Sunday, January 02, 2011

True Grit

Happy New Years everyone. It's that time of the season again to start endlessly speculating on the Oscar picks for this year. It's the second day of January and again I am behind on my Oscar Watch movies. The nominations are not in yet but I feel confident that I'm at least 5 or 6 movies behind. Thankfully over the Christmas break I was able to catch up a little bit. So far this year I've seen: The Social Network (It's a Relativity title so sorry guys no review), The Town, Toy Story 3 and Inception and of course now I've seen True Grit. Over the next month I'm going to try to see and review Black Swan, The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, and I still haven't had the chance to see the Fighter (Also a Relativity title), but I have heard great things about the flick, so I'm really looking forward to seeing this one soon. The Globe nominations came out recently and has given us an inkling about the Oscars although these nominations seem to indicate even more that bribery is the best way to get a nod. Apparently True Grit has not campaigned hard enough so therefore it got completely snubbed for everything. I wanted to know what was wrong with the movie to warrant such a blatant snub. I've got one word for you---nothing.
I know what your thinking, especially if you are a classic western fan, why remake a movie with the great John Wayne who by the way won an Oscar for his performance in said movie. I thought it was crazy too, until I saw it and I was pretty damn impressed. I'll admit I've never been a big fan of the Duke, I've been more of a Clint Eastwood fan myself. The annoying pauses always took me out of it--felt like the guy was trying too damn hard. But he is iconic for sure and before you Wayne fanatics try to lynch me, understand that his Rooster Cogburn is pretty fantastic and unique. That being said Jeff Bridges, who plays Rooster in the new version, makes him even more of a drunk rascal as only Bridges can. He is also fantastic and a source of great enjoyment for me as I watched the film. But unlike the original he is not the main attraction it is actually Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) the 14 year old girl who is looking to get Justice for the senseless murder of her father by the outlaw Tom Cheney (Josh Brolin). She's got a sharp tongue and perplexes almost all of the men she encounters in the film. She's smart and she's got guts and she isn't going to be pushed around even in one of the most dangerous territories in the west. She hires Rooster Cogburn an honorable drunk Marshall who has the habit of killing the men he's instructed to bring in for Justice. They are joined by a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who has been tracking Cheney for the past few months. They make an unlikely trio but they try to survive Indian territory and the harsh winter weather in order to track down the outlaw. It shows this western world to be a harsh and dangerous country but it is complimented greatly by excellent cinematography and an even greater cast. If this young Steinfeld is robbed of a nomination for the Oscars like she was for the Globes then it should be considered a mockery of the awards process(Eh, who am I kidding it's already pretty fucked up). She absolutely surprised me with her performance right out of the gate. Never saw the girl before but she impressed me greatly. The film kind of ends abruptly but I'm not sure how it could have ended any differently. Some may be disappointed in the lack of elaborate action and sparse gun battles but I thought that it laid out an even pace along with the performances to keep me pleasantly satisfied. I can say easily this is by far one of my favorite Coen brother films right up there with my favorite of them all the Big Lebowski.
Overall True Grit is not exploring anything that we haven't seen in Westerns before but it highlights the most important aspect of Western life, that in my mind which is what makes it so interesting. The vast loneliness and isolation that can cause a normal man to take even temporary leave of his senses. The lawless nature of men in a place where Justice and Law are difficult to find and are sometimes found in men who are perceived as cruel and without societal merit. Always interesting parallels. If you haven't seen this one do so as soon as possible you won't be disappointed.

Grade 4 Buckets


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