The Coen brothers used to come out with a new film every two or three years, and then after the dual low point of their career (Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers), they seemed to have hit a wall, and it was four years later when they brought out No Country For Old Men. Even though they’ve made two films since then, Burn After Reading and A Serious Man, True Grit feels very much like a response to, or a continuation of themes from, the movie that rejuvenated their careers. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that Josh Brolin is again one of the leads. And although it might appear to be both insanely ballsy and completely purposeless to remake a John Wayne classic (what are you really going to do with it?), Jeff Bridges has lately matured into the kind of Hollywood legend who is maybe the only guy around who could pull this off. Right now we’re seeing so many Hollywood legends die every day; the last of the greats keep dropping before our eyes. But Bridges feels like someone who is just now becoming a Hollywood legend of today, and there aren’t many in this day and age, not on that level. Even casting someone like Tommy Lee Jones just would have felt like repeating something that has already been done dozens of times before, and yet still wouldn’t be hitting the mark. But Bridges feels like a very inspired and authentic way of reimagining the character. Also doesn’t hurt he’s worked with the Coens before, though Lebowski was about as far from this as you can get. So in the category of “films you probably don’t ever want to remake,” True Grit looks as though it’s a 180 from their last foray of The Ladykillers, and a very personal project in spite of itself.
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