Saturday, February 26, 2011

What I Learned From True Grit

Hubby and I partook in the blessed date night last night. We try to do it once a month, usually dinner with no other pressing obligations. Last night I was able to finagle a movie out of him. He's always a sucker for a good Western.

 


So we saw the critically acclaimed True Grit, which is up for 11 Oscars for this Sunday. First off, it's a remake and adapted from the actual novel. This one was a Coen brother film, which I hadn't realized going into it, but was a nice surprise. The Coen brothers are renowned for their unique style, and often odd and abrupt endings. True Grit was no different in that aspect.

I've never read the story or seen the other versions, so I didn't know the story at all. The acting was outstanding. With big names like Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, and Matt Damon, it's expected. But young Hailee Steinfeld really stole the show. At fourteen she was phenomonal--and there were some tough lines. Wow, this girl has a bright future ahead of her.

You probably already know the premise, so I'll just say in most ways, it's a typical Western film with horse riding, guns, and killing. But the nice touch of having a young girl on the trail was refreshing. What made this film especially exceptional was the dialogue. The actors nailed their characters and the dialogue was believable and clever.

So what did I learn from it? It was very basic, but the simplicity of it is what made it work so well:

The Inciting Incident ---    Mattie's father is killed by an outlaw

The Goal ---   Mattie wants to capture and punish her father's killer

The Surface Problem ---  Finding someone who will help Mattie track the killer down, and what to do with the killer once he's found.

The Story Worthy Problem --- A fatherless, but spitfire little girl, and a has-been old drunk U.S. Marshall without a family, having to work together to bring about justice.

The conflicts are bountiful throughout the story. Unlikely companions thrown together, facing the cold, treacherous midwest on horseback, encountering outlaws and oddballs along the way. The story is nothing extraordinary, but the intriguing characters come alive through their dialogue, which breathes the kind of life into the story that every storyteller dreams of.

Bottom line: As long as you have a story goal and plenty of conflict, you can make just about anything work, so long as your characters are alive with verve.

So who's in for the Oscars tomorrow night?? I'll be having my own little Oscar party, and I'll be on Twitter, so join me if you like, using a hashtag of  #WatchOscars. Will be a lot of fun!


BTW for those who commented on my Crusade Challenge post yesterday, thank you! All of it was true, except the part about what PK stands for. My first name is not Pamela. And maybe, someday, I'll tell you what it stands for. Or you can guess if you like. But my middle name really is Kay. :)


So have you seen True Grit? Or any of the other Oscar nominated films? I've been behind on my film watching. But tell me your faves! Or any that really blew chunks? I wanna know that too!!

23 comments:

Carla White said...

Damn! I was going to guess that Pamela was the lie. Now I'm curious. I'm not a big Coen Brothers or Western fan so I haven't seen this one. The only two Oscar nominated films I've seen (for best picture, anyway) are Inception and The Social Network. They were both good, but I'm not sure they were Oscar winning material. We'll see...

Kari Marie said...

I haven't seenTrue Grit but it's in my list. This year looks to be an excellent one for the Oscars. Tons of great performances.

The Golden Eagle said...

Can't believe I missed the challenge post! But you certainly hid the lie well--I wouldn't have guessed your name isn't Pamela.

Lisa Potts said...

I haven't seen the movie but a lot of my friends have recommended it so I probably will. I never miss the Oscars and will definitely try to drop in on your Twitter party. Sounds like fun!

JEFritz said...

I always love finding the different story elements in movies. And your name isn't Pamela? Now I want to know what it is!

Elena Solodow said...

I loved the actress who played Mattie, but I didn't think True Grit was too outstanding. It didn't seem to have much significance or add anything to the Western genre. I loved The King's Speech and Black Swan - definitely check 'em out if you have time!

Lana D said...

Hi PK! Just hopping by your blog from DiscContented's Super 8 blog hop! Nice to meet you!

I have not seen True Grit but I have heard several good reviews. I'm kind of a Scrooge when it comes to seeing movies in the movie theatre. I like to wait until the DVD comes out and make my own popcorn and watch in my fuzzy jammies and slippers!

Cheers!

Angela Scott said...

Love True Grit! I love a real good western. I also have the book I borrowed from a book club buddy of mine. I haven't started it, but I'm planning on reading it even though I saw the movie.

I love characters that pop. Mattie is a character that pops--awesome. Her spunk and spit-fire attitude was fantastic. I like a girl who fights for what she wants. Bridges was good too.

I didn't like the ending. For me, it seemed weird and unnecessary. (And I wanted her to marry that one dude--the Matt Damon character). I hope the book will be a bit different.

Love True Grit. Thanks for reminding me that the Oscars are tomorrow.

erica and christy said...

I've heard great things about True Grit, but my husband's a John Wayne fanatic, so chances are I'll have to sneak in a viewing (although he does like Josh Brolin and Matt Damon, so MAYBE).

And I never believed for a second that your name (which is Czech, I believe - or is that just your last name, shoot, I missed yesterday's post) could possibly be Pamela...
erica

Meredith said...

I've been dying to see True Grit! I'll be rooting for The King's Speech tomorrow--such a great movie!

Becca C. said...

Cool post :) My second cousin worked on the sound and is nominated for an Oscar for it! He works on all the Coen brothers' movies.

Kathryn said...

I'm with Carla - not much of a Coehn or Western fan. I did see True Grit with hubby and in-laws, and agree with you about the acting (although I couldn't get past Matt Damon, I thought he was out of place...) - superb! Definitely bleak, but real Westerns typically are, and for what it was, it was a fine movie. Great breakdown!

Arlee Bird said...

I am a Coen Brothers fan and look forward to seeing True Grit. As to the Oscars, my favorite movie for this past year was Inception -- I think it's the only one I've seen other than the documetary Exit Thru the Gift Shop which was pretty good but it's in the doc. category. Bottom line is I don't care much what wins, I just hope the ceremony isn't the bore that last year's was.

Lee
Tossing It Out

nick said...

Kim Darby stole the show in the original, too.

LTM said...

ahh... I LOVE it when stuff like this happens--unexpected lessons from movies, TV shows, etc. Hubs is a HUGE Coen Bros fan (has or has seen all their movies), so he is DYING to see this one. I'm like, meh. But it looks better than the John Wayne version~ :D <3

Jules said...

Sorry have not seen this version nor read the book but I did see the JW version. I haven't been to a movie in years, cost to much. I do watch videos, when the darn machine works :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

DM said...

PK, if I learned one thing from this article, it is the simplicity of writing. A trigger, a goal, an ending, sprinkled with conflicts. I have wanted to see this movie. Thanks for the review.

Catherine Stine said...

Hi PK
Thanks for breaking down True Grit. It's one I really want to see.
I loved Black Swan--a lot! It's similar to something I'm writing now in terms of its blend of magical realism and horror elements. It's a genre that's new to me, and I'm having a blast writing it.
Hey, and I'm following you now. I saw your post on my blog. I'm in ABNA too, as CM Stine. If we make it to the next round I'd love to trade reviews. You? Catherine

Pk Hrezo said...

Sure, Catherine! Sounds great and good luck!

Adina West said...

Haven't seen Black Swan or True Grit but have seen the King's Speech. Would love to see the other two as well!

Hmmmm, Patricia? Patience? Paloma? (assuming it starts with Pa) If it's not one of those I'm all out of ideas...

William Kendall said...

Terrific review! And it's a great film, I really enjoyed it.

I also loved The King's Speech and 127 Hours as well.

Lisa Gail Green said...

That was an awesome analysis! I loved that movie, INCEPTION too, though it was very different and the plot was complex.

Dawn Simon said...

I agree about Hailee Steinfeld! She's an awesome actress and so adorable! I only saw some of the movies up for Best Picture, but I saw and loved, loved, loved THE KING'S SPEECH. That Colin Firth...I'm such a fan. I hope to see more of the nominated films next year before the Oscars so I can feel all official-like when we're watching. :)