20 Films Remade by the Original Directors Pt.8

02 Jun

As I write this article in the continuing series, I think of the current tendency for Hollywood to focus on remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings of previously produced pictures.  I wonder if those behind the remakes have a tendency to first ask the original directors if they would be interested in directing the remake, or if they simply forgo that for whichever director is cheap enough and/or “hot” at the moment?

I would have to do another series of articles to see if my impression is that remakes from different directors usually fare better or worse than the originals?  Considering my most recent visits to the box office, I’m willing to say they are worse off.  The last few remakes that I’ve spent my $15 on were bad enough for me to wish I had waited to Netflix it instead.  At least with the original directors there is a fighting chance they would be as good if not better.

Anyone have an opinion on that?

“Remaking the Tinsel in Tinseltown”


“20 Films Remade by the Original Directors”


Remake #15

~Director: Michael Haneke~

Original Film: Funny Games
Year: 1997
Cast: Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Arno Frisch, Frank Giering, Stefan Clapczynski
Language: German
Country: Austria
Specs: 108 mins / Color / OAR 1.85:1

The discomfiting opening title sequence (not what you think!) sets the mood for this eerie disturbing tale.  The movie starts with slow long cuts of a family of three driving through the countryside with classical music playing on the radio, when suddenly, hard-core death punk music begins playing under the titles.  It jumps at you, and juxtaposed with the idyllic family amidst the countryside exterior, is rather jarring.

Cleverly, for the remainder of the film, there are only a few more instances of music, and it is always in the scene, coming from a radio.  This near lack of music lends to an uncomfortable ambience.  Haneke favors very long takes with little camera movement, which immediately reveals that this is not a traditional Hollywood film. This is further solidified by the 3rd act, with its depressing and dark finale.

One puzzling aspect of the film was why Haneke chose to break the fourth wall a few times (the character addresses the audience).  Another even more baffling scene involves a remote control rewinding sequence (I don’t want to spoil anything here, but you’ll see what I mean when you view it!).  The thing I “enjoyed” was the lack of any real predictability (other than the “tag” on the end of the film), even though it left me much too uncomfortable to likely view again.

My Rating: *** / C

Remake Film: Funny Games
Year: 2007
Cast: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 111 mins / Color / OAR 1.85:1

A nearly shot for shot, word for word (with a few minor changes) remake of the 1997 film of the same name left me unclear of one thing:  Why in the world did Haneke choose to do this?  Don’t get me wrong, this version of the film is indeed a better version, as the actors this time around are simply superb.  Not sure, however, why he nor the studio left in the bewildering elements from the first version that had me scratching my head (the breaking of the fourth wall, the remote control sequence)?  Nor why he didn’t use this opportunity to flush out his script, or make some other minor tweaks to bring the film up another level?  Indeed, as it stands, it seems it would have simply been better financially to “dub” the original into English and bring it here to the States.

Just as the original, obviously, this film is pure “edge of the seat” suspense from the first frame to the last.  Of course, again obviously, my review remains the same as the previous film.  Much too dark for a “third” viewing!

My Rating: *** / C+

Remake #16

~Director: Raoul Walsh~

Original Film: High Sierra
Year: 1941
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino
Language: English
Country: United States
Specs: 100 mins / Black and White / OAR 1.37:1

An excellent caper film with loads of tense suspenseful drama make this one of the best.  Bogart is simply a wonderful baddy, who is sucked back into his former life of crime to pay back the “big boss” who saw to his early parole.  The film doesn’t have many sour points, other than the portrayal of a “yes boss!” black servant early in the film.  The car chase through the Sierra’s is an early example of fine action, with the tension building around every sharp turn.

A wonderful “gangster” film that any fan of Bogart’s will simply enjoy.

Oh yeah, and the scenery isn’t bad either!

My Rating: ***** / A

Remake Film: Colorado Territory
Year: 1949
Cast: Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo, Dorothy Malone
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan
Specs: 94 mins / Black and White / OAR 1.37:1

This remake of “High Sierra” has had a major overhaul and set as a Western this go around.  The basic script remains intact, with a few minor changes here and there, most notably the ending becoming more of a “Bonnie and Clyde” ending set in some ancient Indian ruins.  While this version features stunning scenery, the acting is a step down from the original, now more akin to B-level status.  The chemistry between McCrea and Mayo is nonexistent, feeling very stale and forced.

Certain elements that differ from the original are the crippled girl is now simply a normal girl, the “inside man” no longer gives up the info because he was nearly killed and abandoned, but turns them in before the heist even happens, and McCrea’s character gets more sympathetic, becoming more of a “Robin Hood” than Bogarts rendition.

The strangest decision Walsh added this time around regards the abandoned Mission storyline.  We see Mayo’s character praying at the cross, we see them desiring a wedding with the monk, we see Mayo tithing the stolen money to the church, and we see the church happily accepting the money and keeping it a secret from the authorities in order to bring back it’s long forgotten congregation.  Very strange message indeed.

An entertaining western yes.  Better than the original?  As Tonto would say, “Me no think so.”

My Rating: *** / C

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Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Movies


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