Thursday, May 05, 2005


I've said it before, I'll say it again: I love it when a movie just bitch-slaps me with its wonderfulness. Especially when I'm not expecting it at all.

Remakes, as a rule, are a lazy endeavor to essentially update the cultural references in a dated classic movie - or a foreign movie - and to lace it with the current trends in American film style and storytelling - essentially so younger audiences who wouldn't attempt to watch the original will slap down the cash to see this new version. After all, the story is tried and true and redoing it with the hot new stars with the hot new styles is almost always a win-win - even if the movie is a bit of a flop, because remakes tend to make their money back, at the very least.

And let me qualify what I mean by "remakes." I mean movies like The Haunting, The Thomas Crown Affair, Cape Fear, The Manchurian Candidate and Alfie, where the original concept is pretty much intact, but just redone with modern flourishes. I do not mean complete re-imaginings or attempts to hew closer to the source material, like The Thing, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Blowout (inspired by Blowup).

The best comparison I can come up with for Alfie is it's kind of a grown-up Lady and the Tramp (yes, the Disney cartoon with the famous spaghetti kiss). A lovable cad cats around to a spiffy soundtrack (I recommend it, btw), but in the end his freedom-loving ways end up being more of a vice than a virtue. Even given that, though, the plot contains a surprise or two.

However, the movie's good primarily because it stars Jude Law. Here is one of those rare actors who can rescue practically any role and make the movie transcend its original potentiality. Alfie is good primarily because Jude Law is the star. I think one of his gifts is that he plays to both men's and women's sensibilities simultaneously. Guys can imagine having a beer with him while women can imagine... Well, I'll let you finish that thought yourself.

Check it out; it's a good evening's entertainment.

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