Monday, March 30, 2009

More details about and reactions to the Japanese remake of "Sideways"

by Chris MaGee

Sometimes you just hope if you ignore something that it'll just go away, but in the case of the Japanese remake of Alexander Payne's "Sideways" that strategy doesn't seem to work. Way back in November we told you about how FujiTV and 20th Century Fox had worked out a deal to remake Payne's Oscar-nominated comedy/ drama about a down on his luck middle-aged groom and his best man who go on a California wine tasting tour in advance of the groom's wedding. Now The New York Times has come out with more details on this questionable remake.

Obviously there are changes being made to the original. Paul Giamatti's character Miles is has been transposed to Michio and will be played by Fumiyo Kohinata (The Magic Hour, 20th Century Boys) and Thomas Haden Church's Jack is now Daisuke and will be played by Katsuhisa Namase (20th Century Boys, Yatterman). The two women that they cross paths with, originally played by Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh are now being played by Kyoka Suzuki and Rinko Kikuchi. Besides the meat and potatoes of the casting changes there are more subtle changes that have been made. While the remake is still set in California the two buddies drive through the Napa Valley as opposed to Santa Barbara because apparently the Napa Valley is more easily recognized by Japanese wine connoisseurs. There are things that the remake's producers and Japanese-American director Celine Gluck wanted to remain the same though. Paul Giamatti was approached about making a cameo appearance, but he quickly turned it down saying, "I don't know what I was going to play. I said no. I felt my career hasn't hit that low yet. I thought, 'What am I gonna play - the sushi chef or something?'" Meanwhile Alexander Payne has been named as an executive producer on the remake, but no one seems to have told him. “I don’t know a damn thing about it, but I hope it’s better than the original,” he joked with the Times.

I know that remakes back and forth between the the West and the East are inevitable, but I, like so many other people, have some serious doubts about remaking such a singular and well-known film as "Sideways". The Times article does end with a hint as to another Hollywood property that will be grist for the Japanese remake mill in the near future, Mike Nichol's 1988 comedy "Working Girl". Now, see... that doesn't make me half as nervous as "Sideways". Maybe revamping Paynes film has just come a little too soon. What do you think? Share you thoughts in the comments.

FujiTV and Celine Gluck's version of "Sideways" will hit theatres in Japan the fall.


Dave said...

America has been remaking foreign films after they recently came out in their own countries for years, so I don't think its a big deal that American films get remade. Seems that a member of the original cast felt insulted by it, like their work isn't good enough for another audience, but I'm sure thats how some people involved with foreign films remade for America felt.

I don't really watch remakes, anyway. To me thats the first sign that the film is a money-driven product as opposed to someone's vision. Thats not necessarily a bad thing-most films are made specifically to make money, and hey, its people's jobs. I just like to see some originality and freshness when I see a film.

Ventura_Publishing said...

Now Americans know what people in a range of countries from Japan (Godzilla) to France (Taxi) and Spain (Vanilla Sky) felt when Americanized versions of the native movies were made.

Anonymous said...

Of all the films that could possibly be remade, they had to choose this mediocre one. Wasn't suffering through the original enough? Working Girls, however, sounds very promising.