‘Why remake the Mona Lisa?’

Four films you need to see if you haven’t already

Withnail & I. Supplied

All manner of dreck will infect your local multiplex this summer, and while some of it will be entertaining, and some of it may even be artistically challenging, you may find yourself wanting to stay in at home for an evening to watch a film on DVD or Blu-ray.

If that’s the case, we recommend one of the following four classic films.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Depicting humanity’s final minutes on Earth, Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece brilliantly captures both the horror and the absurdity of the Cold War arms race.

George C. Scott, Slim Pickens and Peter Sellers deliver stellar performances conveying the sheer madness and ignorance of the politicians and generals who compete childishly in a frantic race to undo humanity’s destruction via several thousand hydrogen bombs.

Currently, we are witnessing the emergence of China as a military superpower and the United States will likely be unable to continue competing and spending to remain the sole global superpower.

The likelihood of any nation state to relinquish such power could very likely end catastrophically for all.

Dr. Strangelove remains as relevant today as it was when first released.

Blue Velvet

Many words have been used to describe David Lynch’s 1986 classic: surreal, neo-noir and ultra-weird are among them. The film is often described in strange ways since it delves into the sordid reality that exists beneath the pruned, mowed and sanitized world of suburban/small town mid-20th century North America, where many mainstream critics are comfortable.

Lynch brilliantly combines frightening symbolism, exceptional cinematography, a genuinely fascinating mystery, plus an authentically crazy and nitrous oxide-addled Dennis Hopper. Isabella Rossellini and Dean Stockwell also provide superb performances as a kidnapped lounge singer and a dandy debonair drug dealer, respectively.

Oh! And hipsters, you’ll certainly enjoy the antagonist’s fervent endorsement of PBR!

Withnail & I

Bruce Robinson’s 1987 debut is a darkly comic bromance-political satire set in 1969 about friendship and disillusionment, but with lines such as “my dear boys … we’re shat on by Tories,” the work screams contemporaneity.

Withnail & I tells the story of two “resting” actors who set out to spend a weekend in the English countryside in order to “rejuvenate.”

Unable to cope with an un-urban existence, Withnail and Marwood spend their time drinking ridiculous amounts of booze, running away from randy bulls and spewing some of the most beautifully written lines in film history, such as “I can never touch meat until it’s cooked. As a youth, I used to weep in butcher shops!”

Watch it, and have booze with you whilst doing so.


Another 1987 film, Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi action work is set in a decadent Detroit of a dystopian future, and it tells the story of a man who’s brought back to life as a robotic police officer. A lot of people dismiss the film as “kids’ stuff.” What they fail to notice is its elements of parody - which, when analyzed, elevate the movie to the masterpiece level.

RoboCop successfully prophesied the collapse of Detroit’s economy and the downfall of America’s corporate structure. The film also paints a witty portrait of the greedy ‘80s Yuppie culture, with young men in suits snorting coke and fighting over profit as if comparing penis sizes, as evidenced by one of my favourite lines: “I had guaranteed military sale … who cares if it works or not?”

In fact, the film is so multi-layered that, dare I say, RoboCop’s tag-line “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me” can be seen as a critique of Reaganomics.

There is an unnecessary remake in the works, by Brazilian director Jose Padilha, and starring Gary Oldman. I say, avoid it like the plague.

Why remake the Mona Lisa?!

Published in Volume 66, Number 28 of The Uniter (June 27, 2012)

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