Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Adapted from Movies of a Different Language


I must have been at my most impressionable, as far as movies are concerned, during my junior and senior years in high school. I was not yet to a point of branching out into foreign language films. I saw movies based on who was in it or who directed it (in some cases). But so many of the movies that came out around that time have really stuck with me, even some bad ones. 

I had to do a Google for this post. I needed to browse a list, looking for foreign language films remade for American audiences. It didn't take long to have my picks, and, as it turns out, all of my picks were released during 2001-2002, when I was a junior, then senior, in high school. I, to this day, have not seen the original foreign titles on which these films are based. 

So, it's Thursday, a day for sharing some of my favorites as part of Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. This week, of course, we have Movies Adapted from Movies of a Different Language. 


Here are my picks: 

The Pledge
Dir. Sean Penn, 2001


Adapted from:
It Happened in Broad Daylight (German)
Dir. Ladislao Vajda, 1958

Jack Nicholson stars, in one of his more brooding turns, as Jerry Black, an aging police detective, who, on the day of his retirement party, finds himself at the scene of a crime. Someone has murdered a young girl. Det. Black pledges to find the killer, moving to a remote fishing village where he buys an old gas station as a means to track the killer, still at-large. Meanwhile, he meets Lori, a single mother played by Robin Wright, who along with her young daughter, Chrissy, becomes a larger part of Jerry's life than he anticipates. This is a dark film, directed with perfect command by Sean Penn, and, like all of Penn's films as a director, it is full of small parts played by big-time actors. The cast is killer. Here. IMDb it. I haven't seen it since I went to the theater with my Dad that winter day in 2001. It has never left me.

Vanilla Sky
Dir. Cameron Crowe, 2001


Adapted from:
Open Your Eyes (Spanish)
Dir. Alejandro Amenábar, 1997

I saw this one with a group of friends as a senior in high school, though I didn't fully grasp until I re-watched it a few years later. It quickly became one of my favorite mind-benders of all-time. Tom Cruise stars as David Aames, the wealthy heir to a publishing dynasty, who spends most of his time partying and chasing women, including the sexy Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz). He wants more though. He feels alone. Until he meets and falls for Sofia (Penélope Cruz), spurning the smitten Julie, who takes David on a ride that changes the course of this life and the next. The end of this film is one of the great wonders of the movies, as far as I'm concerned. It stands as Cameron Crowe's most mature film as a director and features one of the finest needle drop soundtracks ever put on film.

Insomnia
Dir. Christopher Nolan, 2002


Adapted from:
Insomnia (Norwegian/Swedish)
Dir. Erik Skjoldbaerg

Running from an internal affairs investigation, famed homicide detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) and his partner Hap (Martin Donovan) are called to aid in a murder investigation in the small logging town of Nightmute, Alaska, which lies just above the Arctic Circle, where the sun never sets at certain times in the year. After Hap is mistakenly killed in the line of duty, Dormer faces the biggest challenge of his career in the wake of the internal affairs business back home, the guilt of his partner's death, and a case that reveals a killer in Walter Finch (Robin Williams), who becomes harder and harder to catch the longer and longer Dormer goes without sleep. The setting is the best part of this film, creating a new take on the noir genre that is equal parts intriguing and entertaining.


24 comments:

  1. Oh I haven't seen any of these but I've been meaning to watch Vanilla Sky for quite some time now. Insomnia sounds interesting too!
    - Allie

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    1. Both great. Both I think you both would love.

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  2. I never realized Insomnia was a remake. I like that movie. Vanilla Sky was good too, but the first time I watched it was with a high school boyfriend and his parents. It was so awkward. lol

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    1. Yeah. I actually would like to see the original. I like Scandinavian cinema. And, I'm sure Vanilla Sky was a bit strange...in high school...with parents around.

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  3. These are three...er...six movies I have never seen, but really need to. I especially need to check out Vanilla Sky. Great picks.

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    1. I honestly can't believe you haven't at least seen Insomnia. That is a first-class thriller, man. Super moody and highly entertaining. Vanilla Sky is a killer mind-bender. Love it. Thanks.

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  4. I've only seen The Pledge but it was so long ago I don't have much memory of it. Vanilla Sky looked interesting but stars two of my least favorite performers, Cruise and Diaz, so that's kept me at bay. I have no such excuse for Insomnia, it is one I've meant to see but I forget about it when I'm adding films to my queue. I'm going to correct that right now before I forget again!

    This one was a bit of a challenge at the beginning but once I found one I started coming up with too many and had to cut myself off.

    Sorcerer (1977)-Four desperate men agree to transport a volatile shipment of nitro-glycerin over rugged terrain in the hopes of earning enough money to escape their present state. William Friedkin directed remake of the French classic Wages of Fear wasn’t a big success on its initial release but is a taut gritty drama. An international cast headed by Roy Scheider give intense performances. Perhaps not the equal of the original but on its own a solid suspenser.

    Human Desire (1954)-Fritz Lang helmed redo of Jean Renoir’s La Bête Humaine is hampered a trifle by the Hayes Code but his great cast, in particular Broderick Crawford and Gloria Grahame, and solid direction fill in the code demanded blanks. Loaded with sexual undertones.

    Intermezzo (1939)-American remake of identically named Swedish film also starring Ingrid Bergman served as her introduction to Hollywood. A world famous concert violinist becomes enamored with his daughter’s piano instructor. Feeling restless he invites her to tour with him, eventually they become involved and he leaves his family for her but soon realizes what he had originally. It’s a weepie loaded with beautiful music that’s worth catching for Ingrid’s stateside debut.

    Honorable Mention-Point of No Return (1993)-Stylish, glossy remake of Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita with Bridget Fonda at the height of her brief heyday as the druggie turned government assassin. Not quite as sleek as the original but a propulsive engrossing thriller with Anne Bancroft a standout in her brief role as an etiquette teacher with an underlying fierceness.

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    1. Man, I love Tom Cruise. I'll never understand why more people don't. Sure, his public persona is disgusting, but he has consistently made interesting choices, be it Award-worthy stuff like his turn in Magnolia, or action stunts in the Mission Impossible films. He almost never does wrong for me.

      Sorcerer is on my extended watch list, as is Wages of Fear. I've heard so much about both of those lately. I think Sorcerer just got a Blu-ray release for the first time. I've only heard of Point of No Return. Sounds like a solid thriller.

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  5. Vanilla Sky wasn't as engaging and well-executed as the original, but overall it was watchable.

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    1. I can't compare. But I can't imagine the original will beat it. There's no way the soundtrack is as good. I'm a sucker for Crowe's ear. He and I have the same taste in tunes. I'm down to give the Spanish original a try though.

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  6. I went with Vanilla Sky too! Diaz is delicious in that movie!

    I haven't seen The Pledge...but now I really want to. I can't decide if I like or hate Insomnia, so maybe I should watch that one again.

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    1. Oh yeah!

      The Pledge is a pretty solid, dark mystery with a great cast. And Insomnia is fun as hell, in a low-key way. I love it.

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  7. I should see The Pledge since it sounds like quite a good film. Vanilla Sky is moving up for me. I think it is my anti Tom Cruise feel I have. I Loved Insomnia! It is such a sleepy gem(pardon the pun) and Robin Williams is excellent in it

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    1. I love Tom Cruise insofar as his movies are concerned. I almost always love his movies, whether he' s that good or not. Williams is definitely the "highlight" of Insomnia. The Pledge is really a good film. It's a tough sit, but so worth it.

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  8. Both versions of Insomnia are SO. GOOD. So weird that it's one of Nolan's "worst", but I guess that just goes to show how good he is. You should do a "Directed By...." post on him!!!

    I'm 50-50 on Vanilla Sky. It's not a patch on Abre los ojos, but it's okay and Cameron Diaz is just BONKERS amazing. But Crowe always felt like a weird fit to the material for me.

    I always heard The Pledge was good. Thanks for the reminder that I still haven't seen it!

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    1. Agreed! And there will be a Directed by post on Nolan eventually before. I'm trying to finish Spielberg right now and then have Fincher on deck as well. The Spielberg post is gonna be an epic three parter. I may do Nolan after that. Wes Anderson will be sometime sooner than later as well.

      I haven't seen Abre Los Ojos, something I've been meaning to remedy for years. But you can't beat the slickness of Crowe's work with that movie. And that soundtrack is just fucking amazing. I think that's why I love it so much, honestly. He did a great job on that one if you ask me.

      No problem. Hope you check it out.

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  9. I haven't seen any of your picks but they all sound interesting.

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  10. I hadn't heard of The Pledge, and it sounds like something I'd like. I've added it to my list.

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    1. Awesome! It's a tough one, super dark, but I think that's why I can't ever forget it.

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  11. Not seen these BUT I remember my sister telling me about Vanilla Sky, she's not a fan unfortunately.

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    1. Vanilla Sky is cool as shit. I love most things about it. All of these, of course, are worth checking out.

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  12. I'm really not into Nolan's blockbusters so I'm curious about Insomnia which doesn't look like one.
    Vanilla Sky I saw a few years back and can't say I understood it.

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    1. Insomnia is definitely not a huge blockbuster, but it has some big stars. Really great thriller! Vanilla Sky takes a few watches.

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