Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why Remake?

What's the point of a remake? A new artistic twist, a la The Killers morphed into Pulp Fiction? No argument from me. The Americanization of a foreign plot, say The Seven Samurai, converted to a more comfortable western setting (The Magnificent Seven). Again, I've got no issues. Still, you've got to say something different to make it not merely an economic cash-in or an "American audiences are just too dumb for a foreign film" re-do.

The Coen Brothers' True Grit is a fine film, but adds nothing. Jeff Bridges is as gripping as John Wayne in the Rooster Cogburn role. Matt Damon is better than Glen Campbell in a "no-shit Sherlock" kinda way. Hallie Steinfeld is very good, but Kim Darby defined the role of Maddie and, though Wayne won the Oscar, Darby stole the show. Or maybe it was the hair?

There are couple of Coen specific touches - a camera pulling back from a desolate cabin, a bit of digit related violence - but, though I very much liked it, I couldn't see the point and forgot it quickly.

Let the Right One In was one of my favorite movies of 2008. A vampire movie that was more coming of age, Swedish mood piece, the performances were superior, the atmosphere depressing yet triumphant. Quite a great film. So why Let Me In? This 2010 Hollywood version is fine. It's a nearly identical remake (though not shot by shot like Gus van Sant's Psycho, which, though a piece of shit, had an artistic point of view). It's good, but, again, why, other than it's in English.

Is it so true that Americans can't handle a superior original in subtitles? Did Let Me In do better at the box office, considering its budget, than the original would have done in wider distribution? Doubtful. The effects are horribly fake and the setting of Los Alamos is a distraction, planting thoughts of nuclear fallout and radiation that have zero to do with what's onscreen. Weird.

Do yourself a favor - see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels in glorious Swedish before you're forced to see the Tinseltown takes. Not to say H'wood will do a bad job. They just won't do a better one.

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