Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Remakes, reinterpretations and other excuses for laziness

I was reading another blog randomly the other day (there is a link on my shiny new 'matts approved blogs' bit! the last one I think) and read that she had watched Alfie, starring Jude Law. Now often it doesn't take much to get me going, and this is one of my pet hates. People remaking already perfect pieces of work. Why? 'I wanted to pay tribute.....', 'I thought it was time for a modernisation....', 'It's a homage to the original......', 'I wanted to bring this work to a new generation......', 'blahblahblahblah.....'.

Bollox. You're a lazy talentless gimp who is out for a quick buck. You've got a guaranteed market with a well known brand, you don't need to employ anyone with talent to write the thing because it's already done. All you need is someone pretty in your remake and Presto, new film and you can afford your new Sculpted Gold Hatstand.

If they really want to update films and make them better. Pick a crap film and do some bloody work! Don't remake get Carter, it's already ace and since when does Sly know the first thing about acting? Don't remake Alfie because, well just don't! Don't remake the Lady Killers with Tom bloody Hanks because it's just embarassing when you compare it to the sublimely funny original! Don't even get me started on the Italian Job, Roller Ball and several other now massacred classics.

Here's a thing you may disagree with but I can prove it. Hollywood hasn't had an original idea in about 40 years, virtually everything that comes out is a remake of something or based on someone elses written work. No one has written a new film for as long as I can remember. Now that's just me ranting and it's possible I may be wrong, but right now I can't think of a single original concept. Please submit suggestions if you think of somehting. Even the Magnificent Seven is nicked. The Matrix? nicked. Sixth Sense? nicked. How do they get away with it? Few people are open minded enough to watch films with subtitles and that's where the ideas come from, places other than the States.

*[note]Actually that's unfair, there are some excellent film makers over there, they just don't get the exposure they should. Except for Tim Burton who does rock.*[/note]

I just watched an awesome Korean film called Old Boy. Violent, Disturbing but sometimes funny. It is beautifully shot, I have yet to see a hollywood picture with camera work like you find on Japanese and Korean productions. The corridor fight scene is continuous, rolling and beautifully done. Give it a few years and Hollywood will do to this amazing piece of work what they did to the Ring.

I could go on about how many other foreign films genuinely deliver. The original Taxi (not the Queen Latifa abomination) is a hilarious French Film, Delicatessen is another great French film. Life is Beautiful is an outstanding and touching film from Italy* . The list is endless but, unfortunately, most people are unaware of these films and if they see them at all it's only because of the inevitable, soulless and vastly inferior Hollywood remake.

Now I know I come across as totally anti-American film here but I can assure you I am not. I enjoy huge epic productions like LOTR, and the more common brain out- popcorn in film. I just wish they would leave well enough alone and turn their 'remaking' urges onto crap films. Let's see if someone can turn Piranha 2 into a good film shall we? That I would pay to see, and would acknowledge genuine talent if it was achieved.

A good example of how this can be done is the recent release of the Amytiville Horror, it was awesome. Ryan Reynolds, who I previously did not rate due to the awful Blade 3, delivers an outstanding Psycho. The original film was OK. Not good, not awful. So remake it, see if I care. I ranted before going but I can admit when i am wrong. You see? Take a bad or average film and make it great and I don't object!

This is taking longer than I thought so I will deal with the Hollywood tendancy to rewrite history and pass it off as fact another time. Pretty much anything recent (ie last 10 years!lol!) involving Mel 'Psycho, Anti-Semetic, Christian Supremacist' Gibson. Actually anything that they say is 'historical', I can assure you almost certainly isn't


*Won an Oscar I believe, not that they count for anything, just look at Titanic - or rather don't, you'll be ill.


Famulus said...

Argh! I'll try and keep this short, but it's not going to be easy. Yes. Ban any film that isn't crap being used as the basis for a remake. If you're a film director and you really must remake a good film here are the rules.

*Change the title completely
*Change all characters names and place names too
*change unimportant bits of the story wherever possible
*Make sure that it's a good film on it's own merits

Now, that's not unreasonable is it?

I'm told that many Hollywood directors have been claiming that there aren't enough good original scripts these days for them to keep busy with, but even so there must be thousands of good books that are still to be filmed? Hold that. No one ever made a film of a book that was better than the book. No, OK, write scripts that have been written to be performed in two hours and not hacked and massacared from a book that takes 17 hours to read. That just doesn't work either.

I have Taxi (1,2 & 3), Just Visiting, The Italian Job, Get Carter, Gone in 60 Seconds and a few more that I can't remeber just now. All originals and all better than their remakes.

Can't wait for some yank to try and remake Lock, Stock. That should be hilarious. ;-)

MattJ said...

OK just checked IMDb, was sure there was some failed attempt at lock Stock. I had an idea Cruise was in it, and have stumbled across anotehr travesty in the making. They have announced production of DeathRace 3000. Now The original DeathRace 2000 is awesome. Stallone gets his arse whoopped and David Carredine in it. It's also a ridiculous caricature and the acting is truly awful! It's great! Cruise is producing so it will be something entirely serious and action packed. to be fair it won't be bad, just another action flick, I just wish, as you say, they would change the Title and names.

Famulus said...

Jeez, really? Why? Why would Cruise try such a travestry? These Americans have no sense of .... whatsoever. Lock Stock should be left along for a couple of decades at least. It is a master piece of London culture.

DeathRace, well, it was American culture and so if Americans want to abuse it, I'm not quite so fussed. I'd rather they messed with their own films than trying to remake British classics.

Another axe that I have to grind on these films is based on a true story. Either tell the true story as it was with minimal alterations on don't mention that there is any basis in fact at all. Titanic was not only shit but also mixed so much fantasy with minimal fact that based on a true story was totally irrelivant. Fume!

MattJ said...

You are right to an extent with DeathRace. I just balk at the idea that they can replace David Carredeine with anyone. Ever. I just think a lot of the tongue in cheek humour and just general dodginess of the original will be totally lost in a cruise-ified remake.

colormecynical said...

I thought Lord of the Rings was a predominantly New Zeland-made film. there's only about three American actors in the whole thing. I think LOTR is interesting in that its one of those films that has been tried and failed more times than you'd think possible--it was just too huge an endeavor for your average director. though production was usually ended by budget constraints, frequently it was stopped by the sheer time commitment and amount of tech necessary for success. i know Industrial Light and Magic helped out a fair deal, as well as several Macintosh-based animation programs (Gollum was Made on a Mac) but i think the production company was from Down Under.

MattJ said...

Absolutely but it's still a Hollywood film in the sense all the cash came from New Line Cinema. I loved LOTR the movies, I thought they captured the spirit of the books perfectly. OK Liv Tylers' character should nly appear twice. At the beginning of the first film and the end of the last, but I'm guessing either Peter jackson really fancied her or was being cnsiderate and putting her in so we could have Toilet breaks at regular intervals. There were bits missing sure, but who wants Tom Bombadil anyway? A more pointless piece of text I have yet to read, particularly in an otherwise stunning book!

Famulus said...

Yeah, I guess that you have a point with DeathRace. Not one of my favs though, so I'm prepared to be leinient. LOTR was nice and epic but again I didn't feel the need to buy any of the DVDs.

Maybe we should collectively start a blog to educate people on films. Educate punters on which movies they should watch, directors on which to remake and which not to remake. After all, we are the experts, right. ;-)

lower said...

Writers have been rehashing the same few stories for thousands of years, so if they didn't remake stuff they'd all be out of a job.

That said, Hollywood does make some truly awful versions of great films.

I'd put Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet as being an example of how a remake should be done: the story's been told countless times before, but only he actually took hold of it and made it his own (whilst still keeping to the original script). Yes he cast DiCrapio and Danes, but we'll put that down to a marketing decision. ;)

MattJ said...

I knew soemone would raise the point of Stories and Plays and am fully prepared for it. Here's the difference and it is a major one. If a retelling of a classic story fails to capture the spirit and meaning of the original, it fails because A play and a Story by their very definition rely entirely on the quality of writing and the power of the delivery.
Films differ hugely, often wrapping products of Satans Own Arse in flashy lights and special effects and slapping a name of a work it bears only a paasing resemblance too as on it as a Title.

Look at I, Robot. Isaac Asimovs vision of a future of a twisted culture in which resides a Resentment of Automatons with the shadow of oouter Human Colonies living in prosperity. The book raises questions, both ethical and moral while managing to tell an engrossing and well written Story.

The film? A wise-cracking Wil Smith defeats the Evil Menace while coming to terms with his Naughty prejudice against robots. Said Robot finds a soul. It's like a crap version of AI, an already terrible film. If I wanted to watch pinnochio I would OK?

My point will be proven beyond all doubt when they remake Old Boy and change the story just enough to remove the fact that it does disturb, and is therefore unpallitabkle for their FastFood audience.

lower said...

"I knew soemone would raise the point of Stories and Plays and am fully prepared for it."
And I bet you knew it would be the English student too! :P

"I, Robot" was a truly awful film. Far worse was U-571. Which brings you neatly back to the 'Americans changing the script to make them the heroes' argument ("National Treasure" only got away with it IMO because it was actually an OK film, and the Templars are legend anyway).

(btw, changed the display name just to confuse ya!)

MattJ said...

I hope your not suggesting the Knights Templar are made up matey, my friend with a History masters may differ with you there! lol!

Watch this space for the Historadramas of Hollywood. ;-)

Who's an English student? Has the last 5 years been a cunning facade masking your true vocation

Olivia said...

I watched Alfie, didn't say I liked it, but anyway, hope you enjoyed your rant.
I don't rant often, and certainly not about movies (I bet it's a guy thing). Sometimes I watch a movie just for the hell of it.

The first movie I remember wanting to walk out of was Sphere. Did you get started again?

MattJ said...

Hey, I watch movies just for the hell of it too, but if somegenetic defect makes afilm then calls it something it isn't I am going to get right up on Mr High Horse! lol! Look at it this way, if you order Chateaubriand froma restaurant and get half-cooked Tesco value sausages in gravy, you are going to say something right?

Yes I did enjoy my rant, it was great thankyou! ;-) Did I get started on what again? Another rant? watch this space...............

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