Tuesday, April 05, 2011

True Grit, Truly

I reread this 1968 Charles Portis novel again for Bookleaves Book Group. Veronica, Sandra, Bernadette, Jill and I ate at Tony Roma’s and discussed the book, then we went to see the new movie version (which was retitled The Brave for its release in South Korea) at Cine Cube. Then I found a copy of the movie a few days ago. I’m up to four viewings.

My friend Leigh is going back and forth, trying to decide who is the better Rooster Cogburn: John Wayne or Jeff Bridges? I’m going to have to go with Bridges. When I watch the 1969 True Grit, I’m seeing nothing but The Duke. That's John Wayne up there, except the other characters in the movie are calling him Rooster. In the 2010 version, there is no Jeff Bridges, just an old reprobate named Rooster Cogburn. Glen Campbell vs. Matt Damon as LaBoeuf is a no-brainer; I’m more and more charmed by Damon’s nicely nuanced performance with each progressive viewing. Kim Darby vs. Hailee Steinfeld: Even though I love Kim Darby's hair, for the sake of authenticity, I gotta go with Hailee. Poor kid, she got robbed at the Oscars this year.

The thing that really clinches the Coen Brothers' version for me is the music. I really like Elmer Bernstein's scores, but in True Grit, the music is too upbeat. Mattie's father was murdered and she's out for revenge and justice, so it doesn't feel right. The music in the new movie weaves snippets of the hymn "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" throughout. Steadfast and sad, it seems more appropriate. It is also very fitting for near the end of the movie when Mattie must be quickly borne to safety by Rooster Cogburn.

Although I prefer the remake, something young and primal within me cries out for the original movie as well. Sometimes I require both movies on the same day. I’ve hardly spoken of the book, but Oh. My. God. Even better than either movie. If you haven’t read True Grit yet, stop wasting time on this blog and go find it.


Sam Sattler said...

I still haven't seen the new movie...don't know why. I'm a huge fan of Jeff Bridges, especially his work in the last decade, so I'm really looking forward to seeing this one. I guess I just haven't stumbled upon it anywhere yet...you've made me want to be more proactive about getting a copy.

cbrock7 said...

You didn't mention any of the quotable moments. "You are not Lebouef"; "I have already taken out the teeth and am entertaining offers for the rest"; "This isn't a manhunt, its a debauch"; and ""You shot me." The new version is definitely better, I felt the old one had too much of a love affair with the scenery. It was distracting, maybe that was just me. And you forgot to mention Robert Duvall, who I liked in the original. But I never read the book.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen the original movie, or read the book (don't shoot!). But the new movie kicked butt, and I'm not normally a fan of either Jeff Bridges or Matt Damon. So yeah, I think they both did a great job in making me forget who was acting in the movie.

Tami said...

I gotta go with John Wayne as my favorite Rooster - mainly because I couldn't understand half of what Bridges mumbled, even when the lines were straight from the book or first movie.

I agree with you completely on the music. The use of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" was genious!

I haven't read the book, but Hubby did and didn't care for it - which makes it difficult for me to get excited about picking it up.

Unruly Reader said...

Now you've convinced me I need to see the movies. Recently read the book and *loved it* -- which makes me wary of seeing The Movie. But your movie comments have overridden that.