Chushingura (The 47 Ronin)

If it seems this month seems to be the month for railing against remakes, it isn't without justification. There are just so many in the pipeline at the Hollywood studios that it bears noting. Without beating the proverbial horse on our ire for this ludicrous practice that has seized the majors, this post will be a simple illustration, allowing you the reader to judge for yourself. For those of you who are not familiar with the legend of the 47 Ronin, one of Japan's most culturally beloved and recognized tales, you can read more about it here.

Now, read the comments of writer Chris Morgan (Cellular, The Fast and the Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Wanted) who is charged with the American take on the story with Keanu Reeves attached.
It's this great, 'Gladiator'-esque, '300'-like big action movie with samurai and ninja...'The 47 Ronin' is a true story that took place around 1700-1701...It's a time in Japanese culture when it was all about [the] bushido [code] and honor, and putting internal things over external things -- swords that were made to be functional instead of ornamental, that kind of stuff.
Please pay careful attention to the words he has applied to the story and compare that to what you read at the link provided. As we keep saying, what are these remakes really about? Do yourself a favor and go rent one of the classic film versions of the story from Japanese masters such as Mizoguchi Kenji (an almost entirely bloodless exploration of the samurai's existential angst) or Inagaki Hiroshi (a 1962 version focused more on questioning cultural values).


Fumiko no Kokuhaku

Thanks to Twitch Film for putting the spotlight on this wonderful short film by young filmmaker Ishida Hiroyasu (aka Tete). The independent anime movement has been quietly growing ever since Shinkai Makoto paved the way with films such as Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimetres Per Second. Fumiko no Kokuhaku (Fumiko's Confession) is beautifully realized with expert comic staging and direction. The painterly backgrounds are playfully "imperfect" and bright in their palette, reinforcing the humor in the piece. Enjoy!

If Ishida is the sign of things to come, I can only welcome this upcoming talent and look forward to a full length feature sometime in the future. Ishida's official site can be found HERE where there are links to sketches and pre-production work for this film and other, what seem to be student works.


Clash of the Titans (remake)

Yahoo Movies released the first teaser for the remake of Clash of the Titans starring Sam Worthington who may be turning into the flavor of the month--time will tell. We have said our peace here about remakes, but this teaser only serves the point. What are they marketing in this minute and a half? Is it a classic fable of heroism? Is it the struggle of man against divine forces? Or is it monsters, swords, and gods...oh my!

The only dialogue in the piece doesn't feel mythic. In fact, it's almost downright contemporary, despite being delivered by Pete Postelthwaite. When you slap on rock music to a stream of jumping, grimacing, running imagery, and with the Monday Night Football inspired "Titans"-"Will"-"Clash" tagline, the intention of the filmmakers, so far it seems, is to pull in the crowd whose "literature" involves comic books and whose "epics" are found on videogame consoles.

But this is just the teaser. There is certainly more to be offered, right???


The Mechanic (remake)

This is the poster that was released during the American Film Market, currently taking place in Santa Monica, for the upcoming remake of the classic Charles Bronson thriller. We here are not the biggest fans of remakes as they are a distinct sign in the lack of faith Hollywood has in original material, even though there are so many interesting concepts out there.

The Mechanic was a heady, cat-and-mouse thriller about a contract killer that played out more like a procedural than a typical action film, especially one from the 70s. I can almost guarantee you that the elements that made the original very intelligent and taut with tension will most certainly be replaced by gritty action and a lot of posturing by our players.

That said, however, the main impetus for this post is the marketing of the film. The poster above is fairly typical of key art that comes out of AFM as most films have yet to start principal photography and are deep into pre-production. The goal at AFM is to attract distributors. At this stage, the producers probably have not had time to shoot proper cast photos, so a bearded jawline that seems like lead Jason Stratham is enough. What is laughable is the briefcase being made the central focus of the poster, one with the star's name on it as if it's labeled just in case he loses it. But the piece-de-resistance is the tag line:
There are thousands of ways to kill a man...
Just check his briefcase
Aside from being sterile rather than compelling the English grammar should make one chuckle. It's obvious the copy writer means for us to check the "hitman's" briefcase (you know the one with Stratham's name on it), but grammatically, the "his" in the second line modifies the previous, noun, and in this case that would be the man you can kill thousands of ways. So, what this poster is telling us is if we wanted to kill a man, all we need to do is to check his briefcase to find out how.

Hollywood...you're certainly good for a laugh, if anything.