Film and TV

True Grit: or, The Coen Brothers go to Frontierland!

Besides doing super-fun dating stuff like going to haunted houses for Jackalope Ranch's comprehensive Halloween guide, New Times blogger Colin Lecher and fellow young journalist Jessica Testa go to the movies.

Colin: Well, that was surprisingly unsurprising... pretty straight-forward movie.

Jessica: Yeah, was that seriously a Coen film? There was nothing dark/depressing or dark/funny about that movie. And Frances McDormand was nowhere to be found... I'm confused.

Seriously. And they just made a western: "No Country for Old Men" ... Actually, "True Grit" is pretty similar. But instead of Anton Chigurh, Josh Brolin's the bad guy. And instead of Josh Brolin, the good guy's ... a little girl.

Jessica: A little girl who is a serious bad ass. She whips her pigtails back and forth and sasses everyone from the horse trader to super mean cowboy Jeff Bridges.

Colin: True. Jeff Bridges was definitely the best character, but I still felt like he was kind of a one-dimensional ass-kickin' cowboy. I ended up spacing out for 10 minutes and picturing the Dude riding on horseback in the Old West. Slight improvement.

Jessica: Yeah, the character was pretty cliche. I mean, he is a drunk bad boy US Marshall who takes a liking to a sassy lady and then proceeds to disappoint and save her life along the way. But we can't exactly complain. The Coen bros based the movie off a book. It's not like they had much creative freedom. Unless they wanted to be the jackass filmmakers who totally changed a 42-year-old American story.

Colin: Pfft. No excuse! "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is based on "The Odyssey," but instead of the 10,000-year-old epic poem, it was John Goodman in an eye patch and George Clooney hillbilly-rocking his way out of prison. And it was awesome. They're the Coen brothers, they've totally earned the right to be jackass filmmakers. In fact, I wish there was more artsy jackass-ery in "True Grit."

Jessica: I agree. At the end of the movie, I just didn't have anything to say. It was a good movie -- a lot of great cinematography and smart writing. Very ... um, family-friendly. (Except for the violence, and the scene in which Matt Damon spanks the 14-year-old heroine for like five minutes.) I just didn't have anything to say about it. No complaints, no exclamations of awe. Just... eh.

Colin: I hear you. "No Country for Old Men" was exciting and beautiful and poetic. But "True Grit" was just kind of there. You're right, it wasn't bad, maybe it was even good, but I kind of felt like I sat through a 2-hour bedtime story. Except Cormac McCarthy wrote the last bedtime story, "No Country for Old Men," and set the bar pretty high. Pretty frighteningly, violently, awesomely high.

Jessica: Okay, maybe you want to read your future children some dark chapter from "The Road" before bed, but I'm going to stick with fluffy westerns for bedtime stories. I really do think Joel and Ethan Coen were trying to do something nice with the film. Yes, we were bored, but we were also bored with "A Serious Man." Maybe they're in a funk, or maybe they just wanted to pay homage to an old feel-good western.

Colin: Yeah, maybe I was just surprised it was so likable. But damn it, I like my Coen brothers' movies weird and/or deep. Oh well, either way it should be fun to see Jeff Bridges in TRON: Legacy next week. Old West badass then future badass. Is there any kind of badass that man can't play?

Jessica: I have three words for you: "The Last Unicorn."

Check out the trailer for "True Grit" below:

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Colin Lecher
Contact: Colin Lecher