Friday, January 28, 2011

True Grit (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
True Grit
Rooster Cogburn rides again to save us all from recent economic anxiety. So seems the escapist intent of this forthright moral tale of revenge from the Coen Brothers, a remake of the 1969 classic "True Grit" which starred the inimitable John Wayne. 
The Coen Brothers shoot their version of the story close to the bone. It is linear and authentic with much of the original impact of the 1969 original. 
As in the Henry Hathaway version, this story is about a wronged teenager Mattie Ross whose father was shot without remorse. Mattie is out for justice. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld shines as Mattie. With her tight braids, austere black dress and last but not least, the wedge of her pale face, she attacks the screen like a hammer. Mattie is calculated and aware beyond her years. A moral compass of consequence ticks through her body even racing her speech in a rapid staccato.
By contrast, Rooster Cogburn is lazy and deadpan. He whiskey-voices his own unique language--a bit of a cartoon. There is just a bit of Yosemite Sam in Jeff Bridges' role but that is part of the fun. This is the Coen Brothers touch that we have come to expect and enjoy. A Wile E. Coyote mixture of goofs and Gothicism that mixes so well in the eyes.
As in "Crazy Heart" Bridges plays a character that is bamboozled by the alchoholic imps in his past but he dumps the bottle before he disappoints and still shoots straight. 
As he stumbles and dances and mumbles his colorful tumbleweed philosophy, Cogburn is still better company than the blonde bland ranger played by Matt Damon. Jeff Bridges is a Disney Desperado soaked in gallows humor by the gallon. There is no contest.
Better still, purist fans of the original classic will cheer when Rooster charges Pepper's men on his horse in the iconic showdown that once gave "Easy Rider" (1969) a run for its money. And like its predecessor, this film competes with the latest Anti-justice film "The Social Network".
Oh to return to that world again when there were no economic recessions, where the only hiss came from a rattlesnake and the trees were jagged against a purple sky.
Through the Coen Brothers each one of us can drink as a tonic this unique cinematic Sasparilla and come back just as thirsty.
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