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True Grit

A movie directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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4 stars : Retribution is coming

  • Dec 30, 2010

Watching the Coen Bros' "True Grit”, you are endowed with a strong sense of nostalgia you get this feeling that you are being told a story that you have heard over and over again through out your life as a child. A story that you grew up on that you have told your friends, acquaintances  your children and your grandchildren and now you are telling it your children and your grandchildren only this time the story that has been handed down to you from past generations has changed. Although not completely the characters are the same, the setting is the same the ferocious spirit of the story is still there but as you tell it to someone who has heard it before you suddenly feel different. You feel like the story is different yet somehow familiar  that is the effect that  the Coen Bros' updated adaptation of Charles Portis' famous 1968 classic novel instills in its viewer. The viewers that are  my fathers age and older who have had the opportunity to read the beloved classic novel and see the 1969 film adaptation starring John Wayne in the role that won him  his one and only Oscar for best actor in  a leading role. Remake or better yet reworking of the novel is what you would expect from the Coen Bros dark, gritty, intense, smartly written, and at times very funny. This reworking of the 1968 novel is not the '69 film starring  "The Duke"  this is the a new film starring the ever reliable  Jeff  "The Dude" Bridges in this film proves that he has true grit.

When you walk into "True Grit,” you take your seat and proceed to watch this film you sit there thinking that you have seen this all before. You have seen westerns with tough cowboys and a strong woman who tags along on there quest for vengeance or hires the rough and tough lawman to exact vengeance on the people or person who took away the one they loved. Well if you have seen "True Grit" than what I have just wrote is mostly true "True Grit" is at its core a revenge story a revenge story of a daughter who wants to exact it on the man who murdered her father. However, “True Grit" is much more than your A-typical western this film has great moments of wit and deep emotional conflict between the characters they laugh, they cry, they fight and bleed together. Over the course of this film Mattie Ross (Hailee Stienfeld), Eugene "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and the ever-bragging Texas Ranger LeBeouf (Matt Damon) bond and become sort of a dysfunctional family of sorts as they traverse the harsh plains to track down a killer named Chaney (Josh Brolin) the man who murdered Mattie Ross's father. What The Coen's do here is not imitate the 1969 film but more adapt the 1968 novel for which that film is made  they do not try to imitate Henry Hathaway's film but better yet try to improve on the story that was already there. They give this new film much needed depth of character and prowess they give these characters what they so lacked in the original film a sense of belonging in this world a sense of place. In the 1969 film the characters all just seemed to take a backseat to  "Rooster" Cogburn while LeBeouf  and Mattie Ross both played in the original film  by Glenn Campbell and Kim Darby  respectively were kind of sidelined and never really played to there fullest extent. With The Coen's version all three characters have there day and all three get to shine at one point or another. out of all the performances from this impressive cast I must note the one by young up and comer Hailee Stienfeld who gives an Oscar worthy performance as the young  highly intelligent and tenacious Mattie Ross. A girl with the inner strength of a world-hardened man yet at the same time has the innocence of the child that she is. Mattie is what most women aspire to be  she is strong, forceful and persuasive she does not take no for an answer  she is the kind of woman most men love to hate and allot of men want to love, but most of all she has one mission and one mission only: hunt down Tom Chaney and kill him. Hailee Stienfeld turns in a masterful performance, this is one of the greatest breakout performances I have ever seen a true work of true talent that surpasses all belief. "True Grit" is not just one of the best films of the year it is one of the best films of this new decade a film that not only surpasses the original sets itself up as an instant modern classic. That new generation of movie lovers can sit and watch in awe of its amazing grandeur and wonder this is filmmaking at its purest form at its most established. This is the kind of film that is the reason why people go to the movies in the first place why people love movies; this is a film for film lovers for those who love the old west this is the film for those who loved films and for those who love them still. This is the movie of the moment this is the film that restores the wounded, left for dead heart of the old west back to its former glory to its former power, "True Grit" is more than just your average western this is the consummate western for our times a film that literally redefines the meaning of what it is to be a western.

When you mention the word western peoples minds(those who are between the ages of 40-80) drift to the names of John Wayne, Glenn Ford and James Stewart however, after seeing "True Grit"   when  people utter the word western your minds will drift to the names Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Stienfeld, Barry Pepper and  Josh Brolin. For once, you have seen the Coen Bros rendition of the classic tale you will never look at westerns the same way again. You will never look at this classic tale the same way again. For this is not the same old story no, this is  the same old story told anew by the two directors who would know how to make it right  Joel & Ethan Coen, The Coen Brothers  the geniuses behind such revered classics such as "Fargo"(1995), "O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000),  "Barton Fink"(1991), "Intolerable Cruelty"(2003), "The Big Lebowski"(1998), "A Serious Man"(2009), "Blood Simple" and the critically acclaimed western classic "No Country for Old Men"(2007). The Coen Brothers are the most original, quirky and highly inventive filmmaker working in filmmaking to date. There delirious blend of intelligent wit, quirky dialogue and memorable characters have made the Coen Brothers two of the most original and innovative filmmakers to ever break loose. After two not so iconic films The Coen Brothers, return to top form in this gritty no holds bar western takes back the old west from its non-stop action, inane dialogue, dull characters and clichéd plots and stories. "True Grit" is a call back to the day when westerns were westerns and not stylish shoot 'em ups with good looking people pulling a six shooter and blowing away some punk who is just written to stand there and die no, this is a  western where the wilderness is as much a character as its iconic lead. This is a film where nothing is what it seems and no one can be trusted out in the wild untamed west The Coen Brothers show you this in all its grittiness and glory. This film not only changes the way you view the Coen's   but how you view the world of westerns they change the game complete taking this once lost genre to a whole new mainstream level of excellence that will never be surpassed.” True Grit" is a true masterpiece.

Jeff Bridges performance as Eugene "Rooster" Cogburn can be describe in only one word(sad to say I wish I could finish this critique of Jeff Bridges performance in one word) phenomenal. Bridges is one of cinemas most underrated talents for the last forty years Bridges has been nominated for four academy awards before finally winning his golden little statute at this years Oscar's for his masterful performance in the beautiful film "Crazy Heart"(2009) Bridges gas been hotter than ever he has two hit films in theaters. The sequel to the cult classic Disney science Fiction film “Tron" "Tron Legacy" and The Coen Brothers reworking of Charles Portis' classic western "True Grit.” Bridges' doesn't pull any punches as the drunk, fat old cuss "Rooster" Cogburn Bridges performance never one sided or limp  he is always in command and always rearing to go  jump head first into a gun fight without a single stitch of provocation. That is the kind of man "Rooster" is and that is the kind of man Bridges plays him out to be he never falters, he never compromises and he never caters to the audience if you like "Rooster" you like him if you hate him you hate him that is how it goes. "Rooster" is not the kind of character that you would find George Clooney playing  no, George Clooney(Who has worked with The Coen Bros. before) usually plays the smooth, charming  types who all he needs to do is give you a smile and say a few nice well planned out words and boom! You love him. But Bridges plays characters who in the beginning you have no idea what to think of them you don't know whether you can trust him or not or if you like  him or not . That is the kind of actor Bridges  the only time he has ever played a character I liked right off the bat was his portrayal of President Jackson Evans in Rod Lurie's political thriller "The Contender"(2000) for which he was nominated for his third Oscar. Bridges owns this movie this is his film to command and thanks to the Coen Brothers Oscar worthy script and equally Oscar Worthy, direction   they guide this legendary actor towards the little golden statue once again this is one of Jeff Bridges greatest performances in one of the best films of the last twenty years. Besides Bridges, phenomenal performance there is another actor in here who deserves serious Oscar consideration a young first timer named Hailee Stienfeld who portrays the young anti-heroine of this complex tale of revenge in the old west. Stienfeld is powerfully moving performance as Mattie Ross (the young girl determiner to find her father's killer and make him pay) is nothing short of sheer acting brilliance on the part of this very young actor. Stienfeld is able to hold her own with big dogs the likes of Bridges, Brolin, Damon and Pepper(in an excellent performance as "Lucky" Ned) dishing out one scene of powerful acting after another, after another, after another, after another  she is amazing in every way imaginable  that even Bridges and Damon almost shrink under the weight of her natural star power. She is such a forcefully powerful actress that even when scenes should come where here performance should falter Stienfeld is able to stand strong and tough it out until the end. Out of all the actors she is one of many that deserves the recognition that she is being Stienfeld is a natural. The rest of the cast including Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper all turn outstanding supporting performances in the western that proves that this genre is still alive and kicking.

Throughout my entire life (which has been considerably short), I have never have a fondness for western until I saw the film "3:10 to Yuma"(2007) that film changed how I viewed westerns entirely and since then I have had a soft spot for a really good western. Watching "True Grit “was like me being in a candy store I haven’t had this much fun since I saw” Tron Legacy, this is an amazing film funny, violent, sad, and poignant. “ True Grit,” in my opinion, is the Watchmen of westerns that defy belief from the very first scene this is the western for someone who would not be caught dead at a western. The Coen Brothers have created a world that exceeds the belief of the viewers and have constructed a film that defies expectations; "True Grit" has true grit.

4 stars : Retribution is coming

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December 30, 2010
Excellent review as always, some of this was filmed not to far from where I am at.
December 30, 2010
Thank you. and that's cool.
December 30, 2010
Sheesh, everyone's raving about this so much that I have to see it. Great review, man!
December 30, 2010
It is as great as everyone is saying it is this is one of the best films of the year and one of the best of the new decade. And thank you very much.
December 30, 2010
Definitely seeing it then!
December 30, 2010
Hey, Lady D, this one's hitting my 'best of 2010" list for sure. I am holding out until I see a few more Indie movies before I finalize the list first week January 2011. Hey, have you seen Black Swan and Rabbit Hole yet? Been trying to spread the word on them! Sam loved Black Swan! Seen her QT? Thanks!

Lopez, I just gave you some other movies I'd love for you to review! LOL!
December 30, 2010
I have been meaning to see "Black Swan" and "Rabbit Hole" I am hoping to get them in sometime this week or maybe the beginning of next year but I will be reviewing them.
December 30, 2010
Lopez, I'll probably go see THE KING'S SPEECH this weekend since Blue Valentine won't be playing in the Bay area until next year. I think you will enjoy Black Swan. Drop me a line when they're posted.
December 30, 2010
I did hear Sam rave about Black Swan. So did a bunch of Lunchers and a ton of my friends, too, so that's definitely on my to-see list!
December 30, 2010
Excellent breakdown. I loved the way you opened the review! Hey, nice line: "watchmen of westerns" Thanks, my friend! Happy New year!
December 30, 2010
Thank you, thank you very much. And Happy New year as well.
More True Grit reviews
review by . December 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I have no idea how many times I have stated the rules for filming a movie that remakes an iconic original. Well, if you’re one of those folks who’ve never read any of my reviews before, they are quite simple: 1) It must broaden the scope that is covered by the original film while adapting it for a much more modern audience. 2) It must follow the essence and the spirit of the said material (in this case the book). 3) It should pay homage to the source material and/or the original film.   …
review by . December 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Our Christmas movie this year was True Grit, which we saw in the late show Christmas night just before the first Christmas snow in Raleigh in 60 years shut down the town.  We followed that up with a viewing (my first!) of the 1969 original starring John Wayne and Glenn Campbell.      I recently read and reviewed Charles Portis's novel, which I rated +5 for Mattie Ross's spare language of guarded emotion that tells us more about her than pages of florid description …
review by . January 15, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Nothing in this world is free… except the grace of God.
With that, the movie begins.      Let me say this about movies. It is neither my lifeblood nor life passion. It is simply one form of entertainments for me. And since I moved to China a few years ago, I barely need to pay much for it. Believe me, very little, hehe...      So, I got my fair share of movies. Some good, some darn lousy. I don’t normally waste time writing the lousy ones. To me, they are not even worth a minute of my life writing about …
review by . February 15, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****     "True Grit" is the latest offering from the legendary geniuses that are the Coen Brothers, and upon finishing the film, I can't help but admit that I was indeed quite "wowed". I went into this film expecting no particularly big surprises; and left feeling provoked and shocked by just how different this film was; at least from what I expected it to be. But the second adaptation of "True Grit" is still a damn good one, and in a number of ways, I enjoy it …
review by . January 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Coen Brothers are not usually known for doing purely genre films.  There's usually a semblance of several genres mixed together when they do a film.  To see them do a purely western is something of a curiosity.  After all, there are reasons why a western, of all genres, might turn heads.  In the first place, it has been years since a fantastic western actually showed up in theaters (perhaps the last truly good one was the 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma), but more than that... …
review by . December 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   If you had asked me a month, maybe even a couple of weeks ago what my favorite film of the year was going to be, without hesitation I would have said Christopher Nolan’s Inception. I knew that Tron Legacy and True Grit were coming up, and I had a feeling that the latter had a good chance of making my top ten or even my top five, but I had no idea it had this great of a chance. In fact, it might just be giving Inception a good run for its money. This is one of my favorites of …
review by . December 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   The Western genre is a perennial of American cinema. Sometimes very popular, sometimes just sort of “there”, but never going away. In recent years we’ve seen Westerns like Unforgiven and 3:10 to Yuma, both of which are great examples of what the genre can do when it’s being worked by someone who really knows what they’re doing. Now to this list we can add True Grit, directed by the Coen Brothers. As with their other films, it’s not just a fine example …
review by . December 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Coen Brothers know their way around a film. That much has been established over the years. And after a few films that were not seen by too many, they return to the West, but this time around with the clock set back a few years.      True Grit is based of the 1968 novel of the same name. And while it shares its source material with the 1969 film that won John Wayne his only Oscar, it would be unfair to call this a remake. Lost is the tone of the previous film, it loses …
review by . December 29, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
There’s a scene in both versions of “True Grit” in which Deputy Marshall Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn tells fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross about his ex-wife and his son, who he hasn’t seen in years and expects to never see again. As portrayed by John Wayne in the original 1969 version, we see an actor delivering his lines. As portrayed by Jeff Bridges in the 2010 remake, we listen to his garbled, drunken inflections of speech and realize that he’s the full …
review by . December 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Or should that be "The DUKE" now?      He sleeps in the back of a Chinese Grocery, he gets so drunk he can't remember details during a trial and you'd be surprised that he can even ride his horse facing the right direction and risk looking like Dudley Do-Right but under that unshaven face with only one eye, those whiskey fueled synapses still fire and if you're on the wrong end of his Winchester, your a dead man.      The Coen's remake …
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C.R. Lopez ()
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True Grit is an upcoming 2010 Western film, written and directed by the Coen brothers and starring Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon. The film is an adaptation of the 1968 novel by Charles Portis which was previously adapted for film in 1969. Filming began on March 2010 with an anticipated release date of December 25, 2010.
Bridges will play U.S. Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn. The character was portrayed by John Wayne in the 1969 film, a performance which earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl, undertakes a quest to avenge her father's death at the hands of a drifter named Tom Chaney. Ross persuades an alcoholic marshal named Rooster Cogburn to join her in tracking down Chaney.
Ethan Coen said that the film will be a more faithful adaptation of the novel than the 1969 version.
“             It's partly a question of point-of-view. The book is entirely in the voice of the 14-year-old girl. That sort of tips the feeling of it over a certain way. I think [the book is] much funnier than the movie was so I think, unfortunately, they lost a lot of humour in both the situations and in her voice. It also ends differently than the movie did. You see the main character — the little girl — 25 years later when she's an adult. Another way in which it's a little bit different from the movie — and maybe this ...
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Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Western
Release Date: 22 December 2010 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 110 min
Studio: Paramount Pictures
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