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JANUARY 3, 2011

True Grit

Two characters in the movie True GritDespite overwhelmingly positive reviews, I left the theater after seeing True Grit thinking only that it was the last Coen Brothers film I'd see.

I'm not a fan of their style, from the washed-out colors to the mannered dialog that's sometimes funny but more often annoying.

Frequent startling flashes of brutal violence may say great art to some people, but just make me turn away from the screen. Maybe I can't blame them for dialog that's based on the novel by Charles Portis, but the violence is a Coen trademark.

I've tried to learn to appreciate the Joel and Ethan, really I have. Even watched Fargo again recently to see if it got better with age. Ditto for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which at least has a killer soundtrack to recommend it. The best I can say for both is that they are more interesting than the average Hollywood mega-movie because of their quirkiness.

If quirky is a virtue, than I get the appeal of the Coens. And I'll admit that as filmmakers they know their stuff. Their films are well-made, no doubt. But I can't connect with their characters, who often are closer to caricatures. Near the end of True Grit I was hoping that both Rooster and the girl would freeze to death in the snow to end the film more quickly. No such luck.

So this is it. I'm swearing off the Coens for good. And I'm adding the John Wayne version of True Grit to my Netflix queue to see how it used to be done.

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