Archive for the ‘Jeff Bridges’ Category

The Giver

08 Sep

The Giver — directed by Phillip Noyce. Sci-fi. 97 minutes Color 2014


The Story: A young man entrusted with the memory of the race decides to flout convention and save all humanity.


Everything depends upon the casting of the young man, and in this case he is perfect – Brenton Thwaites, a teenager by the look of him, with a big open expression and beautiful eyes like Dana Andrews’. So we can well believe in his ability to absorb the information he is called upon to receive and go on to care about his survival with it.

This information is imparted by a senior member of the community, and is played by Jeff Bridges. It is the part of a man who knows everything, and the peril in such parts is that one can sound mantic. Or make noises like a stone dog. That is to say, be Alec Guinness. Bridges skirts this canyon and tousles the young man as he transmits the info, so we see he is rather more warm-minded than the rest of the community, from which all feeling has been drained by daily injections and by a sternly regulated diction. Katie Holmes plays the young man’s mother, and she is a vision that would have won Charles Addams’ heart. His father is the local executioner, which would have won his other heart.

For what we have here is a dystopia. A dystopia is a utopia, a utopia is always a dystopia, all utopias being dystopias because all utopias, having been formed for the most noble and humane purposes, insist on certain humorless excisions, and so all go to the bad.

The monitor of this nation is Meryl Streep, who plays her role of the bad lady with a technical purity that is a source of wonder and surprise with every breath she draws and every word she utters. She regulates a nation from which all color and all love have been banished.

In the story, the young man wakens to the deprivations this nation lives under as he learns of them through the transmissions of The Giver, Bridges, a physical encyclopedia of all past human and natural history. And somehow the young man must escape and save humanity from the wreckage of the future.

I enjoyed the adventure and all the sci-fi effects. Indeed, the effects are the chief value of sci-fi. They guarantee and deliver magic. The Giver story is told in a series of beautiful montages that sweep us forward and keep us abreast of The Lost Horizon we are learning about and from. Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a sci-fi play. Meryl Streep transports herself with no more difficulty than Ariel. For special effects have an honored and ancient place in commanding our sense of wonder, fortunate deliverance, and heavenly visitation every time. If you don’t think those are real in real life, your sense of reality may be stunted. Effects are the wand to remind us of the power and influence of the impalpable.

Comments Off on The Giver

Posted in Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep: ACTING GODDESS, Sci-Fi, SURVIVAL DRAMA


The Men Who Stare At Goats

09 Apr

Men Who Stare At Goats — directed by Grant Heslov. Comedy. Mind control, the paranormal and such rise up in the military and take over. 96 minutes Color 2009.


The Men Who Stare At Goats is a drollery. For me, what’s funny in it is how seriously every actor plays his part in a piece that demonstrates that the Sixties never went away. Clooney gives a creamy performance as a talented psychic in training, and the more earnest he is, the funnier he is. I did not laugh out loud. But I was amused out loud. I smiled in the dark, and that was enough. Yes, the Sixties, which were trashed by lentils and dope and a lack of a sense of humor – a condition for which George Carlin was the antidote that never took. I like this movie. Get high on acid and set everyone free is its prescription. It would work, if what life needed was a prescription. Ewan McGregor plays the credulous reporter tagging along and overtly cowardly and incorrect at every point, and therefore believable. It’s wise casting, since everyone else in the cast is around 50. You don’t want a boy in that role; what you want is a failed writer in his middle thirties. We also have big-hearted Jeff Bridges as the teacher of the psychics, and he is no end of entertainment. Kevin Spacey plays the Basil Rathbone part of the venomous villain, with his usual peculiar comic quirk. I had no expectations of this piece when I entered the theatre: I found it to be a delicious slice of tart pie.


True Grit

22 Jan

True Grit – written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen – Western. Seeking revenge, an adolescent girl hires two conflicting agents and accompanies them on the quest for a low-life killer. 110 minutes Color 2010.

* * * * *

As with all the Coen boys’ works, the excellence of the piece depends upon the writing, and this one sure does. It’s set forth in the style that omits verbal conjunctions. No one says “it’s”; everyone says “it is”. This gives the work the elevated tone of fable, and if we were reading it we would be reading a dime Western of the day. The second stylistic trick is to write it in lingo. The lower class types speak in a vernacular completely fabricated by themselves, while the educated  speak in fancy locutions, such that they do not say “leave” whenever they can say “depart”. In both cases the audience is faced with the task of translating English into English. And translation is a formal task and we take it on readily enough. For that task immediately produces in the audience a respect for the material, that is to say, a standing back from it to regard it, and this is a proper and pleasing thing to do. It both distances us and engages us at the same time. And no point does it fail to entertain us, for two reasons. First the narrative is so beguiling, by which I mean the way the directors handle what-happens-next of the story. The journey through the Indian wilderness is one instance and the rescue at the end is another, and it is so all the way through, making it one of the very best pieces these boys have ever given us. When we are done we know we have seen a movie worth seeing. The second ingredient is the performance of a very well cast cast. Jeff Bridges clobbers his way through the thicket of dirty beard, tobacco, booze, and one good eye to bring forth that cantankerous geezer we’ve all met, all remember, and would not wish to spend a lot of time with. Hailie Steinfeld plays the righteous adolescent (think of Katherine Hepburn aged 14), who does have to spend a lot of time with him. James Brolin, as the target of the revenge, is marvelous in his few scenes, particularly in the middle of a river facing off against her. And Matt Damon, the humorless Texas Ranger, plays his role like an Eagle Scout On A Mission For A Merit Badge, which is just right, for it makes him look like a fool. For fooling us is a Coen Bros’. stock in trade. We are even fooled by that bear-headed medicine man we meet. I suppose the Coen Brothers are a bear-headed medicine man themselves. They sure are The Brother Grim. And they sure do entertain us here.


Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button