We are on the $5, two-DVD-per-month Netflix plan. The next step up is unlimited 1-at-a-time, which would be too much of a temptation to fill hours with video. So we watch our two DVDs per month, and supplement with DVDs we own and occasional streaming video.
This month the remake of True Grit was released the same day our first DVD was set to ship, so I asked for it and got it. We’ve watched it twice, and now it will go back. It was enjoyable, but not remarkable. I still don’t know what to make of the deliberately stilted dialogue, but it did lend an interesting atmosphere and make for some funny moments. The story itself left me cold.
A couple of weeks earlier we had watched Clint Eastwood’s Hang ‘Em High, which is set in the same place and era. Although the movie was really a glorified TV show, we enjoyed it quite a bit. And between viewings of True Grit we watched one of my favorite movies ever, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, which I think of as a high point not only for the western but for film itself.
Three westerns in a row had me yearning for the old days, when the western was a major genre for movies. Roger Ebert once floated the theory that the western, somewhat uncertain in the late 1960s when the public mood turned cynical, was dealt a death blow by Blazing Saddles—after seeing that, no one could watch a serious western without busting out laughing. A shame, really, because the western era is the only one that support a mythic story for us, the atmosphere being both totally alien and quintessentially American, a perfect backdrop for a morality tale.
Maybe that’s why True Grit left me cold—it had all the trappings, even the structure of a morality tale, but didn’t actually tell one.