Monday, January 31, 2011

A Year of Film part 4- True Grit

Viewed 1/28/11

"True Grit" is one of those movies that people say you have to watch before the Oscars. I don't watch the Oscars, but I did anyway.

And what can I say? A film by the Coen brothers is difficult to talk about for a few reasons including their monolithic film integrity, and the fact that I just don't feel like I'm smart enough to do justice to their movies.

That said, I thought "True Grit" was just an okay movie. There are several reasons for this. The Coen's films usually have a little surprise up their sleeves. They employ an "anyone can die" rule and tend to be the blackest of comedies.

"True Grit" sidestepped a lot of the reguar Coen schticks and made for a much more straightforward, coherent, and accessible film. This is a very easy movie to watch. The characters are exactly who they appear to be, the plot goes more or less how you expect it to go, and all-in-all, it doesn't do much for me as a Coen brothers film.

That's not to say it's not a good movie. It is, but it's only good. Maybe that's the problem. Done by anyone else, this would be just another film. Everything the Coens touch turns to gold, so it's no surprise that this movie has gotten the attention it has even if it's a little unwarranted.

A lot of that attention is for Hailee Steinfeld (not to be confused with a certain comedian with a Superman fetish). She's fantastic in the movie, and unlike, say, Dakota Fanning, I don't want to stomp on her throat until her voice becomes but a gurgle. The girl can act. The cast is also bolstered by the fabulous Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. The acting in this movie is spot-on and they couldn't have done a better job making the characters seem like real people, if a little goofy.

So why did this movie fail to dazzle me? Maybe itls because I don't really care about westerns. To me, westerns are like vampire movies. I really like them as concepts, but I've yet to see one that has really thrilled me. While this is a fine stand-in for an original Coen movie, it just isn't as interesting or fun as "Fargo,"or "The Big Lebowski," or "No Country for Old Men." But it beats the hell out of "The Ladykillers."

I haven't seen the original, but I watched a matchup or similar scenes in both versions. I'm going to go on record as saying that Jeff Bridges is a hell of a better actor than John Wayne. Like anyone whose persona overshadows their work, all you see is The Duke in an eyepatch. Bridges became Rooster Cogburn.

This is a pretty spineless review. Do I say I didn't like it and risk looking dumb talking about filmmaking geniuses, or do I say "it was a good movie, so go see it"?

Fuck it, I hated "Avatar," I can say what I want. Wait for video for this one.

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