Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sometimes they come back

If you had told me I would need to find an alternate poster for the movie 54, because I was actually going to write about 54 twice on my blog (and have a policy of never using the same poster twice as the lead art on a post), I would have told you you were crazy.

Yet 54 was the lead art on this post back in 2009, and somehow, I find this forgettable movie elbowing its way back on to my blog again in 2015.

Reason: They are re-releasing this dog. In Australia, anyway.

I saw the poster (not this one, the more familiar one) on the wall at Cinema Nova on Saturday. At first I mistook it for vintage decoration, since Nova does have exactly one such poster -- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- hanging among the ones advertising upcoming releases. But nope, emblazoned along the bottom was a June 11th release date.

June 11th, 2015, not June 11th, 1998.

I don't know who saw it fit to restore some never-before-seen footage to this movie and actually try again with it. Aren't there certain movies where you should just walk away?

The write-up advertising it on the Nova website describes it as a "weightier, darker, more drug-addled and above all queerer film than the original." That's the result of restoring 40 minutes of the film that were cut at the producers' behest, and trashing the 25 minutes of reshoots that were demanded to fix the gap of those missing 40 minutes. This version played at this year's Berlin Film Festival in February, apparently to some acclaim, else it likely wouldn't have seen the light of day beyond that.

But other than director Mark Christopher's mother and father, who is clamoring for another go at 54? Exactly no one. At the very most, just release a special edition BluRay and be done with it. Though wikipedia tells me that a special edition BluRay was already released in 2012, containing "several additional and alternate scenes."

It reminds me of the inexplicable existence of something like three or four additional versions of Oliver Stone's Alexander, beyond the one that was released in 2004. I haven't seen any of the versions, but I know the film to be a dud on the order of 54. Yet as recently as last year, versions were still emerging -- and apparently, the most recent one is good enough to have landed on critic Keith Uhlich's highly eccentric top 10 of 2014 (though to contextualize that eccentricity, his list also included several TV shows).

An ordinary rant on this topic would decry the need to meddle with classics like Star Wars and E.T., which have had infamous changes made to the "official" versions of those films. But that's tampering with something sacred, and this ... this is tampering with something irrelevant. With movies that should be lost to the dustbin of cinematic regrets.

I guess if this footage makes 54 a better movie, why not? I just think it's overestimating the public's appetite for it, that's all.

At least it gives Neve Campbell and Ryan Phillippe the chance to say "I have a movie coming out this weekend!"

In Australia, anyway.


Josh said...

So I read your blog entry the other day when I was catching up on your posts and now I see this on my facebook feed. I'm with you in not recognising this as a legit film to be critically reassessed, despite what the article says.http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/how-54-the-directors-cut-was-resurrected-from-1998-disaster-to-new-gay-cult-classic-20150602

Derek Armstrong said...

Having it embraced by the queer community is, I would argue, a possible reason to be re-interested in it. However, since they couldn't have likely known that's what the response would be, it was still a highly questionable decision to put the energy into it in the first place.