Tag Archive: annette bening


Do You Have Grit?

Family Movie Night

A few months ago my husband asked what is the latest western to be made that was a good movie.

Robert Duvall, Annette Bening and Kevin Kostner in "Open Range," image from IMDB.com.

If you had asked me then, I would have said “Open Range” starring Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner. The time period is the old west when men could still move their herd of cattle to graze without worrying about property lines. However, times are changing and a land baron wishes to teach these old timers a lesson.

While the movie is rated “R” for violence and perhaps not the kid friendliest because of that and its length, I find it beautiful and lyrical. It is a slow moving story and yet I am gripped by the beauty of it all. Duvall and Costner work well off of each other while Annette Bening glows as the sister of the local doctor. She is older than most women and shows her age. But her grace and heart willing to love is on simple display.

Had you asked me before Saturday, I would have said that movie. But then the husband and I watched “True Grit” starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld.

Movie Poster image from IMDb.com.

It has been years since I have last seen the original so there was nothing former to compare. Relieved of that burden, I sat back an enjoyed a superbly made movie that is moves into the darker aspects

of the west. Men formed gangs and happily robbed others. They thought nothing of shooting each other and knowing that retribution would more than likely not be delivered to them.

We see this in Tom Chaney as played by Josh Brolin. We see this in Rooster Cogburn and LaBoeuf as they argue who has grit and who did more wrong during the civil war. But lets talk about Haille Steinfeld.

This young girl puts in a bravura performance as a young girl who has been in an adult role for some time.

Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit," image from IMDb.com.

She runs the family, not her mother. And she can bargain with the best of them. But Steinfeld also allows the little girl to show when when she collects her father’s personal effects. Her eyes glows as she remembers the man and finds a way to make his hat fit on her smaller head.

It is her idealism that allows her to make the decision to hire a man to capture her father’s killer. It is that sense of justice owed to her father that makes her deal with Cogburn and LaBouef. She is constantly wrangling and bargaining. Make me wonder if this girl (Mattie, not Hailee) was ever given a chance to simply play.

Probably not.

As the story movies on, we see that she is made of a stern of stuff as the two lawmen. They may not have wanted her around on this mission but they take her when there is no choice and become appreciative of her lack of ‘missus’ behavior. Damon and Bridges work well together as two men who cannot stand each other but have a common goal. It was a joy watching them work off of each other.

This is not a kid movie. The rating is PG-13 for intense sequences such as a hanging and several gun fights. I would allow middle school age and older to watch this one although my husband and I did it as a “date night’ at home.

Sherrif Woody and Buzz from "Toy Story," Image from IMDb.com.

If seeing a western with the kids is what you want to do with the kids, I would suggest Toy Story. Maybe it is not a western with cowboys and indians but it has many of those themes. And besides, who doesn’t love Sheriff Woody?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Celebrate!

Image from IMDb.com

Next week, this time we will be on the second leg of summer. Fireworks will have been spent and the flags will hang while waiting for a breeze.

This week, we need to celebrate. Hang that flag, fluff out those red, white and blue planters. Desserts at picnics will include cookies with red, white and blue icing. My favorite is the coolwhip cake that has strawberries and blueberries making a flag.

So what should you watch if the rain comes and forces everyone in the house?

The first movie on my list (surprise, surprise) is National Treasure starring Nicholas Cage, Justin Bartha and Diane Kruegar. Cage has been following a crazy dream of his family’s that involves a treasure of the ages hidden by the founding fathers who were masons. OK, so the plot sounds a little crazy and convoluted. But think of the places these guys visit. The Smithsonian, Jefferson’s Memorial, the Liberty Bell, Trinity Church. All are treasured historical places, all have deep meaning to the founding of our country.

When Cage waxes poetic on the founding fathers, you know it is something the character truly believes. Plus, this is a movie that all members of the family can watch.

Image from IMDb.com

There are a variety of movies that explore the various fights for freedom. Many of them are not appropriate for younger children due to the level of violence they contain. One example is The Patriot starring Mel Gibson which has an “R” rating. The story is about a retired soldier who is avoiding service in the army as the Declaration of Independance. After his second oldest son is killed, Gibson joins the fight by teaching his group guerilla tactics that were initially disruptive to the Gentlemen warriors of King George’s army.

Jason Issacs is perhaps one of the best villians in this movie as the brutal Gen. Tarlington. But keep in mind that this movie is not historically accurate. Tarlington did not do all of these evil deeds although the real guy was truly hated by his own side.  

Image from IMDb.com

Now for a movie with all of the bells and whistles of Americans standing up to invading forces how about Independence Day? When forces from the sky decide to invade or country, it will take a number of people to take back the country including the president as portrayed by Bill Pullman, scientist Jeff Goldblum and fighter pilot Will Smith. See this movie on the biggest screen you can find and understand that the movie is loud. Very loud.

Would you expect anything less as planes zoom over New York and the ‘rebels’ find their way to Area 51 to fight off the space invaders? I hape not because you know there are spectacular explosions and sad deaths taht will have you crying.

Image from IMDb.com

Finally, I share this last suggestion because I do believe words are as  powerful as action. And I believe that it is ok to hae emotions. You can see The American President for the romantic dramedy that it is. Or you can see it for the serious treatise on American politics that it dips the toes into being. There is a lot to love in this movie. Annette Bening, Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen, Richard Dreyfus. They might play the game from different end but they play it for the same reason – love of country.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.