Tag Archives: U.S.

Vampire Rumble: Let the Right One In vs Let Me In

As soon as a re-make of Let the Right One In was announced, film fans around the world let out a collective internet groan.  It’s not as if this sentiment is without merit considering the crop of 80’s horror classics that are in the works of being re-made (Fright Night, The Monster Squad), as well as the way foreign films are treated by the Hollywood re-make machine (Eddie Izzard’s commentary on re-makes seem apt [begins at the 1:03 mark].  So just how did Let Me In, the U.S. re-make of Let the Right One In, compare to the original?

Note: to avoid redundancies, let me clarify that Oskar and Eli are the boy and girl from Let the Right One In and Owen and Abby are the boy and girl from Let Me In.  Also, this post contains major spoilers for both films.

My wife pointed out that there is a difference between re-making a story and re-telling a story, as we’re always re-telling similar tales with different window dressings.  Michael Haneke’s Funny Games is a clear example of a re-make: it was first made in 1997  (Austria) and re-made, shot-for-shot, by Haneke in 2007 (U.S.).  Alternatively, something like John Carpenter’s The Thing is a re-telling of The Thing From Another World, which itself was based on the short story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell.  Let Me In is an example of the latter re-telling, not a mere re-make.  Continue reading

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“Lucky” documents lottery winners, but not much else

“What would you buy if you had a million dollars?”  This is the type of hypothetical fantasizing we’ve all indulged in as children, but what if you actually won that million dollars?

Lucky follows the rare people who have won the lottery, varying from 5.5 to 22 million dollars in winnings.  The effects of fame and fortune are disclosed by the winners in interview format.  Some find it a curse they’re happy to spend until they’re again broke; others help their families or migrate to wealthier locales to fit in.

The general idea behind the film is immediately an attractive one: how do one of our fellow proles cope with becoming a part of the elite?  In a brief interview with a lottery player, he explains that he gambles so, “I can actually be free.”   Right there is a golden opportunity to explore our definition of “free” in a country that heralds itself as the uber-democracy and how capitalism and wealth play into that concept.

But director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound, Rocket Science)  doesn’t follow these breadcrumbs.  When former friends of lottery winners Kristine and Steve’s tell us they are envious of their bump up the class ladder, the film fails to dig in and ask why.  Why are we envious of the wealthy?  What does it mean to us to have money, to yearn for it?  Instead of providing an insightful document on the U.S.’s religion of greenbacks, it takes hunger for cash for granted.

Sure, we meet the guy who keeps a lid on his expenditures, except the stay cats he feeds every night and the stripper friends he visits; we even see the literal ruin of a man due to the cash (his siblings hired a hit man so they could acquire the wealth).  But Lucky doesn’t get the pick axe to the heart (so to speak) and leaves an aftertaste just slightly better than the Inside Edition clips it uses.

When a Vietnamese lottery winner’s wife stops the interview when it becomes too emotional, it stands in metaphorically for the film overall.  It could go deeper, but maybe it hurts too much.

“Monsters” leaves audiences in shock and awe

When you start watching films for a living, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” becomes the haunting muzak filling the background of your consciousness.  Films quickly pile up in the mediocre category, with few hitting genius, or even atrocious levels.  When Monsters finished, however, I was covered with goose bumps and wanted nothing more than to sit quietly in the dark to mull it over. It is a film so powerful, fascinating and personal that it is a celluloid definition of why we go to the cinema.

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