It’s hard to believe that today marks 28 of the 40 films that I am writing about in this 10 part blog! I am beginning to think, based on my reviews of these first 14 films and their remakes, that the remakes of “The Fly” and “13 Tzameti” by original directors David Cronenberg and Géla Babluani, respectively, have a 50% chance of being better. That is far better than I would have expected.
How will the last few days pan out? Will the pendulum swing one way or the other? Or will Lady Justice’s scales remain evened out? Read on to find out in…
“Remaking the Tinsel in Tinseltown”
“20 Films Remade by the Original Directors”
~Director: Kenji Mizoguchi~
Original Film: Sisters of the Gion – “Gion no shimai”
Cast: Isuzu Yamada, Yoko Umemura, Benkei Shiganoya, Fumio Okura
Specs: 69 mins / Black and White / OAR 1.37:1
A wonderful story of two sisters who are Geisha’s, one a man-hating, conniving, lying woman, the other a matured ready to settle down woman. This black and white Japanese film is amongst the best, with it’s excellent story and acting to boot. The wickedness of the younger sister is so believable, you want to reach through the screen and slap her. The deceptions she goes through are so engrossing, the broken hearts of the men so saddening, that you soon realize Mizoguchi accomplished something years before multifaceted tales of deception such as “Fargo”, “Magnolia” or “Crash” did. The way he interweaves the stories is simply astounding.
The film is about prostitutes, so children may not be suitable to see this film. However, it is a true masterpiece from one of Japan’s early filmmakers.
My Rating: ***** / A-
Remake Film: A Geisha – “Gion Bayashi”
Cast: Michiyo Kogure, Ayako Wakao, Seizaburo Kawazu
Specs: 85 mins / Black and White / OAR 1.37:1
This biting tale of Geisha’s in postwar Japan is a sad tale of a young girl who, out of necessity, becomes a Geisha thinking it a position of respect and beauty. She soon learns that it is nothing more than a second class glamorized prostitute, and her house “mom” is nothing more than a Madame.
While billed as a remake of Mizoguchi’s earlier “Sisters of the Gion”, little resemblance is made to that earlier film, other than both focus on the sad life of a Geisha and both are in Black and White. A wonderful film that is moving and educational at the same time, with simply beautiful cinematography.
An attempted rape scene is the most disturbing scene in the film, and truly shows the horrors that women in Japan suffered under the guise of entertainers. Truly a remarkable film from a talented director.
My Rating: ***** / A
~Director: Leo McCarey~
Original Film: Love Affair
Cast: Charles Boyer, Irene Dunne
Country: United States
Specs: 88 mins / Black and White / OAR 1.37:1
An entertaining film that has a story too far fetched to believe. An engaged American woman meets a playboy foreign celebrity man on a cruise ship, where they engage in a love affair. Days later, they end the cruise with a promise to meet on top of the Empire State Bldg. in 6 months if they are both single. Surprise, they are, and surprise, they both attempt to meet. After a car accident cripples the woman, she runs away to Europe, where 6 months later they meet again in a movie theater (all the while they both pine away for each other) and reconnect.
The film does have heart tugging moments, and the acting is very well done. In fact, the chemistry between the two is spot on. It’s simply the story that knocks this film down a few notches on my scale.
My Rating: *** / C
Remake Film: An Affair to Remember
Cast: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr
Country: United States
Specs: 119 mins / Color / OAR 2.35:1 – Cinemascope
This almost identical remake to “Love Affair” improves every so slightly by casting two wonderful actors in Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, and filming it in beautiful color and Cinemascope. Much better performances than the already well acted original helped flush out the characters a bit more, adding a little depth to the decisions they make. Still, however, the story is a little unbelievable, with the whole premise being a bit immature and far fetched at best. As with the original, the musical segments seem a little out of place, as though they were inserted to add length to the film, or to capitalize on the musical craze throughout films of that era.
Regardless, the film is an entertaining film. Historically speaking, it’s nice to see a film that received so many accolades from the Academy of that year.
My Rating: *** / C+