HOLLYWOOD REMAKES FEATURE
THE ASSASSIH (HIKITA)
‘lf you put on a play in London, does that mean that you can’t put it on in Poland in a different language and different setting because you reach a wider audience?’ argues Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, who stars in The Assassin, a Warner Bros remake of lllklta. ‘Just in the same way that a play can be reinterpreted and restaged, so can a film. I did it because I thought the original was a good film and that the American script was more or less the same.’
Less than 2 per cent of US filmgoers - easily the world’s biggest market - saw Hiklta In its original form, which was itself one of the most Americanised thrillers to come out of France. And while The Assassin (or Point of Ho Return as it is known in the States, following earlier title possibilities Codename: Nina and The Specialist) seems certain to place Bridget Fonda on the Hollywood ‘A’ list, last week’s review in Variety stated that director John Badham ‘does get the requisite action up on the screen in a straightforward manner that’s a degree less stylized and poetic than the original.’ Hothlng we couldn’t have guessed ourselves. (AM)
The Assassin is scheduled for a UK release in September.
SOMMERSBY (THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE)
An absorbing and romantic period drama, Jon Amiel’s Sommersby stars Richard Gere and Jodie Foster in a story of disputed identity set in the American South just after the Civil War. It’s also one of those cases where a Hollywood remake of a European film has meant a substantial remodel as well; for the British director’s latest American offering actually started life as Daniel Vigne’s 1982 French hit The Return of Martin Guerre, a 16th century saga with mystery man Gerard Depardieu and dutiful spouse Hathalle Baye playing out a similar chain of events. The tale, it turns out, is a true one, and French: a farmer who’s been missing for years pitches up again a changed man, regains the affections of his wife, faces accusations that he’s an imposter, then goes to court to prove he actually is who he says he is.
The ample historical distance between the two films was enough to convince Amiel that he wasn’t really doing a remake at all. initially wary of the protect, his firm ideas on the direction the script should go were
significant in winning the confidence of executive producer and key player, Richard Gere. ‘The Return of Martin Guerre is a literal telling of the actual story, but I felt we had a great myth here that could be revisited,’ reckons Amiel, a former BBC man still best known for his work on Dennis Potter’s classic Singing Detective series. ‘They’re two different films with a similar start, a similar ending, but everything in between is completely dissimilar ln content and intention. ‘In Martin Guerre, the focus is on everything outside the two people at the centre of the action, but with Sommersby I wanted to get inside them. It’s set in the period known as the Reconstruction, but it’s not only about the community reconstructing itself, it’s about this couple putting their lives back together — a fable about the transformative power of human emotion. As such, this is one of the greatest love stories I’ve ever come across really, and like Romeo and Juliet or Beauty and the Beast, I can imagine it being replayed against a whole panoply of cultural backgrounds.’ (TJ) Sommersby opens in Scotland on Friday 23 April.
Dutch director George Sluizer was already a veteran when his 1988 thriller Sporloos (The Vanishing) proved a well-deserved international hit. Brilliantly structured, tellineg detailed, superbly performed, this psychologically terrifying tale of a young woman’s disappearance and the late that befalls her obsessive boyfriend when he finds out, years later, what exactly happened to her is one of the all-time classic suspense movies. Hot surprisingly, Hollywood has decided to remake it. Not surprisingly, Hollywood has fucked it
With Jeff Bridges hammin replacing the chilling Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu as the killer-at-large and Keifer Sutherland the ever-searching male protagonist, The Vanishing is one of the rare occasions when the American version has been directed by the filmmaker responsible for the original. But the exchange rate must have been good the week Sluizer signed up, because Todd Graff’s rewritten screenplay destroys the subtlety of its predecessor and tacks on a further melodramatic and unbelievably crass climax after the first film’s gobsmacking finale. Sadly, more people will probably see this one than Sluizer’s magnificent original effort. (TJ)
The Vanishing is scheduled for a UK release in June.
Who‘s to say that the liuropean film industry can‘t pool forces and take on Hollywood at its own game‘.’ The List suggests how a few American blockbusters could find their niche this side of the Atlantic.
Plot: Two mismatched policemen find themselves at odds when their different methods of investigation are called into play: one likes the flashing lights on his panda car while the other harks back to the days of the bobby on the bicycle. Stars: Kenneth Branagh and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Hot to be confused with: Dodgy Copper. the remake of Abel l“errara‘s Burl l.l(’lll(’ll(llll, starring Dennis Waterman.
Hilda and Louise
Plot: Two female friends throw caution to the winds and go on a West lind shopping spree in their Mini Metro. But after a few sharp words with a sales assistant in Harrods. they find that a quick holiday in rural Italy is needed to calm their nerves.
Stars: Joan Plowright and Vanessa Redgrave.
Hot to be confused with: Fried l-‘i‘s/z fingers (1! .lm' 's' .llnlm‘ii'uy (ii/j. a touching tale of female bonding. written by (‘arla Lane and directed by Terence Davies.
Plot: A Vietnam veteran returns home and undergoes a mental breakdown in which he believes he is a 19th century lirench poet. Houndcd by local redneck literary critics. he resorts to firing barbed couplets before giving a touching. but unintelligible. speech about loving his country.
Stars: (icrard Depardieu.
Hot to be confused with: ( “uh/m. with the late Sid James filling Robert De Niro's shoes as the e,\»army man who responds to the squalor of urban living with a dirty laugh. Tony Slattcry makes his dit'cclorial debut.
Not that they need any help when it comes to ripping off ideas from
Gerard Deparde is . . . lebmd
liuropean films. but The List pitches a few remake projects for Hollywood producers to consider.
Drlando’s Excellent Adventure
Plot: A cross-dressing. struggling artist travels through various periods in history. meeting famous people in lavish costumes. finally coming to the conclusion that it's not what you look like. it’s the way you feel inside that really matters.
Stars: Dustin Hoffman.
Hot to be confused with: Prosper?) ts- Crooks, the gangster comedy in which Sicilian immigrant liddie Prospero (Al Pacino) finds himself shipwrecked on a small island off the l’lorida coast.
Plot: liritz Lang meets wacky comedy, as a disturbed child-killer stalks the streets of New York. But this time . . . the kid turns. Trapping the murderer in an old deserted house. our pre- pubescent hero wears him down through a series of Tom and Jerry-style slapstick pranks.
Stars: Macaulay (‘ulkin and Joe Pesci. Hot to be confused with: I’rr'ltv ll’rmzrm 2: The Lovers (if/fridge Nine. when rich businessman Richard (iere goes to Paris to forget about Julia Roberts. but bumps into Juliette Binoche as the Paris skyline is lit up by fireworks.
The Fast Order Chef, The Don, His Bitch and Her Homeboy
Plot: A diner in Bed-Stu is the setting for Spike Lee's latest depiction of African-American life. this time with a script by Ice Cube. A street hustler goes for his t'/i when he discovers that his wife is having an affair. lots of guns. drugs and hot babe action.
Stars: Den/cl Washington and Whitney Houston.
Hot to be confused with: Ken Lost-his I’d/ls Rum/ ('u/i. starring liddie Murphy as the w isecracking Detroit policeman on holiday in Belfast where he stumbles on a shoot to kill policy.
‘lle's your worst nightmare a Mason with a badge.’
l The rm «)7 33 April ism 7