Hollywood westerns don't sell very well anymore. Remakes of westerns don't sell and they tend to remind those who do see them of the superiority of the originals. So remaking the iconic 1969 western, "True Grit," for which John Wayne received his only Best Actor Oscar, seems an odd choice for the Coen brothers.
But the extremely successful directors of "Fargo," "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" and "No Country for Old Men," are indeed remaking "True Grit." They stress that their effort is based more on the 1968 novel by Charles Portis than the original movie. Still, The Duke's portrayal of hard-drinking, one-eyed Marshall Rooster Cogburn has been a TV staple for decades. Portis' novel - not so much.
The Coens' quirky, often dark and sometimes absurd portraits of America couldn't be much more different from any flick in John Wayne's legendary career. And maybe that's the point. After all, any movie with America-bashing lefty Matt Damon in an important supporting role is bound to be at odds with traditional takes on the American frontier. All the more-so because Damon admitted, "I've never even seen the original John Wayne movie."
The Coens cast 2010 Best Actor Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges as Cogburn. Bridges will have to be a heck of an actor to do the character justice, because in real life, he couldn't be more different than Wayne, a traditional conservative.
Bridges is an admitted pot-smoker and marijuana legalization advocate. On his website, Bridges has a page dedicated to the End Hunger Network, a charity he helped establish. While Bridges work with this charity is admirable, he downplays the role of charities on the page, and advocates for massive government intervention.
We can never end hunger through the wonderful work of local charities - like other western democracies, we must end hunger through governmental leadership. Charity is nice for some things, but not as a way to feed a nation. We don't protect our national security through charities and we shouldn't protect our families that way either.
Included in the cast are Josh Brolin, son of James Brolin and stepson of actress and liberal activist Barbara Streisand. Brolin and Damon, who play's Glenn Campbell's old role as LeBeuf, have collaborated before. They participated (along with Hugo Chavez pal Danny Glover) in a History Channel Miniseries based around the 1980 anti-American revisionist book, "A People's History of the United States," written by communist historian Howard Zinn. And of course, there's Damon, fresh from his failed anti-American agit-prop thriller, "The Green Zone."
So maybe the Coens know what they're doing, and we can all look forward to "A People's History of True Grit."