Monday, December 27, 2010

True Grit

I am a fan of the Coen Brothers but even if you aren't, their latest offering, True Grit, is a great movie.

My wife and I wanted to see a movie.  We heard the Coen Brothers remake of John Wayne's 1969 movie True Grit was good.  That 's a huge underestatement.

The Coen Brothers are true to their reputations as the best film makers around.  This is much more than a western.  The cinematography is phenominal, the acting is superb and the music, as usual, makes the movie.

Jeff Bridges is not the Dude from the Big Lebowski in this film.  He is rough, crude, solvenly and thinking about himself first.  OK that also describes the Dude, but you have to see his performance to see what I mean.  He brings something extra to a part that John Wayne won an Oscar for.  Like Wayne's character, you both loath and like him all at once. 

The newcomer who plays Mattie Ross, the 14 year old who hires Rooster Cogburn to avenge the death of her father, is perfect.  She is tough but still 14.  Her command of the fine art of haggling when selling back the horses her father bought before his untimely death, made me laugh. 

The cast is rounded out by Matt Damon and Josh Brolin.  Both provide substantial support to the lead actors and make the movie fun to watch. 

Like most Coen Brothers movies the dialogue is key to the success of the movie.  It's rich without being confusing.  It is believeable but at the same time it seems period correct.  Some of the idioms sound out of place in the 21st century, but they seem right at home in the late 1800s. 

The other thing the Coen Brothers do so well, and it is perfect in this movie, is the setting for the scenes.  You feel like you are there more than other movies.  The visual pleasure of this movie really lends a lot to the story.  The characters are dirty but not clownish, the inside of the dugout they bust into is rough but you believe someone in the 1800s would live there.  It doesn't look made up, it looks real, and so does the rest of the movie.

The Coen Brothers have also managed to bring something new to this classic.  Their interpretation of True Grit is much fuller than the original but there are a few nods to the original that bring a familiarity to their movie. There is the scene where Rooster Cogburn falls off his horse, Rooster and Mattie lay in wait for the bad guys outside the dugout and the famous scene where Rooster Cogburn rides toward 4 bad guys with both guns blazing.  All these scenes are both familiar and yet have somthing new.  In each there is a new twist that makes the scene.

This is one of the best westerns I have seen.  I highly recommend it to everyone over the age of 16.  There isn't any cussing, no nudity and the bloodshed isn't excessive, but when it is there it is real.  You feel like this could have happened a few years ago.

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