Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon
Grade: 4 (out-of-5)
Perhaps only artists as visionary and celebrated as the Coen brothers would dare remake a film as beloved as “True Grit” and not be met with a tsunami of bile.
Wisely, the Coens have decided not to reproduce or “reinvent” it, but rather go back to the source on which it was based, Charles Portis’ novel. The resulting picture is nothing short of a joy to behold.
This time, instead of The Duke, we have Jeff Bridges at his craggy, curmudgeonly best as lone-wolf Marshall Rueben “Rooster” Cogburn. Into his sagebrush-dusted life comes 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), who secures Cogburn to hunt the villain that killed her father and bring ‘em back alive.
That’s pretty much the story, but narrative contrivance isn’t what makes “True Grit” such a heart-swelling delight. It’s a mixture of spot-on, giddy performances, the lonely (but never oppressive) cinematography by Roger Deakins and, most importantly, it’s the Coens’ ace direction, milking mirth and rugged poetry out of every second of screen time. In theaters now. –Chris Alexander/Metro
Grade: 1 (out-of-5)
A mildly amusing comedy is now an insufferable franchise brought to new lows with “Little Fockers.” Not since “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” have so many stars combined forces to create the worst film of their careers. The only reason to buy a ticket for “Little Fockers” is to line the bank accounts of all of the celebrities involved in time for Christmas. In theaters now. –Phil Brown/Metro
Grade: 1 (out-of-5)
Jack Black’s latest film might be called “Gulliver’s Travels,” but the only things it shares with Jonathan Swift’s satire is the land of little people and a scene in which Gulliver uses his bladder to put out a fire. The movie is so misconceived that it’s hard to imagine even children being forgiving enough to find it entertaining. In theaters Saturday. –Phil Brown/Metro
Grade: 3 (out-of-5)
In Derek Cianfrance’s artfully shot indie, we watch as Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), a young married couple, drift further and further apart. Scenes of silent resentment and close-ups on tense jawlines are broken up by flashbacks of the blissful early days of their relationship — each vignette feeling like a stylish and dreamy music video. In theaters Dec. 31. –Tina Chadha/Metro
Oh, holy movie night!