Famous literary meals
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson
“If the people want profanity and violence, let them have it via the internet.” This seems to be what movie companies like Lionsgate were thinking when they released another R-rated “Kick-Ass” trailer online. The clip is intended for adults only, but we all know computer-savvy adolescents in the 21st century have a way of spoiling good intentions. (Another controversial “Kick-Ass” trailer, posted online last December, introduces the heroine Hit Girl, played by 13-year-old Chloë Moretz. In it, the words “fuck” and “cunt” come out of her not-so-innocent mouth, usually before inflicting a serious amount of injury – sometimes fatal – upon bad men in dapper suits.) The New York Times discusses the issue, quoting Nell Minow, a lawyer and movie critic, who puts it best: “Studios hide behind the notion of an age requirement for these trailers, but it’s pure fiction. It’s easy for kids to access, and that’s exactly how the industry wants it.”
Kevin Smith’s latest, “Cop Out,” staring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, also has a popular red-band trailer online, featuring a car-thieving, ball-kicking, potty-mouthed, underage youngster.
In related Willis-playing-the-role-of-a-cop news, rumors of another “Die Hard” film have surfaced. This would be the fifth installment, if you’ve lost track of how many times John McClane has graced the big screen with his foul mouth and tendency to solve problems through violence – but he’s an adult, so it’s OK.
Fans eagerly awaiting “Tron: Legacy” will have to keep waiting until December 2010. In the meantime, the Tron promotion campaign is under way with a “Massive Worldwide Scavenger Hunt” to help find Kevin Flynn.
Some critics argue that film sequels ruin great characters, as they veer further and further away from the qualities that made them great to begin with. (Are you listening, George Lucas?) JoBlo.com listed the top 10 examples.
Although technically not a sequel, Stephen Chow, Jack Black and Anne Hathaway are making a new film based on Bruce Lee’s “Way of the Dragon.” Their version of the 1972 classic will be titled “Tai Chi.” Another martial-arts masterpiece to be reinterpreted for a new generation is “The Karate Kid,” except this time it’s set in Beijing, Jackie Chan is Mr. Miyagi, Will Smith’s son, Jaden Smith, is Daniel Larusso, it’s “jacket on, jacket off,” and, oddly, it’s Kung Fu instead of Karate. Watch the new trailer here.
Critics also like to argue that remakes are usually worse than the original, especially when Hollywood makes eviscerated versions of European films. Neil Smith explains: “Why does Hollywood persist in remaking European films? Maybe they think no one will notice. (Few appeared to with ‘Brothers,’ a dreary Yankification of a Danish original from 2004.) Then again, it could be down to simple snobbery: the idea that anything imported from across the water must automatically have class and authority. (That would certainly explain Simon Cowell.) Rightly or wrongly, the qualities people associate with ‘foreign’ movies tend to be the same ones to which many US film-makers aspire – sophistication, worldliness, restraint and finesse.”
But Vadim Rizov is right to remind us that remakes aren’t all bad, and that “sometimes it just took time to get it right: 1941′s beloved ‘The Maltese Falcon’ was the third version in a decade.”
In other film-critic conundrums, Jeffrey Wells argues that director Douglas Sirk doesn’t deserve the praise he receives. Wells states: “Sirk is generally regarded as a pantheon-level guy because the film dweebs have been telling us for years that the dreadfully banal soap-opera acting, grandiose emotionalism and conservative suburban milieus in his films are all of an operatic pitch-perfect piece and are meant as ironic social criticism. (Or something like that.) … The dweebs are playing an old snob game. They’re basically saying that you have to be a serious cineaste to recognize Sirk’s genius, and that if you don’t recognize it then you need to think things through because you’re just not as perceptive as you need to be.”
Glenn Kenny responds with a post defending Sirk. “[Wells is] clearly not interested in having an intelligent discussion of Sirk,” writes Kenny. “Tired of trouncing the Eloi, he arbitrarily decides to have a go at the ‘dweebs,’ or as he sometimes calls them, the ‘monks,’ the ‘cloistered’ ‘urban’ types he’s got some sort of complex about because he thinks they’re lording it over him or something.”
Although technically not a sequel, or a remake, a Speedy Gonzales film is in the works. Sound terrible? What if you found out George Lopez will voice the computer-generated mouse from Mexico? Worse? What if you found out it will be written by the duo who penned “Garfield”? Even worse? One commenter wrote, “A little too early for April fool’s don’t ya think?” Another wrote, “I weep for humanity.” A third put it the most succinctly: “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”
What if the Danish government contracted Lars von Trier to make tourism commercials to boost national revenue? They would probably look something like this. Or, here’s “10 Films We’d Like to See Lars Von Trier Force Their Directors To Remake Under Strict Guidelines That Are Meant to Challenge Them Creatively.”
These days, movie news isn’t complete without “Avatar.” As if he doesn’t have enough going for him already, James Cameron is apparently frustrated with the Academy for overlooking his actors when it comes to Oscar nominations. Although Zoe Saldana’s performance as Neytiri could be seen as acting-aided-by-software, advances in technology are eroding the distinction between computer-driven and actor-driven characters. Perhaps the Academy simply has a hidden prejudice against lanky blue people. Continuing with the movie-magic theme, here is an extensive interview with Rick Carter, production designer of “Avatar.” And if Cameron has pre-written an acceptance speech for best picture, I hope it reads like this.
Despite reports that “Bright Star” director Jane Campion “made complaints to authorities in New Delhi after the husband of an organizer at the India International Women’s Film Festival allegedly made ‘lewd advances’ toward both Campion and other women in attendance at the December, 2009 event,” Campion is denying it. She is, however, disappointed in the festival: “Never in my entire experience has a film festival been so fraudulently presented and organised. It’s a shame for the film-makers, the audience, the funding bodies of the countries involved as well as the Indian government who, it appears from the advertising, sponsored them to some degree.” Bhaskar Deb, the accused husband of the festival organizer, responded by calling Campion a “racist from Australia.”
Tom Ford says making “A Single Man” was the “the most rewarding thing that I have ever done.” Read more of his words on his transition from fashion to film and the Independent Spirit awards, where his film is nominated for best first feature, best first screenplay and best male lead.
Have you ever been watching a movie with friends when a minor actor who you’ve seen in a dozen other movies suddenly appears in one particular scene, and even though you’ve never known his name, you’re suddenly overcome with a desire to know? There’s a Web site for that.
Paul Hiebert is an editorial fellow at Salon.More Paul Hiebert.
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson
"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll
"Moby Dick" by Herman Melville
"The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath
"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
"The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka