Charles Portis

Culture Warrior

It’s become common wisdom to say that the best remakes are those made of non-canonical, non-classic films; that is, it’s typically better to give a second go to a film that – while possibly venerated, is hardly deemed a work of perfection that can’t be improved upon – than to redo a classic. Such a rule isn’t set in stone, of course, but it can be argued through example via some of the most celebrated of remakes (like The Thing or, in a more modest and more recent example of improvement-on-imperfection, The Crazies), and are often a result of a genuine inspiration from the source material rather than a simple means of capitalizing from its name. With the Coen brothers’ quite popular and much celebrated remake of True Grit, however, the distinction of what kind of a remake it is isn’t exactly so clear, as what kind of movie the original is proves to be something of an enigma in of itself.

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There’s a core lesson somewhere inside the remake (or novel re-adaptation) of True Grit about pulling on bootstraps, feeling the bitter cold of the ride, and doing what needs to be done. Of course, that lesson is buried beneath a lot of snide remarks and funny moments. Even if the lesson is hard to find, the film itself is a reminder that there are few things quite as entertaining as seeing a snotty little girl and an eye-patched drunkard go exact a little buck shot revenge. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is desperate to track down the man who killed her father, so she enlists the reluctant help of sodden U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who takes every opportunity to brag about himself. Through a tough ride in Indian Territory, Mattie comes gun barrel to gun barrel with murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) with a chance to pull the trigger and right his wrong.

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Greg Mottola and Bill Hader go from Adventureland to Dog of the South.

Another Charles Portis novel has been optioned for a big screen adaptation – this time by Superbad and Adventureland alumni Bill Hader and Greg Mottola.

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Who could replace John Wayne?

If anyone could do it, it’s the Coen Brothers. But who could possible fill John Wayne’s shoes as the iconic Rooster Cogburn?

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