Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lack of Imagination - At a Theater Near You!

Believe it or not, Americans can be clever and imaginative and creative. But you would never know that by watching our films. Well...most of our films. [I do not include indie films here, since those tend to be wildly creative or at the very least, attempt to push envelopes.]

The other films that hit American theaters are typically remakes of foreign films - sometimes, with little to no modification other than a script change from [foreign language here] to English - yet, they are heralded as the best thing since sliced bread. I have a major issue with this since those in the film industry are paid to be creative, but they stay afloat with the industry's equivalent of getting an "A" on a test by copying a classmate's paper. And what's worse? Most people don't even realize it.

Foreign films often are presented as metaphors. Not everything is so obvious. Just like life, there are subtleties; there are strange angles; there are colorful characters and figures that blend into the background. The directors respect their viewers. They don't believe that louder explosions, more sex and gratuitous blood are needed to boost the film where the script is many American films. I'm not saying all American films suck. They don't. There are many many fine films made here. But I'm also a purist. If the foreign - and original - version is outstanding, would a copy in English really be any better? I get that film studios maybe want to bring a good story to a wider audience with the remake...but with Netflix and such, where films are more accessible, is there really an excuse to not see the original?

Examples of recent remake offerings:
  • "Dinner for Schmucks" is based on the hilarious and smart French film "The Dinner Game." I have not seen the Hollywood version (although I'm a fan of Steve Carell) but I am not a fan of movies that try too hard. The original made me laugh effortlessly.
  • "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a Hollywood remake of...well, this one is obvious. But as a fan of the books, I found the original film in Swedish to be true to the books in mood, plot and visuals. I don't think it needs an American copy since they got it right the first time.
  • "Let Me In" is almost a direct interpretation (or just a carbon copy) of another incredible film from Sweden, "Let the Right One In" about a boy and his new friend. The American version has received some great reviews - mostly because it resembles the original in so many ways.
American remakes of foreign films is nothing new. I haven't seen the three American films listed above, so - while I would view with biased eyes after seeing the originals - I would watch with an open mind. Maybe they aren't as dumbed down as I imagine. Still, I suppose my post is say, don't be afraid of the foreign film. Some are absolutely incredible and true works of art, and just because it's in English, there is no guarantee it will be better.

1 comment:

Badger said...

I haven't seen them but the reviews of the Dinner for Schmucks have been abysmal. American movies are going to the dogs - well actually the Teenie market - this is all they seem to make movies for. (Grumpy old man talking)