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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 19 June 2019 at 8:05am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I directed a "West Side Story" about five years ago, and it went over very well. But it was a period piece then, it's a period piece now, and it doesn't need an update. It tells the story just fine.

And it's a fifth of the way through the 21st century - we're farther from that era than ever (obviously, and we'll continue to be so.) Why try to reintroduce people to that era when the original is perfectly suited to do it?

Moreover, what CAN be changed to make it better? If another update of Romeo and Juliet was desired, then maybe that should have been brand new, rather than a remake. Even a 50 year old Best Picture Oscar winner doesn't need much to keep it really good.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 19 June 2019 at 11:36am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

The original WEST SIDE STORY, both on stage and in the movie, was a highly stylized and largely inaccurate rendering of a very particular slice of time and place. Its attitudes, and the way it portrays a microcosm of society, do not reflect the world we now live in--and if those elements are "updated" for a 21st Century audience, it ceases to be WEST SIDE STORY.
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I totally agree with this. The question of why remake it at all stands then, given the quality of the original, but the above is surely an answer to the question of why if it is going to be remade, that is should be a period piece.

In terms of why remake it, beyond the glib answer of "because he wants to and can", the original is excellent but not without its quirks. For example, I would contend that it is preferable for the actors to actually sing the parts. The leads don't in West Side Story. I think wanting to make a version that is more authentic from a performance standpoint could be a valid motivation. So I'd have to wait and see what Spielberg delivers to judge.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 19 June 2019 at 11:41am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I’ll join the ranks of “he wanted to and can.”

And, full disclosure, I don’t even LIKE the original.

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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 20 June 2019 at 4:13am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

 John Byrne wrote:
..as a period piece.

So..... why?

Which period, the 16th or the 20th century? 

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John Byrne
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Posted: 20 June 2019 at 5:52am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

...16th century...

••

Now, THAT would be interesting!

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Tim O Neill
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Posted: 20 June 2019 at 8:21am | IP Logged | 6 post reply



There is a long established tradition of reviving stage plays/musicals for
modern productions, and in this streaming age, the TV networks were smart to
embrace this for television in the form of live events. I'm fully on board with
that - TV still has the power to draw us to live, in the moment events like
sports, SNL, and now musical revivals. I'm in!

This seeped into films as Disney used this approach with their film adaptations
of their animated classics. I see that they need a big film budget and theater
tickets to justify it, but I am cooler on this approach - I think the Disney
animated films are already the definitive film versions and don't need a live
action film. Better that Disney did theatrical versions that reimagined the look,
like LION KING and TARZAN.

Should WEST SIDE STORY have been a live TV event? Why a film? I think it
has a lot to do with the casting of the original -- casting white actors as
characters with Puerto Rican descent was OK then, but it is not acceptable
now. As time goes on, networks will have less stomach to show the original
with Natalie Wood in brownface make-up. This one is ripe for re-
interpretation.

I personally never made it through the movie - portraying street gangs as
perfectly choreographed characters seemed silly to me as a kid, and I never
sought it out afterward. I'll take my Shakespeare straight-up rather than as a
musical!

I also don't like musicals shot on location in real settings. Movies like this and
ON THE TOWN don't work for me. Musicals are hyperreal and I can accept
their world on a stage or the artifice of a studio set, but musicals set in "real
life" look ridiculous. I watch ON THE TOWN wondering why the police don't
arrest those lunatics running around the city singing in navy outfits.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 20 June 2019 at 8:37am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

…casting white actors as characters with Puerto Rican descent was OK then, but it is not acceptable now. As time goes on, networks will have less stomach to show the original with…

••

Yet other races and ethnicities as White characters. even historical ones.....

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 20 June 2019 at 9:17am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Bernstein's music, for me, is an A+. The remainder? Eh. Mixed bag. Russ Tamblyn was a terrific dancer, that's for sure.

(Tangent: I love that ON THE TOWN -- not a fave of mine -- features real NYC scenes! What a treasure!)


Edited by Michael Penn on 20 June 2019 at 9:18am
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 20 June 2019 at 6:29pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Hrm... I'm not usually too bothered by remakes of films (though I generally don't go out of my way to seek these kinds of films out) but my curiosity got the better of me...  

Doc, the drug store owner and Friar Laurence analogue (played by my real-life uncle, Ned Glass) has been recast/reimagined as "Valentina" played by Rita Moreno.

Feh.
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Neil Lindholm
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Posted: 20 June 2019 at 7:22pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply


 QUOTE:
…casting white actors as characters with Puerto Rican descent was OK then, but it is not acceptable now. As time goes on, networks will have less stomach to show the original with…

This one always confused me. I never even thought of people with Spanish descent as anything but white. It only seems to be an issue in the US as I don't remember anyone even using the term when I lived in Canada.

I was watching an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and one scene had a little old lady commenting to Melissa Fumero (sigh) about how she was so happy she had married a white man since mixed babies are so much more attractive. Seriously? I had to look up the fact that she is of Cuban descent. A white woman. Is this really an issue in the US?


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John Byrne
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Posted: 21 June 2019 at 7:12am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

This one always confused me. I never even thought of people with Spanish descent as anything but white. It only seems to be an issue in the US as I don't remember anyone even using the term when I lived in Canada.

••

The notion that there is some kind of racial change halfway down the Iberian Peninsula is odd indeed. And I don't recall the Portuguese being set apart as a different race, either.

I've even asked some non-American people of Spanish decent if they think of themselves as anything other than White, and their answers have been a resounding "No!"

It takes me back, once again, to when I was in grade school, in Canada, and we were taught that there were three races, then labeled Negroid, Mongoloid and Caucasian. I was Caucasian, but so were Arabs, Indians, Native Canadians and plenty of others.

Sadly, we have since then chopper ourselves into smaller and smaller pieces, and the result has been more and more strife.

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Joseph Greathouse
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Posted: 21 June 2019 at 12:48pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

"Yet other races and ethnicities as White characters. "

Perhaps when Hollywood become more representative of the diverse populations in its casting practices, people may care. 
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