I friend of mine has had more than his share of troubles of late, so I invited him to see a movie on Christmas Eve while The Coolness watched our kids.
He and I are both fans of John Wayne, and the original film True Grit is one of my absolute favorite movies ever. I loved the language and smartass child of the original.
The old anti-hero with little to lose and not much to live for being forced to see his faults (and his strengths) through the eyes of a child not his own is a sobering, effective humanization of a character that would otherwise not develop as cleanly.
John Wayne won an Oscar for the role. I worried that Jeff Bridges had some massive boots to fill, and might not be up to the task.
Even so, I had high expectations.
Without getting into so much detail that I ruin it for folks who have yet to see the remake True Grit should garner more than one or two Oscars.
The screenplay is far better than the original: the dialogue is far better, the annoying instances of the female lead minimized, and the characters better presented (flaws and all).
The cinematography is stellar. The depictions of violence pull no punches, as it should be.
Bridges reaches right past the inestimable John Wayne and reaches Rooster Cogburn, making the character come alive. I forgot who was playing the role, and just focused on the mythic man's story.
Then there is the Texas Ranger. I thought the role the weakest in the original, and also played rather poorly in that instance. Damon corrects these errors and thrills, his interactions with the girl and even Cogburn incredibly well performed.
Pepper is utterly believable as Pepper, as Brolin is as Cheney.
The ending is magnificent. They didn't try to present the "Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!" moment as a John Wayne moment, rather they made it Rooster's moment.
A fine film, and well worth the price of entry.