SUPER SOUL SISTER…..PAM GRIER | 1970s
Christopher Nolan isn’t sure what’s really happening during Eminem’s performance at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards.
Film Crit Hulk is probably my favourite film writer out there right now, just fucking nails it every time wow.
Film Crit Hulk takes on THE MAN OF STEEL.
Read this article today and it just absolutely sums up perfectly everything I fucking hated about Man of Steel.
#156 Oldboy (2013) Dir. Spike Lee
The original Oldboy is a film that means a lot to me. It’s one of those films that left me totally speechless and was the first foreign film I ever watched that had that effect on me. The filmmaking was just so ridiculously bold and accomplished, the story itself gutted and left my mouth agape. It left me shocked. It was a real physically draining ordeal, which is quite appropriate considering how much of a physical movie Oldboy is. Seeing that film late one night in my bedroom at fourteen years old is an experience I will never forget. It really opened the doors to world cinema for me and made me a Park Chan-wook fan for life.
Now this remake has been in the works for a long time but the possibility of it existing only really bothered me if it was in the wrong hands. It was originally assigned to Steven Spielberg with Will Smith starring and you know what? I liked the sound of that. Spielberg is an amazing filmmaker and contrary to popular belief, he’s actually totally capable of handling this kind of gut-wrenching material. I think people were too busy thinking of Spielberg in Indiana Jones or E.T. mode to remember that he is responsible for some of the darkest and most harrowing moments in American cinema. And Will Smith? He’s the biggest star in the world. Of-course I want to see him get down and dirty with a hammer. I know the movie they intended to make was much different than a clean-cut remake of Park’s film, but it definitely would have been interesting and a movie I really wanted to see. After Spielberg and Smith exited the project things went quiet…until it fell in Spike Lee’s lap.
Now people really hate remakes, and most of the time I’m in total agreement. Most remakes are fast grabs for easy money and a lot of the time there is little thought put into actually making a great stand-alone story as opposed to some weird lesser mirror-image of an already-existing one. Even if the remake is a straight-forward translation, the worst crime a studio can commit is assigning the project to a filmmaker who lacks a distinct vision. The best remakes are made by filmmakers who can find their own voice in the material. Carpenter and The Thing, Scorsese and The Departed, Rob Zombie and Halloween, Zack Snyder and Dawn of the Dead, Soderbergh and Ocean’s Eleven, these are examples of great remakes, not necessarily superior films but remakes which had a reason to exist because the filmmakers did something different with the material. When Spike Lee was announced as the helmer for the Oldboy remake I got a real good feeling. Lee is the perfect guy for this. No stranger to controversy and unafraid to provoke, it became clear that this was going to be a remake that at least stood by the hard-edge of the original. In fact, that’s the thing that surprises me most about the finished product - it doesn’t gloss over or dilute any of the original’s shocking story points and for a mainstream American movie, that’s a hell of an accomplishment.
Lee’s Oldboy doesn’t stray too far from the original as far as the plot goes. It pretty much starts and develops in the same way but finds it’s own conclusion which actually feels more organic. Where the film differs is in it’s execution and genre. Whereas the original Oldboy looks, sounds and feels like a perverse and brutal piece of fine art, ugly but beautiful at the same time, Lee’s Oldboy is quicker on it’s feet and dirtier. It’s a piece of pulp cinema and a really good one at that. When watching a remake I always try to judge it on it’s own terms as opposed to comparing it to what came before. Regardless of this being a remake, if I saw this film cold, would I be impressed by the performances, the style and be sucked in by the story? If the answer to all three is yes, as it is here, then the film has passed the first test. The second test then, is to ask myself if this remake justifies it’s existence by doing something fresh with the material. As I said above, Lee’s interpretation from Mark Protosevich’s screenplay really doesn’t stray too far from the original’s story but Lee finds his own voice stylisitcally and instills the film with a lot of great visual motifs. The bright colours and sickly pop-art stylings of the sets are actually really wonderful and distinctive. Lee doesn’t get enough credit as a visual stylist and his technique is on full display here. He’s operating in genre mode but on much more heightened level than he previously showcased on Inside Man. The world of his Oldboy is almost ripped from the pages of a comic-book (appropriate considering Oldboy began life as a manga), and I thought he did a fantastic job of making the movie great to look at.
The other thing this film gets right, for the most part is in it’s casting. Josh Brolin manages to carry the film as protagonist Joe Ducett in both modes as a despicable asshole and driven, cold murder-machine. I love, love, love Elizabeth Olsen and it’s been far too long since I’ve seen her in something and she nails the part here as a damaged young woman just looking for someone to help. Both of them are totally game for the physical demands of the roles too and fearlessly bare all on screen. Where the film stumbles, quite drastically is with Sharlto Copley as the film’s villain. I don’t quite know why they decided to go down this particular route with the character, as a camp, almost cartoony moustache-twizzling evil mastermind complete with weird British accent, but it’s the most jarring thing about the entire film. I really like Copley but every time his character speaks you find yourself cringing. I imagine Lee and Copley wanted to try something bold with the character, which I admire, but the risk just didn’t pay off. It’s a shame.
I did really enjoy this film, and that’s coming from a serious remake-skeptic, especially when it comes to movies I love, which the original Oldboy most definitely is. From what I gather, most of the bad feelings everyone got around that film being remade was that it would end up being Americanised and have all the hard-edges smoothed over but shockingly, the hard edges are intact. What it lacks is the class, weight and the elegance of the original film but I kinda like the fact that they remade this as a real straight-froward, pulpy genre piece. It’s not on the same level as Park’s movie but if they tried that the results may have been a lot more embarrassing. I know Spike Lee isn’t entirely satisfied with the cut of Oldboy we saw, preferring his 140 minute cut and while I’m very intrigued to see that version of it, I think a more immediate, “get-to-the-important bit” approach was the right way to go.
Robin Holland, photographer: Steve facetiously asked me, “Will you shoot the quintessential portrait of Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender? The photo that whenever anyone thinks of us, this will be the image they have in mind?”
Check out Kogonada’s latest video: Linklater // On Time & Cinema
“A conversation through cinema and time… about cinema and time with Richard Linklater.”
#155 Big Wednesday (1978) Dir. John Milius
I’ve never seen a proper movie about surfers before (Point Break doesn’t count does it?) so this was a really interesting foray into that culture. I liked how it was structured over a long period of time without being bloated. It just checks in with the characters every few years to look at how their lives and relationships have changed and it’s often very poignant and honest. The core relationship of the three guys is really well done and it manages to remain the center of the film against the stunning surfing sequences which would completely steal the movie in lesser hands. I think this is the first movie I’ve seen directed by John Milius and it’s everything I’ve come to expect from the film’s I’ve seen that he’s written - tough, muscular, grand and poetic. Lots of good stuff to chew on.
Mind, Soul & Me…out now!
After months of writing, recording and touring…our new CD is out, TODAY! To buy one of the super-rare-handmade-signed CDs (or simply download the EP) CLICK HERE.
To celebrate, we’ve hijacked Love Leeds Radio to play the EP in full and chat about the songs at 7.30pm tonight!
CLICK HERE TO HEAR FEEDS HIJACK LOVE LEEDS RADIO - 7.30PM 05/12/13
Lots of love
Listen/purchase: Mind, Soul & Me by Feeds
#154 The Lone Ranger (2013) Dir. Gore Verbinski
I totally had no interest in this when it came out and the slew of damning reviews just confirmed what I expected really, then came the backlash to the backlash. A few key critics I admire (and Quentin Tarantino) came out saying “hey, it’s not actually that bad, in fact - it’s quite good!” so I thought I might as well see for myself. The truth is: it’s not the catastrophe so many reviews described it as. It’s not a mess, it’s not a disaster, it’s not laughably bad, it’s just a very harmless blockbuster who’s worst crime is that it tries to entertain. While I wouldn’t go out of my way to sing it’s praises (it’s good fun, but forgettable) I’d definitely agree that it was unfairly savaged upon release and in no way deserves the reputation it’s gotten. I liked the slapstick comedy, the dynamic between Depp and Hammer, the crazy action sequences and the comic-book nature to it all. Hans Zimmer’s score even unashamedly rips off a key motif from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly but it’s all part of the fun. It definitely sags in the middle section but it starts and ends with a bang. The final train sequence set to William Tell’s Overture is one of the best action sequences of the year, so that must count for something at least.