Quiet Mumblings

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Infernal Spares: Has Hollywood Run Out of Ideas?

Infernal AffairsThe 19th century British author Charles Caleb Colton once wrote in his book Lacon (Vol I) that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". I hate to dispute the wisdom of one who's no more able to stand up for himself than a Christian in a Ukrainian lion pen, but I have to disagree. Imitation can be the most unflattering action, especially when it is the careless rehash of a brilliant film.

Hollywood has a history of remakes that stretches back to its first days. Sometimes they have been a success, but most of the time they have ended up as second rate unoriginal disappointments. Unfortunately right now we seem to be going through an era of remakes and sequels, and none of them even seem to be an exception to prove the rule.

Now I have no problem with Hollywood making remakes at all. If you want to take your own cultural gems, put them through a dumbing-down machine and spit out second rate pebbles, then that's ok - its your culture and your right. Unfortunately Hollywood's latest obsession is taking the brilliant acheivements of other countries and turning them into farcical unimaginative shells of their original glory.

Hollywoods current problem (if you can call it a problem, because I'm not sure the money men would agree with me) seems to be a lack of any real daring. Even with the films that they remake they take out anything that could be remotely described as fresh or challenging, and just stick to that incredibly durable Los Angeles formula of "good people are introduced, bad things happen, good people prevail, everyone smiles".

Particularly gruelling for me, with my unabashed fascination with the Orient, is Hollywoods recent and horrific destruction of Asian movies. It seems that finally the US has realised that the Far East is not just about kung fu and samurais, but that it does actually produce some top notch films about different topics, like Ringu, Infernal Affairs, Oldboy or Shall We Dansu. Unfortunately, this discovery now means that Asia has now become a primary focus for America's money photocopier, and after their initial phase of Japanese horror they are now pumping up their remake machine to full speed with a whole series of remakes of ace Asian movies. Included on the list of films mentioned are Infernal Affairs, Oldboy, Ikiru, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Eye, Il Mare and many more.

I'm hoping desperately that in that list there is the one gem that will make all of this pain worth it - and yes, I'm looking at Infernal Affairs. The American remake is called The Departed and is a tour de force of Hollywood talent, staring Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen. Most importantly it is to be directed by Martin Scorsese, and I think he has chosen his topic wisely - Infernal Affairs could be one of the few Asian storylines that could really cross the cultural boundary onto US soil.

Maybe this is a sign of the US learning what works and what doesn't - Shall We Dansu was laughable even before they started, and there are rumours that Oldboy has now been shelved (it wouldn't have worked). I hope so, because we all know that Hollywood can make exceptional films, and at the right moment maybe it can make a remake into a real compliment and show these films to a whole new section of potential fans.

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  • Love the name of your post. Have to disagree though ~ I don't see the point in remaking it at all. It's got a great line-up but great casts do not a great film make...
    Ah well.


    By Blogger Soupdragon, at 4:26 pm  

  • Hi soupdragon!

    Since writing this blog post I've seen the trailer for The Departed, and it looks like you're right and I'm wrong! :-(

    Thanks for the comment though!


    By Anonymous Quiet Mumblings, at 9:30 am  

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