Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 52
Happy Holidays!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors

Advertise in Town Topics

Weather Forecast


For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WE’RE BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN: The unlikely trio of U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges, right), Texas Ranger LaBouef (Matt Damon, center), and 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) are hot on the trail of Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin, not shown) in order to bring him to justice for the murder of Mattie’s father.

True Grit: Bridges and Brolin Square Off in Remake of Classic Western

Kam Williams

True Grit (1969) is a curious choice for a remake, since John Wayne won an Academy Award for the classic Western together with a stellar cast featuring Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, and Glen Campbell. But that did not discourage the Coen Brothers from assembling their own A-list cast to produce a second screen adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel.

In True Grit 2.0, Jeff Bridges stars in the role of U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, a fearless former Rebel who lost his right eye to a bullet during the Civil War. The grizzled veteran boasts of having ridden with William Quantrill, a Confederate captain infamously known for the 1863 massacre of a couple hundred citizens of Lawrence, Kansas in a pre-dawn raid on an abolitionist enclave.

The movie’s story of retribution and redemption unfolds in Fort Smith, Arkansas in the 1870s, where we find the film’s young narrator Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), looking to hire the meanest bounty hunter she can find to apprehend Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the killer who has just murdered her father in cold blood. Upon learning of Rooster’s reputation for ruthlessness, the spunky 14-year-old immediately tries to retain his services, matter-of-factly introducing herself with the titular line, “They tell me you’re a man with true grit.”

She goes on to explain to the grizzled gunslinger that she has good reason to believe the fugitive has joined a gang led by Lucky Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper) and fled on horseback into Choctaw territory. Eventually, Rooster, who’s battling alcoholism, grudgingly agrees to track down Chaney with Mattie tagging along.

Before setting out, quite by coincidence, they cross paths with LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger already on Chaney’s trail for another slaying. Behind Mattie’s back, the two lawmen agree to join forces and they secretly set off without her. But the headstrong heroine will have none of it. She catches up with them and insists on accompanying them on their perilous trek into Oklahoma.

The trio’s ensuing journey intermittently allows for lighthearted interludes of levity as a little comic relief, such as a tension-breaking spanking of Mattie. However, the story becomes somber as the trio proceeds to its showdown with Chaney.

Jeff Bridges must be commended for his fresh interpretation of the roguish Rooster Cogburn as an endearing contradiction of machismo and vulnerability. In fact, you forget about John Wayne after the film’s first five minutes or so. Kudos also to eight time Oscar nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose sweeping panoramas are spectacular.

My only disappointment is with the Coen Brothers, who have presented too tame an homage to the Western genre.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated PG-13 for intense violence and disturbing images. Running time: 110 minutes. Studio: Paramount Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

Return to Top | Go to Music and Theater Reviews

Town Topics® may be purchased on Wednesday mornings at the following locations: Princeton — McCaffrey’s, Cox’s, Kiosk (Palmer Square), Krauszer’s (State Road), Olives, Speedy Mart (State Road), Wawa (University Place); Hopewell — Village Express; Rocky Hill — Wawa (Route 518); Pennington — Pennington Market.
Copyright© Town Topics®, Inc. 2011.