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

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood October 19, 2010 at 6:12AM

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.
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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."


This article is related to: Box Office, Directors, Genres, Headliners, Stuck In Love, Daily Read, Production , Fall, Winter, Coens, Remake, Period, Action, Books, Western, Classics, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, Critics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.