Mar. 4th, 2011

finncullen: (Default)
mumble mumble I went to the talkie picture theatre place yesterday to see the new version of "True Grit"

I was favourably impressed.   The talkie was based on the original novel rather than being a remake of the 1969 John Wayne movie, and it showed.   The writing and characterisation were much more authentic, and the storytelling was well paced and thankfully lacked the Hollywoodisms that could so easily have crept in.

Two things in particular stood out.

Firstly the dialogue was an absolute joy to listen to.   It was authentic nineteenth century American idiom, not the macho moron dialogue of many "Westerns".    I saw that one blogger had commented that the dialogue seemed out of place and made the talkie seem "like a period piece."   Well, sorry to burst your insular cultural bubble, but 19th century Western stories *are* period pieces.   Just because something doesn't take place in a Georgian ballroom doesn't change that.      It has an eloquence, a formality and a musicality that enchanted me and is credibly reminiscent of the writing and letters of the period portrayed.

It is the same idea as a coon hunt. You are just trying to make your work sound harder than it is. Here is the money. I aim to get Tom Chaney and if you are not game I will find somebody who is game. All I have heard out of you so far is talk. I know you can drink whiskey and snore and spit and wallow in filth and bemoan your station. The rest has been braggadocio. They told me you had grit and that is why I came to you. I am not paying for talk. I can get all the talk I need and more at the Monarch Boarding House.

The second thing that stood out was the lead actress (who delivered the lines quoted above).  Hailee Steinfeld plays MattieRoss beautifully.  She is a well educated and determined fourteen year old who in the words of other characters in the talkie "doesn't give out much sugar" and "doesn't varnish her words" - forthright does not begin to cover it.     The scene where she browbeats and haggles with a veteran horsetrader and walks away with everything she wanted is masterful.   Just how masterful is reflected in a later scene when she asks one of the horsetrader's employees to thank his employer for a fine horse.   His response

Can't do that Miss, I'm forbidden to ever mention your name  

She is an awesome character who reminds me a little of Pratchett's Tiffany Aching, except without the magic.

I recommend True Grit to anyone.


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