Thursday, June 10, 2004

Two more movies for the fire

In this case, Ring by Hideo Nakata and Mystic River by Clint Eastwood. Kind of a weird companion set, but I'll live with myself.

We'll start with Ring, and no, despite the cheap excuse for an alternate to "The Ring", as their remake was called, I won't be following Dreamworks lame decision to change the title to "Ringu".

The novel, Ring by Kôji Suzuki, is titled the English word "RING". The word "ring", in English, means a lot of things. No one word in Japanese means all of those things, and yet quite a number are specifically evoked in the story. "Ringu" is simply translating back the English word as it is phonetically written in Japanese.

It is no less than a lie by Dreamworks.

Yes, you'll argue that it helps separate them. Well, get over it. People have been working out ways to separate identically titled works for years, including remakes. People in the English speaking world had been referring to it as Ring for a couple of years before that. Those that bother to refer to them still don't say Ringu 2 or Ringu 0.

If they need to come up with a marketing clarification they should at least come up with a decent honest way next time.

Well, that'll probably be longer than my review.

I saw The Ring by Gore Verbinski, the American remake, already, and while I had heard about Ring before The Ring was even filmed, I'd never gotten a chance to see it.

Honestly, I'm not sure which order I'd have rather seen first. I think either movie would suffer in many ways in comparison to the other.

The Ring has the stronger lead in Naomi Watts - though Nanako Matsushima is no slouch and Hiroyuki Sanada may be one of the most compelling forces on the screen today - a much better developed son character and the effects in it are more effective. Ultimately, the original has considerably tighter story, with considerably fewer glaring holes, and none of the fear the remake demonstrates of taking the supernatural seriously as a subject of fear.

I'm giving the edge to the original, but I'm really looking forward to seeing what Ring director Hideo Nakata does with The Ring 2.

But first, I need to check out the Japanese follow-ups, I suspect.

Anyway, I said I'd say something about that Eastwood movie, too, huh?

First of all, I don't think I've ever seen a movie where the first two hours plus are so ruined by the final ten minutes. Seriously. I went from thinking it was a damn fine movie with some niggling issues to a not-so-good movie with some excellent elements.

Now, perhaps the novel, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, develops the characters in such a way to make the final two or three scenes dramatically plausible, meaningful or whatever. I don't know. It also may settle a lot of issues that were never quite clear about this web of characters and their relationships, some of which were tangential, some - such as what Celeste Boyle (played marvelously by Marcia Gay Harden) knew or didn't know about her husband's past - seem crucial to understanding the story itself.

Tim Robbins is truly amazing. His Oscar fully deserved. He absolutely embodies every confused thought and motion of Dave Boyle in a way that I've never seen him do before... Heck, I've only seen a few people so realize a character.

Sean Penn. He was better in 21 Grams really, but it's nice that he finally got a statue, though. He's an amazing actor.

Ultimately. Mystic River - Great performances, solid ideas, good storytelling through most of it. Basically predictable, some notable plot-holes, terrible denouement. I haven't decided what that adds up to.

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