Skip to main content

A Multi-Part Story Revolving Around My Disike For Remakes

Part one: my life as a film student.

During my junior year, while I was hacking away at my degree, my soon-to-be-plan sponsor approached me during an intermission at a play: (here's my abbreviated version of the conversation) "Want to teach a class with me?"
"Sure. what's the class on?"
"Violence in film."

We decided that we'd each choose a certain number of movies to show, plus a few extras, and then John would handle the writing portion (being the writing instructor).

So we set about selecting movies.

I will now jump ahead in this fascinating story to the part where John picks a little-known-German film called "Funny Games."  He had just seen it recently and - if I remember correctly - it was so striking a film it had "inspired" him to teach this "film violence" class.

I go out and rent the movie... it's brilliant. It's the most brutal bits of "A Clockwork Orange" distilled down into it's own 2 hour movie.

The violence is unexpected and completely honest. The stripped down plot and small, focused cast, feels less cliched - less faked - less forced than your average big-dollar movie. No Hollywood horror movie can touch the sincerity of the violence in "Funny Games".

But more than that, there is a social responsibility angle completely absent in Hollywood flicks: audience accountability. Some Hollywood films hint at audience accountability, "you - the viewer - are equally as guilty as the killer / villain because you are watching and doing nothing (or worse yet) you are enjoying what you are seeing".  The killers in "Funny Games" actually speak directly to the audience.

The first time, you think one must be looking off camera at the other. The next time, there is no mistake - he's talking to you, the viewer. asking you if these innocent people should live or die.

It's a moral trap of sorts: if you keep keep watching, and they die, you did nothing to help them. But, if you turn the movie off, you'll never know... maybe they survive... If you don't watch, it's like you left them to die - eliminating that hope of survival.

Part two: being into movies has made me a snooty bitch.

For the most part, I hate remakes.  Well - let me expand on that a bit.  A good movie has within it commentary on the sociopolitical climate of the country / world in which it's made. The various subtextual messages make the film. The difficulties in remaking that movie are analogous to the difficulties of making a book into a movie: Are the nuances lost? Is the "essence" of the story maintained? Is the intention the same? Is the message the same?

In my mind, a good remake keeps all the details that make the story important, while spinning the whole thing to reflect the current times in which the movie is made. The essence of a story - the "moral center" shall we say - can be relevant many years after the story was initially written. Revitalizing that message, making it important to audiences years later, is a skill - and the mark of a good remake.

When I initially saw trailers for a remake of "Funny Games" - I nearly shit a brick. I'm thinking, "there is NO WAY that an American version of that movie can EVER be as intense as the original; in America, there would be a happy ending."  The only potential saving grace I saw was that the writer/director of the original (Michael Haneke) wrote and directed the remake. Although! the man who directed the original version of "The Grudge" ALSO directed the Americanized remake  and we all know what a fucking disaster that was.

Part three: working in a video store affords me time to watch things I usually wouldn't.

This afternoon, I watched the remake of "Funny Games".

Unlike "The Grudge", where they tried to make a traditionally scary Japanese story into a scary American story - the "Funny Games" remake was a dead-on, shot for shot, recreation... almost like they opted for remaking the movie instead of simply dubbing it.  The elements that made the original horrifying - were still there.

While I was pleased to see that essence of the movie was intact, I couldn't help feeling that the remake itself was sort of useless. Nothing changed, why wouldn't I just watch the original?... oh that's right.

The average American can't manage to read subtitles. the average American can't sit still during a movie without seeing American actors that they know and love.



Popular posts from this blog

Rebuttal: 17 Disturbing Horror Movies You Will Never Watch Again

When I'm not watching movies, I'm reading about movies. I stumble across all kinds of articles, blog posts, book excerpts, etc. in my quest to absorb as much movie knowledge as possible. Now, I'm snotty and loud-mouthed and opinionated but I'd never begrudge another human their opinion. Seriously. You're absolutely welcome to have any opinion about any thing you want. However, I must warn you, if I think your opinion is stupid, I'm absolutely going to say so. I've recently stumbled on an article completely  brimming with so many idiotic opinions that I'm actually compelled to craft a response. Here's the gist of the original article: there are some horror movies out there that are so disturbing , you'll only ever want to watch them once. I've have taken her original list and refuted her claims without pulling her entire article over. You can read the original article here . Let's start at the beginning, with her opening statement

Escape From Tomorrow

I love creative people who are willing to take risks with their art. I appreciate the refusal to do things by the rules. I'm also terribly impatient with mediocrity. Enter  Escape From Tomorrow . Created by a team of rogue filmmakers, the movie was shot in the video mode of high-end still cameras. Actors shared scripts and shooting locations across their smartphones. Shot on location at Disney World, the parks were completely unaware this was all going on right under their mouse ears. I wanted to love Escape From Tomorrow. More than that, I wanted to be completely taken with its ingenuity and creativity and - oh yes - its originality. And there is really a simple brilliance to their covert plan; all families are roaming around the parks, taking videos and chatting on their phones. Just blend the fuck in, act like you belong, and you won't get caught. Too bad the movie can be summed up as: ambitious but Rubbish. As you can imagine (or possibly know), there was a ton of con

The Witch (2015)

You know the drill - there's ALWAYS spoilers. Don't want the movie ruined for you, come back after you've seen it. Also - I'm still without an editor - typos and bad grammar await you! I keep hoping that the cultural obsession with zombies will end; literally every other damn movie that comes 'round seems to feature some sort of shambling, undead being bent on devouring the weak flesh of regular humans. Once upon a time, zombies have have been used as a metaphor for the blind consumerism created by our capitalist society, or the perceived depletion of resources by immigrants, or even the ravages of time and disease on our frail bodies. Now it seems that the deeper social commentary has been lost as audiences mindlessly consume "zombie fiction" in an attempt to keep up with trends. ( How very meta - a film buddy of mine commented on this assessment! ) All of this is just a sideways rant, leading up to my actual point: it seems that zombie may actually