Posts Tagged ‘Raging Bull’

Casino Jack

Posted 05 Jan 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Member Movie Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Casino Jack, Canada, 2010

Directed by George Hickenlooper

casino jack George Hickenlooper movies i didnt getThe most unfortunate thing about this film isn’t that it degrades the importance of Jack Abramoff’s crimes down to a heist flick along the lines of 21 (2008), nor is it that its screenplay has all of the emotional depth and latitude of Shrink (2009). It’s that this is the late, yet formidable as ever, Maury Chaykin’s last film. Thankfully, his role let him go out in style, and with this film, style is just about all there is. Director George Hickenlooper passed on after filming this project as well.

Where the film’s complete failure begins is with its screenplay, though writer Norman Snider got a couple of things right. Everything he wrote about is ridiculous and, from an outsider’s perspective, kind of funny, if not incomprehensible. What he left out, though, was the weight of Abramoff’s actions, and just how important and destructive they were. He creates one-sided characters and injects them into a 3D labyrinth of movie quotes, political disdain, and Kevin Spacey doing impressions. So. Many. Damn. Impressions. I felt like I was watching another one of Kevin Costner’s movies that “just happened to involve baseball.” It got tiresome, and it wasn’t amusing the first time. Read More

The Departed – A Remake Better Left Unmade

Posted 01 Sep 2009 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Corey Birkhofer

The Departed, USA / Hong Kong, 2006

Directed by Martin Scorsese

leonardo dicaprio matt damen jack nicholson

Don’t get me wrong. Remakes can work. I actually liked the American remake of Seven Samurai (The Magnificent Seven). Hell, I even enjoyed The Ring and The Grudge remakes after seeing the original Japanese versions of both. But when Martin Scorsese decided to remake Infernal Affairs (2002), one of my favorite more recent Hong Kong films, I have to admit some lines were crossed.

Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s contemplate for a minute why remakes are even made in the first place. If the original was so inspiring, why does it need to be redone? And in one’s remaking of an original work, what do the creators intend to change to make it, in their minds, better? I think this gives a hint as to why films are remade in the first place, but there’s also the question of accessibility and reception. How will the original work be received if the audience has to sit through a film with (gasp!) subtitles? Sadly, the general American moviegoer is definitely not up for a film where they have to sit and read words on the screen. Unfortunately for these viewers, they miss out on a wealth of amazing films. And yet, with these moviegoers being the ones who fill movie seats, they are the judge and jury of what kind of films get greenlit; thus we get foreign films perfectly fine being left the way they are getting remade to be more attuned to American audiences.

That being said, though the original Infernal Affairs was a box office smash hit in China, who was to say it would be as big of a hit when it came to the states? Though Miramax did bring the original Infernal Affairs over for a relatively successful limited release in 2004 (two years after its release in China), I guess Scorsese just couldn’t resist taking a stab at the narrative himself. I remember back in 2004 when I was still reeling from the excitement after seeing the original Infernal Affairs, only to find out Scorsese was planning to make his own American version. With Scorsese at the helm I was actually pretty excited at the time, but flashing forward three years after The Departed came out in 2006, I’m definitely wishing I could go back to a moment in time when this film did not exist.

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