Monday, August 31, 2009

Comment Pull Quotes: Retelling Classics, and Line in the Sand Movies

[Two very good comments that got buried this week that I want to draw attention to again (I never should have lost track of comment pull quotes: that was a great feature, and exactly what this place is all about)].

Streebo wrote

Since there are no free form comments as yet - I thought I would pose this question to the blog. What is your opinion on the retelling or refashioning of classic stories?

I ask this because Rob Zombie's Halloween II was released this weekend. It is a follow up to his remake of the John Carpenter classic Halloween. Horror fans roundly criticized Zombie's Halloween remake before it was ever released - simply because it was a remake. They never gave it a chance to stand on it's own merits.

Most horror fans' arguments against Zombie's film started and ended with the fact that it was a remake of a classic - and it was not an exact copy of said classic. They were insulted by the fact that the film had an entirely different tone and aesthetic to it than John Carpenter's film. Terrence McKenna said it best, that the only obligation a work of art has is to be self-interesting.

I think perhaps I'm more accepting of remakes because of my training as a comic fan. We are used to our heroes being refashioned every three years. I think there was a question in there somewhere.

[A VERY good point. At least one difference is tradition: without a tradition people are just not willing to accept it. Once we get to the 5th Halloween reboot maybe people will be more forgiving, because there are good examples of good reboots in the past. Morrison's X-Men only makes sense if you also look back at Giant Size X-Men or whatever, but Rob Zombie has no reboot precursor or whatever.]

TelosandContext wrote

Inglorious Basterds is a new entry on my list of "line in the sand" films. If you don't like this movie, you stand on the other side of the line with THEM.

[What are the films a love for which creates a Us vs Them mentality? I have still not thought through this myself, but I like the idea that this is a category of film. (Although when I admitted I found Duck Soup to be not that funny many people called me a THEM and stopped reading this blog altogether after sending nasty notes so maybe it is not such a good idea: I repeat: MAYBE I WAS JUST HAVING A BAD DAY! THESE THINGS HAPPEN! MAYBE IF I WATCHED IT WITH YOU!).]


ScottMcDarmont said...

Re: Us Vs Them... how about Woody Allen movies?

Streebo said...

If Frank Miller rewrote and redrew WATCHMEN would anyone read it?

Madd_Hadder said...

I have always found myself in the minority in thinking that on principle, I do not mind remakes, especially horror remakes. I know that many more fail than succeed, but growing up reading different writers and artists take the comic book superheroes in different directions, I felt it was okay to see someone else do something different with material.

Zombie's first Halloween movie was nothing like Carpenter's but I enjoyed it. It was a dirty nasty mess, the way you think a slasher flick should be. I have no desire to see the second one because it looks like a direct to video sequel, but I was on board for the first one.

The Friday the 13th reboot that came out this year was massively entertaining and The Last House on the Left remake was one of the better horror movies I had seen in quite some time.

My only stipulation to this is that Tim Burton should never do another remake.

scott91777 said...

Actually, I just think Tim Burton should never do another remake and then, when he does the press, talk about how he was never a fan of the original-much-beloved movie.


Vincent Caramela said...

Scott, I consider myself a "Woody Allen guy" but in no way would I ever draw a line in the sand between us and them.

I guess it boils down to Allen having such a wide body of frequent films that it's inevitable that some crap would surface (especially when us Woody Allen fansd have to put up with the colossal crap that is Scoop, Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Alice and Hollywood Ending). However, if I had to draw a line in the sand concerning Woody Allen it would have to be Crimes and Misdemeanors (with Hannah and Her Sisters in a very close second). To me, if you don't like that film then don't waste your time with other Allen films.

Jason said...

Or Tim Burton could just not do a remake of films about whimsical people who love candy and decide what the story really needs is a "father who's a dentist" backstory to explain those candy-lovers' psychology.

Anonymous said...

When Transformers came out on DVD my roommate bought it and watched it every night for a week. Then he got it on Blu-Ray.

After a while I knew that I shouldn't make fun of him any more for that, but I just couldn't stop.

I think that my opinion of him dropped a bit after that. I know that his opinion of me did.

finsof72 said...

I, personally, am a remake fan. I don't like the word 'remake,' though; I prefer 'adaptation.' I love to see different interpretations of classic works, but I don't like when the similarities are in name only nor when it's essentially a copy with better technology. I think it takes, quoting God from Futurama, a light touch.

Matthew J. Brady said...

I dunno about the "line in the sand" thing; everybody has different tastes, and sometimes they just might not like what you like, and that's okay. I thought Geoff was crazy for saying Duck Soup wasn't very funny, but that doesn't mean he's suddenly anathema. I would say it's more of a way to determine whether somebody might be a good person to discuss films with; if they like the same sorts of movies I do (the Coen brothers, Jim Jarmusch, Stanley Kubrick, Tarantino, Wes Anderson, etc.), we're probably going to get along.

As for Woody Allen, I love Annie Hall the most, so that would be my measuring stick. Hannah and Her Sisters is also pretty great, and if people can't get behind Bananas for the early, funny stuff, I might not be able to talk to them about the Woodman too deeply.

And remakes! I don't have anything against them on principle, but they often seem pretty damn unnecessary. The complaint about the Zombie Halloween is probably due to not only it being a classic, but a fairly recent one. Eh, I haven't seen either one, to be honest, so I don't have a stake in the argument. I'm more bothered/interested in the trend of remaking foreign language films. Sometimes it can end up with great results (The Departed is the obvious touchstone, and The Ring is one of the other good examples), but when you're just doing the same movie in English, it doesn't seem all that worthwhile. The Grudge, One Missed Call, The Eye, Quarantine; it's probably best to just go with the original. Reading subtitles does you good. And when it comes to a real classic, I often cringe at the thought of what Hollywood will do. Let the Right One In will probably be much better than any American version, and if they actually try to redo Oldboy, I doubt they'll be able to come anywhere near the original. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples, but that's what I thought of.

Anonymous said...

Movies that made me a 'them': District 9, which I hated; V for Vendetta, which everyone around me loved off (but on the internet I was not alone in my disdain for); The Hangover, which I found incredibly not amusing. And, since you mentioned, Inglourious Basterds, which I loved.

However, I'm not sure which films can be definitely "line in the sand films", as the ones I listed were just cases of everyone-seems-to-like-them-except-me films. What are some films, besides Basterds, that seem to have equal numbers on each side of the line? With equally intelligent reasonings/writings to back them up? (Or is that not a requirement for 'line' films?)