Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I noticed

In case you think it slipped by me, I did notice that both posts yesterday were about movie remakes. Kind of an accident, actually.

And that one was hopeful, while the other was... not. So let's have it out. Right here. Right now.

Sometimes moviemakers can bring something new and fresh to an existing movie, they can modernize it, retell it, spin it, focus on something different, redraw the characters... do all sorts of things that make a remake not necessarily a bad thing. I liked The Thomas Crown Affair, as re-envisioned by John McTiernan (oddly enough, the remake earned a 67 on RT, while the original Norman Jewison-helmed version earned a 76). James Mangold's version of 3:10 To Yuma (RT: 89) last year was a great showcase for Russell Crowe and Christian Bale (though I thought Ben Foster stole every scene he was in). But how many people do you think even knew it was a remake? Let alone had seen the original 1957 version (RT: 95) with Van Heflin and Glenn Ford?

So, yes, there are those lesser known movies that, remade, shine once again for a whole new audience. Or, retold, tell a new tale. But again - isn't there enough content we haven't seen before? Do we have to see the same thing twice? But that's clearly a whole other post...

And then there is the Americanization of Emily (RT: 100) -- I mean of foreign films. Which sometimes goes well. I never saw Trois Hommes et un Couffin (RT: 86), but I saw and loved Three Men and a Baby (RT: 71). And sometimes not. Remember La Femme Nikita? Awesome. RT: 86. Remember Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda? Not so hot. RT: 45.

Like adaptations, it seems to me, unless remakes are interpretations, they're just line-by-line, scene-by-scene recreations. If that's all you're going to do, why bother? (Gus van Sant's version of Psycho very much withstanding.) Add to that, if you're going to take on a movie with actors of lore -- well, you'd better have a very, very good reason. How do you recast Cary Grant? Audrey Hepburn? Gregory Peck? Marilyn Monroe?

Then you have movies that are in and of themselves inviolable (or should be). Whatever alchemy of writing, casting, lighting, costumes, direction and production came together that moment to create that particular magic on the screen - let it be. Let it be. Let it be. Oh, sorry, John and Paul. Seriously though. This happened long before I was blogging, but there are a few of you out there who might remember me when the infamous remake of Sabrina was released. It wasn't pretty. My only consolation? The producer himself later apologized: "What was I thinking when I made 'Sabrina'?" Yeah, buster, what?

The Women is a movie I think is ripe for a remake. Not many have seen the original (sad but true) and it's a sharp and funny premise, with some great characters. If it's redone right - it could entertain a whole new audience.

Seven Samurai, on the other hand. Wow. The whole new audience should just rent the original. Or skip it. No, they should rent it.

Anyway, being the sneaky gal that I am, I got a peek at The Weinstein Company's upcoming production slate. Take a breath now:

Citizen Kane
To Kill a Mockingbird
North by Northwest
and Gone With the Wind.

I'm just kidding.
I hope.

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