Friday, February 18, 2011

True Grit and Winter's Bone

You may recall that I swore off Coen Brothers movies last year but, unfortunately, True Grit is a juggernaut at this year's Oscars, so I felt compelled to see it.  But I still refused pay for it myself.  That said, I found it to be the least-annoying movie they've ever made.  Probably because their over-written, cloyingly stylized dialogue doesn't sound nearly as grating coming from 19th-Century frontierspeople.  There are Coen-esque annoyances throughout, though.  Mainly the courtroom scene and the dentist. 

End of disclaimer. moving on:

True Grit follows 13-year-old Mattie Ross (nominee Hailee Steinfeld) as she seeks revenge for her father's murder. Mattie hires gruff U.S. Marshall "Rooster" Cogburn (nominee Jeff Bridges) to track and kill Tom Cheney (Josh Brolin).  Constantly underestimated and condescended, Mattie pushes hard to get what she wants, negotiating and bargaining her way through the towns and wilderness with a focused ferocity.  As a child and a female in the Old West, she gets no respect but, in her father's absence, Mattie is now the man of her household and she takes charge of what needs to be done.

In Winter's Bone, Ree (nominee Jennifer Lawrence) is a modern teen in rural Arkansas. Her criminal father has left her to care for an invalid mother and two much younger siblings and, it turns out, jumped bail. Unless Ree can find him and turn him in, she and her family will loose their home.  So Ree searches and asks around, encountering a series of dangerous people who don't want her father found.  But Ree doesn't care if he's alive or dead, what he did, or who is responsible for his disappearance.  She may be looked down on for being a child and a girl, but her stoic, single-minded focus keeps her going until she finds the truth and can save her home. She is the man of the house and, despite warnings and beatings, puts herself in harm's way to provide for her family.

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