Monday, 7 December 2009

Critical Week: The remakes

This past week was even slower than I'd expected, as far as press screenings go (it was busier in every other way). And it was interesting that the two biggest films we saw were both remakes of European movies: Jim Sheridan's Brothers, starring Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal, is a remake of Susanne Bier's Brødre (Denmark, 2004). And Kirk Jones' Everybody's Fine, starring Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore and Sam Rockwell, is a revamp of Guiseppe Tornatore's Stanno Tutti Bene (Italy, 1990). It goes without saying that neither remake is quite up to the original. Both are watchable and have moments of real power, with strong performances, but they both magnify the source films' problems and create some new ones.

The other two films I watched are both building awards-contention buzz at the moment. Jeff Bridges gets a gift of a role in Crazy Heart, an involving drama that in many ways feels like a revisit to the themes of producer-costar Robert Duvall's 1983 Oscar-winner Tender Mercies. And the riveting documentary Food Inc digs unflinchingly into America's food-production industry, which puts profits over health in some pretty scary ways; it's an intriguing blend of the themes in the drama-doc Fast Food Nation and Michael Moore's recent Capitalism: A Love Story.

This week is much busier in the screening room, with Clint Eastwood's South African drama Invictus (talk about a gift of a role for an actor: Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela), Peter Jackson's dark drama The Lovely Bones, Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes, Meryl Streep in It's Complicated, Hugh Grant in Did You Hear About the Morgans?, a stage-full of Oscar winners in the musical Nine, Disney's animated The Princess and the Frog, and the post-apocalyptic road movie Carriers.

No comments: