If you miss seeing “True Grit”…..

don’t worry. You really haven’t missed anything.

Having seen the 2011 version of True Grit this evening, we came home and, via DVD, watched the 1969 version. One thing became clear: if you had watched the 1969 version before seeing the redo, you might have said “I could do better than that”. It is really quite weak and slow, and it is a wonder how John Wayne (whom I don’t think could ever act) won an Oscar for his performance as Rooster Cogburn. Unless you compare him to Glen Campbell, who played Ranger LeBoef.

When the Coen brothers redid the movie, they had Jeff Bridges playing Cogburn (Bridges being the same age as Wayne when Wayne played the role – 62). While Wayne played the part half-asleep, Bridges played it so strongly that is was like the part was being performed by Lebowski himself. And young Mattie, who is out to avenge her father’s murderer, Tom Cheney (a relative of the ex-Veep?), went from being a somewhat naive (“how’d I ever get here?” character, to being (if she were a few years older and born a century later) a clone of Lisbeth Salander.

At least, in the redo, the scenery is real. No studio shot wild west scenes, with a film of the scenery flashing by, and no more shots of Colorado or Wyoming or Utah in what is supposed to be Oklahoma just over the river from Arkansas. In 1969, there were jagged mountain peaks, found only in the Rockies; in 2011, there was topography that looked a bit more authentic. Although scenes morphed from snow covered, to brown, to green and back to snow, all with the span of a few minutes.

I guess I really don’t like the Coen Brothers. They had two fantastic early hits, “Fargo” which everyone loves, and “The Big Lebowski”, which you either seem to hate or love, and I am on the love side. But since then, I have not liked anything I have seen. I thought they had bottomed out with “A Serious Man”, but now I am not sure.

“True Grit” is a silly movie (which it doesn’t have to be), and is racked with violence – people getting shot, and stabbed, and bitten by rattlesnakes. I think there are probably about 20 deaths in the film (about five times the number in the 1969 version), and there are some gratuitously violent scenes. Even so, the movie received a PG-13 rating: if there had been no violence, but one scene showing too much of someone’s body, it would have received an “R”. But I don’t think you should bring a 13 year old to see this one – and if you don’t like films that are overly violent, I would stay away yourself.

All of which reminds me of Sarah Palin. I don’t think that Sarah Palin had much of an influence on the shootings in Tucson last week. I do think that the over-abundance of guns plays a role (and that that should be obvious). But even more than that, all of the shooting and disregard for life that takes place in films like True Grit” and which are categorized as acceptable for 13 year old children may play the biggest role of all.

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