Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dark waters

Even with Brazilian director Walter Salles at the helm, Dark Water the remake has all the worst tendencies of Hollywood remakes.

Dark Water by Hideo Nakata is an amazing, sad, haunting, thought-provoking little ghost story. It unfolds through three stories with distinct parallels, that interconnect and shift without obvious cues. It slowly builds a mystery with building clues. It ends on a somewhat ambiguous note. In other words, it's a movie that requires the viewer to engage, to think and to feel. It is art.

The remake simplifies the stories into two. The flashbacks are rare and are very obviously shot with a haze and on the opposite coast in a very different time. The barriers are clear and the parallels are told by making the story parallels more blunt and obvious. The mystery takes quite a while to unfold because all the characters, as well as the creators, seem to enamored of the obvious red herring to let the real pieces begin falling into place. The ending is sewn up very literally. It moves across our screen for amusement, then drifts away like the wind. It is product.

I could go on. Jennifer Connelly was never able to convince me she was weak, troubled and broken. A dozen years after Reservoir Dogs and Tim Roth still has a lot of charisma, but his American accent still blows... and what's up with the deus ex machina super lawyer anyway?

But I won't...

Except the one big sloppy retarded bit of dialogue that shoved me completely out of the movie and into a rage. I'm sure tons and tons of people didn't notice, but there was no excuse for it. Now, I grew up in the great state of Washington. I've lived here for thirty-five years. I can't expect a Brazilian director to know how things are done and said here. I can expect that somewhere in the hundreds of people involved that someone was from here or had relatives or friends here or from here... there's simply no excuse...

Ok, I've lived here for thirty-five years and heard Washington State University called a lot of things, most of which you can't print in a family newspaper, last night was the first time I've ever heard anyone refer to it as "Wash. U".

No one says it. Pick up any Washington phone book, pick a random telephone number, dial it up, ask them what locals call Washington State University, they'll tell you. Ask them if anyone calls it "Wash. U", they'll laugh and say, "No. No one at all."

Now, people call it "Washington State". You can never go wrong with that. I bet the state college near you has a nickname, too, huh? And I bet most people there call it that, right? But if you were watching a movie and someone local said, "_______ State", you wouldn't really even notice. Especially if someone was recommending a lawyer, you don't always speak in the vernacular in cases like that. Don't try so hard...

Or try a little harder, I did a Google search for "washington state university nickname" and the top two hits both say it in the summary. It's Wazzu (pronounced "Wah-Zoo"). They make sweatshirts that say it on them. It's not that hard to find out.

But it's a nitpick at lazy filmmakers that I would have let go if they'd made a better movie.

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