Wednesday, October 18, 2006

inferior American versions

While watching Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report", a film trailer for Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" came on screen. When I first read about the plot, I immediately knew this film is a remake of the highly acclaimed Hong Kong film, "Infernal Affairs". Initial reviews and box office turnout have been favorable. But it's not likely I'll see it.

Any film lover would tell me, come on, it's Martin Scorsese, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio. How can you go wrong? For me, it's a prejudice. I've seen far too many American versions of TV and films that have been picked up apart and dumbed down so much that it makes my skin crawl.

A few examples: "Touching Evil", originally done in a 3-part mini-series in the UK, starring Robson Green. USA Network had its own version (Bruce Willis was a producer) that took place in San Francisco. I watched the first episode and saw only a remote resemblance to the original version. Awful. No surprise that it lasted only one season.

"Tortilla Soup", starring Hector Elizondo and Elizabeth Peña. As was listed in a previous blog, this was a mediocre adaptation from Ang Lee's "Eat Drink Man Woman". Ang Lee's film is so much better.

There are a couple of American TV/film adaptations that are very good in their own right, but in my humble opinion, the original versions are superior. Examples are Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" (UK's "Traffik" was a mini-series) and "The Magnificent Seven" (adapted from Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai").

No doubt I've gotten pickier about the films I want to see. It wouldn't offend me if I was labeled a movie snob. Look at this way. A bad film is 90 to 120 minutes of time you'll never get back. Free time is too valuable to waste.

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