5 Classic Films and the Directors who Should remake them.

  I have this thing where when I watch a movie, I imagine what it would be like if it were remade.  This can be fun, but it can also be depressing.  Obviously, none of these movies are asking for a remake and most remakes shouldn’t exist, but it is fun to imagine.

1. Slap Shot: Wes Anderson

I happened to watch ‘Slap Shot’ last night and I was struck with how much unlike a sports movie it is.   The characters are dealing with their off the rink relationships and the game on the rink has turned into a farce. I found that I can only imagine Wes Anderson remaking Slap Shot.

His relationship themes could be played out very poignantly while his costume and color themes would be a blast to see on a sports team.  His sense of comedy would give the film a slightly different spin but it would emphasize the ridiculousness of the game.

Scene Example: The Hanson Brothers played by the Wilson Brothers skate out in slow motion beneath a title card in Futura Bold and join the star studded team featuring Vincent Cassel as the french speaking goalie.

2. A Fish Called Wanda: Judd Apatow

This film is widely considered a classic comedy and I’m not trying to mess with it, but I couldn’t help but imagine how the film would be different if it were remade as an Apatow comedy. Obviously Steve Carell would take the place of Palin, but I have a hard time imagining who would take the place of Cleese.  I think it would still make sense if John Cleese returned to his role (age allowing) but I can also imagine this a a vehicle for more “serious” actors to try a hand at comedy.  For some reason I had Michael Fassbender for the role of George and I can imagine Eric Bana coming back in a comedy for Apatow and of course Leslie Mann couldn’t not be involved. Perhaps this is a throwaway, but I would be interested in seeing this funny film with a few updated jokes and sketches.

Scene Example: Michael Fassbender in the almost straight faced role of George gets to play around and ad-lib scenes with Steve Carell as Ken and Eric Bana as Otto while Leslie Mann is out cavorting with a very old John Cleese.  (Perhaps this one is the biggest stretch.)

3. The Wizard of Oz: Michel Gondry

Watching the ‘Wizard of Oz’ without audio (maybe replaced with Pink Floyd) gives the visuals a whole new perspective. I realized that I could not go a scene without noticing a “flaw” or “mistake” or something that wasn’t “perfect.”  It is very apparent that it was shot on a soundstage with painted walls, studio lighting, and thick makeup.  The wires for the Lion’s tale are visible and on many occasions I found the shadow of the Camera Crane distracting.  Distracting, is the wrong word, I noticed it, but it added so much more for me.  I realized that the reason Oz is so wonderful is because you know it can’t truly exist in real life. I have not seen ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ but I imagine it is spotless when it comes to all the digital effects and perfectly rendered sets.  Just watching the trailers, I find myself in the uncanny valley more often than not. 

Michel Gondry would be my choice for remaking this classic, because you know he would put an amazing effort into making everything a practical effect. Maybe even creating the black and white to color effect by painting everything black and white.  I can imagine sitting through the film with amazement rather at how it was pulled off, which is exactly why the land of Oz is wonderful.

Scene Example: Dorothy exits the black and white house and enters Oz all in one take.

4.  Falling Down: Joel Schumacher

I really just want to see this movie again but with it updated slightly for the times.  I’m totally cool with the original telling of it, but I think it should be seen by a wider audience and some updates to the plot could make it work. Even just the poster of Douglas holding a shotgun would take on a more sinister and dramatic meaning.

Scene Example: The scene where Michael Douglas is in the Army Surplus store would be updated so that the Nazi owner (still a Nazi) has many more people to rail against and perhaps a more dramatic agenda.

5. Rear Window: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Okay, so Alien: Resurrection wasn’t the best, but all his other films are pretty near perfect.  I always found that Rear Window, though fantastic, has very few set pieces and has the opportunity to be very plain and boring (not that it is).  If this were ever remade, I can imagine Jeunet would spend a lot of time on the mood of the set and give it many interesting moments and keep the energy up without necessarily adding any dialogue.

Scene Example: Dominique Pinon is getting up there in age but I could still watch him interact with others for hours.  He would be a fascinating character study and perfect for a film about a guy who’s stuck in one place for extended periods of time.

Obviously, these films do not need to be remade and they probably shouldn’t, but in this generation of filmmakers who are rebooting franchises and remaking classics, these would at least be some interesting choices.

1 note 

Why copying may be good for Communication.

I was thinking that maybe its time I start writing about movies again.  The problem is, I haven’t had much time to watch films.  I’ve been more inclined to tune in to TV shows on Netflix for short periods of time.  I have recently caught up on ‘Breaking Bad’, re-watched all the ‘Archer’ seasons and ‘Arrested Development’.

In case you’re looking for a new show on Netflix, I highly recommend ‘The Killing.’….OR ‘House of Cards.’

What I have noticed, though, is that for many of these shows they have many different directors. Its fantastic that a show can keep its identity with different directors who do things differently. Even if they have guidelines to follow, there are always different things about episodes that are directed differently. Different moods, different emotions, different pacing, and they are all small almost unnoticeable differences.

I had a realization moment a few days ago.  I had a fantastic teacher that lead me through all the amazing halls of learning in regards to rhetoric, but there is always a difference when you realize it for yourself.  Everything that is a symbol (for example a piece of art) is translated from the mind of the artist to the canvas.  Then it exists in the world. Ten we translate it into our consciousness and the big thing is that everyone has their own version of everything.  The translations are limitless. This is what makes mass communication amazing, because through all the different people who are viewing a message, they all experience it the same way.

This is exactly how TV shows work.  Through all the different directors of a series, the audience sill understands it as a part of an already existing series.  There is a great amount of information that is being translated for a mass audience in a very similar way.  That is amazing. 

In Grade school, we all remember the “art” projects where we copied the Mona Lisa with macaroni, or cotton balls.  we followed a step by step program to make a picture just like the teachers.  I always hated this and I would stray from guidelines as much as possible, but in retrospect t taught me a valuable skill.

To communicate with others effectively, we must observe and learn (and copy occasionally) from others.  Repetitive tasks, although boring, can be a great learning experience in how to communicate with others through different languages and the visual medium.

There are so many amazing artists in all mediums that have gotten inspiration from others and then use those inspirations to better communicate their own ideas with an audience.

An example of a fantastic artist who has influenced me, and was influenced by others.

First Versions of Scripts

Practice makes perfect and writing multiple scripts makes films better.  Here is one of my earlier scripts for FENIX that was eventually rewritten 15 more times.

FENIX v. 8

 

My 5 point Review of ‘The Warriors’

I’ll admit, this was my first time viewing ‘The Warriors.’  I’m not quite sure what caused me to select it on NIW, but I did and from the first few moments of the Wonder Wheel, I knew I was going to have a blast.

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Now, I know a few people who have also watched this recently and their reviews of the film have been less than positive.  I remember one particular person explaining the plot over a lunch of grilled cheese and soup and making it sound a little bit…droll.  Here are my 5 reasons why ‘The Warriors’ is a classic.

1. Cultural Relevance: Perhaps this one is debatable since we don’t know what the producers were thinking when they made it, but I think a point can be made.  This film was made right after Ted Bundy, Summer of Sam, and The Unibomber.  Gangs were an actual issue at the time and actually held up production of the film a few times (but also appearing in the film).  The Cold War is still present and the Jim Jones massacre hasn’t made anything more peaceful. This film also came out after the Vietnam war ended and when the Warriors make it home and say, “This is what we’ve been fighting for?” it probably meant a lot more for the people who had watched years of violence to find a less than expected result. These are exactly the reasons this film scared so many people when it was released and caused it to only find a large following years after.  Looking back, these gangs are a natural response to what the public could see already happening.

2. Cinematography: Okay…nothing absolutely fantastic about this at first glance.  I’m a sucker for movies shot on film in the late 70s and early 80s. I think the coloring and lighting can purvey more to the audience then some films now with their green screen sets. I guess this makes the film look a little “cheap” as if they just set up and shot a film without much thought, but I think that feeling adds to the believability of the film that only had one scene shot on a sound stage.  Not to mention, they put a lot of thought into the lighting by adding additional street lights and writing in a rain shower so that they had more flexibility with slicked roads for reflections. 

3. Acting: Another one that is less than obvious. Maybe that means that this film’s best attributes are subtle? Not that the film is subtle…Casted with actors who were relatively new to film I can’t say the acting if fantastic, but it isn’t terrible and I argue that the acting and dialogue wasn’t even the point of the film.  The characters are very likable and I think believable characters and I have to say David Patrick Kelly would have been laughable rather than amazingly creepy as he said (bottle clanked) his famous words if I had seen him in other films and know who he was.

4. The Gangs:  A few of them are a little bit laughable, but generally they are fantastically memorable.  I really do want to but all the 9” figures of the characters that were released.  The Warriors are ultimately cowboys and indians, the Furies are baseball players (based on an actual gang), and I couldn’t help giggle at the mime gang that showed up.  The Lizzies (Lezzies?) and the Riffs are an obvious finger pointing to a love of music as the leader is seen listening to music at one point and their messages are sent out over the radio.  This could have been a nod to the role the music plays in films especially the kung-fu films of the years before ‘The Warriors’.  I also would have been a lot less “scared” of the gangs had i not seen them kill a character early on.  This set up right away the “deadliness” of the gangs even though throughout the rest of the film we don’t actually see many deaths.

5. Plot: When the plot was explained to me over grilled cheese, I couldn’t believe how boring the plot sounded compared to what I had already heard about the film,  ”Some guys go to a meeting where the main leader gets killed and then they take the subway home.”

Possibly the worst synopsis ever.  This isn’t just about that.  The plot is brilliant in its simplicity, but it isn’t that simple.  The films starts out with the promise of peace and a new order, which would have been very uplifting for the audiences at the theaters.  This gets smashed with the death of the catalyst to this new order.  Then The Warriors must make it 1 hour back to Coney Island safely without weapons while they are targeted wrongly as the killers who broke the truce.  This 1 hour subway ride drags on as they are waylaid by girls, gangs, and the Police who all have more weapons than they do.  The “collective hero” trope wasn’t new at the time, but you can see it used very effectively.  Their journey through a angry city also wasn’t new, but it you can see it as a direct forerunner for other classics such as ‘Escape from New York’ and dare I say ‘Blackhawk Down?’

This isn’t even mentioning that the film itself was based on a book that is based on the story of the greeks ‘Anabasis.’  The parallels are actually quite astounding and creates a depth to the film where the visuals and the simple plot are the actual point rather than the dialogue which may have been ahead of its time.

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All in all, I found the film terribly entertaining and actually quite suspenseful.  There is, of course, a suspension of disbelief that is unique to films from 30+ years ago.  I find it frustrating when someone complains about the camera moves in Citizen Kane being less than perfect without realizing that its a heavy camera and these camera moves were the first of the time.  I’m not saying ‘The Warriors’ was nearly as fantastic as Citizen Kane or even other films that came out that year (I think ‘Alien’ wins) but I have to say I thought it was fantastic and “I can dig it.”

Watch FENIX

FENIX from Kab Kaniess on Vimeo.

Tonight is the last night that FENIX will be on vimeo.  I am submitting it into festivals and I will be making DVDs available in the coming months.  Now is your chance to watch the film that premiered on Thursday.