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Normal service is resumed, or at least as normal as things get around here, as the gang converge on their targets of True Grit, Paul and The Fighter.
True Grit represents the Coen Brothers take on the novel whose last cinematic translation earned John Wayne an Oscar. It's left to Jeff Bridges to fill Wayne's boots, a task he's more than capable of. Allowed to show more weakness than Wayne's version, he produces a more compelling version than the '69 vintage in a film that's going to be very familiar to anyone that's seen the original. Matt Damon provides solid support, but the standout performance comes from young Hailee Steinfield. Not convinced it ought to be in Oscar contention, but it's an enjoyable film and well worth your time.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up again in Paul, a road trip movie of two Sci-Fi fans on a tour of American UFO hotspots who pick up an unexpected hitch hiker - Paul, an alien on the run from the government goons out to recapture him. Superbad and Adventureland director Greg Mottola is behind the camera, rather than the duo's usual collaborator Edgar Wright, and while he's hardly disgraced himself Paul isn't quite up to the standards of everyone involved's prior work. The interplay between Pegg and Frost is a little flat, the CG is underwhelming and number of the gags are reasonably obvious Sci-Fi parody targets. That said, Paul is still consistently amusing, if not outright hilarious, and is certainly recommended to either fans of the genre or Pegg and Frost's prior outings.
The second of the Oscar botherers covered in this podcast comes in the shape of The Fighter. Mark Wahlberg steps into the shiny dressing gown and boxing gloves of "Irish" Micky Ward, who as we join him is struggling with a mediocre career under the training of his crack-addled brother Dicky (Christian Bale) and management of his mother. After a few disastrous bouts, and his brother getting himself thrown in gaol, he jacks the sport in only to regain his confidence and form after an intervention from his spirited new girlfriend (Amy Adams). What follows is a reasonably standard issue sporting underdog story, mixed with a sizeable side order of relationship drama involving Ward's almost comically dreadful family. While I found it a little difficult to connect to the characters, and the narrative may be familiar, it's solidly and punchily told, with a few brutal in-ring action scenes. The main draw must be the central acting performances, with Wahlberg, Adams and Bale giving terrific, endlessly watchable performances that elevate the movie from something competently enjoyable to something that's well worthy of your time.
That is all for now. We'll be back sometime soon, so until then keep your nose clean and if you can't be good, be lucky.