Hereafter – Movie Review

Hereafter - Movie poster

Hereafter is a Clint Eastwood movie that doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. It doesn’t lead you in the pretense of it being a deep philosophical movie about our existence and what comes after we stop existing on Earth, etc.

The opening scene of the movie is movie-making at its best. If you’re not hooked on this when the first scene ends, then you must rewatch it.

The movie follows the lives of three characters. Cecile De France portrays Mary Lelay, a French journalist, had a close call with death while on a trip and is still haunted by what she went through. Marcus, a British teenager, loses his identical twin brother. George Lonegan (Matt Damon) doesn’t see dead people, but he can communicate with them, much to his discomfort. It’s a “gift” he decides not to use anymore, but eventually he comes to learn that you can’t escape it. Why? because everyone seeks answers.

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The Adjustement Bureau – Movie Review

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, is a movie that tackles mainly the theme of free will and fate. Do we have them both or are we simply adjusted to believe we do?

Matt Damon stars as David Norris, a young politician with dreams of becoming a senator, the youngest senator, in fact, that New York has known. On the night of the elections, he meets Elise (Emily Blunt) and sparks fly. Time goes on (and you are going to have many time jumps in this) and David encounters Elise serendipitously while going on the bus to work. However, it is revealed that he shouldn’t have gotten on the bus. He shouldn’t have met Elise again. He should have spilled coffee on his shirt while going through the park on his way to take the bus and gone back up to his apartment to change it. And so, it is revealed to David Norris the existence of an adjustment bureau that makes sure things go according to the plan set forth by the “Chairman” and according to his plan, David should not be with Elise.

Damon and Blunt have remarkable onscreen chemistry. I was surprised to see their characters blend so well together and on top of the “philosophical” aspect of this sci-fi movie, present us with a credible portrayal of a romantic relationship that transcends the obstacles thrown at it.

I appreciated The Adjustment Bureau. But I thought it lacked in punch. The issue discussed by the movie, free-will, is at the heart of many studies that are taking place today. Therefore, the premise upon which this movie is built is highly interesting, however I thought the execution rendered it meaningless and corny. The movie jumps around a lot, especially in time. You’d expect a movie to have one time jump. This movie has a bunch of them: 3 months here, 3 years there… so in this one hour and a half movie, you are taken almost through 4 years of events, all centered around the attempt to build this relationship between David and Elise, ultimately becoming a little tired of them trying to make it work.

What hurts the movie as well is a definite lack of mystery. Almost everything is revealed in the first twenty minutes and the rest of the time the characters are simply reacting to those twenty minutes. It is revealed that David’s family all died and in many instances of the movie, it is inferred that the bureau might have had a hand in their deaths. Why wasn’t the issue pressed further? There are a lot of points in The Adjustment Bureau that feel underdeveloped. Even the bureau itself loses this element of mystery because you know almost everything about it early on.

The Orwellian issue has been often discussed in cinema. And while I think it is a highly interesting topic that needs to be discussed even more and in other fields, I feel that The Adjustment Bureau doesn’t add anything new to the discussion, making it an enjoyable movie that comes off at times as kind of preachy. It does have interesting visual effects though. I mean, a door opening in your bathroom that takes you to central park is neat, no?

True Grit – Movie Review

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of westerns. Telling the story of a one-eyed Marshall helping a young girl to find her dad’s murderer, the movie transcends the Western stereotype I have come to associate with similar movies and found it to be a really enjoyable movie at that.

The Coen brothers’ remake of the 1969 original movie is remarkable, currently nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards with its lead actor and actress nominated for their roles as well.

I will not go into the plot of the movie apart from painting out a general picture. Marshall Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) is hired by 14 year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) to kill her father’s murderer. On their path, they meet up with a Texas ranger La Boeuf (Matt Damon) and together, the continue on their path to find the murderer, overcoming many hurdles.

What is really interesting in the movie is the community they are living in. I’m not sure how accurate a representation the movie is of a 19th century American Western community but the way law was enforced back then is quite fascinating. It it what moves the characters: their will to see justice enforced, regardless of how we currently view justice to be. Do you believe Mattie’s pursuit to kill her dad’s murderer is justified? or is she a hate-blinded fourteen year old? Do you believe Marshall Cogburn is a ruthless man who only seeks money or is he a compassionate person who really wants to see the killer brought to justice?

Jeff Bridges delivers a very strong performance. I cannot draw comparisons to his role in “Crazy Heart” which garnered him an Academy Award. But I have to say, I thought this was a more engaging performance. He delivers his sharp dialogue with a brilliant efficiency, helping the movie in its slow moments. Moreover, his embodiment of the “father-figure” for Mattie is filled with subtle nuances which make him assuming this role quite enjoyable to watch.

The breakthrough here, however, is the amazing Hailee Steinfeld. To say this teenager shines as Mattie Ross is the understatement of the year. Nominated for a supporting actress at the Academy Awards, I believe she belongs in the leading actress category. She is the movie. She is the main acting-driving force. Young as she might be, the other two men rarely do something without her approval – and it isn’t because she’s paying them. She portrays a very strong character and does so marvelously. In my opinion, her acting is the highlight of the movie.

All in all, True Grit might not be my favorite movie this year – especially with all the high-caliber movies that have been released. But True Grit excels at what it’s meant to be: provide an enjoyable Western movie that helps break out the misconceptions some people might have about the genre, while serving as a vehicle for its acting personnel to shine. Look out for a possible Hailee Steinfeld upset at the Oscars this year.