Thursday, December 30, 2010

Well, that didn't pan out.

True Grit

Everyone knows that I adore the films of the Coen brothers. In the film class I teach, at least three movies each semester are Coen brothers' movies. These filmmakers just represent mastery of the art. So with great excitement and high hopes, I immersed myself in the new remake of True Grit. I saw the original when I was a little kid, though I have never read the book, and the advanced word was that the new movie would be much more closely follow the book than the original movie. None of that matters.

What matters is that the Coen brothers have masterfully constructed a new classic Western. The Coens' longtime cinematographer Roger Deakins has left his thumbprint all over this film, shooting the gorgeous but stark landscape in glorious beauty and with careful attention to lighting and shot composition.

The acting in True Grit left me in awe. Of course Jeff Bridges gives one of his best performances as the codger marshall Rooster Cogburn. He grunts and grumbles, makes us laugh, makes us think. Matt Damon adds a great of deal of comic relief, and plays his Texas Ranger with great skill. Josh Brolin has a superb ten minutes of screen time as the killer that Cogburn is tracking. But the standout is newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who delivers her lines with intentionally stilted brilliance. As Mattie Ross, the girl who hires Cogburn to track her father's killer, Steinfeld gives a star-making and Oscar-worthy performance. For a young actor to get her big break acting for the Coen brothers must be a dream come true, and Hailee Steinfeld will be a big star.

Much has been made in the reviews I've read that this isn't really as much a "Coen brothers" movie (with all the connotations that term brings) as justa really well-made Western. Well, first of all, enough quirky characters and scenes populate this film that it is definitely Coen-like in that way. But most importantly, True Grit is a beautifully shot, stunningly acted, highly comical, thought-provoking commentary not only on life, death, and justice, but also on the Western genre.

In its excellence, True Grit is most definitely a "Coen brothers film."


At 3:28 PM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

I'm hoping to go see this tonight! Glad to hear Damon does a good job -- he struck me as an odd choice for a Texas Ranger, but that could probably be said for a lot of actors playing that role while sharing screen time with Bridges and Brolin.

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous posited...

The language was lyrical - poetic almost. I LOVED it.
I look forward to seeing this movie again and again.
:) cindy

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Jason Nabors posited...

Great line. Well, that didn't pan out.


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