Sunday, January 02, 2011

True Grit Holidays

New Year's Eve 2010: the Great Melt here in northern Illinois. Three or so week's worth of snow started melting in earnest with overnight above-freezing temps early on the 30th. By the 31st, all except the hardiest of snow islands were gone and the air pleasant, like a lost day of spring. A parting gift from the year 2010, which will not be remembered fondly for a while, and then forgotten in its particulars, except by historians and other eccentrics.

I finished True Grit, the Charles Portis novel, on Christmas Day; and saw True Grit, the movie now playing, on New Year's Day. Like a lot of people, I hadn't ever read the book, but had seen and enjoyed the famed earlier movie version, though it's been a good many years now.

The prospect of seeing the new movie led me to the book first, and I was rewarded with the best novel I've read in years. Guess I'm a sucker for books about tough yet sympathetic characters on harrowing journeys as opposed to, say, books about unhappy academics who commit adultery and struggle to write books about unhappy academics who commit adultery.

The Coen brothers' movie hews pretty close to the book, which helped make it satisfying, though they usually make satisfying movies in a lot of other ways, such as by hiring a talented cast and paying close attention to the details of time and place, as they did with True Grit. The arresting visuals, with Texas passing for Oklahoma, greatly added to the effect.

I dragged Lilly, protesting, to see the movie. She's old enough now to see an occasional movie that hasn't been dumbed down for an adolescent audience, male or female. She was one of the youngest members of the New Year's Day audience at the suburban multiplex we visited, a fact she pointed out. But after it was over, she said it was "not bad." High praise indeed for something her dad likes.

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