Which True Grit has more grit?

Those of you who regularly read my reviews should know how impressed I was by the Coen brothers’ version of True Grit.  This should mean something extra since I’m not a fan of their work, as a general rule.

The original True Grit, which came out in 1969, is rather typical of the era.  It was also changed from the book to become more of a showcase for John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn.  And yet, Jeff Bridges is a more believable Cogburn, even though the new version focuses more on the young girl (as the book does).

I also have trouble with Kim Darby as Mattie Ross.  The character is supposed to be about fourteen years old.  Darby was either twenty-one or twenty-two when she played the part.  On the other hand, Hailee Steinfeld was either thirteen or fourteen when she played the part in the new Grit.  Her acting was impressive and gave the story more depth.

The original True Grit is almost cuter, in a sense.  It’s too clean and sanitized.  The new True Grit is more realistic.  It is therefore harsher and grittier (no pun intended).  It is also more believable.  Because the original is tamer, some people might prefer it, I suppose.  However, I found the updated version to be a breath of fresh air in an era of many lame movies.  It is one I will watch repeatedly.

So I must say, well done, Joel and Ethan Coen.

A gritty True Grit

Since the weather outside is truly frightful, I have plenty of time to think about why I enjoyed True Grit  so much.  I think the main reason would have to be that it seems much more real than the older film version.
Jeff Bridges makes the character of Rooster Cogburn simultaneously heroic and hilarious.  And man, can he get a mean look in that one eye!  Matt Damon was also fine as LaBoeuf, the duded-up Texas Ranger.  Barry Pepper was almost unrecognizable as the bandit Ned Pepper.  (Was he cast because he’s a Pepper?)  He played the part well, regardless of his last name.  And the girl, Hailee Steinfeld, did a good job of playing the part of Mattie Ross, and not getting overshadowed by her costars.
Since this is a Coen brothers film, one should certainly expect it to be gory, perhaps even graphically so.  There were definitely some moments of gore, but on the whole, I thought it was rather tame, considering the directors.
True Grit was believable, realistic, enjoyable, and humorous.  It tells a story–based of course, on the novel by Charles Portis–of a determined girl who will stop at nothing to find her father’s killer.  There is, of course, more to it than that, and this adaptation does an excellent job of showing that.  It is also a story about survival and trust, and of course grit.

Finally.  I got to watch Crazy Heart.  One of the main questions is whether or not Jeff Bridges deserved to win an Oscar for the role of Bad Blake.

Crazy Heart is about Bad Blake, a run-down country musician who helped launch the super-star career of county singer Tommy Sweet, yet is himself playing in seedy bars and bowling alleys.  Bad Blake is a chain-smoking alcoholic who has true talent but hasn’t gotten many breaks.  The question becomes whether or not Blake will be able to change his ways before he ruins himself.

There was no question in my mind that Jeff Bridges deserved the Oscar for best actor.  He literally and figuratively had to let everything hang out in this role.  And he did it.  He never broke from the character, and it could not have been the easiest character to play.  Bridges also played and sang for the role.  Sang with power and authority, as if he belongs behind a microphone.

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall played their parts well, but the movie was really about Bad Blake.  And Jeff Bridges stole the show.  I may even have to purchase the soundtrack…

Every time I go to a store recently, I see the ‘Sandra Bullock scandal’ being dragged through the tabloids.  The poor woman, what a catastrophe.  Just remember, we love you, Sandra!

Thinking about Sandra Bullock makes me remember her Oscar win in March.  I wrote an entire ‘review’ of the Oscars, which you can read (if you wish) here:

http://reel-chatter.livejournal.com/7659.html

I still haven’t seen Crazy Heart, which is starting to make me a little…crazy?  Jeff Bridges is an amazing actor, so I figure the movie can’t be all bad.  In fact, many say it’s quite the opposite.  I will share my opinion once I see it.

Someone recommended that I watch "Pushing Daisies," which is interesting because I’ve been wanting to watch it.

It’s always wonderful to discuss "Fawlty Towers" with someone who’s seen it and thinks it’s funny.  On the other hand, if I try to describe it to someone who hasn’t seen it, I usually end up sounding like a bit of an idiot.  So I usually end with, "John Cleese really is funny! No, hilarious!"