Death warmed up
Teen Wolf Too – if you must; Dumb and Dumberer – er, OK; but Raging Bull 2? DONALD CLARKEsees the announcement of a sequel to Scorsese’s classic as the start of a slippery slope . . .
EVERY NOW AND then a popcultural snippet arrives that causes one to wonder whether we are actually living through a particularly absurd episode of The Simpsons. Such intimations have been stirred by the news that a gang of opportunists is attempting to make a sequel to Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. The new film seeks to prod those corners of boxer Jake LaMotta’s life not covered by the 1980s classic.
Well, that’s all right then. Isn’t it? It’s not really a sequel, as such; it’s just a further study of certain historical events. You fools! Lest the punter be in any doubt, the makers of the project really have decided to call it Raging Bull 2. Not surprisingly, MGM (or what’s left of that withered studio), custodians of the Scorsese film, have kicked their lawyers into action.
Should we be surprised? Probably not. The modern world is awful and the desecration of cultural treasures has become an international sport. But it did seem reasonable to assume that sequel jockeys would leave more esoteric films alone. Scorsese’s grim monochrome study of obsession never seemed likely to spawn a franchise. Whatever next?
THE SEVENTH SEAL II: THE EIGHTH SEAL
OK, Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film, a key work in the cinema of gloom, does seem to end with Max Von Sydow’s Knight being led to oblivion in the company of Death himself. But isn’t this scene something of a supernatural vision? The sequence could, surely, be reasonably compared to Bobby Ewing’s more prosaic, less allegorically driven death in the TV series Dallas. We’ve got past all that post-war existential rot now. So, the Knight is still alive and, having been messed around something rotten, is as mad as hell. Look, Bergman had the makings of an excellent sword-and-sorcery picture on his hands before he mucked it up with unnecessary wittering and too much focus on board games. We need to get Liam Neeson on side – the new, kick-ass Liam; we need to increase the number of swordfights; and, most importantly, this time round we need to make absolutely sure that Death loses. What sort of message did The Seventh Seal have for viewers? Where’s the redemption?
SON OF CITIZEN KANE
Yes, we understand that Orson Welles pioneered absurdly deep focus, sets with visible ceilings and all sorts of other baloney that nobody really cares about. But the film seems insanely confused about the greatness of its own protagonist. He founded an empire, for Pete’s sake.
Anyway, it seems that the cacophonous opera singer played by Dorothy Comingore gave birth some months after leaving Kane and tendered the child for adoption. Somehow, he ended up in Australia and founded a media empire that ultimately took over all the world’s newspapers, most of its satellite TV and a good portion of the international movie business. Unlike Welles, Joel Schumacher, director of Batman Robin, will bring out the warmth of his protagonist. It will have a happy ending with the hero being celebrated at an official UK enquiry convened to celebrate the integrity of the press.
VERTIGO UNBOUND 3D
Alfred Hitchcock finally got it right with Dial M for Murder. In that film, he demonstrated that the key to a fine thriller is not the careful maintenance of tension or the withholding of vital plot points; it is, rather, the promiscuous use of 3D. Forget the shower scene in Psycho. Remember that bit in Dial M when Grace Kelly stuck her hand right down the camera lens. That’s proper film-making.