Swanner: I’m always hearing people complain, “Why would you remake a classic?” Now when I hear that I can make reference to True Grit. Of course when you have Joel and Ethan Coen writing and directing, and a cast that includes Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon … you can’t go too wrong. I’m not much of a western fan but this was an easy watch.
Judd: I enjoyed the first True Grit, but like most movies of that time it was sanitized. It felt very clean, almost lighthearted. John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn was a loveable old codger. The Coen Brother’s True Grit had plenty of just that – Grit. Everything was cold and hard. Rooster and Mattie’s quest wasn’t a spring ride through the budding prairie. It was a cold journey into a frozen land. The two movies are essentially the same, but very, very different.
Swanner: The production design was really well done and the cinematography was extraordinary. I loved the scene towards the end where they have a stationary camera and Rooster rides across the screen. On that wide screen it was breathtaking. It was also a very funny movie. We’ve seen quite a few “comedies” this month and this was by far the funniest. I liked the way all the characters were funny in their own way. Don’t get me wrong … it wasn’t Blazing Saddles funny but I laughed more watching True Grit than I did in Gulliver.
Judd: Oh stop. Using Gulliver’s Travels as a base line to movie comparison is like using a freshly laid turd on a plate as a starting point for a restaurant review. “The food made me wretch, but it wasn’t as bad a Gulliver’s Travels, so …” Anyway, True Grit did have its funnier moments, but it’s still a dramatic Western. The performances were all top notch, the biggest standout being young Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross. She struck a brilliant balance between hardened and childlike. She took the character to new depths.
Swanner: Agreed. She was exceptional. There was also a terrific supporting cast including Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper. The whole film was brilliantly cast but the film really belongs to Steinfeld and Bridges. This is the kind of remake that will have people going back to watch the original and it also opens up this story to another generation. Stories this good should be experienced by the masses and not locked away in a . It worked with Willy Wonka and thanks to the Coen Brothers it worked here too
Judd: I was actually talking with someone the other day who didn’t know this was a remake. Granted, he’s not a huge Western fan, but I was surprised. After seeing the Coen’s True Grit I recommended both. Both movies are worth watching; neither one overshadows the other which is a testament to the quality of both.