"What're you douche bags still complaining about?"
Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. That's all I've heard out of you guys for the longest time. "Another Remake" this. And "Another Old TV Show Adaptation" that. On, and on, and on until the concept of ranting became as infused in the woodwork as a splintered silverfish hungry for another dish of the same ol'-same ol'. Don't get me wrong; I was on the same page. I was in total agreement. I thought all the originality in Hollywood had dried up.
That much was obvious.
Or…was it? The movie industry is a money game. And they have to bow to the greatest common denominator. Until the rants from an insufferable cyberspace finally reach the outside populace. I know it's easy to forget that you Internet cruising talkback flappers aren't the only ones on the planet. I get caught up in that too. I hear sh*t on the web over and over again, and start to believe the hype. We're given a daily universal-wide viewpoint that seems written in stone. People who spend each waking hour sitting in front of their computer screens tend to form the same opinion, like mold growing on a Hasservision pizza. I constantly buy into these rant-fueled ideas as truisms. Then I crawl out of my self-made electronic ditch and start talking to the other 98% of the movie going public that doesn't have a cutesy screen name.
And they don't know what the Hell I'm talking about.
The Internet is a good place for an idea to gestate. But it takes a long time for that idea or opinion to leak into the general population. One tirade that seemed universal in its appeal was the anti-remake rally cry. After a good solid dose of cinematic Deja Vu, everyone and their mother seemed to be screaming foul. The disgust went far beyond the Internet Forums. For the last couple of months, that's all that's been playing at the local Maitreyaplex. Even our Arthouse Cinemas were (gasp!) affected.
Ghastly, I tell you…
Driving to work was like revisiting a bygone area. It was 1989 and 1972 all over again. Every single billboard seems blasted here from the past. I felt like I was time tripping in the worst way. When I was a kid, I loved going to the movie theater (as I'm sure a lot of you did). I sat watching tremendous entertainments like Star Wars and Raiders in a state of awe; it was inspiring. Every year brought a few more classics. I'd daydream about how wonderful the future of film surely had to be. I couldn't wait to see what kind of great, mind-blowing movies would be playing when I reached adulthood. Never, in a million years, did I believe, or think, that if given the chance to time travel some thirty years into the future, I'd be walking into some shoebox sized hole where the sound from another film was easing itself past the walls, only to watch the regurgitated likes of Batman, and Willy Wonka, and The Bad News Bears.
Seriously? What the F*ck? And it's been a contention point for a while. The seeds of this backlash started to sprout on web pages like ours, and AICN, and Chud, and the like. In reviews, and columns, and on-line chat sessions. But it didn't take long before this Remake Anger started to spread amongst the actual ticket buying public (i.e.: those of us who have to splurge on a twelve dollar admission price over and over again without ever being offered a free screening pass).
Thing is, I think Hollywood has finally sat up and taken notice. Breezing through the queue, I see a lot of new and strikingly original films appearing on the horizon. Low-ticket sales have slugged like a fisted-punch through the entire industry. I actually think they realized this declining trend a while ago. It takes a great amount of time to curve the tide, mostly because it takes so long for projects to get made. But it looks like the originality of the box office show is on the upswing. Especially now, here, in these off months just after summer.
Take a look around. It's a great time to love movies. There are so many new and original projects hitting the screen that it's almost insufferable. I haven't seen such a unique, interesting thematic output in years. And I'm kind of pissed at the rest of you. Where's the praise? Where's the "Kudos, Hollywood"? Like I said in the opening paragraph, it's been nothing but a three month long bitch session from you folks. You screamed until your faces turned blue. Now, we actually have something worth its weight weighing against our illuminated screens, and you've all grown silent. Not a peep. Not one "Thank you." As my long dead grandma would have said, "You weren't kind enough to say: Boo, sh*t, or nothing!" You ungrateful bastards.
The whines were enough to curl ancient wallpaper off a tomb in China. You were like a crying pig hungry for swill. Now your bucket is full, and you can't even offer an, "I appreciate it, Jack Valenti!" No wonder those high-powered executives don't give a f*ck about you most of the time. Here, they try and tidy up the lukewarm punch bowl with a shot of vodka, and all you do is shrug. You act like a spoiled brat that deserves the best. This just proves that you'll never appreciate the rainstorms when they finally pelt your sun-soaked fields of dying corn. I, myself, was shocked. I went to check the local paper for an estimation of what was playing the other day. I desperately wanted to see something, anything, but didn't believe there would be a single movie worth checking out. Imagine my surprise when I read the line-up. It all sounded palpable. Even the curious notion that Roman Polanski, of all people, had directed a newer version of Oliver Twist (which, I know, has been remade more times than Angie Dickinson's face).
I leaned away from the moist, black print of the LA WEEKLY and whispered, "Awesome." I couldn't decide what I wanted to see first. It all sounded so interesting. I was intrigued. I wet my pants. There wasn't a remake or an updated TV sitcom amongst the bunch. My eyes watered up. "Thank God!" Okay, so Into the Blue is a sorta-kinda riff on Peter Benchley's The Deep. But look at the rest of these titles: The Lord of War, The Corpse Bride, Duma, A History of Violence, Just Like Heaven, Serenity, Roll Bounce, and Proof, just to name a few. All NEW! I looked up the reviews, and for the most part, they were all positive. I wouldn't pass on seeing any of these. That's an odd notion. Come mid-July of this year, I was conflicted with a dying gut instinct. I certainly didn't want to waist my time on anything playing the Burbank 16 back a mere few weeks ago. Now, I want to go and spend the entire day there. Pull a good ol' fashion movie buffet move. You know, pay for one ticket and then skip around to the other auditoriums. Sure, it's the same as stealing, but damn if ticket prices aren't through the roof. Everybody's going crazy over the cost of gas. Sh*t, the cost of a movie ticket aint much better.
I wound up seeing two of these new movies currently playing US Cineplexes: The History of Violence and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Wererabbit. They turned out to be two of my favorite films of the year. I've already seen Violence twice, and I plan on going back to Wallace & Gromit a few more times. I know this Claymation feature is based on a collected group of short films from over ten years ago, but its one of the fastest moving, most original family films I've ever seen. I can't recommend it enough. The darn thing is awesome.
This ocean of "New" doesn't look to be bottoming out anytime soon, either. Not until the end of the year at least. Okay, Okay…I know the most anticipated film in the next few months happens to be a remake. Peter Jackson's King Kong will probably be this Christmas Season's biggest blockbuster. And it will probably rest at the number one spot for at least three weeks straight. We also have a redo of both John Carpenter's The Fog and The Poseidon Adventure to look forward to. But an air of originality is creeping deep into our cinematic consciousness as we speak, and that's a very good thing. It's what we've been asking for all along, and it just goes to prove that there is a modicum of imagination left in this great town of ours.
Let's take a look at some of the "FRESH" headed our way: There's Waiting, which doesn't seem altogether original (think Clerks & Office Space), but it sure looks funny as Hell. Then we have Two for the Money, and In Her Shoes. I'm not sure about that last one. It almost sounds "strictly for the bitches". But still, at that, it is an otherwise interesting take on the girly genre. And it's been directed by Curtis Hanson, a guy that hasn't really made a bad flick.
Good Night, and Good Luck finds George Clooney directing another film, this time a black & white fever dream about Edward R. Murrow. I've heard that it's as inventive as his Chuck Barris Mockupic. Tony Scott amps up some fantastically flaccid film stock with the praise-worthy DOMINO, another semi-fictional take on a real person. Word of mouth on this one is that its funcore to the max. Elizabethtown finds Cameron Crow doing what he does best. And North Country is already garnering Oscar buzz for its depiction of the first Sexual Harassment suit in US history.
DOOM, based on a video game, doesn't give one much hope, especially with that first person shooter trailer. If there's one thing worse than watching someone play a video game, it's watching a movie where you can't yell at the player. But hey, at least we haven't seen it before, right? Same goes for Dreamer. On the one hand, it's Kurt Russell. I'm going to have to see it. On the other hand, it's Dakota Fanning…I'm so conflicted.
The director of Monster's Ball is back with a psychological thriller entitled STAY. Steve Martin has turned his thin novella into a feature length adult drama in Shopgirl. And Shane Black finally gets to direct a movie with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, something I've been looking forward to for quite a while. Paradise Now is about two Palestinian Men that are recruited to be suicide bombers. I haven't seen that before. And I'm more than willing to take a look.
We do get two sequels on the same day. SAW II promises to be better than that awful first outing, as does The Legend of Zorro. These two tiny bits of redundancy might just prove to be a much-needed bit of fun. Nicolas Cage's WEATHER MAN poster looks just like the poster for Lord of War. Still, the bonding moments between a father and his fat daughter look funny enough. And, by god, someone's actually releasing Three…Extremes in the United States. How awesome is that?
And this is just what's being released in October. Damn, that ain't too shabby for an off month. I have to look at that list and wonder what might be remade off it in the future. The next couple months show no signs of slowing down, either. It's going to be a great ride until the very end of December. For once I have to step back and say, "No. You Know What? I Love You. And Your Awesome Movies."
Someone needs to get a stick and beat me in the face with it. Pronto.
I changed my mind. Hollywood, you still suck!
Get out of the house! Support New Cinema. If you don't buy those tickets, you're going to force Hollywood to shove another remake of Fat Mama's House on your face. Don't say I didn't warn you! You dumb mother f*ckers!
A History of Violence was released September 23rd, 2005 and stars Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Ashton Holmes, Peter MacNeill, Stephen McHattie, Greg Bryk. The film is directed by David Cronenberg.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was released October 5th, 2005 and stars Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay, Nicholas Smith, Liz Smith, John Thomson, Mark Gatiss. The film is directed by Steve Box, Nick Park.