Archive for the ‘James Brolin’ Category

True Grit

22 Jan

True Grit – written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen – Western. Seeking revenge, an adolescent girl hires two conflicting agents and accompanies them on the quest for a low-life killer. 110 minutes Color 2010.

* * * * *

As with all the Coen boys’ works, the excellence of the piece depends upon the writing, and this one sure does. It’s set forth in the style that omits verbal conjunctions. No one says “it’s”; everyone says “it is”. This gives the work the elevated tone of fable, and if we were reading it we would be reading a dime Western of the day. The second stylistic trick is to write it in lingo. The lower class types speak in a vernacular completely fabricated by themselves, while the educated  speak in fancy locutions, such that they do not say “leave” whenever they can say “depart”. In both cases the audience is faced with the task of translating English into English. And translation is a formal task and we take it on readily enough. For that task immediately produces in the audience a respect for the material, that is to say, a standing back from it to regard it, and this is a proper and pleasing thing to do. It both distances us and engages us at the same time. And no point does it fail to entertain us, for two reasons. First the narrative is so beguiling, by which I mean the way the directors handle what-happens-next of the story. The journey through the Indian wilderness is one instance and the rescue at the end is another, and it is so all the way through, making it one of the very best pieces these boys have ever given us. When we are done we know we have seen a movie worth seeing. The second ingredient is the performance of a very well cast cast. Jeff Bridges clobbers his way through the thicket of dirty beard, tobacco, booze, and one good eye to bring forth that cantankerous geezer we’ve all met, all remember, and would not wish to spend a lot of time with. Hailie Steinfeld plays the righteous adolescent (think of Katherine Hepburn aged 14), who does have to spend a lot of time with him. James Brolin, as the target of the revenge, is marvelous in his few scenes, particularly in the middle of a river facing off against her. And Matt Damon, the humorless Texas Ranger, plays his role like an Eagle Scout On A Mission For A Merit Badge, which is just right, for it makes him look like a fool. For fooling us is a Coen Bros’. stock in trade. We are even fooled by that bear-headed medicine man we meet. I suppose the Coen Brothers are a bear-headed medicine man themselves. They sure are The Brother Grim. And they sure do entertain us here.


Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button