RE: New Memes Book

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu 07 Apr 2005 - 14:56:17 GMT

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    Well this is a big topic, but Hollywood appropriating stories from other countries' cinema, rather than simply importing them has quite a history- France is subject to it to- The Assassin, Three Men & and Baby, The Woman in Red, all originally french films. I think it's mostly got to with distribution costs, and the legacy of the old hollywood system.

    With The Ring 2, interestingly, it's been directed by Hideo Nakata, who directed the original Ring movie in Japan, and I think the US version of The Grudge was also directed by the Japanese director of the original. I'd like to see a US remake of Battle Royale, which is a lot of fun.

    Anyway, over here, there are jokes about American film audiences, sometimes justified- Licence to Kill was going to be called Licence Revoked, until test US audiences didn't know what revoked means (acc. to the ever reliable British press), the first Harry Potter's film title, the Madness of King George III. As for subtitled films well, there's this notion- true in the UK too- that it just puts people off, especially the illiterate, or poorly literate.

    BUT, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did OK business didn't it in the US? That had an approved English-dubbed version though...

    I don't really understand why genre films don't transfer that easily. Japanese melodramas, or non-genre movies from the masters like Ozu, are actually very different from Western, especially Hollywood movies. There are aspects of plot, character etc. that are very difficult to "read" as a Westerner I think, but genre movies aren't that different. That stems partly from a very distinct Japanese culture, but more from a very distinct film tradition. It's a bit like Bollywood movies- they have a very distinct style and form, that non-native audiences have to learn how to understand. It's worth the effort, but are distributors and multiplexes that bothered in the US? I suspect it's more to do with that side- the economics- than anything else, a bit like Manga only really appearing in specialist comic shops, and Anime in DVD stores rather than on TV a lot.

    Where I work in Leicester, in the east midlands of England, the South Asian community is proportionally the largest of any city/town in the Uk (I believe- it's very high anyway), and the local multiplexes always have one or two asian movies on, which i've not seen elsewhere in the UK.

    Certainly when many of the Hong Kong movie makers moved to Hollywood after the handover they haven't really made great movies. 'Face/Off' is quite good, but watch John Woo's 'Hard Boiled' or 'The Killer' and you'll see what he could do in HK for instance. But that seems to be the trend- buy in the talent to remake the movie, or make cutdown versions. I wonder if Takashi Miike will ever make it to Hollywood? (He made 'Audition' and 'Ichii the Killer' amongst others, very disturbing films- kind of a cross between the evil twins of Tarantino, David Lynch and John Waters).


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