Mr. Bridges, you’re free to go.

I bellyached about the atrocity to my ears that was committed by Tron:Legacy, and unfortunately I had to wag the finger of shame at Jeff Bridges. I know it was a fat paycheck, and sometimes an actor has to go back to a role even if he knows it’s going to turn out poorly, but I cannot grade on a curve. Not even for The Dude.

Thankfully, Jeff is now out of the dog house and free to return to his place inside the warm part of my heart. I just watched True Grit. His acting is fantastic and he gives such great depth to the character of Rooster Cogburn. He’s helped along by excellent dialogue written by the Coen brothers, and the strong cast surrounding him.

The best part of the movie isn’t Jeff Bridges, it’s the actress playing Maddie Ross. The strength and composure that 14 year  old Hailee Steinfield brings to the character is amazing. In a very strange turn of events, I formed a sense of paternal fondness for Maddie, adopting her as an imaginary daughter within the first half hour of the film. I am proud of a fictional character. If that’s not a sign of dissociation from reality, then I don’t know what is.

The movie itself inspired me, but in a slightly different way than I’m used to. I usually walk out of movies with my creative gland swollen and ready to expell….well that’s a disgusting image. Let’s try that again. I usually leave a movie feeling artistically inspired, either by having seen great art, or having endured someone ruining a perfectly good idea. This time, I was inspired by the filmmakers’ dedication to their craft. This movie was a perfect example of a Western. It should be held up as the archetype for a Western. The Coens don’t try to re-invent or turn it inside out: they lovingly pay attention to every detail, and stay true to every element that makes a movie in the Western genre great. This was a movie made with determination and hard work, and that makes me want to keep working hard and getting better at my craft.

Side note: you will not see another movie this decade that so accurately portrays the terrible, compromised state of the human mouth. History is full of rotten teeth and men mumbling through them.

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