Thursday, October 07, 2010

Is there no end to the foreign-remake madness?

A guy said to me today: 'I want to get your autograph before one of us dies.' I smiled and said :'You first I hope.'

That's really apropos of nothing, but that missive from the great (and no longer so omnipresent) Michael Caine was easily the funniest thing I read this morning, so I had to pass it on.

And before I spill any bile over the plans of a director whose work I normally really dig, let's continue the good vibes with some news that, while ancient by Internet news standards, still just makes me smile: Emma Stone will indeed be in "500 Days of Summer" director Marc Webb's reboot of the "Spider-Man" franchise as Gwen Stacy.

Nothing but great news there. If you haven't seen "Easy A," do yourself a favor and do so while it's still in theaters, because while it's lighter than air and too silly by at least half, it's also often wickedly funny, and I guarantee you won't be able to take your eyes off of Emma Stone in this clearly star-making turn.

Now, with "The Social Network" star Andrew Garfield signed as Peter Parker and Stone in the mix, all that's left is to sign Mia Wasikowska as Mary Jane Watson, and this still almost completely unnecessary endeavour will at least be cast perfectly.

And speaking of unnecessary, that brings us to today's main event, and though I love the two movies that most-often-screenwriter Billy Ray has managed to direct, "Shattered Glass" and "Breach," today's news about him is bleak indeed.

I can't even bring myself to ask any more if Hollywood ever learns anything, because the answer is just so resoundingly no. You would think that after the rather epic failure of "Let Me In" ($5 million or so in week one - and reviewed by me yesterday, if you're interested in scrolling down), Matt Reeves' completely pale imitation of "Let the Right One In," there would be at least a brief pause in the stampede to remake foreign-language films only a year or so after they leave theaters.

Apparently not, because today comes word that Ray has now signed on to direct a remake of the Argentinian crime thriller "The Secret in Their Eyes," which won this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Take a second to think about just how bad an idea this is.

If you've seen the original, you know that it's not a flawless film, but director Juan Jose Campanella's tale of a retired investigator (the simply sensational Ricardo Darin) who reopens an old rape and murder case as he simultaneously relights an old flame with a former co-worker (Soledad Villamil) goes in all kinds of unexpected directions as it delivers a solidly mindbending film noir of sorts.

And anyone who's seen this (as I have now three times - it's that good) also knows that's its steeped in the twisted politics of Campanella's Argentina, and that presents the biggest (though far from the only) problem with Ray's plans here. Inevitably, I suppose, he will update the story and move it to the United States, almost certainly losing a lot in translation.

The only things I can say in Ray's defense are that he doesn't get offered directing opportunities very often (the aforementioned films are the only ones he's directed so far, I believe, a real shame), and that he's far from alone in spreading this Euro-remake cancer.

The most prominent case, of course, is "The Social Network" director David Fincher's remake of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," currently shooting, I believe, in Sweden. I have full faith in Fincher, but the original "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is just about perfect as both a literary adaptation and just as a brutally efficient and entertaining thriller, so the stakes here are very high.

And, unfortunately, now that one of my favorite movies of 2008 has been shat upon by Matt Reeves, the other one is now getting the same treatment. "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford" writer/director Andrew Dominik is now apparently writing a version of the first-rate French thriller "Tell No One," perhaps with an eye on directing it himself too.

I would continue on with this rant, but I'm still rational enough to know no one who can do anything about it is listening, so let's just move on to a couple of bits of good news instead.

Apparently, like much of the world, ready to move on quickly from what Matt Reeves has done to his nearly flawless horror movie, "Let the Right One In" director Tomas Alfredson has lined up a new project to direct once he wraps up his take on the John Le Carre classic "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."

After that espionage thriller, filming now with an all-star cast that includes Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Jared Harris, Mark Strong and the great Ciaran Hinds, he's signed on to direct "Larklight," a bit of steampunk from author Philip Reeve.

The story is set in a Victorian-era alternate universe in which mankind has been exploring the solar system since the time of Isaac Newton and revolves around a brother and sister who team with a band of renegade space pirates to save the world from destruction at the hands of a madman.Steve Knight (“Eastern Promises”) is rewriting the script for this, which sounds like nothing but fun to me.

Alfredson is certainly a director to keep your eyes on, so stay tuned for more on this as soon as I can find it.

And finally today, before a video or two, comes simply fantastic news that really may only be of interest to me and Bob Connally, but it's still just incredibly cool.

In a news bit about Steve Coogan's possible upcoming return to British TV as Alan Partridge for a six-part series, great news in itself, the real lead was buried. Coogan is now apparently already shooting a 12-part Alan Partridge Internet series, which will begin appearing online Nov. 5 (I have no idea where yet, but as soon as I know that, you will too.)

If you've somehow never seen Coogan as the TV host Partridge, it's almost always exceptionally funny. He's played the character for a long time now, through multiple radio and TV series, and here's a video sample of just how funny he can be. Enjoy.

And finally, since this has clearly gone on more than long enough, I'll leave you today with what I believe is the first full trailer for John Landis' upcoming graverobbing comedy "Burke and Hare," starring Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg. I believe Landis has wrapped shooting on this, but I have no idea when it will be getting a U.S. release, or how wide that will be. Enjoy the trailer, and definitely keep an eye out for this one. Peace out.


Bob said...

"Who's Wings?"
"Only the band the Beatles could have been."
That is one of my favorite lines in that whole show. I quote that and "These chickens are scared!" quite regularly and Justin and my dad are pretty much the only ones who ever know what I'm talking about.
That is awesome Alan Partridge news all around. Great find!

Reel Fanatic said...

I knew you would be psyched for this .. They're apparently only 11-minute-or-so episodes, but like you, I'll take any Alan Partridge I can find!