Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rising of the East

Asia has a promising crop of filmmakers who have captured the imagination of Hollywood. Or is it just a scheme to recreate a property without all the heavy lifting? Oldboy (plug pulled), The Host, Cowboy Bebop, Akira (may be cancelled), Ghost in the Shell, Seven Days, Tale of Two Sisters, have all been rumoured to be remade in the next few years. The fear from many loyal fans are not completely unfounded, why waste money on creating an inferior watered down western counterpart?

Similar to France and Italy in the sixties, look to the east for a resurgence of great cinema. With the support of their governments, private investors, and a wide public interest in graphic novels (manga), Asian cinema is expanding at a ferocious pace. Expect a slew of inspired films to emerge from the rising generations in Korea (Mother, A Tale of Two Sisters), China (Blind Shaft, City of Life and Death, Red Cliff), Japan (Karigurashi no Arrietty, Outrage), and Taiwan (Yi Yi, Winds of September, Cape No. 7).

Gore Verbinski (Pirates) is slated to produce a remake of The Host (above)
Spielberg and Will Smith were rumoured to be interested in a western version of Oldboy (dropped... so far)
Keanu Reeves is slated for a compressed spin on Cowboy Bebop (could definitely work. Firefly?)
Leonardo Dicaprio was said to be making a two part epic of a neo-New York of AKIRA.
Spielberg for a 3-D western spin on the anime Ghost in the Shell

Many of the projects are now cancelled but some of them could work... who knows? Die hard fans may gasp in horror at the very idea of a remake, but many of the best films are recycled adaptations of classic novels, mythology, or older films. Screenwriters are inspired from journalists, playwrights, poets, novelists, and philosophers, doesn't it make sense that filmmakers look to others for inspiration? Asia is influenced by Western cinema and vice versa. The upcoming Japanese release of Akira Ogata's "Shikedidai no Elevator" is a remake of Louis Malle's 1957 French film "Ascenseur pour l'echafaud". It's all a matter of walking the fine line of "copy" or "influence". Although I must admit, I scratch my head when I read of the rumoured buzz in Hollywood to remake The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Isn't it out in the theatres... NOW??