Assessing the Hollywood Remake Potential of Five Fantastic Fest Films
I'm not a huge supporter of remaking great foreign films; the trend runs from enticing (Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) to unnecessary (Let Me In). But because it's inevitable that Hollywood will keep borrowing ideas from the outside world -- and since the aptly named Fantastic Fest played host to so many of them over the past week -- here are five international offerings I could see studios attempting to re-envision. Let's just hope they don't muck it up.
Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)
One of many Toronto hits that made it down to Austin (The Raid was a Fantastic Fest hopeful that couldn't be secured to screen after all), Frederic Jardin's taut French thriller is simple, but effective: A dirty cop (Tomer Sisley) navigates a sprawling, serpentine nightclub searching for his kidnapped son, who is being held ransom in exchange for a duffel bag full of stolen cocaine, while evading gangsters and internal affairs agents. Tight action, brutal fight choreography, Taken-esque paternal stakes, and a claustrophobic mastery of the single location set-up make for a thrillingly executed adrenaline ride that makes the most of its relatively simple premise; Warner Bros. is already planning an English-language remake.
Who should remake it: Bradley Cooper, since he's Sisley's American doppelganger.
Clown: The Movie (Klovn)
Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Danish comedy in this feature-length film installment of the Danish sitcom Klovn, in which semi-bumbling comedian Frank (Frank Hvam) joins his friend Casper (Casper Christiansen) on an annual canoe trip away from their significant others. Casper's meant their adventure to be a "Tour de Pussy," a nonstop skirt-chasing journey for the two of them, but since Frank's pregnant girlfriend has serious doubts about his father potential, Frank decides to bring her young nephew along for the ride; disaster, hilarity, and unexpectedly vulgar delights ensue.
Clown is a fairly straightforward but seriously gut-busting buddy road-trip comedy full of misunderstandings, comic situations, pedophile jokes, and man-child self-reflection that could easily be translated (and, let's face it, ruined by) the likes of Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Throw Todd Phillips behind the camera for extra measure and you've potentially got a bromance-comedy to rival anything Hollywood's put out in recent years. The only question: Can a Hollywoodized version of Clown even come close to rivaling the droll sharpness, or charm, of the original?
should would remake it: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn
An arrogant careerist slowly realizes she's walked into a trap in Penumbra, the latest from Argentine filmmaker brothers Adrián García Bogliano and Ramiro García Bogliano (Cold Sweat), who wrote and directed this Fantastic Fest entry together. The set-up is fairly basic: Marga (Cristina Brondo), a lawyer, meets a mysterious man who wants to rent out her family's rundown apartment for a large sum. She's too busy managing office politics and her married lover on her cell phone and looking down her nose on the locals to notice that her potential renter is fidgety and keeps letting in his equally suspicious colleagues, and that something strange may or may not be happening in connection to an impending lunar eclipse.
Penumbra's actually a case in which a remake could potentially improve upon a promising premise. Weak execution here suggests that the idea would work better as a short film, or a Twilight Zone episode; certain choices made, like a scene in which the protagonist's heaving chest is oiled down for apparently no reason at all, just distract. But flesh it out and give it more of a sense of purpose and this could become a taut vehicle for some eager actress. IFC Midnight will distribute in North America, Malaysia and Singapore.
Who should remake it: Rachel McAdams? Hilary Swank? Anyone else who looks good in a power suit?
Kim Min-Suk (screenwriter of The Good, The Bad, and the Weird) pulls off a sort of cross between X-Men and Unbreakable with this good vs. evil tale of a brooding super-powered villain (Kang Dong-won) who can control minds and the one person (Koo So) who's impervious to his influence. Like Magneto and Professor X, each man seems to exist to battle the other though they share similar backgrounds; set it in any Western city with two strong leads and you've got a thriller with more character then the average superhero flick.
Who should remake it: How about James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (or, more age appropriate: Anton Yelchin and Robert Pattinson) with M. Night Shyamalan directing?
Norwegian author Jo Nesbo's 2008 novel Hodejegerne earned a rousing screen adaptation from director Morten Tyldum, whose Headhunters earned some of the biggest raves of Fantastic Fest. Roger (Aksel Hennie) is a successful recruiter who leads a lavish life with his gorgeous, leggy wife - even if he has to steal from his clients in order to float their lifestyle. When he goes after his next and hopefully last target, a former mercenary (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Cster-Waldau) in possession of a painting worth millions, Roger's life is thrown upside down as the bullets and twists start flying.
Ripe for remaking (if only because it's a proven thrill ride and Scandinavian thrillers are so hot right now), Headhunters blends action, black humor, and classic heist movie beats; Magnolia picked it up months ago in Berlin for a TBA North American release later this year, with remake rights a hot commodity.
Who should remake it: Give it to "Smokin'" Joe Carnahan. Why not?
Read all of Movieline's coverage of Fantastic Fest here.