Friday, June 10, 2011

True Grit - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: June, 7 2011

Watching this film again at home has only solidified it as one of the best films to come out in the last few years, the fact that it is a western only makes it that much more special. It is also notable for giving us what I believe to be one of the best debut performances by an actor ever with the discovery of Hailee Steinfeld. I still hold true that she gave the best performance of last year no matter what anyone says. I have also found a new appreciation for the ending of the film which I was initially lukewarm on but after understanding the novel a little more I have come to like it. This is an amazing movie filled with amazing performances across the board that will please just about anyone who gives it a chance.

Review Vital Stats:
Format: Blu-ray
Player: Playstation 3
Monitor: Samsung 40' LCD Series 5
Picture Quality: 1080p
Sound Quality: DTS HD - English

Excerpt from my original theatrical review:

The Coen brothers are probably the most frustrating film makers out there, to me at least. I love just about everything they have done going all the way back to their origins in the 80's. They display a certain amount of care when it comes to how characters interact and relate to one another unlike any other directors working in the business today. Their characters may seem off kilter and extremely off the wall at first but after just a few lines of dialogue you can't help but become completely enveloped in their strange mannerisms coupled with their general sense of oddness. Even the characters that seem to be grounded in some sort of reality have these quirks and identifiers to them that gives each and every person on screen their own unique personality. The frustrating part to all of this is that to this day neither Joel or Ethan Coen have ever truly ended one of their films in a satisfactory manner.

Read the full review here.


What's on the disc?

With this being a Coen Brothers film there were certain things I knew to not expect from any of it's features. First is that there would not be an audio commentary. Second is that there would not be any direct interviews featuring the brothers. Third is that almost all the features would deal with the production of the film with no real behind the scenes pieces. I am happy to report that all three of those expectations have been met and while it isn't necessarily a forgone conclusion that their films lack those features all the time (The Man Who Wasn't There features a rare commentary by the brothers for instance) it helps prepare you for the lack of very many useful features. That being said though I think most will find what is provided here to be a fairly good collection of features that will help you appreciate the work that went into the creation of such a realistic portrayal of the wild west.


Mattie's True Grit (5:13 min) HD - An interview with the talented young actress Hailee Steinfeld where she discusses her excitement in being part of a Coen Brothers film and how blessed she is to be in such good company.

From Bustles to Buckskin - Dressing for the 1880's (8:02 min) HD - A look at the creation of the costumes and how each piece was designed with their specific characters in mind.

Colts, Winchesters & Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western (4:41 min) HD - A quick look at the different weapons used by the principal characters and a brief bit of history on each one.

Re-creating Forth Smith (11:20 min) HD - How the production designers turned a small town into the old west town of Fort Smith. The amount of work that went into the re-creation of the town was very meticulous from people having to manually take leaves off a full grown tree to represent the winter season to the train used in the opening scene. When I saw they had to remove the telephone poles entirely I was in awe of the work that went into this set.

The Cast (5:25 min) HD - Exactly what you would expect with the actors praising one another but in this case all the praise is worthy. Hearing how caught off guard both Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon were with Hailee's performance was a sentiment shared by many. Plus it helps give a little more attention to what I consider to be the unsung hero amongst the talented cast with a fantastic performance by Josh Brolin.

Charles Portis - The Greatest Writer You've Never Heard Of... (30:55 min) HD - The meat of the features collected here. This is a small biography on the man responsible for the novel the film was based on with some interviews from known writers and directors on the influence Portis has had on the world. I had never read the novel and didn't realize just how accurate the film was to the ending of the book which gives me pause on my initial reaction to the ending. This was a very welcome addition.

Cinematography of True Grit (2:57 min) HD - True Grit is a beautiful film and this is a celebration of the man responsible for that feat, Mr. Roger Deakins. A bit short but a welcome addition none the less.

Theatrical Trailer (2:33 min) HD - The film's original theatrical trailer.

Final Verdict:

If you are looking for a movie that will sweep you up and that you can lose yourself in while watching then this is it. The sense of place and time that it evokes is second to none and everyone involved was spot on. This being the very first true western the Coen Brothers have tackled makes it even more special if you are a fan of any of their previous works. Plus it is worth noting on top of all that by introducing us to Hailee Steinfeld, a young and talented actress that we will be seeing a whole lot more of in the coming years. The audio and video aspects are what we have come to expect from the Blu-ray format with everything being crystal clear across the board. The extra features are a little more in depth than your usual Coen Brothers film and help give you a better understanding of all the work that was put into the film.

Movie   -  A
Video   -  A
Audio   -  A
Extras  -  B




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