Wednesday, 23 February 2011

True Grit

I ventured to the cinema at the weekend to see the Coen Brothers latest offering, True Grit.

At the BAFTA's recently Roger Deakins, the Director of Photography, rightly picked up the award for best cinematography. It was a much needed relief moment from The Kings Speech picking up virtually every other award. Just like it's original the wide vistas and perfect attention to period detail looked fantastic 100 feet wide in the cinema.

I had purposely not read any of the critics takes on the film prior to going to see it, other than it was widely accepted that the Coens had gone back to the book.

As the final credits rolled my immediate thought was that it was a bit of a departure for the Coen Brothers, but as a friend of mine pointed out they had touched upon this genre with No Country For Old Men, but this was a much bigger foray into the western. Probably a more accurate assessment would be that it was a more commercial film for them than usual. It is of course a remake of a classic, which I'm never in favour of, and certainly the Coens other remake, The Ladykillers, was a big disappointment. I always find it frustrating that Hollywood very often cannot produce an original script these days. However, they have certainly pulled it off this time. The Coen Brothers are now in pre-production for The Gambit, starring Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz. That's certainly an interesting pairing: a great actor paired with a . . . actually, I'll leave it there.

The original True Grit, directed by Henry Hathaway in 1969 and starring John Wayne in the title role, actually wasn't all that great, but this adaptation of the book I thorougly enjoyed. At times I found it difficult to understand what Jeff Bridges, as Rooster Cogburn, was actually saying, so thick was his accent. In the original John Wayne remains immaculate in his collared and starched white shirt throughout. Bridges Cogburn was somewhat more believable, if not a little disgusting in appearance, but much more in keeping with his character than Wayne's depiction. At one point we see him in a one-piece long john with stains in all the moist areas! Another noticeable difference is the amount of times I found myself laughing at some of the lines that Bridges character comes out with. This most definitely wasn't in the original! Bridges was truly fantastic in this. As a piece of trivia I also noticed that the eye patch on Bridges Rooster Cogburn was on the opposite eye to John Wayne's Rooster. Le Bouef, played by Matt Damon, was also a great improvement on the original, but then that wouldn't be difficult! Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross is superb and I think we will be seeing a lot more of her.

Overall a great film. There were elements where I thought it dragged a little, and moments that I felt it was rushed, but overall enjoyable from beginning to end.

Finally I recently saw a trailer for a film starring Martin Sheen called The Way, with the northern Spanish pilgrims route of the Camino as it's central subject. If you've been a reader of my blogs you'll remember I cycled the Camino back in August last year with my best friend Pauline. So as you can imagine, I'm very much looking forward to it's release, in the UK and USA mid April.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it's a great film and I think Jeff Brides is a far better actor then (caught in a time warp) John Wayne was.