There are certainly degrees of highfalutin-ness in the movie critic world, which may be best demonstrated by the reception to last year’s Summer Hours. I consider Pajiba a somewhat highfalutin outlet with something of both a populist and a geek streak (even if it is a self-hating one). We were considerably more highfalutin when we had Ranylt Richildis, but now for super high-minded reviews, you’ve got to go to places like The Playlist or In Review Online (where Ranylt currently resides online) or find Karina Longworth, wherever she’s currently employed (L.A. Weekly, I believe). I love all their reviews — it’s all very film theory and Manny Farber-ish, but my tastes don’t skew as cosmopolitan. I can leave Middle America, but the redneck past keeps nipping at my heels.
Instead, my high-minded threshold falls somewhere between Martin Scorsese and Terence Malick and while I once had an inferiority complex about it, I more or less embrace it now. It’s OK to be intelligent without being intellectual — just don’t brag about it, you know? I’ve accepted that Truffaut, von Trier, and Bertolucci just don’t do it for me. I hate to say it, but I’d rather watch a bad comic-book movie than one of their better, smarter films.
Which brings me to Summer Hours, which was considered by many of those highfalutin critics to be one of the best, if not the best movie of 2009. It was one of those French art films, an intellectual meditation on the end of life, on family, and on identity, a “poignant” drama that used the seasons of the year as a metaphor for aging (a slightly overwrought one, if you ask me). It was all very extremely well acted, very subdued, and oh-so evocative. It was directed by Olivier Assayas, and the highfalutin in the critic world just ate it up, as well they probably should have.
It bored me to tears. I guess that makes me some sort of philistine and if that’s the case, I accept your criticism. I also subscribe to the Schreiber theory over the auteur theory. Where should I hand in my bona fides?
Anyway, there’s a point to all this, and it is this: Playtone Productions is developing an American remake of Summer Hours; Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are producing.
The idea behind remaking Summer Hours is a bizarre one. The French film was little seen in America ($1.5 million at the box office); it wasn’t a particularly big hit in Europe, either (it added another $7 million worldwide). It’s a movie that really only appeals to ardent art-house enthusiasts, and yet it’s those same people that would look down their noses at a remake (as they should).
But Summer Hours isn’t like Let the Right One In, a smart film with some mainstream genre appeal. An American remake of Summer Hours, I can only imagine, would be very similar to the French film, only with different actors and no subtitles. And Tom Hanks isn’t the kind of guy that would somehow find a way to inject flatulence humor. His decision to purchase the remake rights is baffling.
For the unfamiliar, Summer Hours is about two brothers and a sister, who witness the disappearance of their childhood memories when they must relinquish their family belongings to ensure their deceased mother’s succession.
The project is currently out to writers — in fact, it’s been out to writers for a couple of months now. I don’t imagine it’s easy to find an American screenwriter who could do much with Summer Hours besides translate it, word for word. For what it is, it’s kind of a perfect film, and there’s not really a good way — even by Hollywood standards — to mainstream it. It’s not a movie you can Sandlerize, and there’s not really an American auteur with the right sensibility to remake it.
I’m completely dumbfucked on this one. It’s a real head scratcher. But I’ll leave the outrage to The Playlist.
(Source: The Hollywood Cog)