Tuesday, February 22, 2011



I daresay I’m proud to be an avid collector of the retro cowboy classics on DVDs.

It’s been ages since I first stared.

There’s always, this surmounting excitement of “gallopy” adventure depicted in mystical tales relating to the wild, wild west.

Specially those surrounding old-timers ALAN LADD and JOHN WAYNE, the archetype of the quintessential American heroes.

Westerns of yesteryears had uncomplicated plots then, and provided for the most wholesome of family entertainment.

My memory has always been piqued by this touching finale in “SHANE” where a boy called Joey pursues Shane the wounded gunslinger as he gallops away into the sunset.

Joey was frantically hollering “Shane! Shane!” with tears streaming down his face. His calls echo across the valley as the movie closes …. a poignant moment, breaking every heart and mind.

It was so sad, yet so sweet.

Why did I remember this scene?

Gosh, I haven’t a clue.

That particular visual sticks with me, till now.

Ever since then, my romancing with the kick-ass westerns started.

You dig Western movies?

They often come bathed in the splendor of sprawling landscapes, prairies, stretches of lonely mountains, murmuring streams and bubbling brooks.

Then this neo-cowboy offering “TRUE GRIT” is crafted for lovers of westerns.

It gets to be directed by by the Coen Brothers (Ethan and Joel) who has given us the gem of an academy award winner “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN”.

Make that a double bonus.

A name such as THE COEN BROTHERS raise heads.

Anyhow, we don’t get to watch a lot of cowboy films these days.

They are fast becoming a rarity.

The western movie has quietly passed on from the motion picture scene.

Over the last decade fewer and fewer films depicting the western theme have been produced.

Cowboy stories are simple. They do not depict life alone.

They speak out for courage, magnanimity, benevolence and the ability to fight for justice, to root out community evil.

The plot of “TRUE GRIT” this time stems from a 14 year-old gal Mattie Ross (HAILEE STEINFIELD). She’s the pulse of the movie.

She is seeking vengeance for the brutal, senseless killing of her father by one of his hired hands called Tom Chaney (JOSH BROLIN) who made off with her father’s horses amongst them two California gold pieces.

Whilst collecting her father’s body, Mattie intends to hire a Deputy U.S. Marshal to track down Chaney. She is given three recommendations, but chooses to settle for Rooster Cogburn (JEFF BRIDGES) because he is described as aloof and merciless.

Naturally Rooster repeatedly rebuffs at her attempts to hire him to do the dirty work. At first.

But Mattie is a plucky girl with a fierce determination who never gives up.

She ignores Rooster’s overbearing insolence and stalks him until he agrees.

Despite Mattie’s objections, Cogburn is joined by a bullish Texas Ranger (MATT DAMON) who is also after Chaney, but for a different crime.

However these two cowboys could not shirk off Mattie as she proves she’s a force to be reckon.

She displays her true grit by courageously riding her horse across the river to catch up with them.

The three then head for Indian territory, believing that Chaney could have joined an outlaw gang headed by Lucky Ned (BARRY PEPPER).

As the days roll by after encountering all kinds of scraps, the three develop a strong, platonic friendship with the sole purpose of nailing the killer.

There are light comedic moments too, to break the monotony of rhythm.

These are evenly spaced, in true COEN BROTHERS style.

“TRUE GRIT” is essentially BRIDGE’s acting vehicle where he plays a rambling, alcoholic US marshal named Reuben “Rooster’’ Cogburn with remarkable finesse.

Not to be overshadowed, HAILEE STEINFELD pitches a wonderful performance as Nattie Ross, a steely gregarious 14-year old who’s hell bent on seeking justice for her father’s murder.

She is the real star of the show, where the crux of the parable weaves around her.

Hers is a dynamic character caught up in a timeless tale where she tackles her big screen debut with a fearlessness that borders on naïvety, yet is nevertheless admirable.

Remember the old song “We may never pass this way again”?

“TRUE GRIT” is an exceptional family entertainment that will bring back the glorious memories of yodeling, cowboys and gunslingers.


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