Monday, September 27, 2010

Yes, No, Maybe So: "True Grit"

The teaser for our Christmas present from The Coen Bros has arrived. It's our first good look at the second film version of the novel True Grit. Now why can't trailers for musicals admit their genre as readily as all westerns do -- despite westerns being a similarly troubled genre with notoriously fickle public interest. 

As a teaser there's not much to go on yet. But I am happy to say...

yes Joel and Ethan Coen reuniting with "The Dude" is cause for rejoicing all by its lonesome self and the cinematography by Coen regular Roger Deakins looks unsurprisingly purty. I also reckon Carter Burwell stuck with his "protestant hymn" scoring idea that I scooped for y'all from Nashville this spring if the music in the teaser is representative of what we'll hear in the full movie.

no Matt Damon shooting things is less thrilling than it once was.

maybe so Apart from those strong directorial hands, all four of them, this entire thing will rest on Hailee Steinfeld and she's unknown to us. Good luck Hailee!

I'm actually just doing the Yes, No, Maybe So™ from habit. I am 100% YES. And you?
* Jeff Bridges Joel Coen


pomme said...

YES because i LOVE western movies and i like how they use the song in the trailer even if Coen Brothers and me aren't the best friends(i see it's great but i rarely catch with their movies)

Danielle said...

A definite yes -- it looks gorgeous.

Nathaniel, sorry this is OT, but I just saw your review of Never Let Me Go, and I was afraid if I posted there you'd never see my comment... would you mind telling me what you thought of Keira Knightley's performance? Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...


Andrew R. said...

I'm a yes, but not a very strong yes.

Yes-Bridges! Damon! A promising newcomer! Coens! Cinematography!

No-It's very tough for me to really love Westerns. And I haven't read the book, but the original movie...yurgh.

Maybe So-How good a revenge film will this be?

It's tough for me to really love trailers, though. I've only seen 3 this year that made me go HOLYFUCKINGSHITIMUSTSEETHATNOW.

Inception, Scott Pilgrim, and Black Swan.

Amir said...

YESSSS because of fargo, no country for old men, a serious man, the big lebowski, barton fink, and the list goes on and on and on.

YESSSS because of Roger Deakins, definitely my most favorite working DP.

YESSSS because of the dude.

Anonymous said...

"i see it's great but i rarely catch"

That just about sums up my feelings on The Big Lebowski (loved Juli's "vagina" monologue, natch). I don't care if it takes me another 40 years, I'm gonna get a laugh out of that movie or die trying.

As for True Grit, however: consider my 10 bucks spent. :-D

Glenn said...

I was a "we'll wait and see" about True Grit since I thought A Serious Man was the Coens' disappearing up their own arse, but this looks incredible. Could be the best western since Open Range and it looks like Deakins will finally be winning that Oscar. I don't see anything on the horizon or in the rearview that could trump him at this stage.

Michael said...

Holy cow! You could do a Hit Me With Your Best Shot from that teaser alone.

Caroline said...

I just saw that teaser 5 times on a loop. There's something incredibly badass and appealing about Hailee Steinfeld's simple and direct delivery. And say, Nathaniel, you must be very relieved to find a movie about a preteen girl not starring Chloe Moretz. I know I am.

Lisa said...

^ Methinks there should be a "best tough-as-nails underage girl" category in the film bitch awards this year. Jennifer Lawrence, Chloe Moretz, and now Hailee Steinfeld.

cal roth said...

I l-o-v-e-d their last 3 movies and it seems I'm gonna love this one too. The Coens have done screwball comedies, Capra comedies, Film noir, gangster movies... Western is a natural choice, since they like to revisit the classical genres of Hollywood. Can't wait for their musical, too.

(Am I wrong or this trailer makes me think the girls is the lead and everyone else is supporting?)

(I love westerns, too)

Timothy Marshall said...


Coen Bros. Fanboy #1

dbm said...

This is finally Deakins Oscar. If they don't give it to him, it will look awfully suspicious. He's 61 and been nomianted so many times. Pfister is going to have to wait. Deakins isn't a spring chicken either. Over 60. I say award the man already.
This looks way more like how the book is, which is pretty dark in premise, not all funny ha-ha like the 1960 film. The Coen's will def put their stamp on this one.
Odd it is kind of, that one of the leading character's in the film, Barry Pepper, the main villain, isn't in the teaser trailer.
Looking forward to this more than The Social Netweork.

dbm said...

1969...Network :)

Timothy Marshall said...

Much as I love the Deakins story (and he has deserved it SOOOO MANY TIMES), I think Pfister takes it this year and Deakins must, again, wait. Then again, I'm a bad judge. I thought White Ribbon would have a surprise win last year, but seeing as it didn't even get a best picture nom...

Then in the No Country year, with Best Picture frontrunner on Deakins' side, There Will Be Blood has to come around and mess everything up by being brilliantly shot. Poor guy can't catch a break.

BTW, seems some people are forgetting that the Coens already did a western: No Country For Old Men. Granted, it's not a "classical" Western since it's set in 1980, but it has all the same themes, same frontier territory, horses, cowboy hats, faithful women, dangerous men, nefarious dark nemeses, etc. etc. etc. I could go on. They redefined the Western genre (actually, McCarthy technically did that) and now they're gonna show how fucking good they are taking a straight out stab at it. Excited!

Great trailer too. Why do they always have great trailers? I mean, small elements of the plot, great music, plenty of room for audience inference, and glorious eye candy. Yes! Thank you!

Hayden said...

I love this renaissance the western genre has seen over the past several years.

Dean said...

I'm really annoyed it has the teal/orange filter look. I know the Coens' were the pioneers, but I hoped that after it infiltrated every film under the sun including Michael Bay’s work that they wouldn’t go back to this same palette. Oh well, this trailer really gives me pause.

I think this article has been referenced on your blog before:

Cinesnatch said...


Volvagia said...

No, No Country was a call back to things like The Misfits and Bad Day At Black Rock. A fifties and sixties permutation of the western that was only tied to it in some of the visuals. Thematically, it's even closer to those movies. Where many of the great Westerns are about the dying west, No Country, The Misfits and Bad Day are about a DEAD WEST. So they've done a Dead West and now they're doing a Western (Western's can't be set beyond 1910. If it looks kind of like a Western, talks kind of like a Western, but is set in the modern day, then I'm sorry, friend-o, but you're looking at a Dead West.)

Volvagia said...

I was saying no to the person who thought No Country was a Western. Sorry, but time frame is huge in that definition. This movie: Yes! Yes! Yes! And studios: Please don't push her as supporting. I know it'll happen anyway because they think 13 = can only get in support and well known anybody is automatically pitched as lead.

Anonymous said...

^One of my professors argued that Taxi Driver was a Western.

Why did that trailer almost make me cry? It was so beautiful

Timothy Marshall said...

It all falls under a very broad, generalizing header of "Western". (I could see Taxi Driver being a Western... that's actually kind of funny to me.)

Not that the discussion over what is/isn't part of a genre is at all important.

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Contemporary Westerns

Although these films have contemporary American settings, they utilize Old West themes and motifs (a rebellious anti-hero, open plains and desert landscapes, and gunfights). For the most part, they still take place in the American West and reveal the progression of the Old West mentality into the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This sub-genre often features Old West-type characters struggling with displacement in a "civilized" world that rejects their outdated brand of justice.
Examples include Hud starring Paul Newman (1963); Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974); Robert Rodríguez's El Mariachi (1992); John Sayles' Lone Star (1996); Tommy Lee Jones' The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005); Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005); Wim Wenders' Don't Come Knocking (2005); and the Coen brothers Academy Award–winning No Country For Old Men (2007).

Volvagia said...

Wow. ICONOGRAPHY people. Taxi Driver is an urban thriller. Western is not just a thematic label. It's a visual/location/time label. Which is why I can't label Inglourious (1939-1945 is beyond my time frame) as one, even though the director did, because that label, for me at least, is stuck to a very specific type of movie. Dead West is an even more specific label that refers to modern set movies that look like and are located in a western iconography. So, even though Taxi Driver is descended from The Searchers, the people don't look like western people, the location is the urban New York and it's modern set. None out of a bad argument.

Yancey said...

I loved the original "True Grit" and John Wayne's performance, so this one will have a lot to live up to in my view. I'm not all up in arms about remakes or reimaginings or reboots like some people love to be, and this is the kind of story that could be done in different lights. With the Coens, definitely expect something darker and more sinister than the original. Looking forward to Jeff Bridges of course, and how this new girl fares. I'll give this trailer a Yes too. Wish it were coming out now instead of December.

Roark said...

Volvagia-- You're right to differentiate between films that deal with a dying west and films that deal with a "dead west," but to say that the latter are not in fact westerns is splitting hairs to a rather extraordinary degree. The difference is important, but at best we're talking about subdivisions of the same genre. The thematic implications of a dying and dead west are closely related, and its the continuum that exists between different styles, moods and themes within the western genre that makes it so rich and worth investigating. Drawing arbitrary lines between films of the same genre just blurs that richness for the purpose of arcane categorization.

Also, while it's true that many westerns deal with the dying of the west, many great westerns also don't touch it with a ten foot pole - i assume you don't separate those into a separate genre too?

Volvagia said...

My supporting Actor Predictions:


Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Dustin Hoffman, Barney's Version
Zack Galifanakis, It's Kind of a Funny Story (Hot Property. Plus, it's a Boden and Fleck, so it'll be more mature than The Hangover.)

Last Slot is between 3 people (If one gets picture traction he's in):

Josh Brolin, True Grit
Barry Pepper, Casino Jack (A showy a-hole in a bio-dramedy (S. Actor is the only category we can currently trust a bio-dram to get traction in).)
Jeremy Renner, The Town


1. Social Network looks to be a non-actors movie.
2. Conviction tanked.
3. Get Low is getting nothing.
4. The Kids Are All Right needs miracle DVD sales.
5. Eat Pray Love got awful reviews and was a summer release.
6. The Karate Kid got awful reviews and was also a summer release.
7. All Good Things is probably next year.
8. Black Swan's way too weird for a safe guess.
9. Miles Teller isn't well known enough.
10. Winter's Bone and Animal Kingdom are too small for this category.
11. Secretariat is too schmaltzy. Minimal nominations. (Sorry Malkovich. Red's probably a better shot for you and even that's thin odds.)
12. How Do You Know? currently looks like an average rom-com. (Better than The Ugly Truth, but no where near a Some Like It Hot.)
13. Made in Dagenham is looking at maybe 2 noms. 1. Actress. 2. Supporting Actress.


Timothy and Roark -- i'm with you here. you don't have to be within a specific few decade time frame to be a western. There's more to the genre than just what year it's taking place in.

Volvagia -- you're really down on THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT and you keep acting as if it flopped. I really don't get this. MILK was also a gay themed film and it made only $30 on a MUCH higher budget. So i fail to see how THE KIDS earning 5 times its production cost in just its initial domestic release is a "flop"? I don't see any reason why Oscar won't embrace it except for perhaps that it's a bit risque for them. We'll see how early awards season pans out... i'm not worried yet.

Volvagia said...

I don't feel time is an arbitrary division. Thematic divisions are arbitrary and I wasn't trying to be when mentioning that I don't classify No Country and similar films as actual westerns. Films that don't deal with a dying west that are still set before 1910 count as westerns.

Volvagia said...

Because I'm not comparing it to Milk. If it was fighting for the Milk slot (socially conscious period drama that happens to have gay themes), I'd say it was in on what it got. But it's fighting for the Little Miss Sunshine (indie family dramedy) slot, which needs miracle DVD sales.

Dimitra said...

Like I 've said before, I'm not really into Coens, but I think I'll be watching this.

No Bad Movies said...

Yancy... this " version " of True Grit is more closer to the book than the 1969 film. Hathaway and Wayne took great liberties with that version. That was told from Cogburn's pov. This version, basically adapted straight from the novel, is from Mattie Ross' pov.
It's not a shot for shot remake either. In a way it's almost a different film.

Yancey said...

I know it's not a remake. I said it's more of a reimagining. But it's still the same title and characters. People are going to compare the original to this film. There's no way of getting around that.

Orion said...

This film looks like it's going to put Hailee Steinfeld on the map. I think the trailer's a good one. Hope the film's a winner. I'm not usually into the Coens at all, but I'll make an exception here.

adri said...

Yes: I like Jeff Bridges; there's a good part for the girl and she looks great; I like the Western genre - go figure - and the Western themes transposed into other movies. The book always sounded more interesting than the first movie, so a new script should be fun.

No: Although a clear minority opinion, I have about the same liking for Matt Damon and Glenn Campbell: bland, dull, with an unpleasant undercurrent. Also, I feel like I'm over the Cohens at this time. I've seen lots, I've seen enough. It's like going to a beautiful vacation place in Mexico for several years: one day you wake up and think, that's it, next year I'm going to Paris.

Deborah said...

This is a Yes for me. First, a Coen movie is almost invariably a Yes, and a Western is almost invariably a Yes, so that's two yeses and I haven't even thought about it yet.

But True Grit is exactly the kind of remake I respect. I hate a remake that rides the coattails of a great movie; it will inevitably be inferior. There must be something more to it, or don't bother!

But the original True Grit is a deeply flawed movie. John Wayne is great; my love of John Wayne Westerns is untainted. But Kim Darby and Glen Campbell were both terrible. This is an opportunity to really do right by the original and give solid supporting performances (which with this cast, and in a Coen film, you know you'll get).


adri -- i get it. I sometimes feel this way about Scorsese and lately Woody Allen.

deborah -- i didn't know this about you? I've never understood the john wayne appeal. TRhe only film i love is RED RIVER but that's because of Monty Clift.

Volvagia said...

I liked The Shootist, and The Searchers and Rio Bravo are great movies, even though if quizzed, I'd say I just slightly preferred Malden in Baby Doll as a performance and say Dean Martin and Brennan were the high water marks of Rio Bravo.

Kev said...

It might be overly sentimental, but I loved John Wayne in "True Grit." I'm sure that Jeff Bridges's interpretation will be light years different, but he still has a lot to live up to in my eyes.

But all I'm really concerned with is Roger Deakins finally getting his Oscar. Let this be the one, please!

Anonymous said...

It is an age thing but most commentators so far on this 'remake' have not probably bothered/are too young to see (have seen) the original. So far from the trailer it looks almost a SHOT-for-SHOT remake of the original and all that is different is that the setting is more true to the book, Cogburn's patch is on the other eye and in the shoot out he uses two pistols!