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The Weekend Watchlist: Remakes Edition

Shelby Cadwell

The Ring (2002) - Although American remakes of Japanese horror films rarely live up to the creepiness of the originals, The Ring proves that they can. Although, with the benefit of hindsight, I can now see how truly nonsensical the plot of this film is, I still appreciate it for doing what few other horror movies in the early 2000's could do - actually making me afraid of going to the movies. "You will die in seven days" still gives me the creeps, and probably always will.

The Birdcage (1996) - A remake of the French film (based on an even earlier play) La Cage aux Folles (1978), The Birdcage features two of my all-time favorite performances: Robin Williams as the sarcastic, but sweet, club-owner Armand, and Nathan Lane as the sensitive, diva-tastic Albert. Part comedy-of-errors, part celebration of all things fabulous, The Birdcage is bitingly funny and sappy at the same time. Hank Azaria as Agador is one of the funniest side characters in recent memory (if for nothing other than the "shoes" scene alone).

True Lies (1994) - A loose remake of the 1991 French comedy La Totale, True Lies is so great that it almost makes me forget James Cameron's crimes against humanity (I'm only being slightly sarcastic here). Although the film hasn't necessarily aged well (the anti-Islamic sentiments are pretty clear, and were at the time the film was released), it still has a handful of redeeming elements that are worth exploring: mid-1990's Arnie in all of his ridiculous glory, Jamie Lee Curtis as his meek on the surface, but secretly a bad-ass wife, and some of the most over-the-top (not to mention expensive) action scenes of the decade.

Matt Linton

Evil Dead (2013) – Let’s get this out of the way: Most films don’t need remakes. And, certainly, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead (already, arguably, remade as Evil Dead 2) didn’t need a slicker, modern remake with a substantially bigger budget and an all-new cast. And all of that might be why it was such a surprise that this is such a great horror film. It’s legitimately horrifying, follows the basic premise of the original, and reaches a sublimely funny level of bloody that’s just ridiculously fun. All of that makes the lack of Bruce Campbell nearly forgivable (though I would still love a sequel teaming up Ash with Mia (Jane Levy).

Available to rent on Amazon Video, YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, and Google Play Movies from $2.99.

True Grit (2010) – Having never seen the 1969 John Wayne film, or read the novel upon which the two versions are based, I can’t do a point by point comparison. Regardless, the Coen brothers version is one of my favorite films, featuring a brilliantly-cast Jeff Bridges as the iconic Rooster Cogburn – a lawman who would really like to abide, but is driven to do his job by Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a 14-year old seeking vengeance for the murder of her father. I’ve always enjoyed the Coens’ films, but True Grit is the movie that truly turned me into a fan.

Available to stream free on Vudu and Crackle (with commercials) and to rent on Amazon Video, YouTube, iTunes, and Google Play Movies from $2.99.

12 Monkeys (1995) – I’ve also never seen the original French short film La Jetée, upon which Terry Gilliam’s remake is based. But this sci-fi time travel mystery starring Bruce Willis, Madeline Stowe, and Brad Pitt (in his best performance) is the perfect balance of crazy Gilliam (Brazil) and restrained/emotional Gilliam (The Fisher King). I couldn’t tell you if the movie 100% makes sense throughout (time travel is really hard to write about!) but it works, regardless.

Available to rent on Amazon Video, YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, and Google Play Movies from $2.99.

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