Saturday, November 24, 2007

if it aint broke

Two of my favorite movies of all time are being remade. I hate it. And yes, that makes me sound like one of those people who walked three miles to school in the snow and didn't know they were poor because everyone else was too, but you know what? I don't give a fuck either. Some things were done right the first time.

The Sci Fi channel decided to try and get all arty and 're-imagine' the Wizard of Oz. Yes, it's true.
It is also unutterably BAD.
How can I possibly describe how bad it is?
I ask you to imagine a genetic experiment involving televisions' worst writers gone horribly awry..beakers spilled, ham sandwiches dropped into the chronosynclastic protein accelerator...the misbegotten nightmare spawn of Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtman, Steven Long Mitchel and Craig Van Sickle staggers forth, wearing an Emily the Strange t-shirt from Hot Topic, only to be flogged through a steeplechase by Rob Tapert wielding a rolled-up copy of Moebius II.
It isn't pretty, folks.

The second is a deed that for sheer hubris takes my breath away. Some clueless shitweasel has decided that the best science fiction film of all time, notable not only for its brilliant writing and casting but for its gorgeous noir technique, needs an update.


The only thing I can figure is that it must be an investment loss scam.

First of all the film as it stands simply cannot be lifted from its cultural matrix. Remember what happened when some lackwit tried the same thing with The Manchurian Candidate a couple of years ago? No you don't, because it DIED.

'The Day The Earth Stood Still' was a parable based on the hopes and fears of a particular society in a particular frame of time...a technologically naive society pretending that they weren't facing a dark future that completely outstripped their ability to imagine.

Secondly, where in fuck are you going to find actors who can rival what Patricia O'Neil and Michael Rennie brought to the film? Without those two performances, the whole movie would have been just another forgettable pulp screamer.

The magical cinematography is another element that no remake will ever be able to capture. Black and white film making is a lost art, and this kind of black and white film making was an even more special use of the medium. Leo Tover, given the Lowey-esque mache and chicken wire creations of Lyle Weaver and Addison Hehr, turned them into something that loured with menace or glowed with benevolence by turns. Shadows as sharp as scissors or creeping like snowfall, a simple elevator turned into a suspended cell in one jarring instant, a man who moves from kindhearted stranger to malevolence merely by standing slowly, the light from a bedside lamp drawing the darkness blacker beneath the planes of his face and making his eyes, this technique is so much a part of this film's impact that it becomes impossible to imagine the movie without it.

There's a reason I'm not giving links; and its because I don't want to inflate their hit stats. For heavens sake, do yourself a favor and watch the originals...the Wizard of Oz, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Better yet, buy them. But give the remakes a pass.


  1. I've been seeing those dang commercials for Tin Man for weeks now and it looks like it sucks enormously. It troubled me too.

    You know what they should have done instead? They should have made the book Wicked, not the stupid lame ass musical, but the actual book, into a movie and keep to the real story in the book with no stupid singing, and then you'd have something that I bet we'd both be excited about watching.

  2. Why can't they revive the originals at the box office so we can see them on the big screen as they were intended? And introduce them to new generations?

    And come up with some original ideas for the new films?

    *huffs off without paying for the popcorn*

  3. I'd like to see a remake of Nightmare On Elmstreet...this time he attacks you while you're online.

    Okay, that was pathetic...but then again its late.

  4. I couldn't agree more. Have you ever seen a remake that was better than the original? Jean Luc Picard couldn't pull ho's like Kirk. Plus, everything these days is fake-ass computer generated crap. What ever happened to real people and real stunts? Plus, they always want to throw in an original-cast member cameo, and put a clever twist to the ending.

    By the way, check this out.

  5. Just another couple of titles in the long line of remakes. I am really puzzled by the film industry's love-affair with remakes and make-overs. If there were a shortage of writing talent I suppose it might be understandable, but if anything, there's a surplus of authors. I did wonder for a while if it was pressure from actors and actresses who wanted to play their favourite role rather than an unknown one, but the film business isn't run by the stars. I suspect there's a deeper reason, probably economic, and probably it's in a folder filed under F for Fear of Failure.

    My suggestion for a way out of the morass is to get a program lke poser and learn how to anmate the characters: make your own movies, and blog them.

  6. This just show the contiuned lack of imagination on the parts of 'shitweasels' who live in LALA land or where ever they hang out. You can't blame the writers - they are puppets. I am totally unimpressed with most stuff coming out of the hollywood ginmill, I do like the kid stuff. But I am a kid at heart.

  7. hendrix4:44 AM

    I hate remakes and never watch them plus I hate it when they adapt books for film so I tend not to watch those either. (The only one it ever really worked for - because it improved on the story was Bladerunner).

    Even if you hadn't waxed so lyrical on the "Day the Earth Stood Still" I'd have checked it out just because of the picture you posted. It looks stunning.

  8. SNM: i keep hearing about how great 'wicked' is, but i'm too pusscake to read it. even fans of the movie like it. i should just suck it up, huh.

    mj: that's a wonderful idea, actually. i'd pay full modern movie price to see TDTESS on the big screen. I never have.

    awa:you know, nightmare didn't do a thing for me? now Fire in the Sk-
    that which may not be THAT scared the living breathing crap outta me.

    WCSN: i found your recent remake of Debbie Does Dallas quite worth the money, though. I particularly liked the 're-imagining' of Dallas as a military base filled with irritable men in leather chaps.

    sopwith: you're right. it has to be fear of the bottom line. go with a proven winner, all that.

    gale: i just wish they'd leave the genuinely good stuff alone and try not to make everything so that it has a video game angle. and use talented puppets instead of crapass ones!

    hendrix; then you're gonna love 'Day'. the screenplay is so much better than the original short 'Farewell to the Master'.

  9. The Day The Earth Stood Still remake has Keanu Reeves in it.


  10. billy: why do i feel stupider knowing that?

  11. thank you for not writing a dirty blog that makes me feel like I need to wash my brain, Mom.
    Keanu Reeves, I can see him as the robot. Totally. He'd be perfect, no speaking, nothing but robotic, uninspired acting inside a bot suit. Excellent.

  12. I won't watch them, I made the mistake of watching the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair - I'll never watch another.

  13. The only remake I liked was 'Lady Killers' with Tom Hanks, as it roughly followed the story, but they did refresh it with the new setting... both are good in their own right... though you can't beat the creepy alec Guiness and the little old lady belting the water pipe in the kitchen with a mallet to get the tap to work...

  14. "Dear Madam, I should like to use the term 'shitweasel' and am writing to ask if I must quote you as the author.I do not wish to offend or be stuck with copyright litigation.
    Thankyou. etc..."

    And on remakes in general...Sopwith is, I suspect, right. And I also think the F file holds a few other things.Or , maybe they all want to jump aboard the Disney tram.

  15. SSA: 1.have you backread? 2. i do, but it's password access only 3. keanu reeves might just be competent enough to change Gorts oil, but that's the only job i'd throw him.

    ziggi: nope. not a fan of the remake either.

    mr. Gaskin: theres another one i've missed. tom hanks i can give or take, but that took some brass to try and fill those shoes. i dunno...

  16. Seems like LA and Broadway are two sides of the same coin nowadays. No ideas! What sold before? Let's remake it! Let's remake it twice!

    I will TiVo Tin Man, though, if only because Alan Cumming is in it, and sometimes it's vaguely amusing to see just how bad those SciFi originals are. "Flash Gordon" was hysterical for about the 5 minutes I could stand to watch it...

  17. I like you Mr. Carpenter, you're a real screwball!

  18. Anonymous9:06 PM

    i have to agree with subservient. i think they should do a movie on wicked. i read the book and it was pretty good, better than i anticipated it to be.

    return to oz was pretty good. i saw it as a child and had forgotten about it until later when i read the book and had mental flashes of the movie. almost had myself convinced i had imagined it when i found the movie.

  19. I am with you on the day the earth stood still.

    But the Wizard of Oz.......I never liked the orignal , and while I am doing the walk of shame .....I cant stand Charlie Chaplin or Shakespeare.
    And I thought the Star Treck film with the Borg in it was the best one EVER

    ****runs off dodging a hail of ruby slippers , amusing bowler hats and codpieces****

  20. Get ready for the remake of St Trinians

    Its supposed to be good

    *** Runs off dodging another volley of hockey sticks and sports bra's*****

  21. Oh and I just want to say that those munchkins are now singing in my head. la la la la

  22. Anonymous7:37 AM

    I think they should do a remake of Citizen Kane with George Michael as the lead! See I have good ideas as well!

  23. all i can say is i agree and if that makes me been called worse...:)

  24. all i can say is i agree and if that makes me been called worse...:)

  25. It is f*cking tragic!
    Why do those idiot Boomer Movie Execs "ease on down the road"?Remember THE WIZ!

    There are 3,000 books published every day..surely one of them is worth doing?
    I have no doubt that they will remake Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind, Godfather 1&2, Casablanca, Star Wars, Ten Commandments, ET and all of the other movies on the AFI list within the next decade.

    As long as they don't touch Gigli, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Battlefield Earth, Lonely Lady, From Justin To Kelly and Glitter!

  26. Thank you for your lovely, kind words and your care. I haven't been able to comment here for a while. I was Blogger blocked, for some reason, but I am so glad I can say thank you now - your warmth means a lot to me.

  27. P.S. I have The Day the Earth Stood Still on video - how 'you're just not really with the times' is that??!!! It is a FANTASTIC film. The first ever "they're not necessarily out to get you" alien movie. My favourite bit is when the suits/medics tell John Rennie he can't leave the hospital room and lock the door behind themselves - and he just smiles, knowingly.

  28. Nicholas Cage in Wicker Man - oh dear. Actually, Nicholas cage in anything - oh dearie me.