Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oscar Podcast. Plus: The Dumbest Idea in the History of Remakes

Three Things

1. Ashley, Gabriel and myself have unleashed our "Oscar Spectacular" over @ Radio Allegro. My favorite part is my interview with the gracious and chatty awards man Tom O'Neil (Tom dishes on red carpet madness, the importance of awards history, Brad Pitt avoiding Joan Rivers, the recent Hollywood party for The Envelope and more...)

I know that I keep promising to improve at podcasting and if you're taking me up on my promise, you can subscribe here with iTunes.

2. I'm still confused about who might win Best Picture so I've launched a poll so that you can predict en masse. So far The Departed is leading. Is the crowd wise? I thought this poll would bring tighter results. But maybe Scorsese will have a very good night.

3. I'm in a horrible mood the past couple of days. I couldn't figure out why and then it hit me: It's Ron Howard's fault. I've been trying not to mention this news item, hoping it would dissolve into nothingness by my refusal to acknowledge it. I have the (self-deluding) power! When the average person gets a really idiotic idea --perhaps when they're drunk, desperate, sad, tired, horny or loopy they either go through with it and humiliate themselves or they rethink in time "ohmygod. that's not even cool, that's just dumb. My bad!" When a Hollywood mover & shaker gets an unfathomably moronic idea and goes through with it they don't just embarass themselves: they crap on a whole artform. Their blunder goes global. Hearing the news that Ron Howard will remake Caché (Hidden) has angered me and stunned me into silence (until now). It is, arguably, the dumbest idea for a remake in the history of the cinema. Which is saying a lot.

For those who haven't seen the film (Rent it now!) it's about a successful French couple who are tormented by mysterious and invasive videotapes of their home and lives. Saying any more would ruin its twists and turns and its intellectual and political heft. See it. Absorb it. Grapple with it. Even if you don't love it you will still be thinking about it a year later.

The news stunned me into silence. I couldn't even read the articles about it. Everything that is great and challenging and memorable about Caché is antithetical to what Ron Howard is about as a director. Even if you give the Oscar winner the benefit of the doubt and say "that chap, he's a fine Hollywood filmmaker" you'd still have to scratch your head if you knew about the hows and whys of the way Caché functions and the way it burrows into truly uncomfortable places. I can only speak for myself but it would be less horrific to hear that Ron Howard was remaking Casablanca. At least that classic has a mainstream Hollywood sensibility, however sacriligeous a remake, by anyone, would be. Plus if he did that then people would laugh at him for treading where he doesn't belong. But when a powerful Hollywood director ruins a great foreign language film, most people are none the wiser. And everyone loses.

Say something to cheer me up in the comments.

23 comments:

JA said...

Ron Howard could die.

Anonymous said...

"I can only speak for myself but it would be less horrific to hear that Ron Howard was remaking Casablanca. "

Word.

Anonymous said...

Just look at it as another step in the commercialization of Michael Haneke. Even he is remaking his own FUNNY GAMES in English. You’ll forgive me, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do that. On a lighter note, maybe this process will just continue…Joel Schumacher, let’s say, could remake THE PIANO TEACHER with Julia Roberts or what about Brett Ratner’s BENNY’S VIDEO with Anton Yelchin?

NATHANIEL R said...

omg, the image that conjures. Julia Roberts in the bathroom with a razor...

aaron said...

Maybe Hilary Swank can play the Juliette Binoche character!

There's no way this will go through, is there? Who is writing the script? Tell me that it might not actually happen.

MissIzzy said...

Ron Howard once announced his intention to remake "Fantastic Voyage." This one might very well fall through as well.

Anonymous said...

No, no, no, no!

Haven't we suffered from Opie enough? I can't wait until his next gem starring Russell Crowe as a man you have to sympathize with even though it's Russell Crowe and he beats up children.

I do love his television though (Arrested Development).

Julia said...

Cache doesn't need to be remade, period, let alone by such a director as Ron Howard. Can you honestly see him dealing with the very complex racial and political questions that Cache brings up with any amount of success? I mean, COME ON.

In response to the previous comment, I agree- Howard should stick to TV, because Arrested Development is pure genius.

daveylow said...

I think Howard still wants to be taken seriously as an "artist." Winning an Oscar for directing A Beautiful Mind wasn't enough. I agree the Cache remake is a terrible idea. Isn't Howard also involved with producing Frost/Nixon in the theater?
I think Howard seems a very nice guy, I wish he would try to do something entertaining for a change. At least his daughters are proving to be talented. I caught his younger daughter in the Vineyard Theatre production of the forgotten Barrie play, Mary Rose, and she's charming and has real stage presence.

chasgoose said...

I don't want to completely hate on the idea of remaking foreign movies for American audiences because sometimes they come out ok (The Departed, anyone? That was probably better than Infernal Affairs.). Also as one of the earlier posters mentioned Haneke himself is remaking Funny Games in English.

My main problem with this is twofold:

1. Ron Howard is completely ill-suited for this adaptation (in fact, with the exception of Paul Haggis, I can't think of a worse choice for this). Nothing about his directorial style (whether or not you like it) is dark, taut, or thrilling. He tends towards the bloated prestige pic type that is generally somehow inspriational. Nothing about Cache is inspirational. Typical to Haneke's ouevre its pretty much about how disgusting people are. No matter what you think about what is actually happening, no character gets off completely innocent and they all display shocking cruelty and selfish disinterest in the world around them. Ron Howard cannot make that kind of movie (or at least hasn't demonstrated his ability to do so). Also, there is no way that Howard will be able to leave the ambiguous ending intact.

2. Cache is not a movie that is well-suited for a remake. Not only could I not really concieve of it being made in any better way than what Haneke did(I am not saying its perfect, but I think it was the best it could be), but also, the socio-political context that surrounds the movie and is exploited by Haneke is very much tied to the current situation in France. Unlike The Departed where it was just a matter of translating the Hong Kong Triads of Infernal Affairs to the Boston Irish mob, Cache is imbued with the very particular French/North African immigrant racial conflicts that are currently wreaking social havoc across the country. There is really no current parallel to this in American society today. The closest we have is White/Hispanic relations because at least that incorporates the immigrant aspect of the situation, but we don't have nearly the same level of social unrest. While different interpretations of Cache downplay the importance of the racial unrest in France, you cannot deny that Haneke doesn't use it to toy with his audience and confuse his film's meaning.

NATHANIEL R said...

well I'm not against remakes on principal. I'm just against remakes that have no conceivable reason for existing.

Cache doesn't need to be remade and its especially ludicrous given the opposing sensibilities.

What's next: Paul Haggis remakes Mulholland Dr because he lives in LA and he thought the first one was too confusing. Fuck That!

Beau said...

I agree entirely.
I heard that a few days ago, shook my head violently for a second and then peered at the screen to make sure I was seeing correctly. And there it was.
...just, what the fcuk.

(and yes, you're damn right about 'cache'. a year after seeing that film in theaters, and it's still not out of my head.)

Stephen G said...

What a shocker. He'll probably cast Tom Hanks and Jennifer Connelly in the lead roles. *shudder* Hard to imagine a director less matched to this material. Hmm, a cold, incisive, intelligent movie - let's ring Ron for the remake!

vince said...

The son will be really hot! (I'm trying to be positive)

adam k. said...

Does anyone think Ron is probably thinking "hm, if I remake a recent foreign film, I bet I'll win an oscar, too!" The timing is kind of a give-away.

And Paul Haggis probably WILL remake Mulholland at some point, and will cast Sandra Bullock.

NATHANIEL R said...

shut. up.

y'all are supposed to be cheering me up! at least JA tried ;)

Peter Nellhaus said...

I hope chasgoose sees Infernal Affairs as there was more than changing the setting from Hong Kong to Boston.

Certainly Ron Howard has been trying to show that he is no intellectual lightweight. I can't fault the guy for being ambitious rather than coast on his reputation like Frank Capra pretty much did after WWII.

I don't know if this will cheer you up Nathaniel, but based on what's known about the Spartans, I've been thinking that the ideal version of 300 would have been directed by Derek Jarman.

Arkaan said...

Everyone's already nailed my dishgust at this story, and chasgoose nailed the reasons. When the best thing you can hope for is Ransom redux, best stay away.

Oh, and people - stop giving him credit for Arrested Development. Mitch Hurwitz was the genius behind that, Howard was just the guy who told him he could do it (and provided the brilliant narration).

Beau said...

well, Vince made a valiant attempt as well. (granted, his wasn't nearly as comical but still, he does have a point...)

oh, who'm I kidding. if this gets made, it'll blow.

Kamikaze Camel said...

The main reason this is strange is because the several scenes in Hidden that helped make it so good are so unHollywood that I can't possibly imagine Howard filming them. What would he do with the throat scene? Or the chicken scene? Or, er, the ending.

I bet the opening credits would have a big Thomas Newman score (I love Thomas Newman though) over the top.

The only way I can see it happening is if he scraps the "remake" angle and just decides to make a film about a family who received video tapes.

A better comparison than Mulholland Drive would be Lynch's other flick Lost Highway, which starts with the same idea.

JS said...

When I read this news elsewhere, I was wondering why it was taking you so long to express your feelings at the idea.

If Ron Howard goes all Michael Bay on this, well, he's gonna use up all the good will Arrested Development brought him. =/

Oh gods, why do I keep imagining Sharon Stone rehearsing how to say the title in as many ways possible (shout it! downplay it...) again and again in preparation?

Kamikaze Camel said...

I bet he tries to get Juliette Binoche to restar, but gets someone like Russell Crowe for the male lead.

Piper said...

Have not seen Cache but will rent it this weekend.