profile of PaulVerhoeven

Top 5 Movie Remakes


Remakes are, without fail, grumbled at. Amidst ill-informed claims that the remake in question won't ever live up to the original, they're frequently used as examples of why Hollywood sucks. I've got news for you: Hollywood doesn't suck because of remakes, it sucks because it's full of people afraid to take any risks. A good remake does just that, and then some; it is bold enough to attempt reviving a loved film, and (if it's really, really good) it takes things in a bold new direction.

I'm glaring very hard in your direction, Gus Van Sant's Psycho remake.

So here are the five remakes I deem to be the best. If there are any you feel belong here, please leave comments with a minimum of snakiness in the comments section!

--

5. Solaris


Originally directed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972, and based on the 1961 book by Stanislaw Lem, Solaris is a classic. Tarkovsky made some… let's call them dark films. Ponderous, articulate and at times thrillingly morose, his style lent itself perfectly to the sci-fi genre. Solaris is a story which would be ruined by revealing too many details, but I will say this: when Steven Sodedbergh and George Clooney released their remake in 2002, a labour of love between marquee names, critics lost their shit. Well, I lost mine, as did pretty much every other film academic I was in touch with at the time. 

The book, the original film and the remake are all different, but for my money (of which I have precious little), Soderbergh's is perfect. It has one of the best film scores of all time courtesy of Cliff Martinez, it's perfectly shot, edited and paced, and Clooney gives a powerhouse performance. Imagine David Lynch in space. There. You intrigued? 

I'm not even going to put a trailer here. Instead, here's a piece from the soundtrack entitled First Sleep. 


4. A Fistful of Dollars


Sergio Leone, having pretty much interned on 1949 masterpiece The Bicycle Thief, was hungry for subject matter, so in 1964 he created a bold spaghetti western take on Kurosawa's 1961 masterpiece Yojimbo. It's an unofficial remake, but the influences go further than just the occasional nod, with both stories charting the tale of a wandering hero who enters a town torn asunder by rival gangs, then proceeds to play said gangs off one another. 

It kicks off the Man with No Name trilogy (For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly pick up where Fistful leaves off, although one could argue The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is a prequel), and features a killer score by Ennio Morricone. It also marks the point in history when Clint Eastwood went from a bit player to an A-list legend. 

This is pre-chair talking, obviously.


Wow. Trailers sure have improved, haven't they?

3. Zatoichi


Zatoichi is tricky, because it's more than just a remake; it's a reboot, and it's also the continuation of a series of films and TV shows that span decades. Takeshi Kitano, actor, director, writer and maniac, decided to remake the long-running Japanese story of Zatoichi, play the lead character, dye his hair blonde, and infuse the 2003 film with bizarre musical numbers. The end result is sheer genius, and I've yet to meet a person who wasn't utterly won over by the time the credits rolled. 

The character of Zatoichi, incidentally, is a profoundly compelling one: a blind swordsman who wanders feudal Japan as a masseuse. So he's pretty much Daredevil.


2. Scarface


Take Brian DePalma at the height of his powers (both directorial and supernatural), Oliver Stone writing the screenplay, Pacino giving the performance of a lifetime, and Giorgio Moroder dousing the whole film in a synth-heavy score, and you've got the ultimate remake. The original Scarface, helmed by Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht, came out in 1932 and is generally regarded as one of the finest gangster films of the genre. 

But the 1983 remake—a bizarre, angry and borderline arrogant tale of a psychopath's dizzying climb towards a pile of cocaine so big you could hide a house inside it—is an utterly wonderful movie. Depressing, overstimulating and unbelievably gratuitous, but wonderful.


MANG.

1. Oceans Eleven


THERE. I SAID IT. For me, the greatest remake of all time is the total, glorious, genius 2001 overhaul of the 1960 Rat Pack-filled original. So what if the sequels sucked? Oceans Eleven is like a huge, brutal, gleaming game of mousetrap. Very rarely does a heist film actually work, but this one does. Also, Clooney. Clooney Clooney Clooney. 


Paul

9 comments so far..

  • Stranger's avatar
    Commenter
    Stranger
    Date and time
    Friday 06 Sep 2013 - 4:13 PM
    The Hollywood remake of Solaris is a travesty, Tarkovsky would be rolling in his grave. I'm not so sure you actually saw Zatoichi 2003, he wasn't blind, just closed his eyes.
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • Stranger's avatar
    Commenter
    Stranger
    Date and time
    Friday 06 Sep 2013 - 4:13 PM
    The Hollywood remake of Solaris is a travesty, Tarkovsky would be rolling in his grave. I'm not so sure you actually saw Zatoichi 2003, he wasn't blind, just closed his eyes.
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • pastormaker's avatar
    Commenter
    pastormaker
    Date and time
    Saturday 07 Sep 2013 - 1:14 PM
    Stranger, since "Solaris" was originally a novel, the Hollywood version can hardly be called a remake. Rather, it is just a different adaptation, and the corpse of Tarkovsky has no reason to do any complaining. Should Kenneth Branagh be screaming with anger over Joss Whedon's 2012 version of "Much Ado About Nothing"? After all, Branagh made his version in 1993, and it was pretty good.

    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • Deano647's avatar
    Commenter
    Deano647
    Date and time
    Saturday 07 Sep 2013 - 3:20 PM
    1. Zatoichi was also (kind of) remade itself by Hollywood as 'Blind Fury' with Rutger Hauer. Not the same story, but how many blind master swordsman are there around the place....

    2. Spot on with Scarface. I saw it first, then the Howard Hawks original. After all the fuss made of the original i was very very disappointed. Paul Muni in the lead role was a hammy caricature. Maybe it was wicked in the 30s but today it completely forgettable and does not hold a candle to the DePalma/Stone/Pacino remake. Incidentally I have been really enjoying the new series Ray Donavon on Foxtel which features a strong character performance by Steve Bauer who played Manny Riberra, Tony Montana's offsider from Scarface.

    3. Whilst we're in 1983 I'll give you my favourite remake of all time. Warning ! Film snobs put down your coffee now but I think Jim McBride's remake of Goddard's Breathless is stunning. I know the film history of the non-linnear story and jump cuts and all, but McBride's is a far more enjoyable film. Unlike the icy cool Belmondo+Seberg pairing, Gere & Kaprisky have an electric chemistry that just leaps off the screen. I also have a good come back now for film snobs when a few years ago I found out the McBride version is in Tarantino's Top Ten all time favourite films.
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • Blackyshark's avatar
    Commenter
    Blackyshark
    Date and time
    Sunday 08 Sep 2013 - 4:19 PM
    Man on fire (Denzel Washington) version
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • teedewire's avatar
    Commenter
    teedewire
    Date and time
    Monday 09 Sep 2013 - 1:39 PM
    I'll probably cop some flak for this but I thought the remake of True Grit a couple of years ago was way better (and grittier) than the John Wayne version.
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • cffndncr's avatar
    Commenter
    cffndncr
    Date and time
    Monday 09 Sep 2013 - 5:52 PM
    John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) is probably my favourite remake of all time, but it is very closely followed by Zach Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Evil Dead 2 (1987). Even the recent remake of Evil Dead (2013) was pretty good.

    Other standout remakes: The Fly (1986), Nolan's Batman trilogy, Man of Steel (2013), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), 12 Monkeys (1995) and Carpenters Assault on Precinct 13 (1976, a remake of Rio Bravo)
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • jamesgg's avatar
    Commenter
    jamesgg
    Date and time
    Tuesday 10 Sep 2013 - 1:18 PM
    Blackyshark- I agree - "Man on Fire" with Denzel Washington is a ridiculously good movie. There's not much that can stir this heart like some gratuitous, over-the-the-top righteous violence, as Denzel rains down vengeance on those who would hurt a little girl. I was choking on man-tears for the first time ever near the ending.
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.
  • Shugyosha's avatar
    Commenter
    Shugyosha
    Date and time
    Tuesday 10 Sep 2013 - 1:41 PM
    Stranger, perhaps you should have watched Zatoichi until the end. He opens his eyes to throw his enemy off guard. Or perhaps just to mess with his head - who knows? But at the very end of the movie after the song and dance number, he says to the camera "Even with my eyes open, I still can't see anything".
    This comment has been flagged.
    This comment has been marked for removal.
    This comment has been marked as spam and will be purged.

Previous article

Cablevision - Australia’s Next Top Model S8, E9

By Sinead Stubbins on