Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Hollywood likes to recycle old movies.  It happens all the time, with varying degrees of obfuscation.  Sometimes they simply remake older films.  Other times they just borrow elements, characters, or titles.  This isn't all bad, and in fact I've decided to mention a few movies I'd like to see remade.

The man who shot Liberty Valance:  This film is an old John Wayne / Jimmy Stewart film.  The modern version would be perhaps even more powerful because of the immense power modern media formats have in their ability to shape people's opinions.  The remake would take place in Afghanistan, which in its current state is not completely unlike the old west.

Seven Days in May:  This cautionary tale, recast in the light of the War on Terror and the threat it poses to civil rights, would be even more chilling today than when it was first made.  Instead of a military coup in the face of a Soviet threat, we could see a systematic plan to widen the government's umbrella of legal, semi-legal, and blatantly illegal counter-terrorism responses.  The thing that made the original film so memorably, and what would be required in a remake, is the fact that everyone was a "good guy," at least from some point of view.  General Scott is not an evil man.  Indeed, he undertakes his plan to displace the legitimate government because he is dedicated to protecting America.  He simply fails to understand that his methods would ultimately prove destructive to the democracy.

A modern Seven Days in May would have to try and avoid the proselytizing characteristic of recent political expression and instead focus on the temptations of power, the balance of individual rights and communal interests, and the inherent tension these place on a representative democracy.  If done right, it would be a phenomenal film.

Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace:  Okay.  This movie is neither old nor particularly good, which is in fact the reason it's on my remake list.  Most remakes are undertaken in the hopes of recreating the success of the first movie.  This film would be remade to correct the errors and to save Star Wars from the malignant blight that is George Lucas.

I personally have never been so disappointed by a movie as The Phantom Menace.  Now, I'm certainly not saying it's the worst movie ever, just the one that let me down the most.  Of the first Star Wars trilogy, only Return of the Jedi was originally released in my lifetime.  I looked on the new series with a kind of expectation I rarely feel for a simple film.  I'm not a Star Wars fanatic by any sense of the imagination, but I was nevertheless caught up in Star Wars mania in 1999.   

The Phantom Edit, seen around on the Internet, would not be a bad start for a remake.  From there, the extra time could be put to a number of uses, possibly including more shots of Jedi killing stuff with cool lightsabers.

The Breakfast Club:  The Eighties classic advanced two decades would be like a Big Chill that didn't suck.  Today fatalism has replaced angst, and the change would make for an interesting contrast with the original movie.  An older brat pack, some with successes and some with failures, reunited under some contrivance, back for one last movie.  The burdens of middle age, universal though they are, remain unique to each generation.  For those who never really thought they'd reach it, reality lands like a ton of bricks.  If the writing can stay trite-free, The Dinner Society would be a good viewing.

Well, that's four.  There are plenty more, I'm sure, but for some reason I feel like watching a movie...  

No comments: