Wicked Wit of the Grit

Usually I count the days in anticipation for the release of the latest Coen Bros’ film but since their first remake, Ladykillers, didn’t kill, this time around I was a bit dubious after seeing True Grit‘s too revealing trailer and cliche “wanted” font poster. But as it began I was immediately drawn in by the precocious 14yr old girl, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) and her no nonsense determination to catch her Father’s killer to see him hang. But I felt like hanging myself when seeing how the Coen’s staged the typical western town without a speck of grime anywhere, (almost rivaling the Boardwalk Empire set) and DP Deakin’s clean, streaming pools of light.

(Fort Smith, Ark 1878)

The only redeeming aspect of the town scenes was Mattie’s bargaining with town businessman (the scene also read for their open auditions) and her witnessing a brutal yet comical hanging of three men – though local P.C. film critic, J. Hoberman, begs to differ.

“The Coens are still themselves. As one colleague remarked—unprompted—upon leaving the screening where True Grit was previewed for New York critics, “They always do something to make you hate them.” (In my case, the moment happened early on with a gag based on the hanging of a—dare one say—Native American.)”

Hey J, most of John Wayne’s movies portray Indians like shit and far worse, that’s one of the reasons why I’m not a fan of The Searchers. Though he does redeem himself in his review by citing the influence of Night Of The Hunter and it’s fable qualities he’s still more of a pompous douche than I am, I mean just look at his top ten list! From the likes of Alice in Wonderland to Little Red Riding these fables and fairy tales capture the innocence and fears of a young girl’s coming of age and so does Coen Bros. treatment and approach to their western. The Coen’s foray into this genre is not exactly groundbreaking (unlike No Country for Old Men) but they do infuse it with their usual eccentric brand of humor while being faithful more to the novel than Wayne’s version.

The casts’ delivery of dialogue are perfectly paced, Bridges as a drunk washed up sheriff, with insight from The Dude’s, and Matt Damon an overly confident Texas Ranger, like Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear. The only fault in the film’s casting is the 40 year old Mattie Ross, who appears to look like a 60 year old Agnes Moorehead rather than the young Hailee. I know the western frontier and a snake bite will age you but talk about a country bumpkin!

But this tiny blemish is nothing compared to the sappy soundtrack. Nevertheless the Coens continue their prolific output and again leave me wanting more.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Wicked Wit of the Grit

  1. I love the Coen’s unique style and great relationships with actors like Bridges, it brings more magic to the film.

    • honestabel

      Thanks for commenting. Look forward to reading your review of True Grit.

      I noticed you live in Finland and was curious if you are able to see all these American releases in theater? And if there have been any good recent Finnish movies you would recommend?

    • One more recently realesed Western that I would recommend is the Australian film, The Proposition. Very much modeled on Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (the director would ever adapt McCarthy’s The Road, to mixed results) and certain bible stories, it is a very blunt, raw, and unromantic Western. Great direction, atmosphere, and performances. 3:10 to Yuma and this are great modern American Westerns, most definitely.

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  3. hmmm, you might have convinced me to see this. noalmrly it’s not really the style i enjoy, but perhaps i’ll step outside of my box. i was waiting tables in a restaurant in the florida panhandle awhile back and had the pleasure of waiting on josh brolin. one meal he was with minnie driver (when they were dating) and one meal with his very polite children. he was filming a little movie called coastlines in the area. love the new layout! pam

  4. did you think? Retribution. The Coen Brothers are back once again with their 15th feature film- True Grit a re-adaptation of the onirigal Charles Portis novel that was adapted in 1969 into the John

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