Wednesday, November 4, 2009

U.S. remakes of foreign films a mixed bag

Following yesterday’s article about U.S. remakes of foreign movies, I posted a question to the Movie Fans community of Netflix users on Ning about the subject. I wrote:

What are the best and worst U.S. remakes of foreign-language films?

The U.S. remake of Sweden's “Let the Right One In” got me thinking about this topic. Most of the time American remakes of foreign films suck, but some actually work out. What do you think were some of the best U.S. remakes of foreign-language films and what were the worst?

In just a few hours, nine members posted responses. (See the discussion here.)

Their choices for best U.S. remakes of foreign movies include:

“The Magnificent Seven” (1960), based on Japan’s “Seven Samurai” (1954)
“12 Monkeys” (1995), based on the French short “La Jetée” (1963)
“Insomnia” (2002), based on Norway’s “Insomnia” (1997)
“Fever Pitch” (2005), based on the U.K.’s “Fever Pitch” (1997)
“The Departed” (2006), based on Hong Kong’s “Infernal Affairs” (2002)
“Quarantine” (2008), based on Spain’s “REC” (2007)

An honorable mention goes to “A Fistful of Dollars” (1967), an Italian production with U.S. star Clint Eastwood in the lead role. It’s based on Japan’s “Yojimbo” (1961).

Their picks for worst U.S. remakes of foreign movies include:

“Pure Luck” (1991), based on France’s “La Chèvre” (1981)
“The Vanishing” (1993), based on the Dutch film “The Vanishing” (1988)
“Point of No Return” (1993), based on France’s “La Femme Nikita” (1990)
“Vanilla Sky” (2001), based on Spain’s “Open Your Eyes” (1997)
“The Italian Job” (2003), based on the U.K.’s “The Italian Job” (1969)
“No Reservations” (2007), based on Germany’s “Mostly Martha” (2001)

More remakes are on the way.
I'm interested to see how “The Dinner Game” (1998), a.k.a. “Le dîner de cons,” is remade as “Dinner with Schmucks.” The French version was quite funny and the basic premise could be reworked in any number of ways for comedic gold. Due out in July 2010, “Dinner with Schmucks” stars Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and Zach Galifianakis and is directed by Jay Roach, who helmed “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” and “Meet the Parents.”

Be sure to check out Wikipedia’s list of English-language films based on foreign-language films.

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