' Cinema Romantico: Straw Dogs: Feel Good Remake Of 2010

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Straw Dogs: Feel Good Remake Of 2010

Back in my early 20's when I had decided it was time to become a "serious" moviegoer I began renting older movies in an effort to broaden my so-called horizons. Some of the films, the more straightforward ones, like "The Big Sleep", helped get me started toward being a more well-rounded cinematic connoisseur but, at the same time, I was still at a point where certain films remained beyond my grasp. (Truthfully, a lot of films still remain beyond my grasp.) For instance, I remember watching "Last Year At Marienbad" because I had read how Michael Mann cited it as a major influence and about halfway in, as baffled as I'd been since my Spanish final at Iowa, I turned it off and watched Seinfeld re-runs to clear my head. I've never tried to watch it again and I never will. If that makes me a mental infant, fine, I don't care, just don't make me watch that movie again.

But during this point in my life I also watched madman Sam Peckinpah's ode to extreme violence "Straw Dogs", a movie in which the wife (Susan George) of a passive mathematician (Dustin Hoffmann) is brutally - and, sweet Mary Mother of God do I mean brutally - raped which leads to a conclusion, involving Hoffmann and the rapists, that is so unrelentingly violent I need to breathe into a bag before I continue writing.

Is it unsettling? Forget unsettling. They haven't yet invented a word to describe how "Straw Dogs" makes you feel. If it ever accidentally winds up in your Netflix queue and gets mailed to you don't watch it, don't even open the envelope, just take it as is and mail it back. For God's sake, mail it back!

Why, you must be wondering, am I writing about such a traumatizing memory? Well, it seems Rod Lurie, the man who just gave us the 10/9/2004 of movie endings, is slated to write and direct a remake of "Straw Dogs".

Do you remember when Jerry finds out the girl he's dating once went out with Newman leading Jerry to ask her, agonized beyond belief, "Why?" To the news of this remake I ask "Why?" just like Jerry asked it that time. Why? Why in the name of all that is sacred and pure on this earth would you remake "Straw Dogs"? What can you hope to gain? Anyone who survived, or didn't survive, the original won't want anything to do with a remake and will anyone who hasn't seen Peckinpah's version want anything to do with a new one?

I see that in the remake Hoffmann's character (who will be played by James Marsden) has been turned into a Hollywood screenwriter. But if you thought Lurie would turn into some sort of comment on the dark soul of the movie biz with the final reel involving all kinds of death on, say, a movie studio backlot, think again. It turns out they move back to his wife's home of Mississippi, their marriage falls apart and then....cue the violence! (I can only assume we will be treated to the most even-handed charactures of Mississippians.)

The wife will be played by none other than Kate Bosworth, a fact which raises a couple obvious questions. 1.) Is the rape scene going to be toned down because otherwise why else would the lovely Ms. Bosworth agree to such a thing? 2.) Will unsuspecting fans of "Superman Returns" wander into this film and then wander back out 2 hours later, dazed, confused, scarred for life, possibly past the point of repair?

"Straw Dogs" did not end well. Neither will this.

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