True Grit

Well, the Denny’s garden burger has gone the way of all flesh. Betty and the husband person dropped in there, nostalgically, after a movie the other night; but although the waiter remembered the old menu, it was club sandwiches or nothing on the vegetable front.

Still, though. The movie was this one:

And a fine job it is too. It’s the story of Mattie Ross, a fourteen-year-old girl determined to bring her father’s killer to justice. The killer’s identity is not in question, but the authorities seem to operate on a very freelance and as-desired basis; Mattie selects a trigger-happy marshal (Jeff Bridges) as the pursuer, and strikes a deal with her father’s money. She insists on going along — after all, she’s the one with the hundred dollars — and the pair are joined by a hapless Texas ranger (Matt Damon), who has been ineffectually searching for the same man for some time, and who expects a large reward.

The film is beautifully and unhurriedly paced, brilliantly cast (Matt Damon is genuinely horrible for the first half hour, and Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie is an unsettling combination of ferociously untamed eyebrows and blankly literal determination), and set in the spacious forests and deserts of Fort Smith. There plot twists are simple and straightforward; bit parts, though they stray easily into the semi-ridiculous (like a travelling medical man dressed in an entire bearskin) somehow don’t pull the story too far into crude hick humour. Even the dialogue, excessively stylised and formal, doesn’t become cutesy. What could easily be a cheap trick, a forgettable kid-with-gun caper, manages — effortlessly, at that — to hold its own.

The true centre of the film, though, is in the tension between Mattie’s unshakeable faith in “grit” — the kind of strength of character that leads her marshal to lose count of the suspects he has taken on himself to shoot — and the haunting simplicity of the score that accompanies nearly all of the story’s significant moments. Even before the adult Mattie opens the film by declaring, in retrospect, that “there is nothing free, except the grace of God”, the musical phrase is a line from the hymn “Leaning on the everlasting arms”. It is repeated in every crisis, before every action, whether reaching for a gun, or standing outnumbered among a group of desperate fugitives. Safe and secure from all alarms…

There is crime and pursuit here, but no mystery; Mattie’s faith can admit no defeat. The film, like her mission, moves steadfastly on. Its climax is shocking on paper, but consummately logical and satisfying in the flesh. What have I to dread?, Mattie’s unperturbed countenance seems to say. What have I to fear? And her tumultuous story ends in peace, as she and her guardian hymn together declare that true grit is born of a blessed assurance, and of nothing else, and most certainly not the other way around.

 

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Mission Bay mish

The other day, Betty and the boy person friend went to Mission Bay, which is a swish beachy affair with a Movenpick parlour. There were no Movenpick icecreams eaten on this mish, however.

Pretty, huh? They walked along the beach for a bit, and then bowed to the inevitable and went for a burger.

Betty’s was a remarkably good crumbed pumpkin and spinach pattie with salad. Nom nom nom.

While they ate, Betty wondered about the blue tarpaulin lashed to the side of the cliff. Some elderly lady, no doubt, who lives in one of the swish houses on the top of the cliff probably lowers herself onto it every morning to do her sketches.

I want to be like her when I grow up.

More things I love about my job

  • I get to drive past Random House Books, which has a pleasing sign out the front, viz:

  • The cars have remote locking and flash their lights — simple pleasures, I know
  • When I am early I can get a tiny burger from Burger Fuel
  • Or a Thai meal
  • Though I have never done so
  • There are actual magazines in the staffroom, with covers and actual words, like North & South and Mindfood and so on, rather than tattered stripped copies of Truth
  • Other staff encourage me to leave humorous messages on the whiteboards
  • I get to sing in the car

Picnic

The boy person friend and I took his dog for a picnic the other day. I had an extremely fine veggie burger from the takeaway bar, with avocado and so on: it was lovely. The BPF had some sort of pie-like substance, and Monty had a jerky chew and some chips.