My Life at the Movies is all about discussion, experiment, and adventure; discussing film, experimenting with delivery, and adventures to stimulate the process. I’ve titled this year’s adventure, “Aeon’s Flight,” (as it is a time travelling affair). Every Thursday I will either cover present films and poignant topics, or past pictures important to my upbringing. Today I bring to you a double dosage of the here-and-now; two current successes dressed in vintage attire.
In 1987 network television took one of Freddy’s first victims and turned him into an adolescent enforcer. Johnny Depp shot up to superstardom thanks to 21 Jump Street, and now Channing Tatum is set to do the same. No one expected the Step-Up stripper to be a comedic force; however, in the big screen adaptation of the above he is exactly that. Therein he delivers endlessly on an excellent script, and so do his more comically seasoned co-stars. Speaking of the script, it is a stroke of genius. Primarily because it is conscious of the fact it is a remake.
Remakes tend to fall short of their predecessors, and fans of the earlier works are often harsh. Yet, as the saying goes, “no idea’s original.” In film this sentiment has been true since its inception. Thus, considering the practice is age old the quantity is endless, and attention should be paid instead to individual quality. 21 Jump Streetis a perfect example of quality. Not only is it a gut-bustingly brilliant source of entertainment, it also pays homage to the serial that birthed it.
Across the Pacific, in the land of the Sleeping Dragon, there is another recent release fit for this discussion. Let the Bullets Fly is the most successful domestic film in Chinese history. Taking place in the 1920’s its story revolves around three men, their lofty ambitions and double-crossing duals. This style and structure can be seen in Sergio Leone’s, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” as well as Akira Kurosawa’s, “Yojimbo.” Although many other movies have copied the same, Let the Bullets Fly is the best to do it since the Spaghetti Western. Proof for this point rests first and foremost with its cast, Wen Jiang especially.
Jiang plays Pocky Zhang, an outsider gun-slinger similar to Eastwood’s Man with No Name. And like Yojimbo’s lone Samurai he enters a town plagued by corruption and works to free its people by out-witting its oppressors. Hi-jinks and heroics abound, and though it is a sub-titled picture it is without question one worth seeing.
Remakes: don’t get caught up with cool kids who complain that nothing’s new. Nothing is if all you are arguing is ideas. What is new is the way they are presented and alternatively digested. Also, don’t just give a movie a rating, instead give it a watch. There is a lot more to see than the trailer, and a lot more to pick apart than what is popular. At least that is my perspective, and this is my life at the movies.