"True Grit" in the True West

So last night I saw the Coen Brothers’ True Grit in the mountain town of Canon City, Colorado, which was at one point in the 1880s the stagecoach stop east of Bighorn Canyon. A Western in a town of the New (Old) West. Jeff Bridges outdoes John Wayne easily, as the crusty Rooster Cogburn, his voice extra-gravelly and rough, saying lines like, “I don’t believe in fairy tales nor sermons about money, Baby Sister, but I do appreciate the cigarette.” The actress who plays Maddie Ross steals the show. Like Miller’s Crossing, which pays homage to other gangster and film noir directors/writers, True Grit seems to allude to other great westerns, especially Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man and Cat Ballou—which, by the way, was filmed in Custer County, Colorado, where I am now. I liked the courtroom scene in particular, and the moment when Maddie Ross jumps into the river and swims it on her horse is thrilling. I still like A Serious Man better, but I’m sure I’ll watch True Grit over and over again.
It was dusk when we left the theater and we headed west toward home, into a sunset silhouetting the Sangre de Cristo mountains, and it was like we were headed into True Grit country, armed only with a halfbag full of popcorn and the black bones of Junior Mints rattling around in a waxy white paper box.

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