Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Laughed...I Cried

The other night, I was doing some homework and participating in some good-natured procrastination. And somehow, I was simultaneously reminded of how much I love film and how much I hate a lot of current Hollywood. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not one those film buffs that thinks every commercial endeavor is crap. I like artless, shoot-em-up movies and predictable romantic comedies as much as the next gal. But there are some things that I hate (hate hate hate). In addition to snakes, mice in my bed, and natural disasters, I hate pointless remakes and book butchering.

We'll start with the former...I'm sure that you have heard about the remake of Footloose coming out. Why you would remake Footloose is a mystery, but why you would make it exactly the same is original is simply unfathomable. Yes, there are only so many original stories floating between studios. And when the stories run out, you must reuse an old one. Accepted. But, for pete's sake, do something new! For instance the recent Hairspray is, of course, a remake of John Waters' Hairspray, but the two films are very different. The original is edgy, with a lot of sexual humor, while the new one is pop-ish pulp. Footloose is not re-imagined. It just re-filmed. Observe:

Coming blood-curdling remakes include Taps and possibly The Thin Man. I'm angry enough about Taps, but I pray that The Thin Man never ever gets a reboot. There should never be another Nick and Nora Charles. Ever.

And the later...I feel the need to warn you that the following will be a passionate rant, which you may or may not appreciate. I can't keep it bottled up. While on a break from reading, I indulged in one of my favorite methods of procrastination, watching trailers, and I came across this one for One for the Money:

This movie is based on the first book of one of my favorite series -- Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. It is about an out of work Jersey girl, who takes a job as a bounty hunter in a pinch. Queue shenanigans. The books are hilarious and completely evoke what it is to be "Jersey." And now it's being turned into a crappity crap movie starring Katherine Heigl. Even if I didn't strongly dislike Katherine Heigl (which I do, becasue, well, she's Katherine Heigl), she couldn't play Stephanie Plum. Her impression of a Jersey Girl is horrible and kind of insulting. Beyond that, none of the characters were cast correctly, especially the 100% Italian American McSteamy cop Joe Morelli, who will be played by Dublin native Jason O'Mara. It's a damn shame... Ok, I'm ok. I'll cool it.

But then, every once in a while, like those moments when you see an adorable little kid being adorable and you think that the world may not suck, I see something that makes me remember why I love movies so much. This time, it was examining the pure artistry that goes into different aspects of filmmaking and learning to appreciate the parts that aren't film at all, like the sound design. Sound design didn't really come up until the 70s, the first sound designer being Walter Murch, who worked on The Conversation in '74 and Apocalypse Now in '79, among others. Those are probably two of the most famous sound designs and I never really appreciated them. The things that sound designers mix together that most audience members will never notice is amazing. For instance in the final scene of Silence of the Lambs, Skip Lievsay increases the intensity by adding a low wolf growl under the other effects while Clarice is walking into Buffalo Bill's basement. You don't hear it but you feel it. And the sound designer for Star Wars, Ben Burtt, mixed the Tibetan, Mongolian, and Nepali languages to recreate "Ewokese." Would you think of that? Neither would I.

Things like these remind me of the artistry and innovation that has gone into films. Even if there are remakes of already mediocre movies or the slaughter of good books, there are also the classics and the wonderful new films that creep through. It's a beautiful thing. And it makes me thankful that I am (1) a film buff and (2) not planning to make a career in Hollywood.

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