Photography by purpleplaid
“Cinema is an old whore, like circus and variety, who knows how to give many kinds of pleasure. Besides, you can’t teach old fleas new dogs.” – Federico Fellini
So Tsuru found out through our Twitter mutterings that I not only am a big music geek but also a huge film buff. Having gone to school for film and struggling my way through a career in film/TV industry here in Canada, well needless to say that if I’m not absorbed in music & shows, I’m doing something related to film and/or TV. So what we’ve decided is that I’ll start sharing some insights into the magical world of the moving pictures!
What’s been on my mind lately are all these remakes I keep seeing popping up. Now cinema has had a long line of remaking films but of late it has got me irked. First instance that really got my milk curdling was Death at a Funeral. This was first made in the UK directed by the wonderful Frank Oz (if you’re thinking that Frank Oz..? yes that very same!) starring the adorable Matthew Macfadyen (most popularly from British spy TV show MI-5. great show! Go rent it). It is a dry British comedy about a family dealing with the death of their father and the madcap antics that ensue while at the funeral. It is a really great flick. Then Hollywood went and got the rights to remake the film and from the trailer (no way I’m paying hard earned money to see it theatres!) it looks like it’s almost an exact replica, except the upper crust British snob family has been replaced with a boisterous African American family. The role of the recently passed father’s unknown lover is played by the same (and super great!) actor Peter Dinklage, which perhaps may be the film’s saving grace.
“For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.” – Alfred Hitchcock
The second remake situation that got my cheeks a burnin’ is Dinner for Schmuks. This is a remake of the French film Dinner Game (Le diner de cons) about a business man who is to attend a dinner where each guest brings an “idiot” to ridicule and whoever brings the biggest idiot wins the game. Before meeting what he believes to be a real winner (Pignon passionately builds matchstick landmarks), main character Pierre Brochant throws out his back and his prized dinner entertainment clumsily tries to help solve Brochant’s French screwball problems (largely as result of Pignon’s “helpful” actions). I don’t want to give any more of the plot away as I think everyone should go see the movie for themselves. Granted this movie was adapted from a play but that was written by the film’s writer/director/producer Francis Veber so he had nurtured the project from the get go.Dinner for Schmuks takes the same premise of business man needing to find a schmuk for the dinner party. With Paul Rudd cast as the straight man and Steve Carrell as the schmuk (with guest schmuk appearance from Zach Galifianakis) this remake does have the potential to be quite funny so I’m not too pissed over this one. Although if it didn’t have the above mentioned three actors, then I’d be ripping into it hardcore.
“I pity the French Cinema because it has no money. I pity the American Cinema because it has no ideas.” – Jean-Luc Godard
And finally! I just saw the trailer for this online and it really boils my blood. The amazingly dark, creepy, ominous and wickedly brilliant Scandinavian humoured Let the Right One In is a movie about an outcast young boy, Oskar, who gets brutally teased at school and keeps to himself at home. The arrival of an odd girl late one night at his apartment building brings coincidentally to the area some mysterious deaths (spoiler alert she’s a vampire). Oskar befriends (and more) this girl and learns all about her special secret. What is so amazing about this movie is that it is so beautifully subtle. The adoration that builds between the two, the can’t quite put your finger on it but something’s not right with that girl (this is not a showy vampire spectacle. If you want that go watch True Blood, which is SOO good!). It is such an amazing movie that even if you’re not a fan of the horror genre this is a film that you will enjoy. The suspense that builds is nail digging and then cut with that dry humour and sweet love story, it’s one you must go rent now! I won’t ruin the ending for you but again, so simple & subtle. Fantastic!
Now we have Let Me In the American remake version. I can tell that they’re trying to keep it close to the original and I do like the two main actors playing the leads (Kodi Smit-McPhee & Chloë Moretz) but Let the Right One In was just released 2 years ago! I don’t understand why this needs to be remade?! Almost always when Hollywood remakes world cinema horror flicks (Ju On aka The Grudge is one of the f**king scariest films I’ve ever seen! Granted the American remake was directed by Takashi Shimizu) they don’t come even remotely close to being as creepy, scary or terrifying as the originals. Director Matt Reeves even held out on wanting to remake the film because he felt the book and original film adaptation were done so perfectly. Reading this quote about Let Me In perfectly emphasizes my later points: “they intend to forge a unique identity for Let Me In, placing it firmly in an American context.” GAH!!
“I’m a huge fan of world cinema, because each country uses cinema in a very individual way.” – Mike Figgis
And that is the whole point I’d like to make here. Hollywood gets the rights to films that already exist instead of actually coming up with original stories/screenplays because they see money. If a film is a hit like those above, it seems like the think that if they “Americanfy” the story and release it with their flavour of the month actors that it will bring in big dollars for them. Plus of course you have all those people that are fans of the original that they think will be brought in as well. I fully understand and get that. It makes sense on paper for sure. But what happens here are two very wrong things. Firstly, they’re assuming that their target North American audience needs to have these stories modified to fit some sort of mold or else people won’t go see or get them. It feels like to me (of course I’ve seen the originals in the cases above) that the studios are dumbing the stories down for the NA audience. I find it so condescending especially since hello who were all the people went to go see Let the Right In when released in NA and made it a “sleeper hit”?! Yeah that’s right us folks here that doesn’t get them European humour (bullshit!!). Secondly, by remaking these films, it doesn’t give an audience the chance to go out their and explore independent, world, experimental, and avant garde cinema. If you spoon feed audiences they’re less likely to be challenged. Now I’m not talking about art loving people because we’re always on the scout for good gems. No, I’m talking about that general North American audience that these big Hollywood films are meant to target. If Joe Schmo from wherever USA goes to see Dinner for Schmuks do you really think he’s going to go to Blockbuster and try to find Dinner Game? (I doubt Blockbuster even carries it) No of course he isn’t! Chances are when it’s released to DVD he’s going to go rent the remake so he can watch those slapstick comedy moments over and over again. And I’m not saying all this because I feel that what someone watches over another is better than someone else, I’m just saying that there is so much talent out there, so many people creating great cinema that it’s a shame that there is an entire portion of a population that never explores it! When you’re out next renting movies and you’ve gone to get whatever it is that you came for, just try something new. Challenge yourself. Even if it’s as simple as the cover art pulled you in, great! I’ve found some real gems that way. But take yourself out of your normal comfort zone and try something different because heck you might just find your mind blown!!
Till next time my lovelies,