Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Weekly Top Tens Part III: The Ten Remakes I Want to See

There are many films that would work as remakes, and I had to narrow this list done quite a bit to only get to. But these are the ones I would love to see new film versions of.

10. Dirty Harry (Don Siegal, 1971)
If Pauline Kael, and others, accused the original film of supporting fascism by the way Harry Callahan violated a suspects civil liberties, can you imagine what this film could be like in the age of the Patriot Act? Hollywood doesn’t seem to much make violent police films quite like this one anymore, and that’s a shame because they can be terrifically entertaining, and even a little thought provoking. May I suggest that Mel Gibson direct and star in this one?

9. Oldboy (Chan-wook Park, 2005)
I don’t so much relish the idea of a Hollywood version of the insane Korean thriller in which a man is kept in a room for 15 years, and then let out and tries to seek vengeance. But I just want to see what a Hollywood version of this story would be like. Would they possibly allow anyone to follow the original’s storyline to its final, shocking conclusion? I don’t think so, especially since the latest rumor is Spielberg directing Will Smith. You know who should do it? The director responsible for giving the film one of the top prizes at Cannes a few year’s ago – Quentin Tarantino. He’s just about the one I can imagine actually doing it properly in Hollywood.

8. Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)
In the nearly 60 years since Billy Wilder’s classic was made, Hollywood has only become more shallow, superficial and cruel. You now no longer even need an old actress to play the Gloria Swanson role of the once big movie star – now any actress over 40 could do it! May I suggest a cast of Julianne Moore as Swanson, Ryan Gosling as William Holden, Martin Scorsese as Erich von Stroheim and Hilary Duff (yeah I said it!) as Nancy Olsen. And to direct? Rian Johnson, to get him back on track.

7. Crossfire (Edward Dmytryk, 1947)
The 1947 film noir, about a guy in the army who is murdered because he was Jewish was a great step forward for Hollywood. And yet, it is kind of sad that the original story was not about a Jewish man being killed, but a homosexual. It is even more sad that almost 70 years later, you could set the same story in modern day America and it wouldn’t appear all that outlandish or old fashioned. Get Gus Van Sant to direct.

6. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
The film Francis Ford Coppola made in between the two Godfather films was this little masterpiece about a man who listens in on other people’s conversation, but can never completely understand what is going on. Gene Hackman gives a great performance in the lead role, as he becomes more and more obsessed with unraveling the mysterious conversation he overheard – and gets it completely wrong. A great paranoid thriller. George Clooney to direct, and star, in this one.

5. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
I’m not sure why I think John Boorman’s classic about four city guys heading to the country for a canoe trip, and being confronted by hillbillies should be remade. Perhaps it’s because with America still divided into Red States and Blue States, that I think this movie would make an interesting comment on modern day America. Perhaps it’s because they don’t really make thrillers this anymore, and this is a great one. Or perhaps I’m just a pervert who wants to see a redneck tell a fat guy “I bet you can squeal like a pig” before raping him. Give this one to Rob Zombie.

4. Rolling Thunder (John Flynn, 1977)
Where are all our movies about Iraq war veterans coming home screwed up? I know that we have had a few, but almost all of them concentrate specifically on the war, instead of telling a story about them when they come home. John Flynn’s 1977 film, based on a screenplay by Paul Schrader, is a nearly forgotten masterwork about a man (William Devane) who returns from Vietnam, has his house broken into, his wife and son killed, and his hand shoved down a garbage disposal all so the thieves can steal a little prize money he got when he got home from Vietnam. With the help of his army buddy (Tommy Lee Jones), who is having trouble readjusting, he goes to get revenge. With only a few changes, this would make a fine modern day movie in America. Give it to Clint Eastwood.

3. The King of Comedy (Maritn Scorsese, 1983)
What would Rupert Pupkin be like in the age of reality television? He would probably be much the same as he was back in 1983, yet the whole system around him would have changed drastically. Now his obsession with being famous, despite no discernable talent, would not seem that strange (as Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie prove everyday). There is no reason why he would have to kidnap someone like Johnny Carson anymore – it could be anyone – and the film could be truly merciless with the paparazzi, something only hinted at during the end credits for the original film. I think this would work more if it were completely reimagined, instead of simply remade. And they best guy to both direct and star in it? Why Vincent Gallo of course.

2. Being There (Hal Ashby, 1979)
Like The King of Comedy, Being There simply seems more prophetic with each passing year. Chance the Gardener (Peter Sellers), who is mildly retarded and only able to speak in vague sentences about gardening and TV, goes out into the world for the first time in years and is hailed as deep thinker and genius by all those around him (they call him Chancey Gardener, because they think he is some sort of upper crust type) and becomes a media sensation with his simple wisdom. Television has further rotted our brains in the 30 years since this film came out, and really, few changes would need to be made to make this film relevant to modern audiences. May I suggest Alexander Payne would be perfect for this one?

1. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
Like both two and three on this list, Network was seen as a satire when it came out in 1976, but now it almost seems like a documentary. In the years since the film came out, TV news has become more about entertainment value than information, personality over substance. When Howard Beale yells “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” it was once seen as crazy – now Glenn Beck does this nearly every night of the week! What I would really like is to get a director with Sidney Lumet’s (and writer Paddy Chafesky’s) talent and take a look into the future of the “news industry” again, using this movie as it’s best structure. That director, in my mind, should be Paul Thomas Anderson.

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