Press

The Director’s Cut

The Daily World – February 26, 2011

By HERMAN FUSELIER
Special to The Daily World

The Oscar experts can have “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” in tonight’s 83rd annual Academy Awards. Pat Mire, Acadiana’s award-winning documentary filmmaker, is going with “True Grit.”

Nominated for 10 Oscars, “True Grit” is Joel and Ethan Coen’s retelling of a 1969 Western featuring legendary actor John Wayne. Mire said the new version lives up to the film’s name.

“I’m a huge fan of Roger Deakins, the cinematographer from ‘True Grit,’” said Mire, a 57-year-old native of Eunice. “He is the master for me. It took me a while, but I like all the Coen brothers’ pictures. They’re real open minded and they deal with all these issues that I like — from biblical to current race issues. They’re not scared to tackle anything. What’s undeniable is these guys are great storytellers. That’s what we need to go back to.”

Mire picks “True Grit” for Best Picture, Directing, Costume Design, Art Direction and Cinematography. He taps its stars, Jeff Bridges and 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, for Leading Actor and Supporting Actress Oscars.

Mire knows he’s going against the tide of popular opinion. But he can relate to a comeback story such as “True Grit,” the tale of an aging marshal hired by a young girl to capture her father’s killer.

Mire, whose films of Cajun and Creole Louisiana have been celebrated around the world, is working on his own comeback. Since 2002, he has had only one release, “Mon Cher Camarade,” a 2009 film on Louisiana’s native French speakers and their vital roles as translators during World War II.

Mire soon will tell the world about fellow Eunice native and guitar virtuoso Gerry McGee in the film “Sushi and Sauce Piquante.” In his 50-year career, McGee has played and recorded with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra and Booker T and the MGs. In 1968, McGee joined The Ventures, a instrumental rock band that sold 110 million albums and still is idolized in Japan. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

The documentary is told through the voices of McGee and the many artists he has worked with over the years, including Kris Kristofferson, Dr. John, Edward James Olmos, James Burton and Bonnie Bramlett. The film blends interviews and musical performances with archival footage and photographs, live action 35mm cinematography and an outstanding soundtrack.

Mire said “Sushi and Sauce Piquante,” set for release this fall, captures a collision of two cultures. “It’s these two cultures I’m bringing together — Japanese and South Louisiana French culture. It’s like Barry Ancelet told me a long time ago, jazz or rock ‘n’ roll could not have happened in Africa or Europe. It took a collision of two cultures.”

“I knew The Ventures had outsold The Beatles 2-to-1 in Japan. They connected to the instrumental music. It’s universal.”

“When people hear the old zydeco and Cajun music and the guys are singing in French, they’re not understanding what’s going down. But they’re digging the music. It’s soulful. That’s really special in this universe.”

Mire is excited about the film and believes it’s “going to make some noise.” He’s taking a cue from some of his favorite Oscar winners, such as The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption and To Kill a Mockingbird — good movies are about telling great stories.

“When you look at the Oscar films, they’re not gimmicky. They fade to black, they fade back up. They have dissolves in them. That’s early cinema and it never changes. You don’t see that artsy stuff that they’re doing so much now. The films that affected me a lot are the ones that make you change the way you think about things. It’s still all about telling good stories.”