I love the Coen brothers. I even like the movies that other people don’t: I’m a sucker for TheHudsucker Proxy, a fiend forBarton Finkand even like the unnecessary remake ofThe Ladykillers; mostly for the black church lady who ranted about hippety hop music. I also love Jeff Bridges and Westerns soTrue Grit is right up my street.
I usually dislike remakes but this one hews closer to the novel than the original and has Matt Damon as LaBoeuf instead of Glenn (Rhinestone Cowboy) Campbell. (A digression: about 15 years ago we went to a benefit concert in NOLA that was headlined by Little Feat. Allen Toussaint was also on the bill and introduced another artist as a “great humanitarian and one of the greatest Americans ever.” It was Glenn (Galveston, oh Galveston) Campbell. I nearly plotzed.)
I enjoyed the Coens rich and dark take onTrue Grit. Jeff Bridges was a more restrained Rooster Cogburn than John Wayne, pilgrim. Bridges was only half a ham as the drunken lawman whereas the Duke was the whole hog, chitterlings and all. That’s show biz for you: put an eyepatch and pot belly on John Wayne and have him play a drunk and he wins an Oscar. It was a fun performance but didn’t compare to his work with John Ford or Howard Hawks. Also, having Wayne play an obnoxious drunk was type casting. Give me Ethan Edwards or Tom Dunson any day.
I like True Grita lot, it compares favorably withNo Country For Old Men. But while I like and respect those films, my heart still belongs to Fargo, Raising ArizonaandO Brother Where Are Thoufor their antic originality. Having said that I’d still give True Grit a B+ or 3 1/2 stars.