Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Movie of the week.

There has been a trend, in the past decade or so, to remake good foreign language movies into English. The major studios perceive that American audiences don't have the patience to read subtitles on the movie or television screen. Unfortunately, they're right. This isn't necessarily bad, many very good remakes were made. The best ones try to capture the feel and the spirit of the original, even if they change the setting, don't change what the movie is about. Some examples are:
  • Japan's The Seven Samurai became The Magnificent Seven, transforming the tale of roaming samurai through rural Japan, coming to the aid of a small town, to the American Old West - a creative remake (good - not quite as good as the original, but pretty good nevertheless).
  • Japan's Ringu became The Ring - a faithful remake (as good - and creepy - as the original)
  • Japan's Shall We Dance became ....... well, Shall We Dance - not a bad reproduction (good).

The are many more examples. However, not all remakes work, that is - they're bad, you're better of reading the subtitles on the original. For example, Vanilla Sky , which was a remake of the Mexican film Abre Los Ojos, just missed the boat. AND everyone involved with the disastrous star vehicle, City of Angels, with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, should be ashamed of themselves for claiming to have made a remake of this week's classic, WINGS OF DESIRE. Here's why the remake (City of Angels) sucked.
  1. over acting
  2. overly dramatic
  3. It took a genuinely deep and profoundly moving movie and made it corny.
  4. Nick Cage was the wrong choice for the angel
  5. it was driven by the plot - The original had a plot but was not driven by plot. Each scene was a complete thought.
  6. tear-jerker ending as an attempt to compensate for lack of substance everywhere else
  7. They obviously didn't "get" WINGS OF DESIRE. They certainly don't know what it's about. I have to doubt that they even watched it.
  8. it just plain sucked
In WINGS OF DESIRE (WOD), angels stand and watch. They observe people, listen to their hopes and thoughts, and occasionally silently offer comfort. Sometimes they get together and compare notes. The people don't see or hear them, of course, but sometimes they can sense them. The film is not religious in any sense. The angels just seem to exist and ruminate about life, the universe, and everything. And occasionally, they fall in love.......

Here's why WOD is a classic.
  1. It evokes the sadness, loneliness, joy, desperation, fulfillment of real people in cold-war Berlin.
  2. The director, Wim Wenders, uses subtle visual cues to differentiate between the angel and the human perspectives.
  3. Comes in at #219 on the IMDB top 250 movies of all time, right between Sweet Smell of Success and All Quiet on the Western Front . Not bad company!
  4. It's mostly in German - not that hard to follow in the sub-titles.
  5. Scored 100% on the tomatometer. Not 99% - 100%!
  6. low corn factor
  7. Angels watch us and listen to our thoughts. What am I thinking right now? ......... heh, heh - yeah.
  8. The Peter Falk character is inspired.
  9. high coolness factor.
  10. "Sissy Angel Slap Party" NOT an extra feature on the DVD.
Ascend to a higher plane and watch WINGS OF DESIRE.

view trailer


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