>> Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Coen Brothers' new take on Charles Portis' novel True Grit doesn't really qualify as a "booze movie," despite the fact that Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn is known as a man who "likes to pull a cork." There simply isn't enough drinking in the movie (with the exception of one scene in which Rooster downs a considerable amount of confiscated whiskey). Still, I feel compelled to write a micro-review of the film, because True Grit is the best motion picture I've seen this year, and it's the best American Western since Unforgiven (1992). Actually, it's better than Unforgiven. Sorry, Clint. The Coens are simply better filmmakers.
It should be no secret to anyone that has visited this site that I am a fan of old movies. However, I can say without reservation that the new True Grit surpasses the 1969 Henry Hathaway-directed version with John Wayne in every measurable criteria, including script, cinematography, direction, acting, mood, thrills, and entertainment value. The highest of all praise in this extremely praiseworthy film should be bestowed upon Hailee Steinfeld, who plays the central character, 14-year-old Mattie Ross. If she isn't nominated for the Best Actress Oscar, I'll be severely disappointed.
I'd also say that Joel and Ethan Coen may have crafted their best film with True Grit. I can't call it my favorite Coen Brothers film after a single viewing (Miller's Crossing has held that crown for a long time). However, True Grit may nose it's way to the front of the pack eventually. It is a near-perfect film.
Do yourself a favor and see this movie on the big screen while you have a chance. Better yet, see it twice. I know I'll have to see it at least one more time in its full theatrical glory.
Cheers and happy holidays,