Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Movie Remakes

Where do movie ideas come from?  Very often from other movies.  Hollywood is a business and is always looking for a sure bet.  They understand that if a foreign audience is excited about a movie so likely will an English speaking audience.  Original ideas are really an arrangement of already established ideas.  Seeking entertainment is one of our most time consuming activities which also makes it challenging.  People crave novelty while also wanting familiarity.  One of the most divisive factors in humanity is language.  But that has some advantages.  First language itself aggregates unique culture.  Second while imposing barriers it also creates opportunities to those clever enough to cross those barriers.  In my observation it is often the original that is better.   Most films are made to make money and those that aren't are financed by those who already have money, in many cases including profitable films.   Each film is a risk--they are budgeted and scheduled, but things go wrong and costs sometimes run up--anticipated profits can be affected by unknown factors such as poor publicity, competition, national economic or political problems

Akira Kurosawa was an admirer of John Ford's westerns.  "Seven Samurai" came out in 1954 set in Japan with its cultural history.  You may be more familiar with the 1960 version starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen and directed by John Sturges.  Or such a good idea was updated in 2016 with Denzil Washington and Chris Pratt directed by Antoine Fuqua.  The two American versions might remind you of John Ford, but in fact it ithe Japanese writer/director who came up with the plot.   The Japanese version actually had 2 Oscar nominations ( for art direction and costume design) while the first American version only received one (for musical score).

 "Infernal Affairs" which came out in 2002 was recommended to me shortly after, but it was a few years before I actually saw it.  The plot revolved around the idea of the police setting up undercover in criminal group while simultaneously the criminal group was setting up a mole in the police with each trying to learn about the other.  Lots of tension co-written and co-directed by Alan Mak starring Andy Lau and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung.  "The Departed" came out in 2006 borrowing the plot, but set in America directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson won 4 Oscars and actually had a slightly higher IMDB rating (8.5 to 8.0).  The Oscars included for best adapted writing.

"Open Your Eyes" (Abre Los Ojos 1997) written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar and starring Eduardo Noriega and Penelope Cruz.  The plot revolved around a vain handsome man having an auto accident that severely damaged his looks.   A few years later "Vanilla Sky" (2001) borrowed the plot and Penelope Cruz with Tom Cruise as the leading man.  Cameron Crowe directed and adapted script. Amenabar is a director I greatly respect.

 'Blind Chance" (1987) was written and directed by Krzysztof Kielowski  taking an event and then backtracking to the beginning and changing one detail which changed everything else.  He ran into censorship concerns with Polish authorities.  The concept struck film makers as a new opportunity.  Using the same concept  "Run Lola Run" (Lola rennt) embellished with new technology German in 1998.  "Sliding Doors" came out the same year with Gwyneth Paltrow.  "Mr Nobody" (2009) was a Canadian adaptation starring Jared Leto, Sarah Polley and Diane Kruger.        

I had already been turned on to Argentine actor Ricardo Darin when "The Secret in Their Eyes" (El secreto de sus ojos 2009)  came out and won the Oscar as best foreign film.  Ricardo is joined by Soledad Villamil.  Juan Jose Campanella directed and co-wrote and had once directed an episode  of an Emmy award series.  Billy Ray directed and adapted the script "Secret in their Eyes" (2015).  Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor starred.  You can read more about Ricardo Darin whose movies are always above average at:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/04/ricardo-darin-brings-charm-from.html


"After the Wedding" (Efter brylluppet 2006) is when I discovered Mads Mikkelsen who has since left his mark on both sides of the Atlantic to.  The director Susanne Bier is one I have followed and she too has been involved with American films.  This Danish film also starred Rolf Lassgard, a Swedish actor who has portrayed Kurt Wallander and later starred in "A Man Called Ove" (2015) and has appeared in Norwegian, English and German films.   I have often listed this movie as my all time favorite, "After the Wedding" (2019) was remade with Bart Freundlich as director, script adapter and producer.  They decided on a gender switch for the lead character who was Bart's wife Julianne Moore   More  on Mads Mikkelsen:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2014/05/mads-mikkelsen-helping-denmark.html   Mads was also the leading actor in the recent "Another Round" which won the 2021 Oscar for best foreign film. 

So far I have only discussed movies that ended up in America, but the same process goes on elsewhere and if you can check out what other film entities are checking out you might not be surprised to see good ideas that could end up elsewhere.

 I saw the Bollywood remake of "Bluffmaster" (2005) with Rohan Sippy and starring Abhishek Bachchan and Priyana Chopra first.  It was harder to see the Argentine original  "Nine Queens' (Nueve reinas 2000) with Ricardo Darin  and I ended up buying a copy.  It seemed strange, but I was amazed at some of the weird clips that were duplicated.  Fabian Bielinsky wrote and directed and later wrote and directed "The Aura" which was the film where I first encountered Ricardo Darin. 

"Badla" (2019)  left a strong impression and I didn't realize they had done a gender switch and was already strange as set in Scotland rather than India.   The remake was directed by Sujoy Ghosh who had also adapted the script and written and directed my favorite surprise ending movie, "Khahaani" (2012).  Starred Amitabh Bachchan and Tapsee Pannu. "The Invisible Guest" (Contratiempo 2016), the original was based in the Catalan region of Spain.  Oriol Paulo wrote the script with Mario Casas and Ana Wagener starring.  Read more on both films with a comparison:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/09/a-masterpiece-film-and-very-good-remake.html    Both worked beautifully.

Within India there huge language segments that are always looking to borrow a proven idea.  Telegu  cinema came up with "Arjun Reddy" (2017) which proved popular nationwide,.  It was the first writing and directing effort of Sandeep Reddy Vanga and starred Vijay Deverakonda and Shalini Pandey.    Bollywood responded with "Kabir Singh"(2019) which did extremely well at the box office.  Sandeep Reddy Vanga directed and was listed as one of the writers.  It starred the well established Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani.  The lead character performed outrageous acts, but had a mesmerizing influence including with the audience.  Read more comparing the two at: http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/09/arjun-reddy-and-kabir-singh.html                    

"Vicky Donor" (2012)  is the movie where I discovered Ayushmann Kurrana and Yami Gautam.  Directed by Shoojit Sircar and written by Juhi Chaturvedi (I follow her).   "Dharala Prabhu" (2020) in the Tamil language made a somewhat different emphasis between comedy and drama that seemed a worthy contribution to the concept.  Directed by Krishna Marimuthu and starred Praveen and Aditya.    Read more about the two films:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/04/vicky-donor-cf-dharala-prabhu.html    The donor referred to in the title is a sperm donor which of course lends itself to a lot of comedy, but both films have a dramatic conclusion.  


A few years back I read "The Devotion of Suspect X" by Japanese author, Kiego Higashino that offered a unique perspective on crime stories.   I was reminded of this when I first watched "Drishyam" (2015) where we were shown a murder and then how the innocent perpetrator escaped detection.  The Bollywood version.  This version was directed by Nishikant Kamat and the script was adapted by Upendra Sidhaye.  I especially enjoyed the cast, Ajay Devgn, Shryiya Saran and Tabu.   The original was seen after I discovered the Malayalam cinema.  Jeethu Joseph directed and wrote the original script for 2013 in Malayalam.  Mohanlal, a well established actor plays the lead  The same crew came out with "Drishyam" (2021) which carries the story forward with a twist and I would say is an excellent sequel that I hope the Bollywood crew can be reassembled to remake this version as well.  I wrote a review of the remake:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/11/driishyam-bollywood-remake-masterpiece.html

Miss Granny might be the most remade film in a short number of years.  The original film was Korean and came out in 2014. and was directed by Dong-hyuk Hwang.  By 2015 a Mandarin version had come out followed in 2018 by a Filipino version.  In 2019 the Telegu version, known as "Oh Baby" came out and I was able to watch it attracted by the star Samantha Ruth Prabhu.  It was directed and adapted by B.V. Nandini Reddy.  The plot which uses a fantasy tool deals on the desire for eternal youth, but also unfair discrimination against the elderly.  Of special interest to me as they remind me of my wife's grandmother .  You can read about the Korean and Telegu versions at:   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/09/comparing-two-grannies.html

For those of you who get to see two or more versions of the same movie there is an extra element of understanding.  Although remakes make an attempt to upgrade the original there is still a link that helps you appreciate both better.  Of course you are going to compare and sometimes technology can make a difference.  If you have seen the English speaking re-make do yourself a favor and check out the foreign original.  You may still be more comfortable with familiar actors and culture, but you should still be able to appreciate the original idea that inspired a remake.

No comments:

Post a Comment