Lots of people can tell you whether or not to see a movie, or how many crude approximations of celestial bodies a given film's merits have earned—but what after? How do we find a film through the ether? So many lost hours spent numbly thumbing through Netflix's queue. There has got to be a better way!
To combat this cultural deprivation, we have enlisted our resident cinephile and discerning critic Clare Eriko to take questions from you, the humble viewer, and help match you up with a good flick.
I need to win a bet. My friend says there aren’t any remakes of films that are better than the original. Help me out.
Hello, hi, I am here for all of your gambling needs. Please tell your friend that they are wrong and you are right, because (at least) two remakes exist that I’d arguably say are much, much better than their ancestors.
The first of these fabled properties is kind of convoluted, because it’s a movie musical adapted from a musical adapted from a propaganda film, ala Hairspray. On April 20th, 2005, Showtime aired Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical and created the most outrageous and wonderful thing you could ever watch. I found a copy of it in a DVD bargain bin at a Hollywood Video and have never regretted the $5 or so my Dad probably spent when I begged him to buy it for me.
Envisioned as a Frank Zappa-inspired satirical romp, the musical takes the poorly-written, extremist drug fears of the late 1930s and turns them into an absolutely insane cautionary tale. Alan Cumming narrates the story of two good kids (Kristen Bell and Christian Campbell, both of whom are totally adorable) taken in by the horrifying power of . . . the reefer. If you’re not a fan of more traditional movie musicals, this is probably for you. Plus Kristen Bell wears latex, because marijuana cigarettes also turn you into a dominatrix I guess.
The second film is actually the third film adaptation of a book, and I feel like I’m going to get some shit for this but here we go: the 2013 version of Carrie is so, so much better than the original.
The film is perfectly cast, with Chloë Grace Moretzin in the lead role (sorry Sissy Spacek) and Julianne Moore as her horrifically unsettling mother. It’s not that I don’t love the Brian DePalma original, but I feel Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) lends more interest and feeling to the project. She’s created a film that’s really centered around and devoted to women, as opposed to one that just exploits them.
In the reboot, Carrie is a victim of cyberbullying, which seems gimmicky at first but serves to highlight the social torture she experiences. The payoff bloodbath is just as good as you remember, and then some. Plus Moore is so spooky. Just absolutely unhinged.
I hope your victory feels satisfying and well-deserved. Because really, you did all the work here. Now go watch some movies.