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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: Why we should give remakes a chance

Press Play By Matthew Seitz | Press Play August 31, 2011 at 9:26AM

By Matt Zoller SeitzPress Play Contributor
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By Matt Zoller Seitz
Press Play Contributor

We're getting very close to the point where the phrase "Entertainment news" may have to be replaced by "Remake and Reboot News."

How do you feel about that? I've got mixed feelings myself, but I've decided to keep an open mind, even though it isn't always easy.

Martin Scorsese has announced that he's going to direct a remake of the 1974 Karel Reisz drama The Gambler, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the gambling-addicted professor originally played by James Caan. And Scorsese's friend and one-time acolyte Spike Lee is directing a remake of South Korean director Park Chan-Wook's ultraviolent 2003 parable Oldboy, about a man seeking revenge on the people who imprisoned him for years for no clear reason; Josh Brolin, star of No Country for Old Men and W, will play the role first played by Choi Min-Sik. (Although Oldboy appears to be proceeding without a hiccup, The Gambler remake has awakened the ire of filmmaker James Toback, who wrote the original screenplay based on Fyodor Doestoevsky's short story and on Toback's own life.)

Meanwhile, The Smurfs and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which is hugely indebted to 1972's Conquest of the Planet of the Apes) are raking in the bucks at your local multiplex. There was also a recent remake of 1982's Conan the Barbarian that tanked. On Sept. 16, writer-director Rod Lurie (The Contender) will release his remake of Sam Peckinpah's 1971 revenge thriller Straw Dogs. Director Tony Scott (Unstoppable) is working on a remake of Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. And there's going to be a new version of The Thin Man with Johnny Depp in the William Powell role, written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park) and directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago). There are new Spider-Man and Superman films coming out, just a few scant years after those properties were already totally remade for the big screen. A long-delayed remake of "Red Dawn" will pit plucky American youth against North Koreans instead of Russians and Cubans. Remakes of Footloose (directed by Craig Brewer of Hustle and Flow) and John Carpenter's The Thing are scheduled for October. Will the upcoming remake of Dirty Dancing put Baby in a corner?

You can read the rest of Matt's piece here.

A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for Salon.com and the founder of Press Play.


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