22 April 2011

Remaking the Remakes

Just an elderly English spinster:
The Margaret Rutherford of Our Time

Back in the good old days, keeping up with the entertainment news was a good way to avoid thinking about your personal problems. Nowadays, news from Hollywood is just one new headache after another. Case in point: it has been announced that the next actress to play Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple will be Jennifer Garner, who is seen in the photograph above. Previous Miss Marples looked like these ladies, Joan Hickson and my beloved Geraldine McEwan, each of whom won deserved acclaim in this role.

The Jennifer Garners of Their Day: Hickson and McEwan

This leads me to believe that, after years and years in which it seemed the day would never come, Hollywood has at last come up with an original idea. Namely, to produce remakes so radically different from the original that the source material becomes irrelevant and the end product unrecognizable. I mean, you can tell just by looking at Garner’s picture that the New Ms. Marple will chase terrorists and have hot sex with lots of guys. After all, who cares what kind of character and story interested Agatha Christie and her millions of readers over the decades?

At least when they remade Star Trek,
they cast a Spock-like Spock, Zachary Quinto.

Not to be left out, I have come up with a few suggestions for exciting new movies — each of which could be converted easily into an entire franchise of fast-paced action films centering on a (erstwhile) familiar figure, or at least a semi-recognizable brand name. (And they’re all in the public domain! Which spells cheap!)

After all, another of Hollywood’s principal concerns is whether sequels can be made from a successful remake. Thus we begin with one of the most distinguished of all franchises, the Falstaff franchise, which no less a luminary than William Shakespeare pursued through three plays. The obvious candidate to play this iconic role is, of course, Taylor Lautner.

The better-developed part of valor

Sir John Falstaff, known as the Fit Knight, will join his faithful sidekick, Hal Prince (no relation), while getting into comically violent scrapes and thrilling adventures. Something such as — fighting werewolves, maybe. Just to give Taylor a change of pace, and allow him to demonstrate his range as an actor.

Similarly, audiences must yearn for a series of fast-paced spy movies, featuring the notorious “sleeper” agent, Medea. She lives peacefully in Corinth for years and years, if you recall, before assassinating the king’s daughter and other, collateral civilians of some description.

And why stop there? Agent Medea could assassinate people and do other lady-spy stuff all over, in film after film. Talk about franchising! The trouble with Maria Callas’ career, of course, is that she made only one Medea movie.

I haven’t decided whether Modern Medea* should retain the magical powers she possesses in ancient legend, but clearly there’s only one actress today who’s capable of portraying this character. I refer of course to Miley Cyrus.

And really, it’s not too soon to start talking about Justin Bieber’s Lear.

Blow, winds! And comb your hair!

Hollywood doesn’t ask my advice, of course, which is why they’re proceeding with a remake (and I’m not making this up, you know) of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Since all the previous adaptations of Gatsby were, in one way or another, fatally flawed, it’s not the adaptation in itself that bothers me: it’s the fact that they’re making the movie in 3-D. What on earth can be gained by this? And how can they possibly contemplate it when the only actor truly suited to play Jay Gatsby in 3-D has been dead for years?

So, Daisy ... would you like some pancakes?
The late John Candy as the ideal Gatsby

I really don’t understand the movie business — and therein lie my latest headaches. Perhaps I should start reading the financial pages instead.

*NOTE: Unfortunately, audiences may confuse my lady-spy character with Tyler Perry.

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