Thursday, August 23, 2012

Enough is Enough

I was just talking with a friend about remakes tonight, too...

I'm not "against" remakes. You can make a good movie out of anything, "anything" includes other movies, and so on. But there's a point where this just becomes nonsense. At this point the "remake cycle" is just that - a self-perpetuating corporate organism: You produce a remake of a known-quantity not only to hold on to any IP no matter what, but also to re-sell the original on Blu-Ray and because you know the outrage/intrigue generated by potentially desecrating a sacred cow will translate into massive coverage by a film press now dominated by I-watched-that-a-million-times VHS-generation movie geeks.

I get that, and I get why someone would want to remake "Total Recall" (wasn't good, but could've been) or even "Robocop" (DOOMED) from a business and even an artistic standpoint. But... remaking "VIDEODROME!?"

Okay, here's the problem with this:

A property like "Videodrome" neatly divides the entire spectrum of audiences into two camps: A relatively small number of people who adore it and will be immediately hostile to the idea of anyone touching it... and the vast majority of folks who have either never heard of it, never saw it or saw it and hated it. It's not "Robocop" where you're talking about a 'brand.' There is zero point in making this film - as opposed to an original film that "modernizes" the now-somewhat-dated "Videodrome" ideas - other than to feed The Cycle.



The original David Cronenberg film is technically a scifi mystery in which James Woods plays the boss of a UHF TV station (ask your parents) who starts broadcasting pirated signals of what he believes to be staged snuff-film footage originating in Malaysia but may actually be part of a government/corporate/mad-science experiment to alter the minds and bodies of viewers via TV signals; but the actual plot plays out almost like it's being invented by the film (or hallucinated by the characters) on the fly. The real focus is on the elaborate nightmare sequences, bio-mechanical transformation FX and weirdly-prescient philosophizing about real life being supplanted by video life - the film essentially pre-figured the logical extreme of, say, "Second Life" despite The Internet having not been invented yet.

The remake (which I'm going to assume will likely port the focus from television to The Web) is angling to be a "large scale sci-fi action thriller" (gag!) possibly involving "nanobots;" which sounds to me like they're going to try and explain the body-morph stuff whose surreal ambiguity was the point of the original film.

So... looks like we have this to look forward to - though, if recent trends are any indication folks will be lining up to tell me how wrong/biased/fanboy I am and how much better the original would be if only David Cronenberg had the foresight to make it as shitty as the new one. The director currently attached is Adam Berg, who has apparently been awarded a film career based wholly on a commercial for a now-defunct model of Philips TVs which was best described as a "Dark Knight"/Joker fan-film done in bullet-time.

Yeah, this totally has a chance in hell of being good...

27 comments:

Rook in the Pumpkin said...

I tried to stop complaining about these remakes... but fuuuuuuuck.

John said...

My general thought on remakes like this is "Why didn't they just call it something else and pretend it was original?"

My guess is that "The Adventures of Not James Woods and the Nanobot Gang" would die quietly and rot in the bargain bin, but calling a movie that has nothing to do with the original Videodrome by the same title will stir up controversy and draw in the crowds of people who want to see how shitty and mishandled the remake is.

Lee Kalba said...

That was an ad for a TV? Looked like a film school reel.

Joe said...

How in holy hell do you remake an arthouse film? One that is very specifically tied to its zeitgeist? Sorry, Videodrome is one of my all-time favourite films and I can't see this going well at all. Instead of trying to remake a film that was made as a commentary on the media of its day, make a new film that comments on the media of today. Even Cronenberg did this himself with eXistenZ.

(Coincidentally I recently listened to a film podcast discussing Videodrome, where they noted the central mystery doesn't really work today.)

Interestingly, Videodrome might be Cronenberg's most explicitly Canadian film. The whole enterprise is inspired by the ideas of Canadian philosopher of mass media Marshall McLuhan, and CIVIC-TV is a reference to Citytv, the first UHF station in Toronto, known at the time for its softcore pornography, and eventually for the radical foresight of its founder Moses Znaimer (he pioneered ideas that, looking back today, were very early versions of things like YouTube, social media, and reality television). The television minister Brian O'Blivion is kind of a composite of McLuhan and Znaimer.

Sssonic said...

A remake of "Videodrome" isn't just not a bad idea; in this day and age, with Media growing more and more into the all-consuming crucible of our culture, it's downright perfect.

THIS remake of "Videodrome", however, sounds absolutely hopeless.

But I don't see much need to get outraged anymore. Garbage in, garbage out; the world has already pretty much forgotten the "Total Recall" remake even happened, and I imagine this film is likely destined for much the same fate.

Meanwhile, "Pacific Rim" draws ever closer.

Put together, it's hard for me to really get my dander up; the people who do, whether they mean to or not, are kind of just feeding the beast at this point.

Long live the new flesh.

strongstylefiction said...

This is one of two remakes I read about yesterday. I really don't get how anyone can think that remaking Videodrome is a good idea. It's just too weird and obscure of a movie.

The other remake I read about was the Japanese remake of Unforgiven, which would place the story in feudal Japan with samurais. This is exactly the kind of remake I can get behind. It's taking one of the best stories in cinema history, and looking at from a completely different perspective. It should be interesting. Besides, Clint Eastwood's career was boosted by a remake of a Japanese samurai film by the name of A Fistful of Dollars, so it works out.

Lido said...

Now i'll never get funding for my proposed videodrome scanners cross over, but maybe someo e will fund my proposed Star Wars remake, it'd make the leads tragic bastards who dont want to be heroes and act like assholes with a heavier focus on a skin deep romance and way more CGI

Cam said...

please READ!!!

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-things-people-get-way-too-worked-up-about/

Megabyte said...

Maybe it's because I never saw VideoDrome, but... I would rather them focus on this then a Deus Ex movie.... sadly, that too is coming, and in Hollywood's current mentally destroyed state, THAT is doomed.

Luke said...

Well... THIS is dumb.

There, that's my only reaction.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but you get no sympathy from me. All this amounts to is just movie geeks like Bob complaining about things THEY love getting remade. I don't see Bob or anyone like Bob on the net complaining when Hollywood was remaking all those Asian films in the last decade. There were so many Asian films being remade it felt like a joke. Bob and people like him never uttered a word against it. They even became hypocritical by looking forward to and highly recommending utter trash like the Hollywood remake of the first Infernal Affairs movie, The Departed. People like Bob don't care cause they don't really care that much about Asian movies but when it's one of their goofy fucking movies that they love like Videodrome getting a remake they go apeshit and want to act like some kind of major crime is being committed.

ANImaniac said...

Wow this kinda sucks Videodrome is one of my favorites.I really don't wanna see someone piss all over it.
Granted the original is somewhat dated but its still a great film.

Death to Videodrome
Long Live the New Flesh.

Anonymous said...

Bob...the ultimate "I'm going to dismiss the opinions that aren't mine by calling everyone biased fanboys" critic....complaining about being called a biased fanboy.

Words fail me.

Aiddon said...

What's worse is that it's being written by Ehren Kruger who wrote the last two Transformers films and Scream 3. This is going to be a disaster

Chris Wyatt said...

I have never been that "against" remakes per se either, but this is just ridiculous. I'm definitely in the camp of "people who adore it and will be immediately hostile to the idea of anyone touching it." I've been surprised before by remakes turning out to be good when I expected them to suck, but I'm not holding out hope for this one.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ strongstylefiction

Considering how many westerns were actually remakes of a Akira Kurasawa films, I'm really interested to see how well the reverse will work. And if it's Takeshi Miike making it, they might as well just take my money now.

Anonymous said...

So it is less Cronenberg's Videodrome and more like Cronenberg's Existenz from what it sounds like.

Being a super duper Cronenberg fan, I don't really care about this remake. I remember a time when there was discussion about The Fly being remade again, but with the twist that he will actually fly this time. I was more angry back then, and that film was already a remake.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 10:35

I have to agree with you. I don't think I have heard a peep out of Bob concerning the Spike Lee Oldboy remake.

MovieBob said...

@Anon 10:35

As politely as I can possibly put this... you have no idea what you're talking about.

Firstly, I wasn't doing this professionally during the period you're complaining about.

Secondly, the entire period in question was AWASH with "geek sites" covering the Asian-remake craze and mostly being pretty negative about it, especially since...

...Thirdly, it was those very sites that had been championing the Eastern genre scene for the better part of a decade before Hollywood got onboard.

Yes, it's true that people weren't as universally opposed to remaking "Infernal Affairs," the reason for which can be handily summarized by the words MARTIN and SCORSESE. (And the fact that "The Departed" was good.)

@Anon 3:27

There hasn't been a peep about the "Oldboy" remake to report on since Spike Lee signed on. The fact that it's Lee is interesting, but I still think it's not a great idea. For awhile it was going to be Steven Spielberg, which would've been a trainwreck.

Aiddon said...

Actually the Unforgiven remake is being done by Korean-Japanese director Lee Sang-il. What I think is funny is that the Eastwood character is being played by Ken Watanabe who starred in Letters of Iwo Jima

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:35 here.

Bob, what sites were championing the "Eastern genre scene"? You talking about shitty sites like CHUD and Ain't It Cool News? Those asshats only mentioned Asian movies when everyone else was talking about one during festival circuits. I didn't see any of those writers speak out against jerkoffs like Harvey Weinstein destroying Asian movies by cutting them up, changing music, altering the stories, and etc... and releasing only those butchered up versions to pretty much the entire Western world. But I do hear them bitch, moan and complain every time George Lucas puts out a new Star Wars Special Edition release.

You were most definitely around when it was announced that the writer of the shitty Hollywood Infernal Affairs remake was going to be working on the remake of the South Korean movie The Chaser. It was also last year that Warner Bros made public their remake of Akira complete with an all white cast playing Asian people. And don't tell me that The Departed gets some sort of pass because of Martin Scorsese attached. Dude is human so he makes mistakes. The Departed was one of those mistakes. A big one. Tell me how it can be a "good" remake of a Chinese movie when you have a scene where Chinese people get slurs hurled at them by white people?

You know why remaking so many Asian films in Hollywood suck? Cause then they only release the Hollywood remake in theaters and just dump the original to DVD or give it a really weak theatrical run. At least the original versions of goofy fucking movies like Videodrome were released wide in theaters and you can get the uncut version on Blu ray no sweat.

Uncle Tim said...

Frankly, lamenting about a remake cycle as though it's a sign that Hollywood has run out of creativity is a bit ridiculous. The "remake cycle" is nothing new but has been a part of Hollywood from nearly the beginning and has produced some great films.

Look throughout history and you'll find tons of them and many good and even great films among them. One of the best mysteries of all time, The Maltese Falcon, is the third version of that story. Hell, in the 80s alone we had examples such as Always (based on A Guy Named Joe), The Blob, Cat People, Fatal Attraction (yep, it's a remake of a TV film), The Thing (yes one can argue it's an adaptation but they clearly kept that title for a reason and it has enough Hawks homages to qualify I think) Scarface and... hey what do you know... The Fly, all remakes.

While I don't totally agree with Anonymous 10:35 about the matter, I do think he/she touches on one point: part of the big issue for many seems to be a generational perspective. It's not that they're remaking great films or out-of-date films or anything of that. The above paragraph shows we've had plenty of that without the collapse of civilization. No, the problem is that now enough time has passed that they've gotten around to the films WE grew up with. They're not supposed to remake OUR films.


To be continued...

Uncle Tim said...

…continued.

So we know Videodrome wasn't remade to hold onto an IP since the producers pursued the rights and brought it to Universal, who had first refusal. And since the home video rights to the film are held by Criterion for the next little while, selling blu-rays and DVDs doesn't seem like much of an incentive. As you've pointed out it's not much of a brand. So the question becomes why remake it?

Couldn’t it be that those same producers really loved the material and saw new things they could do with it? As has been pointed out by others on here, the basic idea of the film, that video containing violence and sex is used to ensnare viewers and leads to physical transformation, can certainly have some relevant commentary on the internet video / post-torture porn age. And you're right that surreal ambiguity was the point of the original film, but as I mentioned before with the Robocop remake, that's the ORIGINAL film. This is not that film. This is something different, much the same way Cronenberg's Fly is not the original 1958 one but instead adapted that film’s basic story to fit themes such as body horror and human-technology relationships that interested Cronenberg. Is it so absolutely unthinkable that another director might focus less on the original Videodrome’s ambiguity and instead emphasize something else, such as nanotechnology or any of the diverse themes this story could touch on? And as for Adam Berg, before we start throwing stones it’s worth remembering that David Fincher started as a commercial and music video director.

So you have an original film with an idea that can be adapted to the modern age in many different ways and that while it was well-regarded, isn’t so well-known that the public at large will find a remake redundant… isn’t it possible that the real problem here is that we have a much more personal connection to this film than we might to something from the 50s or 60s?

P.S.: There’s been quite a bit on the Oldboy remake recently with the casting of Sharlto Copley and Samuel L. Jackson.

Anonymous said...

@ Anons complaining about Asian remakes

How much or how little "outrage" there is over some topic within a community is ridiculously subjective, how much there should be is subjective, what topics are worthy of outrage is subjective, and expecting somebody to champion every single cause, ever, with equal time and urgency, is ludicrous.

Personally, I think it's ridiculous that Christopher Nolan got an actor that evolved natural guyliner to play the mayor, but did anybody complain? No. Why the hell did the geek community turn a blind eye to a literal black eye against this great franchise? You are all just as responsible for these sins as everybody else.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12:03 - Bob is the ultimate hypocrite. He will never admit it, and insults anyone who dares to call him out on it.

Crafty Andy said...

god damn, and just a week ago I started writing a script to review this film talking about how how awesome it is.

Zeno said...

rightinthechildhood.jpg

Atlas Shrugged, Total Recall, The Fly, Deus Ex, and then THIS!?