All the same, I've been getting back into the swing of blogging, whether people are reading me or not, and continue to wonder what it is about me that seems to set me so much apart. A month or so back, I watched True Grit with my father. No, not the John Wayne version, but the Coen one.
Both of which are based on a book, by the way. My dad's a big John Wayne fan. I thought he'd get a kick out of seeing the new version. Afterward, I asked him what he thought. His main reaction was that, all things considered, the story was more or less how he remembered it.
You've got to know, as far as I'm concerned there are huge differences between the two movies. I grew up watching John Wayne because of my dad, so I'd seen his version as a kid, but that was the last time. So by the time I saw Jeff Bridges assume the role of Rooster Cogburn, I was seeing the story with fresh eyes. I was riveted. I haven't seen all of the Coens' movies, but I've long admired their skill as filmmakers. They're very much part of the generation that has helped, so far as I'm concerned, make film the truly dynamic art form it has long waited to become.
Which is to say, I believe films as a whole are today better than they have ever been. Film is that rare art form born in the modern age. We've seen the whole development unfold before us. Although there have been artful contributors throughout its history, the whole of it has really come together in recent years. It's less and less possible to see the seams.
Which is to say, it's always worth retelling a familiar story. It always was, mind you. That's how storytelling began, even when it was merely a matter of preserving a memory. Stories inevitably change in the retelling. It's more probable than not (sorry, Patriots fans!) that Homer's version of the Trojan War differs wildly from how it originally unfolded.
My greatest sin as a writer is allowing people to say around me, constantly, the fallacy everyone accepts as fact: that Hollywood has nothing new to say, that remakes and sequels dominate the box office because there's no originality. Every single time I should be vigorously arguing this point. Because every single time, these movies are saying something new, even when they're hinging on something you already know.
Because the story changes every time, changes in how it's told, in story and in style. John Wayne's Rooster Cogburn is similar to Jeff Bridges' mostly in that they both have eye patches. I know Wayne won an Oscar for his performance, but there's no question who put more work into their version, and who had better filmmakers around them. Or at least there shouldn't be.
Except there are those who don't see the difference. I've long had a problem understanding that. People view things differently. This is something everyone knows in theory, but in practice very few of us take this into account. Usually, we take such distinctions only in whether we love it or hate it.
But that's just not good enough. Part of what drove me away was getting into a dispute I simply walked away from. The person in question brought up something that had happened here on this blog, that I had to go back and reference myself just to see if I understood what had happened. Turns out I might have been misinterpreting something that had been said, but there wasn't any clarification at the time, and really, there's no point. That's the sort of problem that would lead to someone hating something, and someone else loving it. The truth is somewhere in-between, as it usually is.
When I blog, I tend to write about the things I love, and often, it seems, I love things that have garnered otherwise poor reactions. This tends to put me on the defensive. What people crave, rather, is a certain uniformity, or, certainly, not being contradicted. That's why most comments on blogs are people agreeing with whatever was originally said. Well.
I can do nothing for you, son.