January 4, 2011
Just got word that True Grit is at $89,292,295 as of yesterday and has taken the number one position away from The Fockers. At this rate it looks to break the $100 million mark very soon, making it the best opening of any Coen brothers film ever, and the first Western in a long time to break into this territory. This is great news for all of us who love Westerns.
Got another call from a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. They're going to be interviewing the Coen brothers and the reporter asked me what I would ask the boys. Here's what I said:
I would love to ask the Coens several questions about their approach. One website attacks their treating the Indian kids in the film so badly: Rooster kicks the kids off the porch. Here is the blog post about it (not mine):
"Cogburn and Mattie, the fourteen year old played by Hailee Steinfeld, come upon a meager looking farmhouse in Chocktaw Territory that is home to Indians, including a couple of children sitting on the porch. As he enters the house to find out if the inhabitants have any knowledge of the whereabouts of Tom Chaney, he kicks the children on his way up the stairs. For good measure, he kicks them on the way out. What point were the Coens trying to make, that Cogburn was not a nice guy? I think that was pretty well established from the outset. Audiences would probably get a chuckle out of this since it is part and parcel of the sadism that pervades Coen movies. But using Indian children as butts for this kind of humor is pretty tasteless in my view. One imagines that it would be off-limits to see Black children being kicked around in this manner, but Indians are a different story apparently."
Personally, I love this scene because the kids were torturing a mule and Rooster lets them have it. The fact that they were Indian kids made it richer, BECAUSE it defied political correctness. I felt the same way with the two black characters. It's tempting to make them somehow independent, or less indentured, but that's not how it was in the real Old West and the Coens do not duck this. I find this exhilarating. Very brave film-making, in my book.
Here's a couple of questions I would love to ask them:
• Were there scenes you loved that had to be cut? And, what were they?
• How nervous, or intimidated were you about tackling an iconic film that John Wayne basically owned?
• What possessed you to pick the hat that Rooster (Bridges) wore? Please defend that. (I've seen the other hats under consideration by wardrobe and they were quite cool. The hat they ultimately picked looked like a homeless dectective's fedora).
• I've heard through the grapevine that you wrote an original Western. What happened to that project? And why did you switch gears and do this?
• What, if any, did executive producer Steven Spielberg add to the story telling, or the scene selection?
End of questions. I'll keep you posted on that article, and also, I'll see if I can post some of the sketches of the hat styles they didn't use for Rooster in the new True Grit.
"What people want is often what they have, had or thought they had."
—Peter Applebone in the New York Times