January 17, 2011

True Classic - True Grit

Before we begin, let me state first, dear reader, that I'm not a movie critic, nor am I an avid movie buff who knows the ins and outs of moviedom, but I do feel led to comment on one I saw today.  My mom and I took a little break from life and went to see the remake of True Grit on the advice of friends and co-workers.

Normally I'm not a big fan of remakes if the original is a classic. Why mess with a good thing? I've never understood the need to take something beloved by many and redo it, sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable. It seems lazy. But today's remake was the rare exception.

I went in with an open mind, hoping for the best and having not seen the original in many years. I had it on good authority that this remake was one worth viewing, so my hopes were high. I was not disappointed. What made it even better, I went home and immediately watched the original version. Nothing against Mr. Wayne, an American icon to be certain, but the new version improved upon the old. It took away bits that were unnecessary, changed things that needed to be, and casting was dead on.

But I think what struck me most about the revamped version, what I most admired on the part of the actors and directors, was the ability of the actors to convey so much in subtle gestures or facial expressions. All it took sometimes was a look, a nod, a hand twitch for the audience to know exactly what was going through the character's mind. Subtle, and everyone got it. There was no need to overdo a scene or explain what was meant. They gave us credit for being intelligent people who would get it. That seems to be missing from so many movies and television shows these days.

Often I'll watch something and wonder why the creators, the writers, the directors think the American public is so simple that we won't get the subtleties they give us. Why do they feel the need to follow a brilliant scene with something that diminishes it by blatantly explaining what we just saw? Give us credit. We get it. So when a movie like True Grit comes along and the actors are allowed to really show how good they are at their craft, we appreciate it. This is why I'm hearing about the movie from so many people.

And there you have it, dear reader, my first movie recommendation on my blog. If you don't like westerns, you should give this one a try. If you're not a big Jeff Bridges fan, look past it. If you think two hours is too long to sit in a theater, OK, I'll give you that one, but you must see it when it's available on On Demand or DVD.


  1. I've talked to a lot of people lately about just this thing -- Hollywood believes we're all idiots. Rather than giving us something smart to view, something that will challenge us to actually think, they continue to dumb everything down. Here's some news -- I want to think -- I like to think -- make me think! Don't give me the answers right away. Let me figure it out on my own. Don't tell me what the actor meant when he raised his eyebrow. Let me just "get it" as you put it.

    In writing the advice is always to show not tell. I wish they would follow this in Hollywood. They've forgotten how much fun it is to simply show and let it be. Stop hammering us with telling.

  2. @Boo: Right there with you! The dumbing-down of Hollywood is hurting the movie biz more than soaring ticket prices! I swear, I see maybe 3 movies a year that are worth the price of admission and a semi-clean theater. As Christy said, True Grit was one of those sadly rare exceptions to the Hollywood remake rule: it was better than the classic original.

    Something else Christy said was Tinseltown's tendency to "remake" films that have little in common with the original. A "re-imagining" as they sometimes call it. Another thing that bugs the crap out of me is taking classic TV shows and making movie versions that have NOTHING in common with the source material. I, Spy comes to mind immediately. To call it dumb would be an insult to dumb people. Sigh.

  3. I loved the movie. The best part for me was the dialogue and the way they spoke. I guess I noticed because I have been reading older classics and had to pay closer attention to what I was reading because of the difference in wording. It is amazing how our language culture has changed.

  4. I remember watching the original with my dad as a kid. I'll have to try the new one!

    P.S. Thanks for adding the link to my blog!

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    @Lindsay: The new one is definitely worth watching. You're welcome about the blog link! :-)

    @Mom (Jimmye): I meant to write something about the dialogue too. I noticed it straight away and loved the formality of it. It was much more evident in the new version and really seemed to fit the era. One more thing that added to the quality of the movie.

    @Steven: Completely agree with everything you wrote. It really annoys me when they take TV shows and make movie versions that have nothing to do with what I watched and loved. All they are doing is trying to capitalize off the title of the show. Same with movie "re-imaginings." Annoying.

    @Boo: You're right. Hollywood is basically hitting us over the head with telling and telling and telling. Just show me something subtle and let it be. I'm a fairly smart cookie, I like to think too.