Why do they remake good movies?

Richard Attenborough
in Brighton Rock

Last night I watched the movie Brighton Rock, not the 1947 original movie staring Richard Attenborough, but the 2010 remake. I enjoyed it, but it still forced me to ask, “why do they always remake good movies?”  It’s seems rather counter-intuitive to me. A director has made a film and its been a success, rave reviews, good ticket sales, and perhaps, over time, like the original Brighton Rock, it becomes a classic. So why would another director want to remake it, since they’d be fortunate to better the original?
    The obvious answers are:

  1. because, like a Shakespeare play, it’s a classic and everyone one wants to give the topic their spin.  But, that doesn’t really apply – there aren’t lots of remakes of Casablanca!
  2. because its an easy way to make money – the original has high name recognition, a  warm glow, making it easier to raise production money; fill the remake with a great cast and you have an easy recipe for success.

Sadly, I think it’s the second argument. But, I still wonder why directors don’t prefer to remake a bad movie; after all, the previous director screwed up and they know they can do better. Therefore why not remake the bad movie into something better? Sadly again I think argument (2) comes into play – the original stunk so production money can’t be raised.

Sam Riley
in Brighton Rock

   If you’ve not seen the original Brighton Rock, based on Graham Greene’s novel, then see the new one. It’s very good – a great noir environment set in seedy Brighton. I read the book at school and enjoyed it, but was much too immature to understand its dark themes. The movie does an excellent job and has a quality British cast: Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Andy Serkis (aka Gollum & King Kong), and Sam Riley, who is as good as he was in the excellent Control. If you loved the original movie, then watch the remake as well – you’ll be irritated by scenes from the original constantly popping in to mind, but may enjoy how the modern version is able to deal with its dark themes in a stronger manner. Both movies have an excellent ending – one of the best in cinema (IMHO).

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-do-they-remake-good-movies.html

Making an Arse of Myself in Wellington (Stephen Fry)

A few days ago the multi-faceted Stephen Fry caused a storm on the Twitter-verse and beyond by criticising New Zealand’s poor broadband, which living in New Zealand I, naturally, commented on. Fry is in NZ filming for The Hobbit movie and obviously has some time on his hands since he has just posted a very long blog post commenting on the fracas and defending his use of Twitter. In it he starts from an incident he tweeted about involving Qantas in Dubai and proceeds to discuss, why, how, when, where and what he will tweet and under what circumstances he’ll retweet. We should all remember that he has almost 4 million followers, so his twitter stream must look like Niagra Falls. Remember this is one man tweeting not a corporate communications department’s social media team.
    Fry concludes the piece by saying some very nice things about New Zealand:

NZ rocks…

My 23 year old godson sent me this, just today, direct quote. Unaltered by one syllable.

‘I imagine you might be in New Zealand right now, is that right? Hobbiting? I hope that that’s all going well and that it’s nice being out there. From the three weeks I spent in New Zealand on my gap year I do remember thinking that I had never, and would never be again, be in a more stunning place in my life. So I hope that’s the case for you too.’

Those are the words of a privileged, intelligent, talented, charming and well-travelled Englishman. There is so much to love here, so much for Kiwis to be proud of.

This is the country that produced Ernest Rutherford, the man who split the atom and Edmund Hillary the man who first stood on the peak of Mount Everest. This is the first democracy to give women the vote.  Despite the sheep jokes this is as sophisticated, progressive and forward looking a nation-state as exists in the world, its population of a mere four million or so punching hugely above their weight in almost every field of endeavour.”

    Nice words, which I’m sure he means, NZ is a very easy place to love, which is why I’m here. He still thinks our broadband sucks though and contrasts NZs Internet plans to Sweden’s digital roadmap that aims for Sweden to lead this revolution, not be following the pack.


from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/02/making-arse-of-myself-in-wellington.html

Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker – trailer online

Last November I commented on the drama-documentary Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker, which had aired on UK Channel 4 TV, but which was not available to view outside the UK. The film’s website now has a trailer online and plans for its international distribution and an educational outreach programme. Full details including how you can support this project are on their website: turingfilm.com

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/02/britains-greatest-codebreaker-trailer.html

Google is test driving (legally) in Nevada

I wrote sometime ago about the Nevada state legislature which was passing a law to enable self-driving cars to operate legally on Nevada roads. Up until now Google has been testing its fleet of driverless cars “quazi-legally” in California. Quazi-legally in the sense that the cars contain a person who is notionally in control, even if the computer is actually driving. Mashable now reports that Google will test drive legally in Nevada, thanks to its law change and that several other states are enacting similar legislation.


from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/02/google-is-test-driving-legally-in.html

The BBC moves into the future

The BBC has launched a new website called “Future” (www.bbc.com/future) where it will showcase everything about the future from the worlds of science, health and technology. It’s fairly popular in tone and easily accessible but already looks like it already carries some interesting stories and information. One piece that jumped out at me is called, “Why we should all learn to hack,” which puts forward the sensible idea that everyone needs to have some understanding of how to program or risk exclusion of worse, exploitation, in an increasingly digital world.  If you are looking for a well curated site featuring the latest developments and glimpses of the future this looks like a good place to check out.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/02/bbc-moves-into-future.html

Special Issue on Alan Turing in Nature

The prestigious science publication Nature has just published a special issue celebrating Alan Turing. In its introduction they say:
   “Alan Turing, born a century ago this year, is best known for his wartime code-breaking and for inventing the ‘Turing machine’ – the concept at the heart of every computer today. But his legacy extends much further: he founded the field of artificial intelligence, proposed a theory of biological pattern formation and speculated about the limits of computation in physics. In this collection of features and opinion pieces, Nature celebrates the mind that, in a handful of papers over a tragically short lifetime, shaped many of the hottest fields in science today.”
   There are many excellent articles in the special issue, which I can highly recommend, by Turing experts including: Andrew Hodges, George Dyson and Barry Cooper. There’s also a short science-fiction story Ghost in the Machine that rounds the special issue off.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/02/special-issue-on-alan-turing-in-nature.html

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (documentary)

Cave Lions in Chauvet Cave

Last night I watched Werner Herzog’s documentary film “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” which I really enjoyed. It’s about the Chauvet Cave in southern France, which was discovered in 1994. The cave contains remarkable rock paintings dating back 30 to 40,000 years, making them the oldest art ever discovered. The documentary is unusual in that it takes a very relaxed approach unlike a National Geographic style doco with detailed descriptions and interviews. Here the archaeologists and scientists seem unscripted and more subjective and personal than usual. The cave and it’s beautiful drawings are often left to speak for themselves.
    The drawings are simply stunning – animals are perfectly captured with strong, clear lines, and bold shading. But these aren’t simple representations, the animals are fluid, moving, and alive. If you were told these came from the sketch book of a master like Leonardo or Picasso you wouldn’t be surprised. However, you are surprised, even awestruck, because we know they were painted by a succession of talented artists over 30,000 years ago. At the end of the film a large section is devoted to the camera simply moving around the cave and focusing on different paintings in stunning detail.
    Highly recommended viewing, though I’m not sure the very final scene with the albino crocodiles really worked.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/02/cave-of-forgotten-dreams-documentary.html