jeudi 30 décembre 2010

The Coen Brothers nail it with True Grit



As we left the movie theater the other night after seeing the Coen Brothers' rendition of True Grit (I am not going to call it a remake, so there), I was feeling the happy buzz one gets when one has no particular expectations and they are wildly surpassed. It isn't that I expected the Coen Brothers to do a bad job, they never do, or that I was worried their True Grit would not be as good as the first movie version, the John Wayne vehicle made in 1969. In fact, I never much liked the 1969 movie, perhaps because I never much liked John Wayne. It seemed he was always in the boring movies that played at the Burien Theater, the ones that dominated the Saturday matinée line-up. You know, like The Sands of Iwo Jima. I never liked his voice much or his looks. Somewhere, I once saw a photo of him wearing short shorts. I think it had to do with rumors about his sexual orientation. I have been unable to locate the photo since, but I found a website forum devoted to a discussion of his manhood in which a poster refers to this famous photo. He couldn't relocate it either.
The forum is hilarious, by the way. Lots of trite statements such as "He was a man's man" on one side and "Of course he was gay" on the other.
I didn't hate the first attempt to bring True Grit to the screen, and it was Wayne's best role, in my opinion. He played a bit against type and he was getting old. But Kim Darby as Mattie Ross just did not work. For one thing, she was too old at 21 to play a 14-year old. And Mattie Ross's wisdom beyond her youth is central to the story. She has true grit and she eventually brings it out in the other two.
So back to the present. We were leaving the movie theater and Walt said, with disappointment, "that was good but it wasn't so much about Rooster Cogburn." He said this just as I was thinking, with elation, "that was good because it wasn't about Rooster Cogburn." What makes the Coen Brothers' rendition so winning is that they have stayed truer to the story and made it about Mattie, told from her point of view. And after looking at more than 15,000 aspiring Mattie Rosses, they cast Hailee Steinfeld in the role. She is 14. And she gives a commanding performance. Her partners, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, are outstanding as well. And to their credit, they treat her as an equal acting partner and not a child. It shows through in the resulting film.
Whenever a Coen Brothers movie comes out, people debate over whether it is a "major" or a "minor" Coen Brothers. I don't get involved too much in these debates. I have liked almost everything they have done, even Intolerable Cruelty. No matter what story they are telling, they know how to write dialogue and shape plot and they film beautifully. Their movies are beautiful to look at. In addition, the casting for the minor roles is always perfect, with some great faces and voices. The opening scene of True Grit is beautiful to look at. Just the camera pointed at a boarding house in the dark, with the voiceover of the mature Mattie Ross. It isn't until the end that the eye is drawn to a dead body lying on the ground below the steps. It's a small thing, but a beautiful thing. And the scene near the end, where Rooster carries the injured Mattie to safety on the back of her horse Blackie, is almost like an animated fairy tale. The night, the prairie, the little house in the woods. Beautiful.
It's major Coen Brothers.

dimanche 26 décembre 2010

Maureen Dowd meets Patti Smith


I have nothing to add to what she said.
Walt and I saw Patti read from her book in Seattle last year. She is magical; she is mystical; she is ageless and full of grace. She's what I want to be when I get older.

jeudi 23 décembre 2010

Livraison avant Noël



A Elisabeth, maman de Mathilde, ainsi qu'à toute sa famille, nous vous souhaitons un Joyeux Noël! On vous a envoyé un paquet cadeau ce matin à midi. Le paquet est parti en bon état et nous espérons qu'il vous arrivera en pleine forme! Le voici hier soir avec son nouveau tapis de yoga. Namaste!

lundi 20 décembre 2010

Mon jardin d'hiver



C'est pas triste, ça?

Demain, c'est la nuit la plus longue de l'année. Après, les nuits se raccourcissent petit à petit... Décembre, le mois le plus redouté (et redoutable?) de l'année. Il fait froid, le manque de soleil est pesant et cruel. La grisaille quoi. Les grises mines. Les âmes grises aussi. Tout le monde semble avoir le cafard, ce mélange néfaste de tristesse et de déprime. On a envie de ne rien faire, de tout faire mais ailleurs. Bon, c'est mieux que la pluie de novembre. Demain, c'est aussi la pleine lune. C'est rare de voir coïncider la pleine lune et le solstice d'hiver. Soyons joyeux! Plus rarissime encore, l'alignement terre/lune/soleil qui produit les éclipes est également prévu pour demain, le 21 décembre 2010.


jeudi 2 décembre 2010

Calendrier de l'Avent

Le nôtre est rempli de petites friandises.
Maintenant, il ne nous reste plus que 23 jours d'attente!
Avec une chanson pour chaque jour (il faut cliquer sur le titre).

mercredi 1 décembre 2010

Noir Désir n'est plus

After Téléphone, Noir Désir was France's most popular rock group. Its musical career was abruptly cut short when lead singer Bertrand Cantat "accidentally" killed his then companion, actrice Marie Trintingant, in Vilnius (Lithuania), where she was shooting a made-for-television film. He only wanted to shake her up a bit, according to Cantat, but unfortunately her head came into contact with the heavy metal radiator in their hotel room and she died, presumably while Cantat slept.




This happened in July 2003 and Cantat was tried, found guilty and sentenced in Lithuania to eight years of prison, from which he was conditionally released in late 2007. Marie Tritingant's parents, devastated by her death and what they considered to be overly lenient punishment for Cantat, were not happy when Cantat was let out early for good behavior. Since then, he has quietly pursued his interrupted musical career. But the band's recent "retour sur scène" did not sit well with some observers (myself included). I was not really surprised to hear that the guitarist Serge Teyssot-Gay had decided to leave the group, citing "la situation d'indécence qui caractérise la situation du groupe depuis plusieurs années" in addition to musical, emotional and human discord with Cantat. Ouf! I'm glad someone said it! This statement was followed a day or two later by one from the drummer, who said he was speaking for two other members of the group, announcing the end of Noir Désir.

Did I mention that Bernard Cantat was actually married to or living long term with another woman when he met Marie Tritingnant? Her name was Kristina Rady. In January of this year, she hung herself while Bertrand Cantat slept upstairs in the house they were apparently sharing. She was found by one of the couple's children. If I remember correctly, she stood by her man throughout the aftermath of Marie Tritingnant's death, and even went so far as to state that he had never, ever been phsycially violent with her, though others contested this, insisting that she had complained of physical violence in the past.




The whole thing is incredibly sordid and sad. I don't feel pity for Bertrand Cantat, but I do wonder where one goes from here. How does a person continue on from such a dark place? Is there any possibility of redemption? What kind of Act Three would not be indécent?