This Week’s New Releases
This week in The Couch Potato Report I’ll define the word classic and then use it once too often.
The word classic is used all too often these days in the movie world. Any film that makes money at the box office is immediately dubbed a classic.
By definition, the word classic means: “Serving as a standard of excellence; Of recognized value; and Historically memorable.”
Some films that inarguably meet that criteria are THE GODFATHER, CITIZEN KANE, CASABLANCA, STAR WARS, SCHINDLER’S LIST and ALIEN.
Yes, I included ALIEN in that list!
And not just because it made money, which I’ll address in a moment. ALIEN is on the list as it continues to serve as a standard of excellence for its use of suspense. That fact also makes it historically memorable.
Yes, ALIEN is a classic. Sadly, it is a classic with a very high recognized value. That means director Ridley Scott was allowed to mess around with it and create a new “director’s version” of the film. That new version played in theatres last year and is now being released on DVD and video.
ALIEN originally arrived in 1979 between the releases of the original STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
It was landmark combination of science fiction and horror and a wonderful diversion from George Lucas’s space fantasy.
But it wasn’t just a science fiction – slash – horror film. It also had painfully pleasurable relentless suspense.
The film centered on the crew of the space freighter Nostromo, who fell prey to a vicious creature that had gestated inside one of the ill-fated crew members.
Impeccably directed by Ridley Scott, the original version of ALIEN is one of the cinema’s most unforgettable nightmares.
And because we can’t forget it, Scott was allowed to create ALIEN – THE DIRECTOR’S CUT.
What’s unfortunate about this new version is the same as most theatrical re-releases of moderate-to-classic films: The director has suffered from a cumulative attack of coulda-woulda-shoulda syndrome, and decides to rethink and rework the film for contemporary audiences.
Forgetting the time and, if you’ll pardon the pun, space where it was created, in this DIRECTOR’S CUT Scott wants to speed up the timing for modern audiences. Audiences who have been weaned on the quick cut, fast editing style of today’s filmmakers and TV producers.
But that pace was the beauty of the original version of ALIEN. It was slow moving and that motion, or lack thereof sometimes, is what made the film, is what MAKES the film a classic.
ALIEN – THE DIRECTOR’S CUT doesn’t diminish the legacy of the original film. But it doesn’t advance it either. Simply put, the original version is the better film.
My hope is that in the future director’s who have made classic films will stay away from the “Of recognized value” part of the definition of the word classic and remember that creating and giving an audience a film that “Serves as a standard of excellence; and is Historically memorable” can be good enough.
I doubt they will as long as there is money to be made from these “director’s versions”, but I can dream can’t I?
It’s unlikely the director of UNDERWORLD will ever be asked to create a new version of his film. This dark, moody film is a love story about a vampire and werewolf who fall in love despite an ongoing rivalry between their two species.
UNDERWORLD is a good enough movie but it doesn’t have one original moment throughout the entire 121 minute running time. It just blends a lot of familiar ideas together. Like I said, it’s good enough and horror movie buffs will enjoy it.
Those who enjoy the work of Denzel Washington will probably also enjoy his new thriller OUT OF TIME. Its about a police chief who gets caught up in scandal and murder.
Sure, it is a contrived, at times implausible film but its worth seeing. This is a good movie for one of those days when it is just way too cold to go outside.
OUT OF TIME has just enough twists to keep you wondering just enough so that you’re interested in how Denzel Washington’s character will get out of each predicament.
Be warned, it does have some corny, highly unlikely turns, but for me they just made it more fun.
Its no where near being a classic, but OUT OF TIME is a great film to rent.
ALIEN – THE DIRECTOR’S CUT, UNDERWORLD and OUT OF TIME are available to rent and buy right now.
COMING NEXT WEEK
FREDDY VS. JASON – Jason and Freddy battle from Elm Street to Crystal Lake in this meeting of the horror uberstars. (Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Kelly Rowland)
JOHNNY ENGLISH – Ever see Mr. Bean? Well imagine him as a bumbling idiot who becomes a British secret spy. Now take away the humour. (Rowan Atkinson, Natalie Imbruglia, Ben Miller)
SWIMMING POOL – A murder-mystery author gets inspiration from a young woman. I can’t wait to see this one myself! (Charlotte Rampling, Ludivine Sagnier, Charles Dance)
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you on The Couch!
This Week’s New Releases