A STORY ABOUT MICHAEL CAINE
Last night I had
a terrible dream about Sylvester Stallone.
I had dozed off
watching the remake of Get Carter. In my dream I was watching
the entire back catalogue of Michael Caine's films, but they all featured
Sylvester Stallone in Michael's roles. I saw Sly as Lt. Gonville Bromhead
in Zulu. I watched him manfully battle bees in The Swarm,
and worst of all I saw him punch Barbara Hershey in the face in an
unfortunate out-take from Hannah and Her Sisters.
Since the dream
my mind has been reeling.
I have been unable
to focus. I keep having panic attacks in which members of my family
are Sylvester Stallone.
I keep on getting
the unsettling feeling that my daily life is just a series of bad Hollywood
remakes in which the key players are Sly or 'Marky' Wahlberg. When I
go to the newsagent I find the kindly Indian woman has been replaced
by Rene Russo and my postman now looks uncannily like Anthony Hopkins.
There are just too
many remakes. Halfway through films I get a terrible sense of déjà
vu, before realising that the film I'm watching is a remake of some
60s series I saw on TV. Mission Impossible, The Saint, I Spy
coming soon on a big screen.
They are even making
a big screen version of Blockbusters, with Kurt Russell as the
angry loner who must cross a deadly nuclear board by solving riddles.
I decided the only
was to combat the remakes was to pre-empt them. If unimaginative film
directors were simply going to remake old films, then I would have to
remake modern films in an old-fashioned style to try to beat them at
their own game. Nothing confuses a film-maker more than finding out
the lo-budget indie flick he made last year is now in fact a remake
of a critically acclaimed 1970s Czech film about God and morality.
From that tiny acorn
of an idea, my mighty fantasy oak has grown. At the moment I have Alfred
Hitchcock working on the 1954 production of the 'original' Terminator,
with Cary Grant in the Michael Biehn role, Jayne Mansfield as Sarah
Connor and Victor Mature as the Terminator.
After that, I will
be working on the 'original' Pulp Fiction, with a sombre Robert
Mitchum doing John Travolta and Humphrey Bogart out-Brucing Bruce Willis
as boxer Butch Coolidge. I will then demand that Quentin Tarantino returns
his best screenplay Oscar to the Academy and apologises to actual screenwriter
William Faulkner, whose work he sordidly ripped off.
My next plan is
to sneak into the publisher's that do film books and add backdated entries
to verify my all-new, original fantasy productions. Soon, it will become
accepted wisdom that Meet the Parents is a remake of the classic
Jacques Tati vehicle Je Suis Le Chien Fou and no-one will be able to
mention American Pie without a nod of the head towards Peter
Bogdanovich's black-and-white original.
on to a winner. Critics are vain, pretentious types, perpetually in
love with the past. They'll favour original films over remakes every
time. According to one Hollywood writer, Hitchcock's version of Terminator
is 'all-the-more terrifying for rarely showing the robot villain, but
rather suggesting his presence through terrific cinematography.' It's
Tim Burton described
his version of Planet of the Apes as a 'reimagining' of the original
film. It was, of course, terrible. I have been busy 'reimagining' a
world in which Mr Burton decided to become a milkman instead of a film
director. What a beautiful world it would be, although I doubt my milk
would taste as good. Still, a small price to pay.