Five Honorable Movie Remakes

September 10, 2009

It seems we have moved into and era of film making that is highly practiced on remakes, recreations, sequels, and prequels.  For most of these, I am filled with frustration and disappointment at the second tries and uncreative recreations of older more original works, but I must also give credit for those who have successfully reinterpreted and refashioned classic works into something new, something great and something their own.   The remake of a previously great plot, idea or film can be a risky venture for filmmakers and I want to discuss a few successful and respectable triumphs in such ventures.

 The first is the reason for my writing this article at this particular time.  I recently saw Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, which is a loose recreation of The Dirty Dozen, and loved it.   Rather than being a complete remake it’s a fresh and uniquely beautiful blend of classic influences, and with this film Tarantino practices a new style of war film.

The first scene of the second chapter (early in the film) is a clear callout to the original Dirty Dozen while Tarantino’s love for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns (especially The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) also clearly has its influence.   The spaghetti western influence was most prominent in the peculiar use of the score and the introduction of the characters.

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Another recent and successful remake is 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of the famous western of the same name starring Glenn Ford.  The reasons I feel this is a successful remake are quite different from those of Inglourious Basterds. 

What impressed me most on this remake is the  successful capture of the classic western feel achieved by the remake.  Its creators decided to remain true to the classic genre and stayed honest.  Watching the new film felt very much like watching a good old western.  This strict return to the classic themes and genre stands quite unique among other modern films and is refreshing to young and modern audiences.

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Possibly one of the greatest remakes ever achieved is You’ve Got Mail, the 1998 remake of Jimmy Stewart’s 1940 The Shop Around the Corner.   The transition from a letter writing to an Internet and e-mail writing culture provided the perfect chance to retell an old story in a completely new light and setting.  The finished product is a charming and witty tale filled with literary reminders of simpler times.  Plus, it’s Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

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I must also mention the new Gone in Sixty Seconds.  This is a great action flick in a time of too few good car movies.  It also helps that it is the remake of a film originally made entirely by stunt drivers.  The original is fun thrill ride for car guys but offers little else for the general audience, as half the film is 45 minutes of some of the greatest driving and chase put on film (and that’s just one of the car chases).  The remake offers most of that driving excitement with the addition of a plot and some acting.  (Although, the new one may have the better car the original has the better car chase.)

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Also, as an honorable mention, I should mention Ocean’s Eleven.  Consider it mentioned.

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See these Movies

April 5, 2008

I know we have not been posting frequent enough and we are trying to change that.  We are all students and our time is easily snatched away from us by school, work and others.  Please continue checking and reading our posts.

 

In order to get something out there I thought I would put together a list of a few films that I highly recommend you go out and see if you are not already familiar with them.  If you have seen them write in what you think.  If you have not, see them and comment on what you thought. I am very interested to hear what others think of these movies.

 

THE FILMS

 

I love old movies so many of these are older and may be unfamiliar to you. See them and comment.

 

Rear Window(1954)– I have mentioned this masterpiece of suspense by Alfred Hitchcock before and it?s always worth mentioning.  Hitchcock being the ‘Master of Suspense’ makes this film like he created suspense, both the feeling and the genre.  It is one of his best if not the best.

       Possibly the best part is that it stars Jimmy Stewart and the gorgeous Grace Kelly.  Stewart’s character is confined to a wheelchair and his apartment and begins watching his neighbors out of boredom (and he has a great view thanks to an amazing set).  Things begin to get suspicious then tense as Stewart’s imagination begins to run, but is there something to it?

       Hitchcock plays with the natural curiosity that leads us all to be compulsive people watchers and he uses our own imaginations against us.  The film is so well shot and Stewart is so talented that we too are carried off in our thoughts and fears.

       There will be several scenes so tense you won’t be able to decide whether to sit or stand, hold your breath or scream.   

Jaws(1975)-This is just a great thriller.  If you haven’t seen it you must, and the whole thing (I know someone who has not been able to watch past that first scene on the beach).

        What is great about Jaws is that for most of the film you cannot see the thing you fear; all you hear is that ominous score.

         That scene with the scars and Robert Shaw telling the story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis is one of my favorite scenes in film.

 

City Lights(1931)– This is a charming, easy to watch and thoroughly pleasant silent film by Charlie Chaplin (probably his best). If you only watch one silent movie make it this one. It’s one of the greatest movies ever made. American Film Institute has it at eleventh place.

          One of the things that makes it worth seeing is to marvel at how smoothly Chaplin can communicate, develop a plot and appeal to your emotions.  The appeal to emotions is what makes silents wonderful. Without dialogue silent films communicated through pathos and emotion.

          The movie follows the misadventures of the Tramp as he falls in love with a blind flower girl and does all he can to help her. It’s sweet and hilarious.  The closing scene is also one of the best ever filmed and is so touching it may bring you to tears.  And all without sound, but when you?re Chaplin who needs sound.

 

American Graffiti(1973)– An amazing and important period piece.  It is important because it gave George Lucas the means to make STAR WARS.  It is Lucas’ record of the American car culture of the ’50s and ’60s.

          It is set on the last night of summer in a California town (filmed in Lucas’ hometown of Barstow) and has a continuous period soundtrack of Motown and first generation rock-n-roll.  If you can watch it without interruption it will cause you to lose yourself in the era.

          It follows several friends as they prepare to go back to high school and leave home for college.  It’s a very entertaining and comic look at ’60s adolescence.

          It is also notable for strong performances of young soon-to-be stars like Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford.

 

 

 

007_FXIW1_ITS_WONDERFULL_LIFE~It-s-a-Wonderful-Life-PostersIt’s a Wonderful Life(1946)– If you have not already seen this Jimmy Stewart movie you have been deprived of life and Christmas and cannot afford to waste any more time. Words will not do the film justice so just go watch it. Now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid(1969)– This is a western everyone enjoys.  Staring Paul Newman and Robert Redford it was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four of them.

           It is funny, exciting and playful.  The filming makes the movie beautiful and has a great script.  The ‘raindrops’ scene is probably the most enjoyable of the film and has a great song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The African Queen(1951)– One of the (if not the) greatest examples of acting.  It stars Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn at the peak of their careers (and with plenty of experience).  They have natural chemistry and give the script new life as it develops into witty comedy.

          Bogart and Hepburn play Brits who get stuck behind German lines in Africa during World War I.  As they make their way up a dangerous and unpredictable river their focus moves from escaping capture to striking an offensive, their relationship humorously developing along the way.

          Since the movie is set mostly on a small boat with only Bogart and Hepburn aboard their performances are not compromised by lesser co-stars.