Posts Tagged ‘remakes’

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

tn_noodleshopThere’s a nice little tradition of cross-cultural, cross-genre remakes. The most famous of course is the Japanese samurai movie YOJIMBO becoming the Italian western A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. And recently I reviewed the Japanese samurai remake of the American western UNFORGIVEN. There was also BLIND FURY, that was an American action movie based on Zatoichi, and they didn’t even have to get cowboys involved at all. There are both Indian and American remakes of OLDBOY. This is a thing that we do now. If the story is strong enough it can work, and translate in different ways for different cultures.

Still, it was a surprise in 2009 when Zhang Yimou, director of gorgeous epics like HERO and RAISE THE RED LANTERN, took on the Coen Brothers’ lean neo-noir debut BLOOD SIMPLE. The dry, dusty tale of adultery, murder and dumb mistakes becomes a period Chinese story with broad comedy elements. It’s weird and not entirely successful, but interesting to a fan of this type of cultural outreach. (read the rest of this shit…)

SIFF review: Unforgiven (2013 Japanese remake)

Friday, May 30th, 2014

tn_unforgiven13There has long been a beautiful cultural exchange between America and Japan. They captivated us with their ninjas and their karate, we let them use our rockabilly. We loaned them Steven Seagal, they sent him back polished into an aikido master. A few samurai movies have been famously remade as westerns, but it’s about time it went in the other direction. Director Sang-il Lee (HULA GIRLS, VILLAIN) has taken a little 1992 movie by the name of Clint Motherfuckin Eastwood’s Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Film Editing Oscar winner UNFORGIVEN and faithfully remade it as a samurai picture.

I think this is the type of remake that’s a sign of respect, not exploitation of an existing title. It’s saying “we all know this great movie UNFORGIVEN, I mean what kind of assholes do you take us for, but here is another take on it for you to enjoy a bit before returning to the original.” Even in that case the impossible part about remaking a Clint Eastwood movie has got to be finding a guy to replace Clint Eastwood. I gotta say, Ken Watanabe was a brilliant choice. He has a stoicism and masculine presence that’s reminiscent of Clint, he kinda looks like him on the poster, and he even knows the guy well as the lead in Eastwood’s underrecognized-even-while-nominated-for-best-picture directorial work LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. But his character Jubei is not just an imitation of Clint’s William Munny. He’s a little less gruff, and even more internal. He talks a little less I think, even skipping a perfect spot to fit in the famous line “Deserve’s got nothin to do with it.” I guess he figures it goes without saying. (read the rest of this shit…)

RoboCop (2014 remake)

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

tn_robocop14Many remakes, even good ones, remove or weaken the meaning or subtext of the originals. The classic example is Zack Snyder’s DAWN OF THE DEAD (by this same production company, Strike Entertainment), which is a fun action movie version of Romero’s masterpiece, but doesn’t have much time for the questions about our voluntary enslavement to consumerism and materialism. How do we keep our humanity in the face of this apocalypse? Did we have it in the first place? Who gives a shit. Zombies!

Another one is LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. A surprisingly good remake, in many ways more artful than the original, but with its last act tweaks and audience-pleasing ending it completely ditches the thing that makes Wes Craven’s version worth stomaching: its angry illustration of the dehumanizing effect that revenge has on those who commit it. According to the last scene of the remake fuck all that, sadistic revenge is funny and cool.

ROBOCOP 2014’s goals and tone are very different from Mr. Verhoeven’s 1987 classic, but it’s the rare remake that’s arguably even more directly political than the movie it’s based on. Most would say, and I agree, that Verhoeven’s (or really Neumeier and Miner’s) message about privatization and corporate greed is more powerful because of its hilarious bluntness. It was the sarcastic cop movie that Lee Iacoca and Ronald Reagan’s America was asking for, a movie where amoral corporate assholes run the police force for profit, turn a dead body into a cyborg cop, then unleash him to do high caliber battle with savage DEATH WISH style supercreeps and get mixed up in a feud within the company, reconnect with his old self and turn on them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Oldboy (2013 remake)

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

tn_oldboyBefore I talk about the remake of OLDBOY it’s important that I say I liked the original but only saw it one time 8 years ago. Here’s what I wrote about it then.

In the remake directed by Spike Lee and written by Mark Protosevich (THE CELL, I AM LEGEND), Josh Brolin (THRASHIN’) plays a Nick Nolte character named Joe Doucett. He’s an alcoholic, sexually harassing deadbeat dad and advertising asshole who after a long night of drinking, puking and crying in 1993 meets a woman who takes him to a hotel and when he wakes up he realizes she’s not there and there are no windows or doorknobs. One of those hotel conundrums, you know. And this was before Yelp and shit like that so he couldn’t even give them a bad review. Turns out this is not a normal hotel in that you can’t leave. Someone, for some reason, has locked him in this weird prison. Every day they stick a plate of dumplings and a bottle of vodka through a hatch in the door, but they don’t tell him why he’s here.
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Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

tn_notld90I still love the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, a nice, moody little cinematic play about differences of opinion between strangers hiding out in a farm house during the first ever worldwide zombie epidemic. I believe I watched it Halloween night of 2012 and I realized I’d kind of worn it out, it was too burnt into my brain and I’d need to take a break from it for a few years at least so I could appreciate it more next time.

But I was really jonesing to watch DAWN and DAY of the dead before Halloween this year so I decided to do a historically inaccurate color trilogy by substituting the 1990 remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, which I hadn’t watched in some time. (read the rest of this shit…)

Summer Movie Flashback: The Taking of Pelham 123

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

tn_takingofpelham

2009

2009

After their disagreement over DOMINO, my eyeballs and Tony Scott’s movies weren’t speaking to each other for years. But UNSTOPPABLE was okay and then the poor guy died and my eyeballs started to feel kinda bad and got nostalgic for all the good times of TRUE ROMANCE and CRIMSON TIDE and all that, and they finally saw REVENGE and they liked that quite a bit. You know, maybe if they had known what was coming they could’ve patched things up like N.W.A. did when Eazy E was dying. But that just wasn’t the way it worked out. It’s too bad.

Anyway I got caught in the middle of that beef and that’s why I skipped PELHAM 123 until now. Plus I really like the original and thought (well, knew) it could only suffer from updating. (read the rest of this shit…)

Maniac (2013 remake)

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

tn_maniac2013It’s been a while since I’ve seen William Lustig’s MANIAC, but its memory lingers as a favorite movie somewhere in the scummy part of my brain. It’s not a slasher movie by my definition because it follows the killer the whole time, but that makes it more upsetting. Played by GODFATHER I-II supporting player Joe Spinell (who also co-wrote the movie), this maniac is a sweaty, disgusting mess living in the shadows of the flea-bitten New York City of 1980, the era of peep shows and grindhouses. He was the weirdo women had to worry about following them on the subway. He was literally the guy you didn’t want to run into in a dark alley, partly because he might be dumping a body in the garbage, and you don’t want any part of that.

To me the most memorably fucked up scene is the one where he’s handcuffed himself to a mannequin that has a real woman’s scalp attached, and he’s crying and he says, “I’m so happy.” And then later there’s one of my all time favorite turnarounds where this sicko leaves the private world of his dingy apartment, he goes into the city in the daylight, and it turns out he knows people. He’s wearing sunglasses and he’s hanging out at a photo shoot. They think he’s cool! Great movie.
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Black X-mas

Monday, December 24th, 2012

I skipped BLACK X-MAS for six years ’cause everybody told me it was bottom-of-the-barrel, but after I heard Brian Collins and some guys discuss it on some podcast about their favorite horror remakes I decided to try it out this year. Of course it’s a disgrace to the pioneering original Bob Clark BLACK CHRISTMAS from 1974. But it’s a fun disgrace.

Like the original it’s about some sorority sisters (and one sorority den mother, or whatever it’s called) staying in the house on Christmas break, being harassed on the phone by some weirdo named Billy who stalks them and suffocates one or more of them with a plastic bag and leaves her in the attic in a rocking chair and nobody finds her for a while. It skips the original’s thread about a father going around trying to find his daughter, preferring to keep the cast mostly male-free and most of the running time isolated to the one location. But the biggest and boldest change was to give the killer a backstory.
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Breathless (1983)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

I gotta confess coming to this one from a place of cinematic ignorance. I’ve seen the original Godard movie, but I don’t remember jack shit about it. I thought it was pretty good, I believe. That’s about all I got. Still, I’m sure less people could tell you anything about the remake than everything about the original. So this makes me smart.
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Clash of the Titans (2010)

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

tn_clashofthetitans10clashLike some sort of mythological Greek hero whose companions have been struck down in the midst of a daring journey,  I stand alone on this: I liked the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake.

I cannot lie. I thought it was good. Don’t sacrifice me to a kraken, I have the right to admit this publicly. Remember, the first amendment is about protecting all speech, no matter how vile. Just give me a chance to try to explain where I’m coming from here.

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