe we don’t need another Eddie Murphy movie. Why don’t we try something good?’.
This is the first Aronofsky film I’ve actually enjoyed. It being a mash-up of two faves of mine, Repulsion and The Red Shoes sure helps. Felt like a hint of Suspiria was lurking in the DNA too. Plus there’s the basic joy of seeing Mila Kunis go down on Natalie Portman. I mean, if you can’t appreciate that on at least some level, then really why the fuck do you go to the movies? I also loved going to a completely packed-out cinema to see a movie about BALLET.
I still get the feeling that Aronofsky doesn’t make movies as clever as he thinks they are, this feels like middle-brow pop-art being elevated to high art status merely by dint of the excrement surrounding it at the multiplex. And did we need another movie where EVERY female character was batshit nuts and the lone male character was super awesome and in control and all knowing and hey lets fuck? Um, this was meant to be a positive critique of the film. Well, let’s just say I did like it but with major caveats.