There are certain films that hold a unique place in history… and Hollywood had better keep their grubby, remaking mitts off of them! While the trend to “re-imagine” or “re-envision” everything around them has been going on for some time, these films have so far managed to escape the fate of some of their less fortunate compatriots. I speak of course of…
The 25 Movies They’d Better Never Remake.
These films are not just near and dear to our hearts, they should be considered OFF-LIMITS to those jerks at the studios. The films on this list were special when they premiered and continue to be so today, and we’re going to explain why they shouldn’t be remade – as well as why they can’t be. So enough jabbering, on with the list!
DIRECTED BY: Takashi Miike
WRITTEN BY: Daisuke Tengan
STARRING: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina
Takashi Miike grew up making DTV Japanese films, and has always had a very scatter-shot approach to filmmaking. The man is known for directing two to five movies a year, and the quality is always questionable from project to project – as is tone and content – he can direct a kid’s film or torture porn, or something that resembles a John Waters movie. He can also direct something that’s transgressive, but ultimately pointless. He might make each act in a three act film feel like their own movie. But for some reason, the end of the century brought out the best in Miike, and he had a pretty hot run for a while there, but – unquestionably – his masterpiece is 1999’s Audition.
Audition is a sneak attack of a movie. For many viewers, they knew there might be a twist, or something, but the film has a bifurcated structure, with the first half dedicated to a widowed man struggling to find love and a relationship while not feeling ready to deal with the world. The film opens with his wife’s passing, and seven years later Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) has still not re-entered the dating scene. His best friend suggests they abuse his powers and stage an audition for actresses for a role that doesn’t exist. It’s just a buffet for Aoyama to meet women. They run through a number of applicants, but finally Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) catches his eye. She’s trained in ballet, but also has something of a damaged exterior.
Though Aoyama is unsure of pulling the trigger, eventually he asks her out and they begin a courtship that eventually culminates in sex. That is the first half of the movie, and from there it transitions – almost on a dime – with a shot in her apartment. A phone rings, and a bag stirs.
This was the key trailer image, and talking about anything that happens after that is huge spoiler territory, but as the film becomes a thriller, it also looks at the relationship between men in power and the women they chase, Japanese sexual politics, etc. that give the conclusion a colossal kick that’s more than just visceral thrills. But all of that is built on the first hour, which does nothing to demonstrate that the film is much of a thriller, and it pains me to give away as much as I have.
At the time of release, the internet and world cinema was beginning to coalesce, and an auteur like Miike was not only making the rounds, his work was becoming readily available stateside. But with Audition – no matter if you had seen Fudoh: the Next Generation or not – you couldn’t tell what you were getting until you got it. To put it simply: there’s a reason why it’s compared favorably to Psycho.
- The bag.
- Kiri Kiri Kiri!
- The bedroom flashback, opening the door to how to perceive the final sequence
- The fateful interview. Two obviously damaged people finding connective tissue.
- The secretary’s mouthy lament
- What’s in the bag.
For a while there American remakes of recent foreign films was all the rage (mostly after the success of The Ring), and we’re lucky that this was not one of the one’s that did get Americanized. Fortunately that movement has died down some, and we’ve yet to see the remakes of films like Oldboy or The Host even with some chatter about it. This was the one that would have annoyed fans the most. For all that can be said about The Grudge or The Ring in their American iterations, it’s also fair to say they are the equal or slightly better or worse than the originals. But the one thing a transplant remake can never do is replicate tone – if it does then it’s Let Me In, and there’s no real reason to watch it. What makes this film work is its yin-yang structure. You need the softness of the first half – you can’t compromise it with cat scares – and you need a second half that is as fearless as this film. An American version would likely sacrifice everything that makes this film great, and ruin the surprise and fun of the original for audiences who would then know too much simply from the American remake’s trailer.
Michael Bay’s been producing remakes all over town, using his Platinum Dunes company as a front. So naturally he’d be the logical choice to spearhead any attempt at remaking this classic. How would it pan out, you ask?
- Alexis Bledel dressed as a goth chick. Patrick Dempsey as the world weary widower. John Leguizamo as his feisty best friend.
- Hey, do you like the Se7en main credit sequence?
- In its ninety minute run time, Bledel will never come across as anything near stable, so you would never buy the relationship, and also, she doesn’t show any skin, so what’s the point of the sex scene?
- The ending would be both more violent, and less impactive because it’s a bunch of TV actors keeping busy during the off season.
- It would spoil the original without getting anyone excited about watching it
Of all the Miike films that could have been remade – Ichi the Killer? Visitor Q? – the one that did make it to America was One Missed Call. Miike’s original is a dashed off variant on The Ring, which I want to say was self-aware, but I watched it once and thought it was mostly blah. The remake opened the first week of January, and has been lost to the ether ever since.
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