Monthly Archives: March 2014
Apparently Steven Spielberg has lost his natural born mind. Everyone knows that since Munich he’s been in a bit of a rough patch. First he struck out with Indiana Jones 4, a movie that was campy and overblown in the worst way possible. Next we got The Adventures of TinTin which how well Spielberg can pick up Zemeckis’ sloppy seconds. We also got War Horse that year as well fondly remembered as a beautifully shot film about near anthropomorphic horse and his ridiculously overwrought bond with his owner. 2012 brought us the latest Daniel Day Lewis Oscar grab in the form of a Spielberg film called Lincoln. Now, with all hopes of a Robopocalyspe movie fading away, we’re presented with news of what may be the new Steven Spielberg project: A remake (reinterpretation, revision) of West Side Story.
Its common knowledge that remakes are a nasty boil on the behind of the modern cinematic landscape. Still, I find myself able to take solice in the fact that only sellouts associate themselves with such trash. You know the type: young upstart directors looking for a safe project after their freshman film was a surprise success (see Matt Reeves’ Let Me In), or weirdo European directors with dubious track records that somehow trick studio chief’s (through witchcraft) into letting them remake a beloved property (see José Padilha’s Robocop…..not technically European but still). Never in my wildest dreams, would I imagine Spielberg attempting something so obviously stupid. George Lucas maybe but not Spielberg.
Does he really think he can improve upon what Wise did? Not many directors of this current generation are worth anything but Spielberg has been one of the shining lights. Still, when you match him up against one of the greatest directors to ever handle a camera, working at the peak of his powers (Odds Against Tomorrow, West Side Story, The Haunting, and The Sound of Music would all come out within five years of each other), and collaborating with some of the most talented musical minds in the history of….well music, to produce one of the most enduring cinematic classics in the history of moving pictures you have to wonder how exactly can Spielberg hope to come out ahead in all of this.
Could it be that he has a vision for the story so radicial, so revisionist, so brilliant, so vibrant, so joyous, so enrapturing that it’s the likes of what has never been seen before on film? No. That’s not the case whatsoever. Remember this is modern day Hollywood. Remake today is code for unoriginal, uninspired, and ultra cheap, a sad truth for many directors and I have no reason to think that Spielberg can escape that group. I suppose if we have to look on the bright side we can see this is as Spielberg’s way of trying to beat the system. He probably knows that he couldn’t get a studio to back an original motion picture musical. Perhaps he thought he could just use the name West Side Story, strip the story down to its bare bones, and then use the play as a spring board to create something truly original. Either that or we’ll get another cinematic abortion of Spielberg proportions. Of those two outcomes what seems more feasible? While you mull that over take a look at what Spielberg could (can?) do with music and a story all his own.