The Blind Spot Special – The Spike List

For some time now I have been toying with various ideas about getting in touch with the classics of cinema, but unfortunately I couldn’t decide on the form or the content of something like that. Quite frankly, simply going through (or even worse – binging through) the most iconic pieces of film-making I find daunting to say the least and I’d rather prefer to sprinkle some fun into equation by making it a game or a challenge. To certain extent I hoped that “The Blind Spot” reviews would be fit for purpose, but I failed to incorporate the fun factor into it, so in the end, “The Blind Spot” I have decided to keep for more personally relevant stuff.

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Other than that, I still have some ideas to re-invigorate me desire to get acquainted with things I really should have seen by now (like most of Woody Allen’s stuff and nearly all of Hitchcock’s work), but due to my own personal time constraints I think I’ll have to hold back on that though for a little while.

Meanwhile, Spike Lee in an attempt to utilize his high profile now (especially with the anticipated “Oldboy” remake to hit the screen soon-ish) has decided to share some of his film knowledge with the rest of us. In case if you don’t know, Spike Lee is also a teacher at NYU Film School where he mentors countless young aspiring film-makers and, as he put it, every year before he starts off with a fresh batch of young minds, Spike gives every student a list of films he believes a film-maker should see. And now he shared the list with us as well. Now, I’m no film-maker nor I intend to become one, but I thought I’d have a look to see how Spike Lee wants me to see the world of cinema.

And I have to admit, I’m a little embarrassed… Out of 86 films Spike named as absolutely vital for any film-maker to see, I can only say I’ve seen 12. You can have a look at the list here, but suffice it to say that my knowledge of iconic classics lacks severely. Plus, out of those 12 I know, I can only remember 4 of them, that’s how long it’s been since I saw them. Even though I’m not planning on making any films in the foreseeable future, I believe I should make haste and get cracking on them classics. I think it’s always fun to come up with little projects that give you some more things to do in your spare time, so I accept the challenge, Mr Lee. You have uncovered a major blind spot in my knowledge of film and it shall be addressed. Additionally, it’s yet another thing to be writing about.

Excelsior!

One more thing: I wonder if Spike Lee’s list would inspire his fellow acclaimed directors and writers to come up with lists of their own. I’d definitely love to have a look at what Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, or Danny Boyle would like me to see.

On the remakes again…

I think it has become a personal obsession of mine to follow and consecutively get worked up about the news of what film, that I might have treasured in the past, is going to be remade. And so, every now and again a handful of articles would emerge that would make me feel homicidal. Take today, for example. Everybody is getting excited about a brand spankin’ new poster for the remake of Park Chan-Wook’s “Oldboy” and I can only assume it is only the beginning, as the trailer is supposed to drop sometime this week as well. So, there’s one film (if not a masterpiece) that I believe should have been left alone.

Really, what could possibly be the reason for remaking such a beautifully crafted piece of cinema? I’ll have you know that it most certainly will not deliver the impact the original did. Why? Because at this point in time, I think most of us know what “Oldboy” is all about, and I can guarantee that any given trailer to the remake posted on Youtube will boast a wide spoiler section within the comments – because that’s what people do.

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So if you are one of the 10 people in the world that hasn’t seen the original, you’d better go watch it before the Internet spoils it for you. After all, apart from everything that made “Oldboy” so uniquely and brutally revolting, it’s the plot twist that carries a lot of the bang. So, how in the world am I supposed to go and watch the remake now? Should I forget about what I know? Should I get hammered prior to the screening? Or is Spike Lee going to bastardize the original so badly that it simply won’t matter?

Why don’t we, for once, learn from the past and realize that reviving classics (that may or may not have had some sort of cult following) is neither financially viable, nor does it bring anything desirable to the table. If anything, it taints the picture painted by the original. Additionally, speaking strictly from the point of view of probability, what are the odds that any given remake will do well at the box office? Slim to none, at best. Of course, there are examples to the contrary, but that doesn’t really change the trend of remakes being disappointing in every which way.

Consider these three examples from the recent memory:

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1. “Total Recall” – a walking proof of what I just said. A sloppy remake of a cult classic adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s prose. Clearly someone thought it would be a good idea to ‘refresh’ the old uber-brutal sci-fi actioner that I have watched on multiple occasions. What’s-his-face Len Wiseman surely is no Paul Verhoeven, Colin Farrell is no Arnie and no amount of glass and sanitized CGI is going to make up for the old-school make-up and props that made Mars looks so damn scary once.

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2. “Red Dawn” – another pointless remake born and raised in 2012. Why doesn’t someone explain to me in terms I can understand, how this sad bummer of a film had made it through the planning stage? Again, Chris Hemsworth is no Patrick Swayze – end of story. On top of that, the reason the original “Red Dawn” was so good had to do mostly with the fact the Soviets in that time were an actual threat to the US, or the entire world for that matter. Translating the idea into modern times and making the North Koreans be the villains was hardly effective. Plus, they were supposed to be Chinese in the first place, but someone didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, I presume. End result – annoying, to say the least.

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3. “Conan The Barbarian” – this one was actually made in 2011, so it doesn’t fit perfectly into the ‘recent memory’ slot. However, it was so disturbingly bad that I stopped watching the DVD halfway through. And I know it might sound bad, but no amount of exposed breasts (however pretty they might be) is going to make me turn the blind eye at the fact that not only the literature classic has been gang-raped by this abomination of a film, but also the cult classic fantasy film I treasured so much as a young boy has now been fudged up beyond all repairs for me. And also, Jason Momoa is no Arnie… But then again, no-one is…

This is what happens, when classics are ‘revived’ into remakes… Something needs to be dead first, for it to be eligible for resurrection in the first place. Guess what happens when you defibrillate a conscious person? It flippin’ hurts and you can do actual damage to them. So, when it comes to film remakes, you can see clearly that the only thing you’d be doing as a viewer is constantly compare it to the original and more often than not, you’d be pissed at what you’re forced to sit through. Therefore, God help us all, because neither “Oldboy”, nor “The Crow” is going to go down well, and having the original comic book creator on board for “The Crow” remake is not going to help.