Mar 12, 2009

Top 5 (well, 6)... Remakes the world just doesn't need

Entries are, as ever, alphabetical by [original] title.

I may well end up covering this stunning Korean film as a future why haven’t you seen. It’s a riveting and beautifully acted film about a woman (Lee Mi-yeon) who, when her husband dies, begins to become convinced that his spirit has become resident in the body of his younger brother (Lee Byung-hun). This is far from the typical Asian ghost stories that Hollywood has been so keen on remaking, instead its strengths lie in dialogue, in character based drama.
It’s recently been remade under the title Possession (way to play up the film’s essential ambiguity there). It’s almost certainly awful, for several reasons… 1: Sarah Michelle Gellar, at least outside of the odd episode of Buffy, has never displayed anything one could even charitably call ‘talent’ as an actor, and this is a tough role, one Lee Mi-yeon played with incredibly raw emotion, and very little dialogue.
2: It’s going direct to DVD, after languishing on a shelf for almost two years; you can see it, in the US anyway, on May 12th
3: Just look at the poster, read the (stupid) tagline, and try not to assume that it’s going to be bollocks… impossible, isn’t it?
Trailers: Addicted -
Possession -

Hellraiser has been burning through directors, having been given to one pair of filmmakers from the new wave of French slashers (Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury of Inside) it has now landed in the hands of Pascale Laugier (whose own Martyrs has now been tapped for a US remake). I’ve heard Martyrs is stunning, and Laugier an impressive new voice, so there’s some degree of hope that Hellraiser might actually be decent. Really though, why do it? The original version by Clive Barker isn’t even 25 years old, and it’s not terribly dated. Okay some of the late 80’s fashions aren’t so great now, but otherwise there’s not much that could be done better here. Hellraiser is a seriously nasty little flick, and though it was made on smallish a budget the effects almost all hold up, and those that don’t (just a few animatronics really) aren’t awful, and add to the film’s charm. There are a couple of things in Hellraiser that you just can’t better. The first of them is the depiction of the Cenobites, who are spectacularly disturbing, and shockingly uncomfortable to look at even now, while Doug Bradley’s Pinhead has become one of the great icons of horror – it would be a crime to replace him. The other truly amazing thing about Hellraiser is Skinless Frank, one of the great make up effects of all time, and one that will absolutely not be improved (and nor will the rest of the film) by adding CGI. It’s not that I’m worried Hellraiser will be bad, it’s just pointless.

Lady Vengeance / Oldboy
Ideas like this make the baby Jesus cry. Park Chan-wook is an honest to god visionary, one of the most individual and consistently fascinating directors in the world and these final two entries in his Vengeance Trilogy (despite the fact that Oldboy is based on a Manga) play like pure, dark, slices of his imagination. The problem is that both of these films are spectacularly harsh, and Hollywood doesn’t really do harsh, and certainly Steven Spielberg and Will Smith, who are attached to Oldboy, don’t. Oldboy is said to be an adaptation of the Manga rather than the film, but even so, can anyone imagine Smith and Spielberg producing a harrowing film about a man searching for a reason behind his 15-year solitary confinement involving hammers, raw squid eating, incest and extreme violence?

There’s not been much said about Lady Vengeance, except that Charlize Theron is interested in producing, and perhaps starring. This smells like bad news to me, because Theron’s only ever been any good in Monster, and this is a role that requires far more subtlety than Aileen Wournos did. Whoever ends up directing these films though, they are simply unlikely to be able to get near the visual mastery of Park Chan-wook (who has already said he has no interest in Hollywood, having been offered both of these films and the long mooted Evil Dead remake), and for that reason they should never be allowed to happen, if you want to see them, read the subtitles.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Wes Craven’s back catalogue is being pillaged for remake upon remake. The Hills Have Eyes happened a few years back Last House on the Left opens in the US on Friday (and is currently slated for cinemas here in… wait for it… September.) while People Under the Stairs and Shocker are both being discussed for remakes and the Scream franchise for a reboot. I don’t care about any of that so much, but you don’t fuck with Nightmare on Elm Street, you just don’t, especially when you are Michael Bay. Yes, lucky, lucky us, this remake (which seems to be going the way Rob Zombie’s violent raping of Halloween did, and exploring the background of its bogeyman) is coming to us from those fine people who have previously violated The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and are preparing to do the same to The Birds.
In a move that has had fans up in arms Robert Englund, who has played Freddy Kruger in eight films, will not be returning to the role. Talk had linked Billy Bob Thornton to the role, but that seems to have gone away to be replaced with whispers that Jackie Earle Haley is being sought. That’s a fine pick if it happens, his almost hollow face gives him a great look for Freddy, and he’s a tremendous and scary actor, but, at the end of the day, Robert Englund IS Freddy. The problem is that Nightmare, for all its lack of technical sophistication, and its shitty, shitty ending, is still pant moisteningly scary, while all that Bay’s remakes have so far given us are pretty, bloody, movies with absolutely no scares. Please make him stop.

As Darth Vader so memorably and irritatingly put it in Star Wars Episode 3: “Nooooooooooo”. Paul Verhoeven’s satirical masterpiece (yes, I said masterpiece, in reference to Robocop) is a mere 22 years old and, besides some slightly dodgy stop motion on ED 209 it’s as fresh as the day it was released, in fact, it only grows funnier and more disturbingly prophetic, with each passing year. As has been amply demonstrated by the dreadful sequels, no other director seems able to capture the mix of biting comedy, insane action and violence and genuine emotion that makes Robocop such a potent and special film. No actor aside from Peter Weller has been able to give us the soul behind that suit of armour (or indeed move so gracefully in it). In a truly bizarre move Darren Aaronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler) has been tapped to write and direct. I’m no great fan of his movies, but that’s not why this worries me, even if you figure in his other two films; Pi and The Fountain there is nothing to suggest that Aaronofsky is the man to handle Robocop – there is clearly not a satiric bone in his body and he’s never really directed action – I really don’t want to see Robocop become Batman Begins, which I fear is the way this will go. Add to this an early poster that was almost laughed out of Comiccon last year and you’ve got what sounds, already, like a hideously misconceived project. There’s one way to get me excited by this idea: get Verhoeven back and tell him to make what would have been his Robocop 2.

No comments:

Post a Comment