By David M. Kinchen
Poster Remake
Poster Remake

I saw "True Grit" by the Coen Brothers for Paramount -- for the second time -- at our twin-screen theatre in Port Lavaca, TX on Sunday, Jan. 9.

I emphasize  "second time" because I rarely see any movie more than once at a theatre. This screen version of the 1968 novel by Charles Portis is not really a remake of the 1969 Henry Hathaway-helmed film starring John Wayne, Glen Campbell and Kim Darby. Joel and Ethan Coen's version of Mattie Ross's  search  for her father's murderer is reportedly more faithful to the novel, but more importantly to me, it's a magnificent film that deserves several Oscars.

(I'm not getting into a pissing contest over which "True Grit" is the better version. Both are great and worth watching).

Jeff Bridges deserves a Best Actor award for his portrayal of Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn, the boozy "old and fat"  (his description)  federal marshal Mattie enlists in Fort Smith, Ark. to track down Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). I'm sure Hailee Steinfeld will win the Best Supporting Actress award for her wonderful portrayal of the feisty 14-year-old Mattie Ross. All of the performances are pitch perfect, including Matt Damon as Texas Ranger La Boeuf,   and Barry Pepper as the leader of the gang that includes Chaney. Dakin Matthews is outstanding as  horse trader Col. Stonehill who's outwitted by Mattie. Ed Corbin as the "Bear Man" reminds me of my old friend from the Register-Herald in Beckley, the late great actor and newsman Neale Clark.

I'd like to see Carter Burwell, who has written scores for all of the Coen Brothers movies except for "O Brother, Where Art Thou" (2000), win the Oscar for his evocative score for "True Grit". Here's a sample:

It's based on the old hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arm" and I can't think of the new "True Grit" without hearing Burwell's wonderful music.

For a 10-minute sampler of Burwell's film music, click:

Burwell, born in 1955, has written scores for dozens of other films by many directors, as the sampler above shows. One of my favorite Burwell scores for Joel and Ethan Coen is the one he wrote for "Miller's Crossing." Those who see the new "True Grit" will note similarities between the film and "Miller's Crossing."

If you haven't seen "True Grit," get off the couch and see it, at least once. It's a very watchable movie, with all the Coen eccentricities, but still very accessible to those few unfortunates who've managed to avoid Joel and Ethan.

BREAKING... I just saw on IMdB that the great British director Peter Yates (pictured), born in 1928, has died in London at age 82. My favorite Yates-helmed movie is "Bullitt"(1968) starring Steve McQueen. The film's iconic car chase on the streets of San Francisco came out of Yates' early experiences driving racing cars and managing race car driver Sir Stirling Moss. He also directed the wonderful 1979 coming of age flick "Breaking Away," set in Bloomington, IN. Another favorite of mine directed by Yates is "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" (1973)