Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Films I Dislike that Ought to be Remade and How

Frances Ha:
As a quirky character piece about a fiercely eccentric individualist, Frances and the film she lived in repelled me with their constant pleading for me to indulge them. My solution would be to correctly diagnose Frances as bipolar or something more accurate and let Brandon Cronenberg have a stab at it. This would be a good way to get to the genuinely intriguing possibilities of Frances as a case study in galloping narcissism and also allow Cronenberg Junior to step with a realistically measured pace away from charges of following his dad too closely (as unfairly happened with Antiviral).

As a quirky character piece about a fiercely eccentric individualist, Rushmore was the first and almost the last Wes Anderson Film I ever saw, so vehemently did I it revile. Let Sion Sono loose on it to render the cloying cuteness into a range of disturbing illusory episodes and examine the protagonist's galloping narcissism. It could still be about the life lesson of learning self-acceptance and giving up unrealistic dreams but the ride would be intriguing and a hell of a lot more fun.

Bad Lieutenant:
Abel Ferrara's quirky character piece about sin with an eleventh hour cherry of redemption ground at my patience for the writer/director's failure to develop the constant list of atrocities committed by the titular Loot. It plays like a toddler throwing a tantrum for the guests, having an effect but unaware that that has quickly turned to exhausting annoyance. Rename it Bad Decisions, cast Vince Vaughn in the lead and play it as a man-boy black comedy of a once bad cop who just can't get straight because a series of hilarious co-incidences and mishaps keep putting him in the frame. The gang members can't be allowed to get away with the original adolescently imagined horror crime, of course, but Michael Sera with a dye job could outline it to his increasingly bored gang, constantly topping himself just to get a reaction out of them: "ok, so we rob a mom and pop store." Silence. "No, a church, we rob a church." Silence. "We rob a ... church with NUNS in it ... and we rape the nuns...!" This approach will render the conceits of the original at least plausible. And just imagine the redemption scene now!

This is one of the founding bricks in the ghost-ride and cattleprod wall that has filled cinemas and emptied mainstream horror of its substance. Quiet .... BOO ....... quiet ...... BOO. And that's about it. Ok, so, remove every jolt that isn't directly derived from the characters and their relation to each other. Play the resulting jolt-free film as a Bergmanesque depresso piece about people trying unsuccessfully to convince each other that they've seen the sudden horrors but to no avail. Keep the pallet desaturated and keep all the big jolty orchestra hits for when the breathlessly delivered accounts reach their climaxes. Eventually, we wander a house of coagulating disbelief with only the victims of the scares convinced of the forces beyond the light, huddled into themselves in silent distrust. The only way to give credence to the horrors they've known is to recreate them, one by one....

Ferris Bueller's Day Off:
The only way I could endure the screening of John Hughes's freshly minted mid-80s paean to the sieze the day joy of youth was to recognise that it was essentialy a tale of bullying. Ferris constantly berates and belittles his dowdy friend until the latter really gets it and siezes that melonfarming day by its a-hole horns. Ferris' irrational whimsicality, if not seen as lovable but grating, lends itself to a case study of adolescent schizophrenia. Keep all the football games, wild drives, school collection campaigns (but shorten the excruciating Twist and Shout scene) but smash them together as a kind of delusional flash forward as Ferris imagines the day to come. Then play them as they would be, a series of increasingly crushing disappointments that steadily shift Ferris' sights from the fun he thought he'd have to the manipulative influence he has over Cameron. Cameron's life lesson would be the same but so much graver and unforgettable, like a Machinist or Fight Club for teens.

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