Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Infinite Number Of Truths

Sometimes I’m tempted to just write down everything I’m thinking, everything I’m feeling. But I choose to keep things private. This isn’t about depression, at least not now. This is about dissatisfaction, the stress that happens and makes me unable to breathe, the wish that you could somehow flush all the nonsense out of your head and just relax. So that’s how it’s been going lately. I suspect I’m not alone in the world in feeling this way, but whatever. I wish I could just take a moment somehow but I don’t expect that to happen any time soon while trying to deal with the insanity of the world, the madness of those things that happen day after day.
The definitive study of how American society was changing as things rolled over from the 70s to the 80s seen through the Hollywood prism has yet to be written. This will not be that examination. But there is something to be found in films made right around 1980 which seem caught between decades, between tones, between approaches, as if something is in the air only the filmmakers are not quite sure what that is so they have to plow ahead regardless and make whatever film it is they’re going to make. Maybe that’s just how they play to us all these years later. The science fiction-tinged social satire SIMON, starring Alan Arkin and released in February 1980, seems like a very good example of this. The film was also the directorial debut of Marshall Brickman, the sort of person who just skimming his bio makes him seem like the sort of person who it would be fascinating to listen to their stories for a few hours. He was a member of The New Journeymen, the band John and Michelle Phillips were in before The Mamas & The Papas. His TV credits include working on THE DICK CAVETT SHOW and CANDID CAMERA as well as being head writer on THE TONIGHT SHOW during the late 60s. In recent years he’s co-written the books of Broadway musicals including THE ADDAMS FAMILY and the smash JERSEY BOYS but he’s also been the screenwriter on a number of films including, most importantly, co-writing several with Woody Allen particularly SLEEPER, ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN. Those titles are probably all anyone needs to know but he directed a few films as well and while that portion of his career didn’t last very long something like SIMON is still of interest, a science fiction comedy caught between those two decades that isn’t quite a home run but is still very much of interest not only for anyone who’s seen certain Woody Allen films several dozen times but because the satirical elements that the film explores makes it somewhat unique.
The secretly all-powerful think tank The Institute for Advanced Concepts headed by Dr. Carl Becker (Austin Pendleton) who along with his fellow scientists (Max Wright, William Finley, Wallace Shawn and Jayant) engineer the events that cause such chaos in the world like nationwide tampering with the Nielsen ratings--did you know that DONNY AND MARIE is actually only watched by 1,200 people in the entire country?--and what’s known as the “Nixon Substitution Scenario” comes up with a plan to invent an extra-terrestrial and present it to the world to see what the possible effect on the population might be. Aided by super-computer Doris (voiced by what is presumably an unbilled Louise Lasser) they decide their test subject to serve as this figure will be psychology professor Simon Mendelssohn (Alan Arkin) who they invite to the clinic and proceed to brainwash through various means including a prolonged stay in an isolation tank and the friendly charms of a woman who they introduce as Dr. Cynthia Malloy (Madeline Kahn). When Simon emerges from isolation with his plans to change the world the ensuing publicity frenzy makes the doctors realize their plan may have gone a little too well. After deciding to get rid of him, Simon escapes with girlfriend Lisa (Judy Graubart) and, on the run, becomes even more of a celebrity than he was before using a handy TV signal to speak to the world and spread his genius.
SIMON feels serious-minded in its satire and yet scattershot at the same time as if its disparate parts are glued together in a frenzied state to try to make them coalesce. With a screenplay by Brickman and story by Brickman & Thomas Baum, it certainly has ideas, which counts for a lot even if they are all over the place, as well as a genuine point of view of mirthful anarchy in its satire. After a documentary-style introduction to explain the nature of The Institute of Advanced Concepts SIMON settles into a straightforward approach that is pretty random in its plotting at times with various elements popping up for intervals after which they’re forgotten about—the Madeline Kahn character, the commune devoted to television worship— along with its various targets that include these scientists, the media, the government, the military and just society in general without setting its sights on any one goal for very long but the ideas it presents do contain some bite, playing as genuinely funny part of the time or at least relatively amusing in its exploration of what can happen when an unencumbered mind is given permission to run wild. Among other things, SIMON is the only film I can think of aside from NETWORK to contain a reference to the MARY TYLER MOORE spinoff PHYLLIS and a portion of the satire here isn’t actually all that different from the goals of NETWORK, depicting a world that is becoming obsessed by the media that is swarming all around, by the messages it produces whatever they are, willing to latch onto whatever it can. If it ultimately has a problem it’s that there are a few too many of these thematic conclusions thrown at the wall.
The Preston Sturges-like potential of some of this never quite reaches a full steam of hilarity and the lack of a more relatable lead character may be why I feel a certain amount of clinical distance from the film but it is consistently enjoyable in a loose way, with bits throughout like Alan Arkin single-handedly depicting the evolution of man after he emerges from isolation (sort of an abstract concept to depict so we get voiceover from Wallace Shawn explaining it, along with a brief Also Sprach Zarathustra burst on the soundtrack) and how the top of the TV-worshipping commune’s steeple contains not a cross but an antenna. Not much sends me into hysterics but the film is pleasant, blithe and the small scale feel of the production actually works for the shaggy nature of the humor. The plot construction may be a bit haphazard and undisciplined to put it mildly but SIMON seems to take an actual interest in the science of things and how people behave out of the madness of the world around them. Certain conclusions are reached in terms of how the mind works and the isolation tank element would make it play as a comedic rejoinder to ALTERED STATES (the second film authored by Paddy Chayefsky that I’ve mentioned here and I don’t know what to make of that) if SIMON didn’t actually come out ten months earlier.
When people learn of the existence of this supposed alien they argue over whether it means this is proof there is a God or isn’t a God and during a quick headline montage we see a Time Magazine cover about Simon with a headline that reads ‘The Answer?’ while the Newsweek equivalent headline asks ‘The Question?’ The America in SIMON is one where absolutely no one knows what is what. SIMON is, among other things, ultimately about a world where the smart people are only asking questions because they’re bored, not because they need to be asked and no one really knows what exactly needs to be asked or answered anyway. Mixed in with all that are myriad other ideas, like the concept of smart men with next to no idea of how to handle the women in their lives—Simon ignores the pleas of the reasonable Lisa, the brainwashing procedure gives Simon a ‘mother’ to implant the false memory of his extra-terrestrial origins, Madeline Kahn’s Cynthia Malloy is a plant but she intimidates all the men anyway and even Carl Becker’s relationship to the supercomputer Doris which is depicted as a giant slimline telephone receiver (a very SLEEPER-like element and since this computer is depicted as female not all that different in concept from MUTHA in THE PHYNX) results in him declaring his unbridled passion for her.
There are also references to things that were prominent in the world at the time like Muzak and diet books and Bess Myerson and the secret formula of Orange Julius which probably don’t get the laughs they might have gotten back then (secondary headline on a New York Post front page: “Margaret Trudeau Seen At Studio 54”) but more interesting than that is the point the film makes in depicting how people are only going to follow someone up to a point, checking out when they become aware of how they’re being lectured to. They want to believe they have power and greatness as individuals but when someone is lecturing them about how dumb and hopeless they are or bringing out the Tolstoy to enlighten everyone with it’s all going to go south. A quick cutaway of a guy shooting out his TV in response to this it almost feels like there’s another level of satire the film could move on to but instead we get the main character’s realization of what he finally needs to do which is followed by a sort-of action climax to wrap things up.
“You can move the world with an idea but you have to think of it first,” is an idea that’s repeated in dialogue but the film could also add that you can’t force people to live in the version of the world that you want to live in. You can’t tell them what to like or how to think. Maybe some of its themes are muddled but the message of the film is basically that we’re not going to change the world or learn some grand revelation about our past but there are good things to make it all worthwhile—what gets name checked like Fred Astaire, Penicillin and air conditioning sounds a little like they could have been given as reasons in a Woody Allen film as well—and maybe if we’re lucky we can make some small, if absurd, difference in the end. All we can hope for are some small victories coming out of our own personal madness mixed in with normalcy, which maybe makes it sound like a science fiction version of King Vidor’s THE CROWD and that’s not really what SIMON is since there are too many other ideas swirling around the way the film seems to build to this sort of quiet acceptance is a little refreshing considering how most such movies now are about how special the lead character is. I don’t know if SIMON completely lives up to the potential of the multiple concepts it tosses into the mix but at the very least it’s willing to put them out there, particularly if these thoughts are being voiced very loudly by Alan Arkin while acting like a lunatic. That’s something I’ll never have a problem with.
And Alan Arkin fully embraces the cracked ego that allows the messiah lunacy that emerges out of his own Arkinness (it’s an intriguing daydream to imagine Woody Allen playing the part) and he dives into it fearlessly, giving it an engagingly different look at his familiar persona, that look in his eyes totally unable to conceal his own particular madness. Playing Lisa, Judy Graubert is a Gilda Radner-Paula Prentiss type who like Arkin has a background in Second City and knows how to bring just the right spin to her dialogue like her mistakenly talking about how Simon is from “out of space”. She seems somehow familiar to me, maybe long-dormant memories from watching her on THE ELECTRIC COMPANY (she was also in a lot of commericals in the 70s—turns out there’s a good amount of Judy Graubert on Youtube), and even though she’s offscreen for much of the middle Graubert provides the somewhat cold film with any real warmth that it has. Austin Pendleton, presumably done up to resemble Carl Sagan, enjoyably straddles the line between dweeb and villain while the foursome of Wright, Finley, Shawn and Jayant are all given moments to pinpoint their particular characterizations. In spite of her high billing Madeline Kahn’s role comes off more as a ‘special appearance’ as if they only had a few days with her, Fred Gwynne is an uptight military guy who reacts to the existence of a ‘stupid’ gas by imagining how it could be used in combat and Adolph Greene is the leader of the TV worshipping cult who confides with Simon that before his nervous breakdown he was ‘head of programming at the American Broadcasting Company’ to which Arkin pats him on the shoulder sympathetically. David Susskind and Dick Cavett appear briefly as themselves but considering when this film was made and who made it I’d be surprised if at least one of them didn’t turn up.
Brickman only made other two films—1983’s LOVESICK and 1987’s THE MANHATTAN PROJECT both of which I haven’t seen in decades—so SIMON can’t quite be placed in the context of a full directing career. Listening to Brickman interviewed during a podcast on The Projection Booth it makes clear that some of his interests are in science—not science fiction—which certainly makes the link between this film and SLEEPER more intriguing but what he has to say in this interview also makes me appreciate the film a little more. SIMON, available on disc from the Warner Archive for anyone who’s curious or hasn’t seen it since early 80s cable, is the sort of film that I find myself thinking about way too much sometimes as I try to dig into just what the film is, what about it works and what doesn’t. Sometimes I’m willing to give a movie that’s trying for something out there a little leeway. Sometimes I’ll watch these things over and over and find something in the themes, a piece of madness that I find myself relating to and wish that I could reconcile with what I’m expecting to find, no matter when the film was made. Among other things, SIMON is about the madness in the world that can result from no limitations. Of course, I often feel like I have madness with limitations all around me every single day or just while I lie awake at night. Nothing is ever perfect.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Into An Untroubled World

Some nights I cook for myself. I don’t claim to be any good but it’s something I like doing especially when I make pasta, probably more often than I should. I chop up onions and garlic and other things to put in the sauce while listening to music that you’d probably hate but particularly on Sunday nights it’s a ritual that I’ve developed a weird attachment to by now. It’s something that I look forward to doing and that’s just the way it is. So, anyway, the remake. Commonly known these days as the reboot. Which, I suppose is one way to avoid actually saying that it’s a remake and is also a way to avoid having to come up with an idea for something. Beats working for a living, after all. There are actually many points to make in favor of the remake—hey, it wasn’t until the third version of THE MALTESE FALCON when they got that one right and something like HIS GIRL FRIDAY was of course a remake of THE FRONT PAGE, only with an arguably better spin on it. But unlike back then the very concept in this day and age behind any given remake is to not offer anything new beyond making the overall approach more ‘grounded’ and ‘real’—the skeleton of whatever the structure might have been made of is still visible and the story may make sense but the way it ultimately plays out is lifeless, a movie going through the motions of its own self. The title has as much to do with it as anything else and the days when the classic noir OUT OF THE PAST was updated to the 80s and titled AGAINST ALL ODDS to bring an updated spin to the story are long since gone. These days the point is to remind people of the original in the most hollow way, bringing very new little to the table, to streamline the story, removing things like irony and satire while maybe tossing in a cameo from someone who was in the original while they’re at it, maybe to give the impression that the whole thing is authorized. There have been good remakes. It’s just tough to remember what they are sometimes.
Edgar Wright’s new film THE WORLD’S END which you’ve hopefully seen by now is about many things one of which is the danger of nostalgia, the folly of one person attempting to remake what he remembers as the greatest night of his life and what happens next from that return to one’s hometown. As I’ve written about before I may remain haunted in the dead of night by images of where I grew up, a place I don’t have much of a desire to go back to—members of my family have all moved elsewhere so it’s really not a concern for the time being. To mangle a line from MAGNOLIA, I may be through with the past but that past doesn’t seem to have very much interest in me either. In addition to being hugely entertaining, THE WORLD’S END struck a nerve in me down to the bone and Edgar Wright is one of the few directors of this generation who displays a love of films, as well as being someone who has some of the best story sense around but you can also tell how personal some of this is for him and with this new film you can tell that he’s setting the bar for himself higher than before and I’m looking forward to many repeat viewings. It gets a lot of things right, not the least of which is to point out that eventually you have to say Fuck Nostalgia. Fuck where you came from. Sure, there’s going to be some love mixed in all that way deep down but you can’t live there. You shouldn’t live there. You need to do something new, to keep moving forward and face what the future might conceivably hold. Something remakes don’t do. New things in life are good. That’s forgotten way too often these days.
Which makes this the perfect opportunity to talk about a remake that actually is excellent, one that is willing to expand on the original, turning it into its own thing while keeping the spirit of where the story came from very much alive. After all, the metaphorical possibilities in science fiction and horror do lend themselves to updating a concept to another time in order to take advantage of the new era. Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of CAPE FEAR became a giant swirling mass of cinematic imagery combined with how the south of the original had changed in the thirty years since it was made. Even if Cronenberg’s THE FLY and Carpeneter’s THE THING had nothing to do with the AIDS crisis as the world responded to it in the 80s in terms of intent it’s hard not to think about the subject while watching those films. In comparison you could make the argument that since the 2011 prequel/remake of THE THING was also set in 1982 it isn’t really about anything at all. The 1978 version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS directed by Philip Kaufman was very much about something that was in the air at the time the film was made, just as any version of that particular story needs to be, has to be. There’s always going to be the fear of losing ourselves, losing our individuality, becoming lifeless and going through the motions of its own self. Of course, exactly what that loss means, what we are in the greater context of society, means something a little different in each decade. As part of the lead-up to the release of his new film, the ‘78 BODY SNATCHERS was programmed as part of Edgar Wright’s two-week “The World’s End is Nigh” series at the New Beverly and it was a great thrill to see it in 35mm for the first time, even if the print was slightly faded, since it’s one of those 70s films that even if it was a hit at the time has maybe fallen through the cable TV crack a little more than it’s deserved to. It stays in the brain and maybe haunts me now more than it ever has.
Almost as pure cinema, the first remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS essentially tells us what’s happening right away, beginning with an opening credit sequence that details the process of these lifeforms departing their own world to eventually arrive on Earth in San Francisco. Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) works for the Health Department whose co-worker Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) has discovered a strange new flower and the day after bringing it home her live in boyfriend Geoffrey (Art Hindle) is suddenly acting strange to the point that she genuinely believes that he’s not Geoffrey. Matthew has Elizabeth talk to his friend Dr. David Kibner (Leonard Nimoy), a well-known psychiatrist, for advice, but even he speaks of a strange hallucinatory flu that seems to be going around. As Matthew’s married friends Jack (Jeff Goldblum) and Nancy Bellicec (Veronica Cartwright) get involved he genuinely begins to believe that there’s something going on around him, that people really aren’t who they seem to be anymore.
Shortly after the opening credits as the webs make their way down into the Bay Area we get a now infamous Robert Duvall cameo, with the actor briefly seen dressed as a priest on a swing set as one of the lead characters pass the playground nearby. And that’s it. It’s unexplained. We never see him again. And yet the recognition of the moment sets us perfectly on edge. Almost unnoticed as everyone is paying attention to how this really is Robert Duvall are two things: the teacher who has just been suspiciously glaring at the passing Brooke Adams is encouraging the kids to take the flowers home to their parents so she is obviously already a pod person, just as the priest Duvall probably is as well, and the kid on the swing next to him is behaving particularly goofy, something that probably won’t be happening for very much longer. These elements in each shot are laid into things all the way through, continually keeping us on edge while maintaining a sly wit in just about every scene. Almost as if contradicting itself it’s one of the best San Francisco films ever while at the same time somehow making the charming city seem totally cold and hostile. With a screenplay by W.D. Richter (SLITHER and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, along with directing BUCKAROO BANZAI) based on the original novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney, this version of the story has been greatly discussed in the past as taking advantage of what the 70s were just as much as the small town original version had lent itself to the McCarthy 50s whether about communism or people simply staying at home to do nothing but watch television from then on. The San Francisco of the Me Decade seen here containing book readings filled with people looking to pour their hearts out to the latest big name in pop psychology and live-in boyfriends more focused on the game he’s watching with his headphones don’t seem that different from certain equivalents that would be around today. The context of post-counter culture sixties is there even if it remains under the surface and it’s not a reach to look at the film 35 years on and see it as being about the ultimate nightmare of the sixties generation in that city as everyone just sits back and lets Reagan take over—it’s not for nothing that one of the possibilities suggested of what may have happened to Geoffrey that he’s become a Republican, which before the truth is learned may seem like the most horrifying possibility of all.
There’s continuous snap to the dialogue whether discussion over whether anyone expected ‘metal ships’ or a decidedly ominous “I’ll see you soon…I hope” one woman who has turned says to Adams at one point. Every beat of the narrative is laid out expertly and even the relationships between the characters are vividly mapped out through shorthand without overexplaining why certain people are friends or how they know each other, particularly in the unspoken flirtation that’s been going on between Sutherland and Adams as well as whatever he’s told his friends about her (“This is THE Elizabeth?” is heard when one of them meets her). There’s also Nimoy’s teasing of Goldblum, a successful psychiatrist and author who seems to be pulling the appropriate advice from the filing cabinet in his head instead of listening versus the jealous poet who takes six months to think of a single line, the hack who’s a success placed against the artist with his principles jealous of that success. Scenes like these offer a consistent immediacy to the film’s tension and humor making it stand out all the more—maybe since Kaufman was never a horror director along the lines of John Carpenter the tone he’s going for here feels that much more jaggedy, distorted like through those funhouse mirrors in the bookstore. It’s as if his uncertainty of what would play correctly for the genre works for the uncertainty of the narrative, dangling on the precipice between suspense and satire as people about to be forcibly turned are earnestly told to not ‘be trapped by old concepts’, between the blank stares of Art Hindle’s Geoffrey and the insistent humanity brought forth by Sutherland’s lead performance, playing a person who seems relaxed in his daily life as he cooks for himself yet seeming to enjoy the exacting nature of his power over fancy French restaurants.
Maybe best known now for directing THE RIGHT STUFF (as well as his co-story credit on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), Kaufman’s work here is some of the best of his career containing metronome-like pacing to every single scene with those ominous garbage trucks everywhere. It propels itself forward through the enshrouding dread of the second half and a certain pop feel to the social commentary while being always serious about the threat as the utter blackness of the sequences where the characters are being pursued feel like the worst possible nightmare yet still very real. Right from the start Kaufman is planting suspicious-looking extras around the edges of the frame which seems almost too obvious and yet you could imagine in real life people wouldn’t pay much attention to that sort of thing. It’s to the film’s credit that many of those strange glances could be just about anything. It’s also to the film’s credit that every single one of them are probably exactly what we suspect they are in the end, an encroaching threat that seems like a shroud of darkness literally making its way over the film. The logic of the film seems to be that everything has already happened before the characters in the film have had a chance to even begin to realize it and the result is almost unnerving in its normality at times—when it becomes clear that one character has turned he doesn’t come off as a monster so much as someone simply annoyed that it wasn’t allowed to happen sooner.
There is some middle-of-the-movie juggling in the narrative when all it can do is stand in place for a few minutes while the threat intensifies, so a meeting with a city official is barely seen and doesn’t result in anything afterwards. But the best things stand out, like the genuinely eerie depiction of exactly how the change takes place when the pods are nearby as well as the score by Danny Zeitlin which maybe could better be described as a full-on soundscape (I could write a whole piece on my favorite uses of sound in the movie—Ben Burtt of STAR WARS legend is credited with the sound effects) along with the tiny touches like the strip club barker promising that what’s inside is “Guaranteed to make you feel like a new man!”, a genuinely memorable use of “Amazing Grace” or just the basic paranoia of the big city, the people who won’t stop staring, the cab driver (played by Don Siegel, director of BODY SNATCHERS ’56) repeatedly asking where you’re going. Like the San Francisco-set FREEBIE AND THE BEAN from a few years earlier barely a sequence goes by without a glimpse of the Transamerica building—on Kaufman’s DVD audio commentary he speaks of wanting it to appear to be pod central, a notion that certainly comes off in a few shots and considering how this is film was released by United Artists when they were owned by Transamerica the concept comes off as meta in several ways.
The question of what exactly remains of the former person inside is intriguingly not completely answered, all the way up to the famous final image and a moment near the end where we get to see people at their job, take over, zombified, changed, having already slept, doesn’t seem that far off from the real world these days. In spite of its placement in the series at the New Bev and however much these themes tie into the plot of THE WORLD’S END it feels a little like the film was at least as much of an influence on Wright’s earlier SHAUN OF THE DEAD, particularly the growing tension of the first half and a similarly unexplained shot of a man running in terror down the street—the constant attention paid to the angling of the houses on these San Francisco slopes makes me wonder if this film was also a large inspiration for how Steven Soderbergh photographed the city in CONTAGION. But the more I think about THE WORLD’S END and how bitterly its characters display their regretful feelings towards the past it at times makes me wonder if there really is more to the comparisons under the surface. The genuine enjoyment of this BODY SNATCHERS stands out and makes the film continually engaging on repeat viewings, yet the emotion that comes to the surface near the end makes me think about similar thoughts of regret and waiting around, not doing anything about what you deep down want to change. Matthew tells Elizabeth that he loves her, something that only happens because of the situation they’re in. And then suddenly it’s too late. Before then he was doing his thing, enjoying his casual flirting with her, cooking his food, doing his job, trying to be casual about it all. But he couldn’t say it. Not until then, when there was nothing more that could be done about it. Since she was living with a guy anyway, there probably wasn’t anything that could have been done earlier. Life isn’t fair. Which I suppose is an emotion that the pods want to rid us of. They want to make it so that doesn’t matter anymore. Either way, there are no happy endings.
Donald Sutherland is outstanding, using his height to intimidate when necessary but allowing his confidence to shrink down as he becomes more unsure about everything and the chase grinds on—I can’t think of many other examples of a hero begging for his life as nakedly as he does late in the film. Everyone is excellent and add to the flavor of each of these people mattering—the down to earth goofiness of Brooke Adams, the nebbish insecurity of Jeff Goldblum (seen in three films throughout the ‘World’s End is Nigh’ festival—INTO THE NIGHT and THE BIG CHILL were the others), Veronica Cartwright who is particularly good at balancing her exposition with the growing freak-out of her character and Leonard Nimoy in a sly use of the baggage that comes with his most famous role which he plays as if overjoyed at the chance to balance himself between the two halves, making every statement seem like he’s processing a quantum equation. Of course, Kevin McCarthy of the 1956 original 1956 makes a cameo appearance early on essentially reprising his most famous scene from that film, one of the first times this sort of cameo appearance ever happened and probably still the best—not at all shoehorned in, the moment plays perfectly well if you don’t know the original and if you have makes it all the more unnerving. As directed, McCarthy seems to go through the reprise of his most famous dialogue faster than we’d expect as if he doesn’t have the energy to shout it anymore. He knows what’s coming. He already knows.
On its release Pauline Kael went gaga for the film proclaiming, “For undiluted pleasure and excitement, it is, I think, the American movie of the year—a new classic.” The shrieking of the pod people has since become iconic and I suppose that a few lines of dialogue have as well, particularly, “How do you know my name? I didn’t tell you my name,” additions that have become as familiar to the BODY SNATCHERS lore as anything in the original. And it’s been officially remade two more times to date, by Abel Ferrara as BODY SNATCHERS in the early 90s and by Oliver Hirschbiegel as THE INVASION in 2007. Both productions had their problems—Warner Brothers barely released the Ferrara version to theaters (I’ve always liked that film) and the latter film, which even featured Veronica Cartwright in a supporting role, underwent extensive reshoots with another director. It’s a safe bet that it’ll be remade again eventually. The fear of losing someone you love, losing yourself, while you ‘sleep’, is too good a concept to not explore as our world continues to change. To be optimistic about this inevitability I’ll say that at least it’ll be another chance to prove my belief about the worth of remakes wrong. And I’ll be happy to let that happen. In the meantime I’ll return to my kitchen on Sunday nights making my pasta, listening to “Sinatra at the Sands” or whatever weird Italian lounge music I’m in the mood for and dream of being myself, thinking about the certain women I’m avoiding declaring my real feelings to. After all, it’s not too late yet. And if it is, I’ll try not to think about that for a little while.