Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Movie Review - True Grit and our heroic critic gets a little heretical

So, the blessed John Wayne won a well deserved Oscar for his Rooster Cogburn back in 1969 and Jeff Bridges didn't for his reprise of the role in the Coen Brothers remake in 2011. Is that fair. probably not, does it matter? Not to me, but it did set me a'thinking.

Not about individual performances but about the evolution of film-making. The fact is that, as with so many things, improved technology and technique have made today's movie makers better, by and large than their forebears. It makes sense, people evolve, we learn, we adapt, we improve, indeed we strive to improve, and very few films from 40 years ago (if we're honest) truly stand the test of time.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the original True Grit but I'm not scared to utter this heretical thought, I think I enjoyed this one more. The camera work is better, the characterisation is better, my expectations are higher, the lass playing Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld) is truly excellent and Matt Damon is in a role which could have gone very badly for him, however, he plays it really well.

The Coen brothers make great movies, they're better directors than Henry Hathawey, not necessarily through natural talent but because they've 40 years and many thousands of movie man-hours of experience to tap into and use. Technology is better too. We look with affection and nostalgia at the cars, planes and trains of 40 years ago but we'd not really want to go far in them, stuff is generally better today and, in my humble opinion, this film is better.

There, I said it, and I enjoyed it. I used to enjoy the clean and shiny cowboy world of Rawhide, the Virginian, the High Chaparaal, the Big Country, the Magnificent Seven and High Noon but the gritty, smelly,grubby, snaggle-toothed, brutal, violent and unpleasant representation of a frontier reality (which peaked with Unforgiven) is very real here and absolutely works for me.

To be fair though, it's not for everyone and the delightfully dozy somnambulist who claims the role of current Mrs Stuffy did drift off during one of the critical scenes but if you like a classic western set in beautiful scenery and you like good writing and you enjoy great direction and you appreciate talented acting then...

1. You're not my wife, (lucky you) and
2. You'll enjoy True Grit

A gritty, grubby,grimy, grand haiku

Oscar also-ran
But Stuffy's a Coen fan
So "Ned, fill your hand"


At 1:07 pm, Blogger MarkMcL said...

Talking of "snaggle-toothed" I enjoyed Fargo but was disconcerted by the fact that every single character seemed to be dentally challenged. Don't they have orthopedic dentistry in The Coen Brothers (tm) files?


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