Monday, 13 November 2017

Not so sucky: Remakes Blogfest


Today Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh and Heather M Gardener are co-hosting the funnest blogfest on Remakes, irresistible! and I'm taking a break from poetry and jumping in.

The raison d'etre and rules  -

Remakes – most of them suck. Now and then, one comes along that is as good as, if not better, than the original. And after all of the bad ones we’ve endured, we want to know about some good ones.

On November 13, 2017, blog about your favorite remake: movie (or television show into movie and vice versa), song, or book – or all three! Post a YouTube video and links where we can find these treasures. Tell us why THIS remake doesn’t suck!

Sign up here or here. Post on November 13 and visit others on the list. Time to unearth those good remakes! 




I’m here with one script, one novel - both somewhat...ancient...and two songs, these also not exactly the latest chart-toppers. Yeah, I know. I like living in the (remote) past…

1.  From Cyprus to Meerut

It was first written as short fiction, published in 1565. Then adapted into a play by Will S (who else?) in early 17th century, it’s never been out of circulation since. Its themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge n remorse are pretty universal. It’s been performed on stage, and in opera, ballet, and adapted for films. It’s inspired a bucket load of paintings too, but that’s another story. I’m talking about Othello.

For centuries, the ‘Moor’ has been portrayed by white actors. Only a handful of black actors have played Othello, not a surprise! Years back, a friend and I binge-watched three versions, starting with the 1965 Othello, played by Laurence Olivier. Not impressed. Dreadfully over the top. Olivier looks seriously miscast, more importantly his overacting, that special gait and that 'blackface' makeup was thoroughly off-putting - more a caricature than a tragic hero. Watch it for its historical value. Or maybe...don't bother.



One of the best remakes is the 1995 film - Laurence Fishburne played the lead, with Kenneth Branagh as Iago. Fishburne is subtle and smouldering, all the torment of Othello’s love, suspicion and jealousy is delivered understated. Branagh makes a mean Iago too. Groovy! (Though his most recent role as Poirot I found a little disappointing, David Suchet can't be beaten, tough call! and what's with all that ma cherie Katherine?? weird departure from the original, but that's another story...er...remake.) Watch the Othello trailer below and the film here.


Another great reinterpretation is Bollywood's Omkara - Othello updated and repurposed by director Vishal Bharadwaj. The setting changed from Venice and Cyprus to modern day Meerut, a small town in North India, where Omkara (Othello) is a political enforcer, a thug who aids the local politician. He chooses Kesu (Cassio) over Langra Tyagi (Iago) as his right-hand man and…


All the usual ingredients of a Bollywood potboiler - extravagant music, colourful sets, high-tension drama and all that. But this film still very cleverly blurred the line between serious cinema and the mainstream mindless.  Brilliant, contemporary and crisply on-point. Deserved all the awards and ooh-aah that happened to it around the world. Get it here.



2.  Georgian goes digital

My second contender’s not as ancient but still pretty venerable, published 1813. Among the very first romance novels written, also among those written by a woman, it marked several milestones. It continues to enthrall readers till date. The spinoffs have been legion - novels, plays, musicals, TV and films. Yup, you got it - Pride and Prejudice – one of my favourite classics, and the remake I’m pointing you to is Bridget Jones’s Diary.  

The book by Helen Fielding was released in 1998 and bagged the British Book of the Year award.  With its sequel – Bridget Jones’s Diary: The Edge of Reason, Fielding's sold 15 million copies in 40 countries.

The main character is a thirty-odd, singleton, working woman living in London, obsessed with body-image, dieting, and a romantic relationship or lack thereof in her life.  It addresses many of the same societal issues as the original – class, wealth, parenting influences, marriage and marriageability, the superficiality of contemporary life juxtaposed with the quest for self-knowledge, pride and prejudice.   It is sharp and hilariously witty, a great, fresh take on Elizabeth Bennett reinterpreted and  modernised for the digital age. Written as diary entries over a year, Bridget starts with a set of resolutions and each entry  measures her progress  -


Helen Fielding explores the challenges of Bridget’s life with a light touch but telling seriousness, and the result is just delightful. Fielding has been counted among the most influential British people. BJD has taken its place among the top ten books that define 20th century as per The Guardian, it's also the defining text for the genre called chick lit. There are views both for and against its position on feminism, not getting into long debates here. Its impact on a certain sub-culture is not in any doubt, wherever on the feminist continuum you place it.

BJD was made into a film in 2001, with Renee Zellweger as Bridget, Hugh Grant as her caddish boss and a temporary love interest, and Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, Bridget’s true love.  All three actors got nominated for various awards in US and Europe. Very convincing and consummate performances by all parties concerned. A satirical, fun take on P&P with a HEA ending - what's not to love? Watch the trailer, and here’s a link for the whole. There are sequels too, two of 'em, yum!




3.   Cover girls

Okay I’m going to keep this bit short.  Two songs, and two covers and why they don’t suck :

Track 1  – famous track composed jointly by Serge Lama and Alice Dona, sung by Serge as part of his album of the same name in 1973. Take a listen by clicking here.

Many cover versions – Lara Fabian, Celine Dion, Richard Anthony, Thierry Amiel, and more. My fav cover is by Dalida.



Why it doesn’t suck - because Dalida’s rendition I find the most expressive of all, she rocks it better than the original, in fact. I love that she renders the song with her amazingly melodious and powerful voice as well as her eyes - pain and longing, and pure music. Respect.


Track 2 – this one was a childhood staple, I listened to it playing on All India Radio (AIR) on the Forces Request, a programme for Indian defence personnel. Composed by Lee Hazlewood and first sung by Lee and Suzi Jane Hokom in 1966. Lee sung it the following year with Nancy Sinatra again, and it remained a favourite on AIR right up to the 80’s. (For all I know, it's still popular, just that I've moved away from Delhi and AIR and radio generally, except sometimes in the car. A sea change in the ways of consuming music now)


Again, many cover versions exist, my top one is by The Corrs and Bono. Definitely not a sucky type, nope. More a sizzler...





Those then are my choices for non-sucky remakes, quite a few more I can think of, but…so many remakes, so little space…Tell me about yours.



40 comments:

  1. Hi Nila - I haven't got into this blogfest ... for reasons to be obvious fairly soon ... and the fact I honestly don't think I could come up with something intelligent ...I will know they are here for future reference - have a good week - cheers Hilary

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    1. I'm intrigued by your reasons - hope they have something to do with your bucket list! :) You have a great week too.

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  2. wow - you put a lot of thought into this and came up with some great material. The Bridget Jones - awesome - had not thought of it. I think the new IT movie based on Stephen King's book is way better than the original mini-series. That's my only contribution. Fun post

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    1. Fielding had made the connection clear in an interview specifically at the time. But it's kind of clear anyways - the 'true love' character is named Darcy :)

      Stephen King is scary! Will watch out for IT...thanks!

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  3. I am way out of my depth here. I am not a movie watcher, and music is peripheral too. I am intrigued by your take and love the link with Bridget Jones and Pride...

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    1. I used to be an avid cine goer/film fan as a young adult then kind of dropped out and now I am halfway back again...books are mostly much better as books than made into films imo, hard to recreate on screen. But some manage it well. Plays are a different matter altogether, they are meant to be performed anyway...Bridget Jones is cute, enjoyable if you like romcoms.

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  4. Not familiar with the music, but that's good.
    With Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh in the remake, of course it was going to be good. Both fine actors.
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest!

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    1. Thank you so much for hosting it. Looking forward to the recos on all three categories.

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  5. I signed up for the blogfest but have tweaked parts of it according to my limited movie knowledge... LOL

    Great singing from the heart and eyes by the smoky-voiced Dalida... thanks for the intro! You can't beat the most authentic artists who sing with their eyes. Powerful.
    The Corrs and Bono? What a combination!

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    1. Ya, I am old enough to prefer singing that hasn't been autotuned and audio processed to death :)

      Intrigued by your post description. Your tweaks not to be taken lightly imo. Speaking from past exp.

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  6. Interesting choices. I haven't seen any of those movies.

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  7. I'll have to check out Brigit Jones Diary remake. I really enjoyed the first one.
    My link didn't work on the Linky. I think it's because I screwed up the path with the switch to my new, cranky blog. www.cleemckenziebooks.com

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    1. Now why does the linky not working bit sound so familiar? :) BJD was a great fun.

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  8. I'm not familiar with your picks. I know of Brigit Jones Diary, but never watched it as it's not my favorite genre.

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    1. I'm a fan of Colin Firth and the Brit sense of humour - both Austen's and Fielding's.

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  9. It just occurred to me that although I've read Othello, I've never seen it on the stage or on film!

    As far as cover versions of songs go, the only two I can think of right at this moment is 1) "All Along the Watchtower." I really like Bob Dylan's version, but to me, Jimi Hendrix' rendition is the definitive one, and 2) "Reason to Believe," the Tim Hardin song redone by Rod Stewart.

    There are no doubt dozens of remakes and cover versions of various songs that I'll think of after I've entered this comment.

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    1. Ooh, that makes me want to listen to Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix now!

      Song/music remakes/covers are legion, and many of them superb. Killing me softly, the sound of silence, hallelujah are just three of my favs mentioned elsewhere in this blogfest and the covers are as good as originals. In fact there is a Bengali cover of the Sound of Silence which is excellent, should have remembered to include that above. Very difficult to choose song remakes - so many spectacular ones. I tried to pick songs that might not be as well known as the NAm/US artistes.

      Jethro Tull (you a fan, aren't you? just my impression, sorry if wrong) has covered some music beautifully - pavane comes to mind...

      Now Othello - Will's version always meant for a performance of some kind, not to be read silently. The 1995 film really worth checking out if you're into the classics. Understand film called O is an updated version set in a school/sports setting and also very well made, haven't seen it myself so can't comment, but interesting reviews.

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  10. This is an excellent post with all new material for me to check out! Thank you for sharing with us!

    Thank you for joining our blogfest today!!!
    Heather

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    1. Thank you so much for hosting! I love these kinds of blogfests because they lead to one whole humongous heap of book/film/music recos.

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  11. I have watched some of the classics but not Ortella. Read the classic book for school back in the day. Only one I really new was Bridget Jones Diary and enjoyed that and its sequels.

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  12. Interesting picks. I've never seen a film version of Othello though recently I had the 1951 Orson Welles version recorded on my DVR until it dropped off because I never watched it. Now I'll have to wait for it to replay on TCM and record it again.

    Back around 1971 or so I saw a fine stage version at the University of Tennessee that featured an excellent black actor in the title role. I wish I could recall who the actor was because I'm sure he must have later gone on to a professional acting career.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. The response to a stage version, of any script, is so much more connected and intimate and immediate, a completely different experience really, than a film.

      I think all the films of Othello prior to 1995 were actually stage productions filmed. I haven't watched the Orson Welles version either, must check it out.

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  13. Haven't seen those movies. I might check out the Fishburne/Brannagh Othello since they are such fine actors. Thanks for mentioning that.

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    1. Fishburne and Branagh are both superlative in the film.

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  14. Recently saw the Bridget Jones movie and started reading a sequel. Cute story!

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    1. Both the books and the films are equally enjoyable. Have fun!

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  15. Bridge Jones I've seen and the second sequel I think. Third one I've never seen though.

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    1. Me neither. That's Bridget Jones's Baby, released last year. Haven't got around to it yet.

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  16. i confess i haven't seen or listened to any of those. i picked 3 movie remakes in my blogpost and then realized i had so many more i could have blogged about. so many movies... so little space.

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    1. There are quite a few, Jaws being a remake that bettered the book, the Lemony Snicket one, many of the Alistair Maclean thrillers, the Frederick Forsyth books, James Bond films...endless really, super difficult to pick just one or two.

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  17. I am always ashamed to admit that I have not read Pride and Prejudice. I've tried, so many times, but I just can't get into it. Othello I read in high school, Fishburn is exactly the character I imagined. Much better than Olivier.

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    1. No shame in that!! Way too many classics to be able to read in one lifetime. But you don't need to be familiar with P&P to enjoy Bridget, book or film. Complete and enjoyable independently.

      Fishburne absolutely aced Othello.

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  18. You went so wonderfully deep into this! Fishburne was great in the role, and Bridget Jones Diary is a good film, though I haven't read any of the source material.

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    1. the book's marginally better than the film, of course...they always are...

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  19. Cool choices!!! Othello was always my favourite Shakespeare play - although I've never watched those versions (that I recall)

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    1. Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet in that order are mine :) thanks for stopping by

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