Friday, January 13, 2012

Is It a Remake when it's a Book??

With the new release of Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, many people are calling it a remake. But is it really? When the source material is a book, can it be called a remake? I suppose you could even say the movie is a remake of the book. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the current one in the spotlight, but with the up in coming The Great Gatsby, should we even call these remakes but rather a different viewpoint of a story that was written on paper first?
A really popular book that has constantly been made and made again into different films is the Christmas favorite A Christmas Carol. A simple story written by Charles Dickens, and it has been adapted into film over 20 times, and there have been even more television adaptions. The most recent big screen adaptation was Disney's animated A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey in 2009. It made millions at the box office. Speaking of Disney, other examples of this case are classic fairy tales like Alice in Wonderland or more recently Snow White. In some cases it's true that some people complain when they see a new trailer for Snow White and the Huntsmen or Mirror, Mirror play in front of their film, but not so many complain and say "I can't stand remakes." No, more than often the complaints are "get new source material."


It's easy to call a movie like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a remake, because there was a Swedish film that came out last year; And these people who are flocking to see the American version had no idea that they could just as easily watch it streaming from their Netflix account...six months ago. Strong fans of the Swedish film are outraged, and maybe they have a good reason to be. I recently did a report over the international film industry in Hollywood, and it is an issue that is close to my heart. Last night during the Critics' Choice Awards, before announcing the best foreign film, the girl stated that everyone should go out and see these movies. But how can they? The only one from my understanding that wasn't restricted to LA and NY was The Skin I Live In, and do you see that movie coming to your local college town Cinemark anytime soon? I didn't think so. I was outraged by her comment. She, like many others in Hollywood, are not familiar with the scarceness of these films in everyday cinema. So when Sweden's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came out last year, why would anyone have known about it? I was only lucky enough to see it in theaters with my mom because I live in Austin, an up in coming movie city thanks to SXSW and Austin Film Festival. In the end, no one was given a chance to see the Swedish version, or even given a chance to know it existed, so when a big Hollywood version comes out, can we really be mad that all these people went rushing to see their favorite book as a movie? I certainly cannot blame them.

Another looming question is, are remakes even a bad thing? I certainly know I used to throw fits when I saw my favorite foreign film being remade into Hollywood "garbage." I was the one who complained when I found out best picture The Departed was a Hong Kong drama called Infernal Affairs prior to its remake. Furthermore, for a point in time I was even disappointed that the great Scorsese had done so many remakes (did you know Taxi Driver is a remake of the western The Searchers?). I later came to the realization that Scorsese is a genius when it comes to the adaptation and remake. He brings remaking films into a whole other art form. He's brilliant. This is why no one complains when he remakes a film.

However, not all remakes come off as smoothly or as artistic as Scorsese's. An example being the remake of one of my favorite Korean films, A Tale of Two Sisters. When I saw the trailer for the movie The Uninvited I knew right away that it was a remake of the former. I was angry it was being remade, I was repulsed. But did that stop me from seeing it? No, not in the least. I went and I saw and I...didn't hate it. I wasn't about to go out and buy the DVD and re-watch it over and over, but it wasn't terrible. And yes, there are some bad remakes in the world, like The Eye (a remake of Gin Gwai), but more than not, these remakes lead people to watching the originals. So, are remakes that bad?? Sure, they are Hollywood at its worst, exploiting other cinema for money, but maybe this sort of exploitation isn't as bad as we think. I mean, a little remake called Fright Night was in my top 10 of 2011. People just like the same stories. If you've ever seen an Asian TV drama, you'd know they have a fondness for dressing up women as men and having other men fall in love with them. Sounds sort of like Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night, doesn't it? And we all know he wasn't original.

So back to the original question, is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a remake? I say no, it's not a remake. A remake, by my definition, is taking an original movie and doing it over. Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not the same as the Swedish version by any means. It has vastly different actors/actresses, stylized very differently, and focuses on different aspects of the original book. The two are not the same by any standard. If it is a remake, then it is one of the book. It is by no means a remake of the Swedish film (which is a better adaptation in my mind either way).

What are your thoughts? :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Descendants

The Descendants: 4/5

Can I change my top 10 now? Because I think I've changed my mind on a few things after seeing this movie. I really liked it. It's possible I have a taste for "old people" movies, but this one really captivated me and I enjoyed it all the way through. Even after seeing the trailer and figuring I had seen it all, this movie continued to surprise me until the end. Some parts of it were a little predictable, sure sure. But overall it was a lovely movie with lovely performances throughout.
To get things started, the acting was pretty well done. George Clooney was pretty fantastic and really fell into his role. I know there are some Up in the Air fans out there, but I feel if he deserves an Oscar for any role recently, this is eons better than his attempt a couple years ago. As for Shailene Woodley, I was content with her role. I thought that she would be uber impressive because she's had nominations left and right and rave reviews, but I wasn't too impressed with her actually. For sure, her performance is a lot better than her cheesy acting in ABC Family's The Secret Life of an American Teenager, but in all honesty it has to be hard not to be cheesy with that script. Who impressed me quite a lot in the supporting female role was actually Judy Greer. I enjoyed seeing her outside her usually goofy role and into something serious. Although (spoiler alert), she kind of hit the deep end when she was crying over Clooney's wife's dead body. I just feel that for Shailene's character, there wasn't much room to be impressive except for that underwater crying scene in the beginning.
There were also a great amount of good tense moments in the movie. It makes for a fantastic drama. It unfolds really well and there is never a dull moment because the pacing is on the spot. It's a really great, really well done drama. Although, is it best picture worthy? I don't think so, but that doesn't mean it's not great and you should go and see it. The acting's there, the story's there, the cinematography is there, and if anything else cannot convince you, George Clooney is there in Hawaii of all places ;). I would say it's one of the better films of this year for sure, and so what if I was in a theater that was full of people over their 80's, they must know what's good. They have, for that matter, seen more movies than I have probably.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Artist

The Artist: 4/5

Walking into this movie, I was not as excited as I should have been. I heard it was slow and furthermore, it was an almost two hour silent film. I figured all of the praise was just a bunch of snobby film people getting a chance to feel "nostalgic" and more so "snobbilicious." But oh how I was wrong, because this movie was cute, quaint, simplistic, and above all one of the most pleasant movies I saw this year. And to think, I had no idea what I was getting into :).
The movie was a lot more quirky than the trailer made it out to be. It looked so very serious, but in fact it was up beat and was more comedic at times than dark. Above all, it was a great throw back to the old silent films. It made me think of Singing in the Rain and more recently Hugo. I suppose this year would be the year of nostalgia then ;).
I also found the main two actors fabulous. They have never been in any major roles before, so it was odd to see so many big-time actors and actresses playing along side them. However, they were great. Jean Dujardin (who played the main George Valentin) not only played the role well, but above all looked the part to a tee. And [spoiler alert] it was interesting to hear him speak in the end.
However, if you asked me if I thought it would win the Oscar this year, I would most certainly be surprised. It definitely does not have wide-spread audience appeal. It is at times slow, and if people complained about Wall-e not having enough dialogue, then there's no way people will be flocking to the theaters to see this if it made it into wide-release. Though, if you are an artsy film person, then this one is most definitely for you, my fellow movie lover.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- 2.5/5

there are spoilers in this review

I'm going to say it right now, but I watched this movie not thinking about the Swedish version I saw a year ago at all. I wanted to see it with new eyes, and in all honesty I wasn't crazy for it.
I was excited to see Daniel Craig as Mikael, because he is a very handsome and rugged guy, and from what I read of the book he was described as such. He looks the part for sure. However, he did not act it quite the same. His character seemed timid and also just seemed to go with the flow. He wasn't very assertive at all, but instead a boring and bland guy that just does what he's told without question. Didn't seem too interesting to me. And Rooney Mara was alright as Lisbeth, but she appeared not as strong to me as she should be. For a girl that rapes a guy and tattoos his life sentence across his chest, I would expect her head to be held high a little bit more than it is. I feel like her head's always down, always submissive-like, always shy and weak. It's almost odd to see her so assertively crazy when she is. And the ending made her look far too soft in my opinion. The girl needed to be stronger to the audience, and stronger was not what we saw. This dynamic duo seemed weak, sloppy, and aside from the fact that they were sleeping with another, they did not seem to communicate very well as far as the mystery is concerned.
The location wasn't very intriguing either. The houses were pretty, but it just seemed very fake to me. It did not look like the location from the book, but almost as if it was just a set. It didn't have that awe that I remembered. It just was flat for me.
I also really disliked finding Hariett in London. It seemed all too easy.
Furthermore, there were some things I thought about this movie as good. The choice to cast Stellan Skarsgard was a great one. He was super creepy and a fantastic actor. Although, I felt they gave him away too soon. It was pretty obvious that in the scene where Mikael is drinking wine with Martin and his girlfriend, that a girl is screaming elsewhere in his house. And it seemed brilliant at first when he put on "Come Sail Away" as he was trying to kill Mikael, but as the scene progressed I liked the song playing in the background less and less. It was silly.
Something that I found the most intriguing was the flashback sequences. I enjoyed watching them get played out in front of my eyes, rather than just a back and forth conversation that can tend to get a little winded to watch. The movie was also shot very beautifully.
Other than that, in all honesty I enjoyed watching the Swedish version a lot more. It wasn't nearly as long, and it wasn't quite as jumbled. That film is edited down pretty well, while this one I feel was not given the same care. I suppose that is what happens when you sign on for a movie and have to make it within the year. I would maybe catch it when it airs on TV, but other than that I think I am good without.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012

I am really excited for next year. Tim Burton's back, there's a new Batman movie, a heap load of horror, and so much more awesomeness coming out this new year. Maybe it's because we all need to watch the greatness before the world ends, but either way this year is going to be super sweet for cinema and I don't think I will be able to hide my excitement for much longer! Expect me to start jumping off the walls come a few weeks from now when Beauty and the Beast is re-released into theaters :)

But without further hesitation, here is my top 10 most anticipated of 2012. For the record, I did not allow myself to count re-releases :D

10. Django Unchained

I'm kind of excited for the Civil War version of Inglorious Bastards. Though I suppose it's not to original for Tarantino (because this does really sound so much the former). However, it's interesting enough to get MY attention :D And I cannot wait to see this next Christmas.

9. The Great Gatsby

This is one of my favorite high school books I had to read for some English class. Actually, it could quite possibly be the only other one I enjoyed aside from Pride and Prejudice. I'm excited to see Baz Luhrmann's take on it. I feel like he's a really capable director for a project like this one. The pictures so far tell me that it looks fabulous, now I just hope the direction and acting are as well :D As well as the adaptation. I'm also quite interested that Leo DeCaprio is coming out with 2 movies around Christmas weekend (he's also in Django Unchained).

8. Dark Shadows

3 words: Johnny Depp Producer. He already has a good track record with Hugo, so I cannot say he's a bad producer yet. Add Chloe Moretz and Michelle Pfeiffer to the rest of the Burton crew, and I'm getting antsy just thinking about all the great acting possibilities :D. I really need to start watching the show if I want to finish by summer :).

7. Lincoln

How can I not be excited for a movie about my favorite president?? And it's directed by Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis is the ever awesome Lincoln? It's like someone dissected my mind and decided to make awesome this year. This movie cannot come out soon enough, and you bet I shall be looking for a trailer. I'm surprised no one has done this yet.

6. The Cabin in the Woods

I've waited for forever for this movie I feel, and finally it's almost here! So close, yet so far away. Thank you Lionsgate for knowing how to advertise a horror movie correctly. I bow down to you for finally getting this movie in theaters so I can go and see it on the big silver screen :). Hopefully this movie fulfills my love for horror like it promises.

5. Paranorman

Laika stop motion? Are you kidding me? Of course I'm excited for this, you'd have to not know me at all if you thought so. Go read my blog about The Nightmare Before Christmas on my tumblr. I love stop motion, it's the best kind of art form. Gore-tastic.

4. The Dark Knight Rises

Who isn't excited for this one? Do I really have to say any more? I could ask more rhetorical questions, but at this point I think you get the picture.

3. The Hunger Games

Upon knowing these were going to be made into films, I read the trilogy in August before school started. And was I blown away. 5 days it took me to read the three books, and they are excellent, very on par with Harry Potter. Hopefully the movies are too. Unlike many, I was very excited about ALL the casting, and the director seems good too. The trailer as it stands is so perfect to the book, it's just how I imagined it. I love it when that happens. Mark my words, if you have not read these books, you will regret not doing so after seeing this awesomeness. I just hope Lionsgate doesn't mess this up, but I have faith in them.

2. Prometheus

The trailer for this movie is remarkable. Please, try telling me with a straight face that you are not impressed by the editing in this trailer. It's one of the best I've ever seen. Not only that, but it's an alien movie. Duh, I am excited.

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Let me inform you about a little marathon I hold twice a year. After every semester has passed, I sit down with my boyfriend to watch LOTR. Hands down, those are the greatest movies to grace the silver screen. They have absolutely everything -- action, fantasy, story, character, romance, war, lightness, darkness, etc etc. Perfect films. I expect no less for The Hobbit Part 1. This one with either be the best movie of the year, or the biggest disappointment to date. Maybe I'm crazy, but if you don't think all the things I've stated above about LOTR, then you know nothing of greatness. Absolutely nothing.