Saturday, February 12, 2011

Movies -- True Grit, a Western, leads off Berlin Film Festival

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

What is it with people who keep getting surprised that westerns can -- and often are/have been -- good? And not just good, but worthy of viewing by those who do not live where the antelopes roam (or roamed). I liked and enjoyed (but didn't love) True Grit -- which is apparently heading now to be the highest grossing western in history.

The movie, nominated for multiple Oscars, opened the Berlin Film Festival this week -- just days after the  annual Country Music Messe (and rival Country Music Meeting) took place in Berlin -- festivals where, in at atmosphere scorned or ridiculed by many of those people who enjoy True Grit, thousands of fans dress up in cowboy gear to hear performances by dozens of (loud) bands.

BBC runs a nice interview with Jeff Bridges, the star of True Grit, who makes no apology for liking adopting a cowboy guise. His part in the movie -- one-eyed Rooster Cogburn -- was made famous by John Wayne in the original True Grit movie in 1969.

Bridges was more concerned about filling some bigger boots - those of his father, Lloyd Bridges, who acted in many Hollywood Westerns.

"I love dressing up as a cowboy," he says. "It reminds me of my childhood - my father was in so many of those films and I'd remember him coming through the door, in his boots and hat.

"He'd let me wear his things, and I'd call up my friends to come and play."

Bridges dismisses the idea he has helped make the genre fasionable again.

"I think these things are cyclical and the Western is just part of American history and could never really go away," he says.

"I think this is more to do with the Coen brothers and what they will do with a script.

"Also it's unusual, because there's not many hard-hitting films with a 14-year-old girl who is the central character. None of us can quite believe how well it's done though," he adds.

As it stands, True Grit could become the highest grossing Western ever. That should remove Jeff Bridges from the shadow of even the Duke himself.

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