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Let Me In gets American Stamp In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: September 30, 2010

the-departed-5056fe9ecf306This weekend the story of a 12-year-old vampire who helps her young neighbour deal with bullies at school hits theatres.

Sound familiar?

It should, the movie is an American remake of a Swedish art house hit from less than twelve months ago. Let Me In, the English language remounting of Låt den rätte komma in, joins a long list of movies to paste an American stamp on its cinematic passport.

Let Me In is earning good reviews for its respectful treatment of the source material but that is not always the case. Critic Tom O’Neil warned, “Chances are, with the remake, Hollywood is just serving up re-fried beans that aren’t very tasty.”

Re-hashes like Weekend at Bernie’s, which was loosely based on the Indian cult classic Jane Bhi Do Yaaron and the Thai film Bangkok Dangerous, which won the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival international critics’ Award only to be retooled as a big budget, small-brained Nic Cage movie, have left a bad taste in viewer’s mouths but not all remakes are unpalatable.

The Departed, the Irish Mafia movie that gave Martin Scorsese his long deserved Best Director Oscar, was based on the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs.

Critics loved Scorsese’s film, giving it a 93 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, although Infernal Affairs star Andy Lau grumbled, “The Departed was too long,” and Andrew Lau, the original’s co-director said, “of course I think the version I made is better but the Hollywood version is pretty good too.”

Also pretty good is Insomnia, Christopher Nolan’s 2002 remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name. Directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg, the original’s story of a disgraced Swedish detective, played by Stellan Skarsgård, who struggles to solve a brutal murder case in northern Norway is a gritty psychological drama which writer Peter Cowie said “represents European cinema at its most challenging.”

The U.S. remake, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank is a much different film. Roger Ebert said, “unlike most remakes, the Nolan Insomnia is not a pale retread, but a re-examination of the material, like a new production of a good play.”

These U.S. remakes have always been with us, and regardless of how Let Me In fares at the box office, are unlikely to stop. For better or for worse plans are already underway for an English remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starring Daniel Craig.

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