Recycling at the Cinema: True Grit, The Great Gatsby and RED

by Sophia Savage
October 19, 2010 6:12 AM
4 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

We all know recycling is good for the planet, but is it good for cinema? Consider three old-is-new retreads: a western remake, a 1920s period piece and a contemporary action flick. True Grit is a remake of a 1969 John Wayne film which was adapted from a novelization of a Charles Portis 1968 serial which first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post. The Great Gatsby started as a lauded 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald novel which became a film in 1926 and again in 1949 and 1974. Even comedy hit RED, although it is not based on a book or an old movie, still exists--argues Movie City News--due to recycling of the DC graphic novel's plot and characters. There's nothing new here: movies have been adapting popular fiction for as long as they've been around. What's horrifying is Hollywood's current aversion to anything original.

Baz Luhrmann is workshopping scenes from The Great Gatsby in New York with potential stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Jay Gatsby), Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway) and Rebecca Hall (Daisy Buchanan). Many folks are excited at the prospect of seeing a new generation of actors bite into the first big-screen version of Fitzgerald's rich classic in thirty-six years.

Thompson on Hollywood

- True Grit's young star, Hailee Steinfeld, tells USA Today that it was easy to bond with her male costars because "they all have daughters. So they knew." Steinfeld's goal during filming was to be "as tough as she can be." Jeff Bridges says of her character: "The girl might seem innocent, but she's quite intellectual and quite savvy about a lot of things." His own character is quite the opposite: "Rooster's innocence and naïveté are brought to light, even through his grizzledness." But, don't be fooled, Bridges warns: "Rooster is the badass merciless one. You don't want to mess with him." Bridges rejoins the Coen brothers for the first time since the 1998 cult hit The Big Lebowski which brought us "The Dude." It's his first film since his Oscar-winning Crazy Heart. True Grit comes out Christmas Day. Question is: did USA Today see the film?

- MCN's Noah Forrest disdains both RED and The Expendables. RED' action scenes lack excitement and the jokes are lame, he writes: "It's the same movie you've seen countless times except…everyone's retirement age!…everything about the film feels recycled and repackaged." He is fed up with filmmakers and studios "trotting out the same old crap and putting some silly twist on that crap and calling it original." Worse still is when critics don't call them on it:

"Look, the bottom line is that people are going to see this movie and say, 'well, as long as you turn your brain off, it’ll be a good time!' This is one of my least favorite phrases. Perhaps I’m not as highly evolved, but I don’t know how to turn my brain off. Mine always seems to stay on and tell me when something is stupid. It’s not that the film is completely devoid of pleasure, it’s not flat-out awful, it’s just uninspired."


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4 Comments

  • Griff | October 19, 2010 10:58 AMReply

    While serialized excerpts of Portis' TRUE GRIT first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, it was originally conceived and written as a novel -- the published book is scarcely a "novelization" of the Post material.

  • Sergio | October 19, 2010 10:24 AMReply

    I know of it, but I've never seen that version. But interestingly Da Silva also appears briefly in the Redford version

  • Brian | October 19, 2010 8:15 AMReply

    You forgot the 1949 film version of GATSBY, directed by Elliott Nugent at Paramount and starring Alan Ladd, Betty Field, MacDonald Carey, Ruth Hussey, Barry Sullivan, Howard Da Silva, Shelley Winters, Henry Hull, Ed Begley, and Elisha Cook among others. What a cast!

  • Sergio | October 19, 2010 7:36 AMReply

    I donlt mind remakes if I know the director will put an original spin on the film. True Grit I'm dying to see because the Coen brothers version will be no doubt a tougher, starker, meaner version than Henry Hathaway's 1969 version (which itself was a pretty tough movie for it's time) I dread Luhrmann's version of gatsby since it's no doubt be over the top, grandiose and every shot won't longer than five seconds. And I like the Robert Redford version directed by Jack Clayton and written by Francis Ford Coppola. It's nowhere bad as the recation the film got at the time of its release and is actually quite well done

    RED was an empty exercise and boring to boost. (as bored as Bruce Willis' expression throughout the entire film) I didn't laugh once ot thought it was fun. The Expendables was something else altogether A fun, violent, throw back to 80's action films and you could tell the cast was having ball doing it. And never for one second did it take itself seriously

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