Foreign Remakes

This week on the show we’re talking with Dear Mr. Watterson director (and adult Calvin look-a-like) Joel Allen Schroeder about the universal love for Calvin and Hobbes as well as the long, strange trip the Kickstarted movie took to find theaters. Plus, Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich and I debate whether The Hunger Games should be criticized for being a rip-0ff of Battle Royale and Geoff waxes philosophical (and structural) about the right way to approach foreign remakes. You should follow Katey Rich (@kateyrich), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #41 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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13 Game of Death

For the unlucky who haven’t see it, 13: Game of Death is an incredibly clever Thai movie that features a down-on-his-luck-in-every-aspect-of-his-life guy who agrees to participate in a reality game show using his cell phone. All he has to do is kill a fly. Then perform another task. And another. Thirteen in all, with each becoming more bizarre and threatening than the last. It’s a fantastic exploration of what we’ll do to get money (and the spotlight), and now an English-language remake is moving forward with director Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcist, A Necessary Death). “What we’re doing with it . . . I’m just so damned proud of this script,” said Stamm who co-wrote the new take with David Birke (who also helped rewrite Last Exorcism and is writing the English-language version of Livid). “[We're working with] really smart people that are actually excited to take risks, which, if you take on – you know 13 – that’s not a very American audience-friendly movie inherently. It’s very Asian. It’s very dark. It doesn’t really care to make the protagonist a very nice guy to begin with…you have to tweak certain things but to keep the soul alive.”

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From Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, the directors of the brilliant movie Inside, Livid was an unfortunately scattered follow-up that could have used some serious reigning in. Rob was right to call it a “visually appealing mess of a movie.” Still, the potential is undeniably there. In the film, a young woman is training to become a caregiver for several people – one of which is an elderly comatose woman living in a large mansion. The caregiver tells her friends so they can break in. What they find, gets a little sticky. For example, there’s a tea party And now, SND Films is announcing they’ll be overseeing an English-language remake of the movie. They’ve hired David Birke (Gacy) to adapt which will be a test for a screenwriter who hasn’t quite proved himself in the feature world. He’s done work on serial killer flicks, but this particular piece is bound to be a bit more experimental and poetic than what he’s done before. At any rate, you can still see the original with subtitles (unless you speak French), but soon you’ll be able to see a version of it in English.

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Movies presented in real-time are a sort of rarity. High Noon and Rope jump to the mind immediately, and they’re fantastic, but there are also a handful of films that never got past the concept as pure gimmick. However, it’s always been interesting to guess at what the appeal of taking away the possibility of jumping forward or back in time really is. One obvious trick, is the creation of suspense. A constantly ticking clock that the audience is physically aware of. That seems to be alive and well for Sundance favorite Silent House which features Sundance favorite Elizabeth Olsen. It comes from Open Water creators Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, and tells the story of a young woman and her father who are stuck inside a home where a noise continues to grow louder and louder. It’s based off the Uruguayan movie from Gustavo Hernandez that Rob was not a big fan of. Gimmick-based or not, the trailer here is pretty damned limp. It’s composed almost entirely of shots of Olsen breathing heavily and then a poorly shot “thing of some sort” grabbing her? Not grabbing her? Hard to say. Check it out for yourself:

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He’s already writing the script, so why not take a seat in the director’s chair as well? Steve Zaillian is probably best known as a writer (for modern classics like Schindler’s List and for this year’s double feature of Moneyball and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), but he’s also done some strong directing work with Searching For Bobby Fischer and A Civil Action. He’s already on board to write a remake of Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes, and now The Playlist is reporting that he’s considering directing as well. It would undoubtedly be a different sandbox for him to play in, but the biggest question is whether the magic of the original can be maintained in a domestic version from a man more known for broadly appealing adult drama. The original is rightfully hailed, but it’s also a cult movie for a reason. Plus, when Zaillian infamously remade All the King’s Men, he never saw the original film, and the result was disastrous. At least with Vigalondo’s work, there’s no other source material, so Zaillian had to watch it in order to write the script. You know, theoretically. And, yes, this is another foreign remake under Zaillian’s belt. It’s an interesting new line of work to go into.

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The recent revelation that Chris Columbus will be producing a US-based, English-language remake of Troll Hunter was met with everything from mild irritation to outright derision. A typical report of the news included 1) a statement that the original is great/awesome 2) a question of whether this really needed a remake 3) a comment that Hollywood was craven and unoriginal and, for a select few pieces, 4) swear words. My own take was fairly neutral (much like my reaction to Andre Ovredal‘s film), which prompted at least half an email asking me why I was giving this one a pass after years of making up clever insults at the expense of anyone attempting a remake. After some soul-searching, it was clear that I had either made peace with the recent glut of remakes or been beaten into submission by it. Either way, I’m tired of complaining about remakes, and here’s why.

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haggis-pourelle

Which French thriller could I be talking about? And which Crash director? Haggis or Cronenberg? That title isn’t very clear at all!

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