Yes, it's a Western. Yes, it's a remake of the 1969 movie starring John Wayne. And, yes, it's directed by the Coen brothers.
But, honestly, that last factoid should say it all. Can I name one Coen brothers' movie I've watched and NOT like? Hmmm . . . nope, guess not! Off the top of my head, here are some of my favorites:
No Country for Old Men
The Man Who Wasn't There
O Brother, Where Art Thou
The Big Lebowski
The Lady Killers
Burn After Reading
A Serious Man
In fact, I think The Lady Killers and that one small segment they wrote and directed for the collaborative film experiment Paris, je t'aime, was the only time I could say they faltered just a wee bit. I still liked both those efforts, though, don't get me wrong. Ever since my brother and I first watched Raising Arizona on HBO back in the late 80s, I've always found their writing and directing style quirky yet no less entertaining. And they're no one trick pony, this sibling movie-making team. Each of their movies are different from one another to such a degree that if you didn't know better, you'd swear they were made by different directors.
This time around, they're tackling the Western genre. As someone who only reluctantly watches a select few movies in this genre--but who has been vastly impressed by the recent slate of Westerns released in the last decade (e.g., Open Range; Seraphim Falls; 3:10 to Yuma)--I have to admit that True Grit is looking to own this year in movies for me.
The film stars Jeff Bridges as Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn in the role originally played by Wayne. He's hired by a young girl to track down and apprehend one Tom Chaney (played by Josh Brolin), a hired hand who killed her father and fled into the lawless tribal lands of the Indian Nations. Along the way, the unlikely duo are joined by a Texas Ranger named "La Boeuf" (Matt Damon) who has his own reasons for getting his hands on Chaney.
Already sounds like a truly gripping story in the making right there, no?
In fact, True Grit is less of a remake of the original movie than it is a re-adaptation of the Charles Portis novel which both films are based on. As such, I wish that die-hard fans of the 1969 version (and there are quite a few out there) would just calm down and realize that this current film is not out to replace their cherished forty year old memories. I, for one, hold no allegiance to the original since John Wayne is not exactly my symbol of the gritty old West archetype. For that you would have to look no further than my man Clint (Eastwood, to you), whom I feel embodies the quintessential Western hero.
Regardless, I dare anyone to view the following new trailer and tell me it doesn't speak to all levels of friggin AWESOME! And with the Coens behind the helm, I already know I'll be in for quite the treat.
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