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John Drew

True Grit (2011) by The Coen Brothers

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I've only just watched the original. This set of movies may become exhibit A in my “Don’t Hate the Remake” list. The '69 True Grit a solid enough film; indeed, the last half-hour is as moving as anything in the Coen Brother’s version. John Wayne, while not exactly giving a Searchers level performance, is an effective Rooster Cogburn (and since it's a legendary Wayne role, I guess that's to be expected). But everything else about the original falls far short of the newer effort. Cinematically speaking, it may be that I simply prefer the way Westerns these days are shot—there's just something about the 2010 True Grit, as well as other modern Westerns like The Assassination of Jesse James that seems lacking in the more point-and-shoot Westerns of the Sixties. None of the performances in the '69 film (including Robert Duvall as “Lucky” Ned Pepper and Dennis Hopper as an over-the-top Moon) hold a candle to the performances in the newer film. Glen Campbell is particularly grating; any scene he’s in is almost guaranteed to be more than a little clunky, and since he’s in far more of the movie than Matt Damon is in the remake, the overall quality of the ’69 True Grit is dragged way, way down. His one-on-one scenes with the otherwise adequate Kim Darby are painful to watch.

I was interested to see how close the movie is to the Coen Brothers’ effort, though—a witness, I suppose, to how close both are to the original novel. At least one of the effects that I’ve seen blamed on the Coens (the mentally ill outlaw) prove to have their origins outside of the brothers’ head, which gives credence to the idea that it's less a matter of them "Coen-izing" the source material than them finding source material that is somehow weirdly "Coen".

EDIT: Ooops, wrong year for the remake. I'm not used to 2011 yet, obviously.

Edited by NBooth

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I also agree that the original is a decent film, but I have to chime in regarding the '69 version's sequel, Rooster Cogburn. It's not a great film, really, but has some nice moments within. Wayne reprises the role, and most of the movie is spent with him bantering with a prairie-voiced Katherine Hepburn. And the scene with the Gatling gun is pretty sweet too.

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I'm seriously thinking of picking that one up next time I'm at Wal-Mart (only $5 USD). I think I've seen bits of it, but not enough that it stuck. I think I should be over the irrational dislike I carried for Katherine Hepburn in my younger days. :P

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I'm seriously thinking of picking that one up next time I'm at Wal-Mart (only $5 USD). I think I've seen bits of it, but not enough that it stuck. I think I should be over the irrational dislike I carried for Katherine Hepburn in my younger days. :P

I haven't seen it in a few years, but Rooster Cogburn basically plays out like a more light-hearted regurgitation of True Grit spiked with some blatant African Queen elements. With extensive use of a raft-mounted Gatling gun.

Edited by Jason Panella

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ifc.com has a podcast up on "The Coen Brothers' Gritty Cinema". I'm listening now, and it's pretty interesting.

Edited by NBooth

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I'm taking some friends to see this tomorrow night, who insisted on waiting and watching the John Wayne version again first, which is why they haven't seen it yet. It'll be the #3 viewing for me and completely worth it. Gotta take up time for a while somehow until Lucky Life and The Way Back are finally allowed to see the light of day.

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Demonstrating, I guess, that she's been working with impossibly convoluted dialogue from the very beginning. "Girl's B.F.F. A.E.A.E." indeed! :P

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Cathleen Falsani, author of The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, on True Grit.

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Cathleen Falsani, author of The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, on True Grit.

I'm so glad I actually perused this book instead of outright buying it. As this link demonstrates, more work was put in to the synopsis of each film, and very little insight into the actual religious symbolism or content.

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What 'True Grit' Has in Common With 'The Blind Side'

True Grit and The Blind Side make for unlikely bedfellows, but they share a common attribute -- they started off slow before turning into steady box-office campfires.

Both films didn't come in No. 1 at the box office until their third frame, an unusual feat. . . .

But those aren't the stats that Paramount is focusing on at the moment.

Rather, it's that more and more young people are coming to see True Grit, directed by the Coen brothers. Just as key, the film's reach has extended beyond the biggest cities to other markets.

True Grit was initially fueled by older moviegoers. On opening weekend, as much as 70 percent of the audience was over age 30. That gap has now narrowed to 60 percent or less.

Notably, younger moviegoers gave the film an A- CinemaScore, a grade which usually sparks particularly strong word-of-mouth. The film's overall CinemaScore is B+.

One reason that Paramount knows True Grit is luring younger eyeballs is because of busy 9 p.m. shows. (Older moviegoers usually opt for earlier viewings.)

In terms of its geographical profile, True Grit also has broadened out beyond the biggest markets, such as L.A., New York, Boston and Chicago. Over the weekend, the top 10 performing locales included Albuquerque, Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City. . . .

Hollywood Reporter, January 9

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Dude, I posted that fact two days ago! In the post right before yours, in fact. (Embedded, admittedly, within a broader-context kind of article, but still.)

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Persiflage, you're going to have to work a lot harder to equal my statistics for posting news that Peter has already posted. But I will defend my title with vigor.

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Dude, I posted that fact two days ago! In the post right before yours, in fact. (Embedded, admittedly, within a broader-context kind of article, but still.)

Oh, you are indeed correct. I read your post, thought comparing it statistically to The Blind Side was interesting, and somehow completely missed the fact that it announced True Grit as number 1 at the box office. Careless of me. Poor attention to detail like that will not help me pass the bar exam. All this to say, [a] I'll be more careful next time, and True Grit is going to do better than The Blind Side, so there.

Persiflage, you're going to have to work a lot harder to equal my statistics for posting news that Peter has already posted. But I will defend my title with vigor.

I was unaware that there was a competition. If memory serves, I've done this multiple times this year. In any case, it was worth it, if only to add in words the additional deduction that Little Fockers was no longer #1.

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Persiflage wrote:

: . . . True Grit is going to do better than The Blind Side, so there.

Wow. Nothing would make me happier -- well, okay, a LOT of things would make me happier -- but anyway, I don't see this happening.

For one thing, the fact that True Grit is #1 now does not mean that True Grit has started to rake in MORE money than it has before; it just means that the audience for True Grit is falling slower than the audience for Little Fockers. The Blind Side, on the other hand, actually made more money in its second weekend than it did in its first.

For another, The Blind Side opened before the American Thanksgiving, which means it was able to rake in money over both the Thanksgiving AND Christmas holidays. (And then it made an extra $30 million or more between mid-January and Oscar night.) True Grit, on the other hand, opened just a few days before Christmas, and is currently over $100 million BEHIND where The Blind Side was at this time of year. Will True Grit do better during awards season than The Blind Side did? Possible. But THAT much better? Doubtful.

Could be interesting to see how the films compare overseas, though. Each film plays to a distinctly American sensibility that doesn't necessarily play very well overseas: e.g., The Blind Side, with its Bible-belt, African-American and American-football foci, raked in $256 million in North America but only $53.2 million overseas; while True Grit is a Western, and Westerns generally do worse overseas than they do in North America -- but then again, it is directed by the Coen brothers, almost all of whose films this century have done better overseas than they did in North America -- but then again AGAIN, the two Coen-brothers films that did LESS business overseas this century were O Brother Where Art Thou? and The Ladykillers, i.e. the two films that made heavy use of gospel music on the soundtrack, just as True Grit does.

So where does that leave us? I have no idea.

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On Wednesday, True Grit became the second highest grossing western of all time (in non-adjusted dollars), passing Will Smith's Wild Wild West. Doesn't seem as though it has the legs to surpass Dances with Wolves. True Grit would have to earn another $70 miilion to do that. But still, I don't know why, I'm really happy for the Coen's on this success.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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SDG: Did you cut all of your posted 30-second reviews in one sitting, or session? How many more did you do? Just curious.

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SDG,

Any chance that I can get an audio-only version of these 30-second shots somewhere? ANYTHING to replace the Plugged In reviews my radio show currently uses (and, in your case, not just anything, but reviews I actually appreciate!).

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Any chance that I can get an audio-only version of these 30-second shots somewhere? ANYTHING to replace the Plugged In reviews my radio show currently uses (and, in your case, not just anything, but reviews I actually appreciate!).

PM me your contact info and I'll pass it on.

SDG: Did you cut all of your posted 30-second reviews in one sitting, or session? How many more did you do? Just curious.

This was my first shot at it. I did five, all in one sitting. Three in verse (Tangled, Deathly Hallows, The Tourist), two not (True Grit, Rabbit Hole). We'll be doing more soon.

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