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Filmism.net Dispatch September 18, 2011

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I was very interested this week to see the critical reaction to Rod Lurie's remake of Straw Dogs . Lurie himself said agreeing to it was fraught with peril and I agree. Not because of any long shadow cast by the original (which didn't make a huge impact on me) but on the rest of his career.

He's like the Chris Nolan or Andrew Niccol of drama, somehow managing to tell you a cracking tale while seamlessly (and invisibly) including an idea you really need to know. In The Contender it was the power of character assassination in politics. In Resurrecting the Champ and Nothing But the Truth it was about the privileges and responsibilities of being a journalist (which Lurie once was).

His direction is always cool, nonjudgmental and dispassionate, his brilliant writing putting passion in the mouths of actors who've done far lesser work. He's got Oscar-worthy performances out of man-meat Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale and Samuel L Jackson who, lets face it, is a bit of a ham most of the time nowadays.

So I can't figure out what similarly sharp, contemporary and urgent social theme he saw in Straw Dogs and I can't wait to find out, but so far audiences aren't impressed.

Also, even though it's not up to the minute news, did you know the next films after The Tree of Life and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo are already readying for release from auteurs Terrence Malick and David Fincher? Hollywood house rentals must be going up, because they've both spent the 2000s doing very rare projects, drip-feeding cinematic brilliance to their rabid fans. Now they're positively prolific.

I also wrote about a dying but (to me) still essential cinematic art form a while ago which I thought I'd share with you. No matter how good CGI gets it still still can't replicate the emotion, physics and urgency of in-camera effects, and some of the best action/adventure movies of the modern era have stood or fallen on their animatronics.

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