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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #561 (Vol. 11, No. 52). This edition is for the week of December 20--26, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"True Grit"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"True Grit"  by Mike Smith
A Very Fanboy Christmas 2010  by ED Tucker
Deck The Halls With The Off The Wall!  by Terence Nuzum
Five Deadly Venoms  by Jason Fetters
You're Gonna Need A Bigger Sleigh .... Challenging! .... In The Beginning .... Famous Firsts .... January 1967 .... My Own Top 10 .... I'd Like To Thank The Academy .... Breaking Up Is Hard To Do .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 50 mins

We all have movie memories. If the movies didn’t have a special hold on us we wouldn’t go. One of mine took place at a drive-in theatre outside Cleveland, Ohio in 1969. The first movie that night was “True Grit,” and I can remember, as the climactic scene where John Wayne put the reigns of his horse in his mouth and charged the bad guys, leaning as far forward as I could from the back seat. And what sticks with me most is that my father was leaning towards the windshield as far as HE could, his hands gripping the steering wheel. With that memory in mind, I was very apprehensive about the Coen brothers new film. I needn’t have worried.

14 year old Maddie Ross (Steinfeld) is on a mission. Her father was recently murdered by a man named Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin in what is really a cameo role) and she intends to have the killer brought to justice. Asking around town she is told of a certain U.S. Marshall named Rueben J. Cogburn (Bridges)…a man who has “true grit.” Striking a deal, and accompanied by a Texas Ranger (Damon), who is also hunting for Chaney, they set out to get their man.

Let me say from the start that, according to the filmmakers, this film is not a remake of the original movie. It is more the film version of Charles Portis’ original novel, which was much darker than the 1969 film. In that regard, the Coens have remained faithful. There is a lot more violence here, and “Rooster” Cogburn is a lot meaner. He has killed 23 men in the line of duty and it’s obvious he won’t hesitate on number 24. After a shootout in the dead of winter leaves two men dead, it is lamented that they can’t be given a decent burial. “They should have been killed in the summer,” is Rooster’s reply.

I must give special praise here to Jeff Bridges. The Duke won his only Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn and turned him into an iconic figure. And while Bridges is not the Duke, he IS the Dude, and he makes Rooster his own, even wearing his eye patch over his right eye (in the novel Rooster does not wear an eye patch – it is thought that Wayne wore the patch over his left eye to honor director John Ford, which is how he wore his). Damon is fine as the bragging Ranger while Barry Pepper does a fine job as the leader of the gang Chaney holes up with. But the real revelation here is Steinfeld, in her first major film role. Tough as nails and not one to back down from a challenge, her Maddie is hell bent on one thing: avenging her father.

The Coens have made a few changes to the story, most of them for the best. And yes, the famous scene I described above is here, just as exciting now as when I first saw it four decades ago. Incidentally, the second movie at the drive-in that night was “Death of a Gunfighter,” starring Richard Widmark. I told you, we all have movie memories.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “True Grit”


To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "True Grit" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.