This past week The Boy and I attended a private screening for True Grit. How did we manage it? Well. It’s quite simple, really. First, you must choose a movie that’s been out for two months (or longer). Next, you must arrange to go on a Wednesday night, immediately after a huge snowstorm, and voila! Two tickets and some popcorn later and The Boy and I found ourselves in an otherwise deserted theatre. (Which is just as well, since we were a little late.) Naturally two hours of carefree making out ensued (just like being a teenager again!) with “buttery”-flavoured popcorn strewn hither and thither.
(Although it was kind of nice to be able to talk to each other and laugh out loud with impunity. After all, who was going to shush us?)
So, how was the movie? People, I came out of that theatre completely dazed. Not by the plot, mind you, but by the fact that I’d just watched a Coen brothers movie that I enjoyed. And I don’t mean I just enjoyed one or two characters, or a couple scenes made me smile, no, no. I enjoyed True Grit all the way through; so much so, in fact, that I am determined never to watch the original (sorry Duke) lest it undermine my enjoyment of this version.
(If you were asking yourself why on Earth I’d go to see a Coen brothers movie when I know I don’t like their style, the answer is that a) I am easily swayed by well-made (or even mediocrely-made) previews, and b) that I knew this was a remake, so I figured I was probably safe from the trademark Coen Plot Twists For the Sake Of Plot Twists! Thankfully I was right.)
Jeff Bridges and (the nigh-on unrecognizable) Matt Damon were both fantastic. Matt’s character (LeBoeuf, amusingly pronounced “LeBeef” by everyone in the movie) especially kept The Boy and I chuckling throughout. This isn’t much of a surprise though; both of those guys are veteran actors with solid resumes. Where I was impressed was with Ms Hailee Steinfeld, who kept the story steadily on its deadpan track with Johnny Cash-level straight face, steady voice and, well, grit. Bridges and Damon whooshed, sinewave-like, in and out of focus around her, but it was Steinfeld who carried that whole story forward, and she did it with fantastic poise. I’d be happy to see where she’s at in a couple years.
What else? Dialogue. No, let me try that again: Dialogue! Although there were times when Bridges and Damon seemed to be competing for who could be least intelligible, what could be understood of the dialogue was fantastic, just amazing.
The Boy actually commented this morning that he was struck by how verbose and well-spoken all of the characters in the movie had been. (Our discussion actually reminded me of something I blogged 8 years ago, nearly to the day. If you’re really curious, it’s at the end of the post.) After all, for a 14-year-old farmgirl, Mattie had an uncanny grasp of lawyer-ese, Latin and quite a grown-up vocabulary. In addition, both the leading men, although LeBoeuf’s lines in particular, reminded me heavily of Firefly‘s Mal — possibly another contributing factor to my enjoyment of the movie.
There wasn’t ever a time in the movie I wasn’t enjoying the conversation, which is just as well since this movie is all about conversation. There’s action for sure, but don’t expect anyone in the movie to stop talking for long. If you don’t like story-telling and hearing the character development through the character’s voice, you won’t like this movie. Despite being a Western, this flick is all about the three characters (in a non-Sartre kind of way).
That said, it wouldn’t be a Western without action now would it? The action is good. It’s gory without being Tarantino-esque, more realistic and brutal, the way I like imagining the Wild West to have been. There is a reasonable amount of violence, enough to remind you, without overpowering the story (which is, at its heart, about a manhunt after all) with a steely chill in your spine that this could have been a true story of the era. Very good balance.
I could definitely watch this again (and in fact, I’d like to if only to decipher a little more of Jeff Bridges’ mumblings) and… well, and what? You get the prairie beauty of the Olde U.S., a few strong, well-developed characters, realistic action, and knee-weakeningly good dialogue. I loved it.
Where does that put this movie ratings-wise? 7.8/9 If you haven’t seen it yet, go. Go!
Blast from the past (February 17th, 2003):
Which brings me to my next point. Having watched Gerard Depardieu’s version of Cyrano yesterday, I’ve found a love story I love more than R&J. Seriously. The poetry alone is a good reason. I never read Cyrano in school, and more’s the pity. Spent most of today reading it in pdf form, and it’s fabulous. I’m reminded of An Ideal Husband and all the famous disses of English parliament.
Forget the fact that the top 10 quoted sources are from shitty television shows. The sign of mounting illiteracy in our society isn’t that no one reads, or that people are more likely to know shitty song lyrics than decent passages. The proof is in the fact that we can’t even come up with decent insults anymore. Since when do “yeah? well, your mother,” or “you slutty bag of ho!” qualify as even remotely well-thought-out retorts to anything? Is that really the best we can come up with?? I was depressed the other day in the shower at the fact that when I swear it’s not nearly as colourful as it could be.
It’s now obvious to me that I shouldn’t be worrying so much about decorating my sailor-like cursing, but practicing my scathing commentry on my teammates.