Odds and Ends

I tried just the other day to watch the ‘new’ picture “The Mechanic”.   I only lasted about an hour and then flipped to another channel.  It was horrible.  Charlie Bronson does a face-palm.  The hitman had the same last name and he used a hot car – that’s about it.  This got me to thinking about all the other remakes I’ve seen that turned out worse than the original.  True, there were a few remakes that were okay.  A trio of my favorites are: The Parent Trap, Sabrina, and The Reluctant Debutante (What a Girl Wants).

Some of the rest are drek.  They Are:

3:10 to Yuma, The Bad News Bears, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Rear Window, The Firm, Flight of the Phoenix, The Absent Minded Professor = Flubber, The Incredible Journey = Homeward Bound, The Italian Job,The Longest Yard, Mostly Martha = No Reservations, The Nutty Professor, Ocean’s Eleven, On The Beach, Dial M for Murder = A Perfect Murder, Picnic, Planet of the Apes, Godzilla, Red Dawn, Rollerball, The Paleface (’48) = The Shakiest Gun in the West (’68), State Fair, Bye Bye Birdie, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Thing from Another World = The Thing, The Time Machine, Total Recall, Vanishing Point, The More the Merrier = Walk Don’t Run, Where the Boys Are = Where the Boys Are ’84, Yours Mine and Ours

Special Mention as being good remakes also: Les Visiteurs = Just Visiting, Day of the Jackal = The Jackal, Seven Samurai = The Magnificent Seven, The Man Who Knew Too Much (’34) = The Man Who Knew Too Much (’56), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House = The Money Pit, My Favorite Wife = Move Over Darling, High Noon = Outland, The Front Page = Switching Channels, To Be or Not to Be, The Shop Around the Corner = You’ve Got Mail

Come on, Hollywood.  Can’t you come up with some original films besides just adding computer effects and crud to what was a basically good story?  My all-time disliked remake is: Arthur.  Liza Minelli and Dudley Moore absolutely made that movie.  Sir John Gielgud as the butler was perfect.  The remake starred Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, and Jennifer Garner.  Making Hobson (Sir John’s part) a female was just plain mean spirited.  I only watched the first half hour of this loser.

Anyway, my rant is over – for now.  I’m sure that some pitchman in Tinseltown is just slavering to do a remake “because it’s easier than writing new stuff.  All we have to do is cut off the title page and change the name.  Nobody will be the wiser; especially those losers out there who’ll pay to see it”.



Weird Weather

A couple of days ago, it was 54 degrees out.  The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting, and the squirrels were, um, squirreling.  A light wind blew and all was right with the world.  Now, today, the rain came.  It is cold, blustery, and not at all conducive for the sun, birds, or squirrels to do their thing.

According to the weather-guessers, it is supposed to snow for the next two days.  Now, these are probably not the same ones that told my sister in Boulder that the snow was only going to last for a short while and deposit just 2 inches, but they are of the same breed (if not the same genus) and they make their predictions based on Ouija Boards and fish guts (or whatever) wrapped around their fingers.

A company a few years back used to sell what they called a backyard weather indicator.  It was a simply flat board about 6 inches square that was suspended by a string on all four corners and hung on a tripod.  It was simple to use:

If the board was dry and warm, the sun was shining.

If the board was wet, then it was raining.

If the board was whipping around, then the wind was blowing.

If the board had two inches of snow on it, then it was snowing

You get the idea, I’m sure.  I wonder if that company is still around because they obviously had an inner track to thing of that nature.  They probably invented the Pet Rock also.

I just watched an old British black and white movie starring Aldo Ray and Peter O’Toole called “The day they Robbed the Bank of England”.  It’s a very good movie but only about 85 minutes long.  Now that I’ve seen it, I was strongly reminded of a much more modern movie released not long ago called “The Bank Job”.  Like the older movie, the thieves used an old sewer to tunnel under the bank vault so they could plunder it.  Not having the modern conveniences of things like radios, rapid transportation, and other things like that, the old thieves got caught simply by bad luck.  In the new movie, a ham radio operator picked up their handi-talkie chatter and called police.  The police, in turn, did some fancy sleuthing by sending cars all over London with their sirens hooting while the detectives listened for radio chatter.  Clever idea, for sure.  It didn’t work because a clumsy accomplice on a rooftop dropped his radio to the pavement below.

The end of the later movie got a bit murky as the thieves traded some smutty pictures by a female Royal for immunity and new passports.  They “underestimated” the value of their haul also and rode off into the sunset.  I’m pretty sure Aldo Ray didn’t get to do that.

Our cat is certifiably deranged.  That’s a veterinary term meaning “she’s crazy”.  Since the squirrels have virtually stopped frolicking in the yard, she has now taken up a watch station in the front window and “ekkkks” at the occasional bird that has the temerity to try and feed itself from the small try I have suspended right in front of the front porch.  This puts the birds at about eight feet away from her nose.  Yeah, I know.  It’s cruel, but lots of fun (for me, bwwwwahahahahah).  One of these days I’m going to have to film her.  She really gets into it.  She paces back and forth while they peck away and when they fly off (especially upwards over the roof of the porch) she zooms to the back sliding door and waits patiently for them to appear.  They never do, but she won’t listen to me.

Later, ya’ll.

Movie remakes – are they worth it?

Remakes that they never should have made:

I watched the really delightful movie “The Parent Trap” the other day.  Not the horrible remake with Lindsay Lohan, but the original one with Haley Mills.  Natasha Richardson notwithstanding (rest her soul) the remake attempted to recreate the original movie – and missed by a wide margin.  It isn’t as if the various actors tried hard enough, but more that they were given such terrible lines.

This got me to thinking about all the recent remakes of classic movies.

Who can hear the name “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and not think of a fairly scary (for a nine year old) black and white thriller complete with a robot that clearly was a menace, but only to objects that threatened his existence.  The remake was simply too laughingly terrible to watch.  I gave up after twenty minutes.  The choice of Mr. Frozenface (Keanu Reeves) had to be political and not based on talent.  Most of the special effects were just that ‘special effects’.  They appeared as part of the movie just because…

Our satellite channel had “Rollerball” the other day.  Not the original that brought forth the message that corporate greed and violence was a terrible thing, but, instead, quite the opposite.  And nobody can replace James Caan as the protagonist.

Another plain classic is “The Thing”  Originally titled “The Thing from Outer Space” (which I recorded to DVD) was done in black and white and had scenes that didn’t actually make it to the theater because they were “too scary” for an audience of the fifties.  The remake by John Carpenter, featuring Disney alum Kurt Russell, was scary, but for different reasons: they made the monster too visible – a far scarier scenario would have been to just leave it hazy and undefined (like the original) until the final barbecue scene.  By the way, did you know that the TV Marshall (James Arness – Matt Dillon) was the monster?

I have a tape that I recorded way back when that has a really delightful movie called “The Railway Children”  It stars, among others, Jenny Agutter.  The very sad remake (in terms of the plot and entire cinematography) has Ms. Agutter starring as her own mother.

A total disastrous remake was “Flubber” starring Robin Williams.  Nothing could replace the kindly professorship of Fred MacMurray as “The Absent Minded Professor”.  Don’t even get me started on the various Eddie Murphy remakes.

Remakes that are so-so:

“Death Race”.  This movie is a remake of “Death Race 2000” starring David Carradine.  I think that John Statham made an acceptable replacement.  Even though the race is limited (except for the very end) to a prison island the action scenes are engrossing.  Joan Allen (Jason Bourne movies) plays the prison warden and gets killed in a spectacular fashion.

Jodie Foster’s “Freaky Friday” was great.  The first remake (same name) starred somebody entirely forgettable, and the third one had Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan – but not entirely forgettable.

I thought the original (1954) Japanese version of “Godzilla” was a really spiffy movie if you like some guy in a rubber suit flinging his tail around a sand table full of Tokyo’s finest buildings.  The remake, starring Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno held my interest all the way through.  It was a very well done movie.  Best part:  Broderick’s character is standing in a depression in a field and says “Well, how big can it be?”.  The camera pans upward and shows him standing in a footprint.  A great visual answer.

An absolute classic to end this section:  “House of Wax”.  a 1953 film (in color, no less) starring that great scary guy Vincent Price.  He was backed up by many up and coming stars such as Frank Lovejoy, Charles Bronson (under his original name), Phyllis Kirk and Carolyn Jones.  There’s five of a kind.  The remake, starring among other unknown people, Paris Hilton, was so-so, but not frightening in the least.

Here are some remakes planned:

“The Incredible Shrinking Man”.  Believe it or not, Eddie Murphy is figured to star. (!!!)

“Logan’s Run”.  Who could forget (or replace) the delectable Jenny Agutter.

“Starfighter” – a remake of Lance Guest’s “The Last Starfighter” which put to use the graphic power of three Cray 2B’s to make the very groundbreaking videos.  I am sure that digital manipulation will make all the difference.  Right.

“Forbidden Planet”.  This was the debut of Robbie the Robot who went on the arm-waving history as the plaything of a rich scientist’s kid (“Danger, Danger Will Robertson”).  The original (starring Leslie Neilson) has one line that grabbed every adolescent boy’s attention:  “Swim suit?  What’s that?” spoken by the beautiful Anne Francis.

“Short Circuit”  No!  Tell me it isn’t true!

“Romancing the Stone”.  Having both Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner on the same screen was dynamite; but I expect that the remake will be a wet fizzle.

There are hundreds out there.  They are either waiting to take their original’s place or have already done so.  Nothing galls me more than to settle down expecting to see a great movie and find it has been replaced by a fantastic, plastic, replacement.