2017 Movie #74: Get Shorty (1995)

2017 Movie #74: Get Shorty (1995)

This review is part of my Remake Preview series, where I watch the original version (or versions) of a movie that is set to be re-made in the near future. 

Barry Sonnenfeld’s Get Shorty, adapted from a novel by the late Elmore Leonard, is endlessly fun, funny, and all-around entertaining. Featuring a top-to-bottom cast of stars and character actors, Get Shorty is a crime thriller with a real sense of humor to it, the kind of light film that makes for a perfect watch at any time.

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2017 Movie #38: Wag the Dog (1997)

2017 Movie #38: Wag the Dog (1997)

This review is part of my Remake Preview series, where I watch the original version (or versions) of a movie that is set to be re-made in the near future. 

Wag the Dog is a harshly cynical film, a film about a political fixer who comes in to cover up a crisis in which the President of the United States has been accused of sexual impropriety. It’s bizarre to watch a film with this basic premise given the events of the 2016 election, though its not hard to draw parallels between the situations. The film is at parts highly implausible, and yet as Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) and Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) produce a series of events to distract from the real narrative, we follow an utterly contrived story that feels, somehow, simultaneously surreal and improbable to real life, and yet convincing as a satire of real events that occur all the time.

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2017 Movie #20: Ghost in the Shell (1995)

2017 Movie #20: Ghost in the Shell (1995)

This review is part of my Remake Preview series, where I watch the original version (or versions) of a movie that is set to be re-made in the near future. 

Between films like LucyHer, and Under the Skin, Scarlett Johansson seems to be incredibly interested in the subject of transhumanism, what it means to be human. Her next major starring role is in the 2017 live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell, due out on March 31st, and if the 1995 anime film (originally based on a 1989 manga series) is any indication, transhumanism will remain firmly in her wheelhouse.

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2017 Movie #6: Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

2017 Movie #6: Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

This review is part of my Remake Preview series, where I watch the original version (or versions) of a movie that is set to be re-made in the near future. 

I chose to watch 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express in anticipation of the star-studded Kenneth Branagh adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, which is due out later this year. Branagh’s adaptation has some big shoes to fill – the 1974 film is a knock-’em-dead classic. Murder on the Orient Express is directed with subtlety by Sidney Lumet; he never draws attention to the film as a piece of Cinema with a capital C, instead choosing to let a murderer’s row of actors and an impeccably written plot do the heavy lifting. Lumet was at the height of his career when he directed this film -just the year before, in 1973, he directed Serpico; the following two years, he directed Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Network (1976) – and it’s easy to see how he was able to attract the kind of talent that litters the cast of Murder. 

The film has a simple, yet effective structure, partially due to its own confines (a large array of characters, all of whom are potential suspects, are trapped on a train together with nowhere to go), one that allows each of the actors to get a showcase scene, and creates a complex web of facts, clues, and lies for detective Hercule Poirot, and the viewer, to attempt to untangle. The scene at the end, where Poirot presents all the facts, and comes to a miraculous conclusion, is peak Agatha Christie. Without spoiling the conclusion of the mystery, it’s an ending that is both stunning in its simplicity, and yet bewilderingly complex. That the viewer is not left confused at the end is a true testament to the abilities of Agatha Christie and Sidney Lumet.