Saturday, February 05, 2011

More than a Western.

I saw True Grit about a week ago as part of my Oscar prep and Coen brothers love affair. I'd been led to believe it was mind-blowingly good. and while I did enjoy the film, it didn't rock my world. I'd never read the book or seen the John Wayne film, but I don't care all that much for John Wayne, so I suspect that's not a problem. The Coen brothers picture has that elusive element that seems to be stamped on their films. Quirky in a more subtle way than Wes Anderson, perhaps (whose work I also adore). There's just "something" there in the cinematography, the costumes, the characterization (hard to say how much was Coen and how much was the novel or the early film).

I enjoyed the acting immensely and felt that the actors had rich characters to work with. I particularly liked Mattie Ross, but who wouldn't? Obviously, her assessment of Rooster Cogburn-- that he had 'true grit'-- applied more to her than any character. That fact was fairly evident right from the start by her willingness to spend the night at the undertakers in the presence of three dead bodies. I always love Jeff Bridges and I am starting to get the feeling that he's playing the same role again and again. Good thing, I love me a scraggly, foul-mouthed, drunken curmudgeon.

I just discovered an article in Slate (via Brooke V) that points to some mythological connections between True Grit and Indo-European mythology. I love Norse mythology and even "lightly" teach it to students, so I always enjoy seeing the references show up in pop culture. Even though the Coen brothers deny any knowledge of the old stories, it's still pretty dang cool. Be warned, the article is loaded with spoilers.

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