"True Grit" remake by Coen Brothers

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Robert Crawford, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    I'm planning on watching the John Wayne version soon. I'll probably end up reading the novel at this point. I fear that the more faithful ending of the Cohen Brothers movie (which I found to be perfect) will render the John Wayne version too soft. We shall see.


    I find myself talking about this movie a lot. I told my wife that most of the cast talks from the back of their throats like Jame Gumb. Then I did my impersonation of Jame Gumb reciting lines from True Grit. My Ted Levine voice, for some reason, creeps her out.
     
  2. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    The Coen brothers film makes the original look like a TV movie; however, one thing that cannot be denied is that John Wayne in voice and demeanor (especially voice) has a presence that Bridges somewhat lacks. When you watch that little comparison clip, Bridges's vocal delivery sounds weak and thin compared to Wayne's delivery.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Your opinion and mine is I think this latest version is getting more praise because it's from the Coen Brothers and there are very few westerns made today. Without a doubt, it's a fine film, but the praise it's gathering at the expense of the Wayne film is starting to be too much for me.
     
  5. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Me too. And as for which one looks like a tv movie, it's not the 1969 film.
     
  6. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    x2
     
  7. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Sorry if I'm stepping on anybody's sacred cows. There really are times where a remake improves on the original and this is one of them, Coen brothers notwithstanding. Nobody is going to tell me that the cinematography and music in the remake isn't superior to the original. The odd cadence of the language isn't like anything I've ever heard in any other western. It is unique and helps set this film apart. The biggest weakness is that Jeff Bridges doesn't have the vocal chops or presence that John Wayne had; although, with Bridges's portrayal I just see Rooster Cogburn while in the earlier incarnation I see John Wayne playing Rooster Cogburn. John Wayne as an icon just never disappears in the original.
     
  8. Claire Panke

    Claire Panke Second Unit

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    As Adam points out, the studio campaigned very hard to have Steinfeld nominated in the supporting category. They felt she had a much better shot to win in the supporting group and no shot to win BA - which is Portman's or Benning's to lose (with Portman being frontrunner IMO). Studio ad campaigns sometimes seem to go against common sense since Steinfeld is obviously a lead and not a supporting actor in True Grit.


    I love Winter's Bone and was thrilled to see Jennifer Lawrence nominated - but the nom is her reward. She's enormously gifted, I imagine she'll be back again some day. John Hawkes, however, has a shot at best supporting actor. I'd love to see Bone win something.


    We're going to see True Grit again this week and I can't wait to see it again.
     
  9. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Me too. And as for which one looks like a tv movie, it's not the 1969 film.


    While I wouldn't go so far as to suggest the 1969 version looks like a TV movie, I would strongly argue that to suggest the Coens' version DOES look like a TV movie is, frankly, absurd.
     
  10. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    While the Coens have made some of my all time favorite movies (Raising Arizona, Millers Crossing, The Hudsucker Proxy, and now True Grit), I'm very hit and miss with their ouvre. I fell asleep toward the end of No Country for Old Men. I still don't get The Big Lebowski. And Fargo left me cold. So I wouldn't like a movie simply because the Coens made it, and I don't think it's really fair to paint the critical reception for the film as a knee jerk reaction to anything Coen Brothers.


    Growing up, I just missed the heyday of John Wayne and although my dad loved John Wayne westerns, I knew of him more a grist for impressionists than a movie actor. So I have no reverence for The Duke to affect my appreciation for Jeff Bridges' performance. For me, Bridges was pitch perfect -- his growly, heavy breathing rendition of Rooster Cogburn would get my Oscar vote if I had one, but after winning last year and with all the momentum in Colin Firth's favor, it's a real longshot for him to nab a second Best Actor award.


    The irony is that Firth probably should have won the Oscar last year but will get it this year for a good but unmemorable role while Bridges nabs his Oscar for the little seen and unappreciated Crazy Heart while one of the best performances of his career won't even get a sniff. In a perfect world, they should trade statues.
     
  11. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    This hadn't really occurred to me, but I think I agree wholeheartedly. I wasn't really disappointed to see Jeff Bridges win last year, but it could just as easily have gone to Firth, who was magnificent in A Single Man and fine in The King's Speech.
     
  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It's far from a sacred cow for me. Matter of fact, it's not even in my top 15 favorite John Wayne westerns.


    As for the cinematography that is debatable. Lucien Ballard was one of the best and though, he might not be a well known name today like Roger Deakins, his work on True Grit was very good. Furthermore, the music of this remake is fine, but it did step on one of my favorite cows there by its inclusion of a certain bit of music used previously in The Night of the Hunter. It stepped on my favorite cow big-time there.






    Crawdaddy
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Me too. And as for which one looks like a tv movie, it's not the 1969 film.



    I wouldn't say that about the Coen film as it's very good western film, one I'm looking to see for the third time when the BRD comes out. I hope its popularity leads to more westerns being made in the near future. I think there is a need for this genre.







    Crawdaddy
     
  14. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Have you ever tried watching it *ahem* stoned?



    While I would argue that Colin Firth deserves the award over Jeff Bridges this year, I think Bridges's performance is head and shoulders above Wayne's. John Wayne brings things to a role that no other actor can -- but he's incapable of bringing things that any decent actor should. Wayne's Rooster is the John Wayne persona with an eye patch and slurred vocals. Bridges crafts his Rooster from scratch. It's not like any other performance he's given.


    Roger Deakins is aided by far better production values in the remake. The set design on the cheap for the original is part of it could get tagged as TV movie-like; you watch the comparison video and the quality of the sets and the town is night and day in favor of the remake. That being said, some of the visuals Ballard captured for the original are all time classics. The wilderness scenes in the original capture things the remake can't touch.

    As for the music, Carter Burwell built his score around the hymns that Mattie would have heard in church. The hymn ‘Leaning on the Everlasting Arms’, composed in 1888 by Anthony Showalter, was also used in The Night of the Hunter for sure, but it had been around for a long, long time before that movie.
     
  15. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It's a hymn that I sang in church during my youth so I know the origin of it, but that still doesn't mean I have to like it's placement in this film. Monument Valley was around long before John Ford, but I still wouldn't want another director using it in a film today. Just my opinion.







    Crawdaddy
     
  16. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    +10

    (Am I allowed to add 10 in one vote?)


    Currently, I have no opinion about the new TG: haven't seen it yet.

    But will.



    Cees
     
  17. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    Finished watching the Duke version of True Grit over the weekend, and IMO the Coen Brothers version is superior in every respect. I'm about a third of the way through the novel, and there are larges passages of dialog taken wholesale in both versions, yet the Duke version sanded down the rough edges to make it sound more contemporary while the Coens played up the anachronistic nature of the dialog (however, one of my favorite scenes, with Maddie speaking to Rooster in the outhouse was made up from whole cloth). My poor aunt, for whom English is not her first language, was completely flummoxed by the dialog even though she is a fluent English speaker. It was also interesting that the Coen's had many scenes taking place in the darkness and shadows whereas the other version took place almost entirely in sunlight. The latter feels old-fashioned to me.

    And Bridges' version of a grizzled, shambling Cogburn was closer to the novel than John Wayne's version of... John Wayne. However, if anyone tells me that Barry Pepper didn't at least watch Robert Duvall's take on Lucky Ned, I shall call them a liar, as there were times where Pepper appeared to be doing a Robert Duvall impersonation. BTW, Duvall's performance seemed to have been dropped into True Grit from another era -- Dennis Hopper's even moreso. Those were the only performances I really liked (and the less I say about Glen Campbell the better).


    And the ending of the Coen Bros version was perfect. The other one was a tad creepy. Can't wait to see how the novel ends, but I believe the Coen's were faithful to it.


    I can't wait to see this again at home.
     

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