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  1. #1
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    I believe my rating system for Remakes lies in the filmmaker's commitment to greatness.



    If the filmmaker isn't going to commit to make a clearly superior remake, why bother? If he doesn't have that goal of Certain Greatness, why waste all that celluloid? Why waste the effort, the money (MY money) and MY time? (I know, I know - he can make a bundle. Fine. Why can't the financiers find good projects instead of bad ones, though? Why can't the filmmaker find a good project instead of bad one - HE is the one who's supposed to know the difference!)



    Gus Van Zant's 1998 pure remake of PSYCHO, which is a mere scene-for-scene plagerized copy of the original, is an example of Failure To Commit To Greatness. In that case, a TOTAL failure. I do not see any evidence that he attempted to do anything more than re-creating a color version of the original, and add in cussing, a masturbation scene and a Sony Walkman. Big deal.



    These are not commitments to greatness.



    And I think that's why Remakes can be horrible flops - because there are very few that are clearly superior upon delivery, and apparently, many don't even try.



    Is Peter Jackson's new King Kong a clearly-superior remake of the 1933 original with Willis O'Brien's effects? Comparatively, I'd argue "no". There was nothing that Jackson's Kong did that TV-video games weren't doing 28 years ago (sliding on the ice - yawn - the 1979 Atari road-race game had that). And there was nothing new that wasn't done in the 15-year-old JURASSIC PARK.



    Peter Jackson did, however, try to make a better film because he fleshed out the story considerably - slow as it may be. At least he tried!



    So, rather than argue for or against Remakes, I think my complaint is that I always expect filmmakers to TRY to make clearly-superior films. I think Peter Jackson tried, but honestly, I wasn't nearly as impressed with his Kong as I was the first time I saw the original 1933 Kong.

  2. #2
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    I hated the new King Kong. To me, the '70's one was quite a bit more enjoyable.

    The Psycho retread was pointless from the word go.



    Although it'll sound like herisy to most of the British film fans on this Board, I like the Coen's Ladykiller's. I think it get's way too much unfair scorn.

    Mind you, I love the MacKendrick original, there's no topping that.



    I think the trick to making "good remakes" , is to reimagine them.

    So, the recent Ladykiller's, aside from taking place in the American South, and starring a smothering black woman, instead of a demure Englishwoman --also featured many plot points from other Ealing comedies.

    It was more of an homage to Ealing, then a strict one-movie remake.

    The Coen's Ladykiller's has about as much in common with the original, as Back to the Future had in common with The Time Machine.



    One major difference being: practically everyone hated The Ladykiller's "remake", and I'm a bit puzzled by it, really!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: Germany Wolfgang's Avatar
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    We tend to view remakes as bastardisations, like colourization - if Psycho 98 stood alone it would not be nearly as offensive, but rather its agenda to revise that earlier piece of work and how we perceive it that offends us. Some people even object to remakes that are clearly better such as The Fly, and that is because they do not exist as completely separate entities. As we Germans say, you only get one wife, all others are mistresses.

  4. #4
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    Wise, I avoided the new LADY KILLERS for two reasons: (1) the trailer had too much cussing, and (2) I feared my love for the original would not give the remake a snowball's chance in Texas' latest winter.



    That's the only reason I avoided it. I get tired of cussing. Please oh please let them mash their fingers with a hammer - find some GOOD reason for it. But as a "linquistics skillset", I'm sorry - cussing does NOT impress me. If they want to educate me in New Words, fine - come up with something that tops Bill Murray's MOTHER PUSSBUCKET from Ghostbusters.



    Your salient point of "Please Re-Imagine The Film" is the point I was poorly making. Please oh please imagine something BETTER or TRY to imagine something better than the original. If not, please don't bother.

  5. #5
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    name='Wolfgang']We tend to view remakes as bastardisations...
    I agree. I would not be so offended by PSYCHO '98 except it was made to be a blatant rip-off, a total copy. Van Zant gives no evidence that he tried to do anything better or even different. I just hope someone bought him that light-box for his next gift so he could do all his tracing and copies at home.



    When I compared DIAL M FOR MURDER and A PERFECT MURDER, I can see the same story underneath both, but each film stands on its own without being crippled or necessarily compared to the other. I applaud A PERFECT MURDER's "re-imagining the film", as Wise said.



    THE FLY's films are an interesting set to consider. I like all four, and obviously the original two have some very limited effects that were clearly surpassed by make-up in the newer ones. The better-timed dialog in the new ones, the better lighting, etc - all were good improvements. I am not sure people who saw the newer ones could ever tolerate the older originals.



    Which always brings up the point, "Does the First Media's Consumption spoil it for other formats and remakes?"



    Again, I think my rating system is shaped by the goals and then the performance on those goals. This lets a film-made-from-a-book be tolerable, enjoyable or preferable IF the film is Good. But if the filmmakers don't even try to top a book or the original film, I am so disappointed to have wasted my time and money.

  6. #6
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    There was another Thread a little like this one, a few months back, where it was wondered --why they don't they Re-make Bad Movies!?!

    I came up with the smarty-ass answer, that: the remakes would bare too unfavorable comparison with the "bad" originals.

    In other words: the New Ones would look even worse than the Old Ones.



    The problem is, the Hollywood Imagineer's, have a near-empty well of inspiration. All they're looking at are titles/"properties" that they can pawn off for naustalgia purposes, while offering Nothing Whatsoever New plot-wise. It makes me sick.

    Maybe they really ought to stay away from old movies.



    If, for one instance, someone wanted to remake Charade --they damn well should have gotten Stanley Donen to do it. Then again, he probably wouldn't have wanted to do it again. And for good reason.



    On the cuss words thing..it really doesn't bother me, the words themself; it's how they're used.

    I didn't care for the way they were used in, e.g., The Departed. I thought it was banal.

    In The Big Lebowski, however --ahhh, that was ingenious, to me.




    There's a marvelous quote, from David Mercer's Providence script, where David Warner is sitting on a park bench, and blurts out "I've got an erection." - to which Ellen Burstyn's character replies: " Oh.. Wanna do something about it?" -

    (beat) Warner:"It's not mine!"




    I think, if you keep the cuss words at a distance, the audience can look at it objectively. There are no "ugly" or "unnecessary" words, only poor usage.

    That's my feeling.

  7. #7
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    name='WiseFilms']...imagineers have a near-empty well of inspiration...
    Never let it be said that Wise isn't EXTREMELY kind and generous. "Near empty"?!! ha ha - boy, you're giving them about 1400 tons of credit that I would not!



    On top of that, I believe they've filled their empty wells of inspiration or creativity with an overflow of laziness.



    I can just imagine the CGI artists that Jackson hired for KONG to be sitting around. "Say, you remember the 1978 Atari road-race game? They had a level where you could race on ice, and the cars would slide around the TV screen. Crash, spin-out, things like that. Let's figure out that algorithm and let's get KONG to do that. We can put him in Central Park and discover ice for the first time."



    "Oh great! And we can kill another 5 minutes of screen time! Great idea!"



    "What if he gets into the sewer system and finds Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory, too? Man, we could have him waste even more screen time!"



    "Yeah, but think of the Rights issue. Although, with the toys and everything, maybe the Wonka people would see this as a win-win situation?"

  8. #8
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    Another few i can think of that were no were near the original The Wicker Man what a sensless load of rubbish to make it American for a start how stupid, also there was the Haunting that took away the whole asmosphere of the original and how many Jane Eyers and Secret Garden's are we going to get. They are all not worth going to a cinama to see or even spending the money on DVD's when they are released. When are they going to leave well alone and just let us savour the greats we have next they will be remaking the Wizard of Oz.

  9. #9
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    name='WiseFilms'] Although it'll sound like herisy to most of the British film fans on this Board, I like the Coen's Ladykiller's. I think it get's way too much unfair scorn.


    The Ladykillers remake was Joel and Ethan Coen? I'm shocked.



    I had thought they could do no wrong.

  10. #10
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    I never finished the Cohen Brothers' version. At least they tried to restyle it and modernize it - it wasn't without some attempt to demonstrate some creativity.



    After all, "1" on a scale of a hundred is more than nothing.

  11. #11
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    name='ChristineCB'] After all, "1" on a scale of a hundred is more than nothing.


    And then the movie began.



    Tom Hanks normally doesn't do much wrong either.



    It shows there are no guarantees.

  12. #12
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    IMHO remakes are made because:



    a)Some film makers are driven by commercial greed and know that nostalgia always sells by the bucket load. Consequently no matter how rubbish the remake is punters will always go and see it to satisfy their curiosity. Invariably they come away from the cinema disappointed by which time it's too late, their money is already spent!



    b) Modern film makers were brought up on television so they often resort to remaking once popular TV shows into films. If they took the trouble to read new screenplays and trust their own creativity and imagination rather than copy what's been done before all the time, we might get a few decent original stories up there on the screen.



    c) The wrong type of people are going into film making. They don't appear to have the pre-requisite skills of creativity and imagination and would be better suited to marketing trainers or skin care products.



    If it carries on like this the cinema industry will collapse because people will not put up with being conned time after time! It is closely mirroring the failings of the music business which is swamped with manufactured middle-of-the-road plastic pop idols copying other people's hits all the time, and what a pile of kack that once great industry has turned in to!



    Like many film fans I'm a frustrated film maker, and I've never had the opportunity to go into the industry in any capacity. If I had I would have wanted to make films to be proud of, not something cynical to rip off the punters and please the accountants!

  13. #13
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    Sam, I think the mechanics of film-making has a lot to do with financiers. Not just the filmmakers.



    I think there are groups that have bundles of money but lack the creative intelligence to know how to increase that without others' help. So, when they say, "Here's a kajillion dollars - give me a project to spend it on", then the lazy filmmakers offer up remakes. The Lazy Financier remembers the original fondly and greenlights it.



    He is too uncreative to even ask, "Why can't I find someone who'll give me a fresh idea?" Heck, if he was THAT creative in the first place, he wouldn't be looking to others to help him make more money.



    I've never thought Tom Hanks was an idiot. Probably a bit arrogant, sure, but it sort of comes with the territory he's proved himself in. Yet, to think he could outdo an Alec Guinness-Peter Sellers-Herbert Lom film that HE said HE loved, wow - I didn't know his arrogance would overrule what few brains I believed he had.



    I do blame Tom Hanks for associating himself with that film. If the guns were pointed at his family's head, please - let 'em die. If they're going to be the target of this one blackmailing ransom episode, they'll always be. Tom - don't do it! Accept their death now. Pull a Keyser Sozé. Don't let them die a million shames!



    Same with Anne Heche and Vince Vaughan. They no longer deserve any attention from me because they chose to participate in that remake.



    * * * *



    Back to financiers and creative film-makers... if the filmmaker has a great idea but can't sell it, then I question all of his abilities to do more than dream. If he can't sell it, then he can't tell it well enough. If he can't tell it, how good can he film it?

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: Scotland silverwhistle's Avatar
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    name='Carmel']Another few i can think of that were no were near the original The Wicker Man what a sensless load of rubbish to make it American for a start how stupid, also there was the Haunting that took away the whole asmosphere of the original and how many Jane Eyers and Secret Garden's are we going to get. They are all not worth going to a cinama to see or even spending the money on DVD's when they are released. When are they going to leave well alone and just let us savour the greats we have next they will be remaking the Wizard of Oz.


    There's a difference between making a new adaptation of a book (as in the case of some examples you cite), and simply remaking a film, in some cases shot for shot. Some books are capable of bearing multiple interpretations - so why not commit a range of them to film? Also, sometimes a different performer can bring out nuances in a character which another one did not (compare Glenda Jackson and Fiona Shaw's very different performances as Hedda Gabler).



    To argue against all remakes seems to me the equivalent of saying, for example, that because X actor was particularly good in Y's production of Hamlet, there is no need for anyone else ever to stage the play again or play that role (especially if the production was filmed).

  15. #15
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    agreed, most remakes are in a class with sequels but there have been exceptions. "His Girl, Friday" (one of the all time greats) was a remake. "The Maltese Falcon " with Bogart, was a big improvement over the one with Ricardo Cortez. Regards Mel Walton

  16. #16
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    Mel, your two mentioned candidates have no reliance on 'more modern technology' compared to the previous versions. Each remake had rely on casting, acting and directing.



    In so many modern remakes, there seems to be an auto-kickstart function that says "Our technology improvements will make this a hit".



    And ignores that bad casting, acting and direction will sink that boat.



    The new STEPFORD WIVES is a good example, although I think Matthew Broderick and Nicole Kidman was the biggest pairing mistake. Matthew REALLY needs to keep playing War Games wunderkids or miming John Lennon rockers. Putting him with grownup women just doesn't cut it. And certainly NOT with Nicole. Jeepers... (psst, Matthew, if Tom Cruise couldn't cut it, you ain't gonna, either.)



    I really think these remakers never set their Casting, Acting and Directing goals high enough. Or even "above" the original. And that's why I wonder "why bother?!!" If you want to show off technology, do Toy Story 4. (I see "3" is already being finished.)



    I'd certainly consider a remake. I often sit in films and think, "Boy, if ONLY they'd included this scene I'm thinking of - !!"



    But you can tell from my vast film-maker's success, I also consider other things.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: UK kelp's Avatar
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    "The Nutty Professor" 1963 Original, by Comic American Genius Jerry Lewis.

    Completely ruined by a re-make for Eddie Murphy.

    Why? Well......money of course. The funny thing is, when one speaks about re-makes such as this, the new cinema goer usually will answer.."What? They made it before!???

  18. #18
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    I think those bashing Gus Van Sant's Psycho are missing the point slightly - because it was more of a bonkers conceptual art piece than a commercially-driven remake, and on that level it was as fascinating as anything by Douglas Gordon (24 Hour Psycho, Zidane).



    Or, more to the point, Jorge Luis Borges - as it's essentially a big-screen adaptation of his famous short story 'Pierre Menard, author of Don Quixote', in which an author named Pierre Menard laboriously copies the text of Cervantes' masterpiece word for word - only to create something totally different, because while Cervantes was writing in the idiom of the time, Menard is deliberately writing in an archaic style, and so on.



    And so it is with Van Sant's Psycho. Unlike most remakes, he doesn't just lift the plot and characters, but he also duplicates the original camera angles, editing and almost every other element of the Hitchcock film (which he had playing on a monitor on set just to make sure he got it right). Yet, as with Pierre Menard, he's created a completely different film - it's gone from being a cutting-edge contemporary thriller to a self-conscious pastiche of the late 1950s in terms of decor, costume, music and cinematic approach. Even the Bernard Herrmann score "sounds" different, because while it was shockingly new in 1960, it's now become the epitome of horror cliché.



    So the 1998 Psycho is clearly no substitute for the original, but it was never intended to be. In fact, I'd argue that the more familiar with the original you are, the more surprisingly rewarding and entertaining Van Sant's version is. (And there's even one aspect of it that's unarguably superior to the original - as the investigator Arbogast, the great William H. Macy wipes the floor with the stolid Martin Balsam).

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: UK image45's Avatar
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    'believe my rating system for Remakes lies' for a moment when I opened the thread I felt you were asking if your itrader feedback was a bit off the truth. Its amazing what a long day does to your eyes and the ability to think.

  20. #20
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    name='Cheeky Bob']I think those bashing Gus Van Sant's Psycho are missing the point slightly... I'd argue that the more familiar with the original you are, the more surprisingly rewarding...
    Not for me. Not for anyone in the theatre which saw it with me.



    I cannot be missing the point "slightly". I have to be missing it in, like, Jupiterean proportions. Galactic proportions.



    The changes he made: an obvious jerk-off scene (very fitting for Van Sant because the whole THING is nothing but his masturbatory exercise, I feel - I'm only sorry I had to witness it, much less pay for it; I'm sure he knows all about those kinds of activities - first HAND)...



    The Sony Walkman. A ha! A real tip o' the hat to 1980s Technology there...



    Cussing. Gee - no one has EVER done that before, yeah, we GOTTA put in cussing - a REAL leap for mankind! uh huh...



    And that's about it. I don't see ANY evidence that he tried to improve one thing. And, like you said, if his intent was merely to 'lift' and totally plagerize the original, well, he did that. With lesser actors (well, William H. Macy, I'll give you - he's done more laudable work than I can find in Balsam's career, but if push came to shove, I KNOW Balsam would be wiping the floor with Wm H...)



    I see no evidence that he tried to improve anything. The only evidence I saw that he demonstrated was an obviously keen interest in masturbation. Gee - that's another giant leap for 12-year boys and Van Sant.



    So yes, I've missed his point. But probably not "slightly". Children with lightboxes can trace masterpieces, too, but art is MORE than tracing and plagerizing. I still consider his version an affront, an insult and a waste of celluloid and all the delivery services needed to cart it from one theatre to the next.

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