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Long Weekend (2008 remake)

tn_longweekendremakeWatching the remake of LONG WEEKEND today something seemed awfully familiar. I mean not just the movie itself. It was the opening credits. Flying over Australian trees and bodies of water, gently pulsing electronic tones, for a second I thought I forgot to change the DVD because it seems like the exact same credits as the last movie I watched, STORM WARNING. I knew it was the same writer, Everett De Roche, but it turns out it’s the same director too, Jamie Blanks (also editor and composer). So he must’ve been on a De Roche kick just like I am.

mp_longweekendremakeDe Roche wrote the original LONG WEEKEND and is credited for this one too – not just “based on a screenplay by,” he gets sole writing credit again. And as far as I can tell this is like a Joseph Stefano rewriting PSYCHO for Gus Van Sant type deal, because it’s almost the exact same dialogue throughout the whole movie.

In my review of the original LONG WEEKEND I linked to an interview with De Roche where he mentioned a more elaborate ending they failed to pull off:

“A large slab of the script was omitted because of the difficulty of working with animals. I wrote an enormously complicated sequence for near the end where the animals give Peter a second chance. They want him to wise up, and he is at the point of doing so when he hears a truck in the distance. He dashes off to the highway, and the animals decide there is no hope. Poetically, they leave it to another man to kill him.”

So I was looking for that, but if they did it, I didn’t get it. It didn’t seem like the animals were trying to give him another chance. There was a snake in a tree. I think an owl hooted at him. There were no subtitles, it’s hard to know what he meant.

Anyway, Jim Caviezel (playing Australian) is Peter in this version, Claudia Karvan (DAYBREAKERS) is Marcia, only I guess she’s called Carla. That’s one of the major departures from the original. Updated for the 2000s. Who the fuck is named Marcia? That’s not something this generation can relate to. The dog is still named Cricket, but it’s a different breed. A nice twist.

Like PSYCHO the modernization is minimal. There is a mobile phone at the beginning, but no texting. Instead of $3,000 he spent $10,000 on the camping equipment. And there’s a part where they talk about Gnarls Barkley. Nah, I’m just fucking with you on that last one. The closest thing to a dated reference is when Peter’s hunting ducks he starts doing a Christopher Walken impression for a little bit. That was a good reason to update it because when the original was filmed they didn’t know anybody knew who the fuck Christopher Walken was. I mean he had been in ANNIE HALL, but I’m not sure most people would get the reference. By the time LONG WEEKEND came out here THE DEER HUNTER had been out for a year, but there was no way they could’ve known. So in the remake they were able to fix that.

I don’t know man, I don’t really get why they made this movie, but I don’t got nothing against it. Even watching it a few days after the original it was pretty entertaining. But I’m the guy who kind of likes watching the PSYCHO remake, so what the fuck do I know? It’s interesting to me to see two different sets of actors doing the exact same shit. It shows how great the script is that it can be done with different people in a different style and an entirely different era and still work. The characters still work, the situation still works, the abortion and nature themes are still relevant, it’s still funny when he points out that he just got attacked by an eagle.

I think Caviezel might be a little more sympathetic in the role than the O.G. Peter, but he’s still an asshole. One part that struck me is when they’ve seen this black shape in the water threatening him while he surfs, so he gets out the rifle and shoots it, and later Carla says it could’ve killed him. He says no, it was “probly just a dolphin.” And it doesn’t bother him that he might’ve shot a fucking dolphin! It’s like don’t worry dear, everything is okay, I just shot a dolphin, that’s all. Murdered an intelligent, endangered animal capable of communication and using tools. Don’t be so upset.

Maybe that is a dated line, or maybe it’s a good example of why the koalas and spiders and shit want to give this prick the business.

And the second time around I really noticed that geez, this guy is way too angry about her spilling sugar. So what if the ants get into it? This is not something an adult should be yelling at another adult about. That wasn’t the last sugar in the world, dude. Calm down.

I realized this time that the husband disrespects nature by shooting, chopping, littering, running over, etc., but the wife disrespects it just by not liking it. She doesn’t enjoy the beauty at all, she locks herself in the tent. When she does lay out there it’s face down to get a tan on her back. She says “this place is horrible” and calls it “this awful place” and I don’t think it’s just because all the animals hate her. She just doesn’t like the outdoors. Or eagle’s eggs.

Cricket didn’t turn on them in this one. That was a little disappointing. If anything I think that aspect should’ve been played up more. It’s a major betrayal when man’s best friend conspires with snakes and eagles. Taking away that blow makes it feel a little soft. But they make up for it by giving Peter a more gruesome death, I guess.

In the U.S. this was dumped straight to DVD with the title NATURE’S GRAVE, and what is that supposed to mean? It doesn’t sound like Nature is creating a grave for you. NATURE’S has an apostrophe, it’s possessive. Here lies Nature. This is the grave where Nature is buried. But by definition if you bury Nature aren’t you covering Nature in dirt, and isn’t dirt already Nature? Well, maybe it’s buried in jelly bellies. Or those plastic balls the kids play in at Chuck E. Cheese. I don’t know.

I do know that this does not look like a cover designed by professionals:

mp_naturesgrave
It’s weird because Jim Caviezel is always known for having played Jesus, people even just refer to him as Jesus instead of Jim. And like the fucking Romans the Hollywood decision makers won’t give the guy a fucking break. I’m not gonna cry over this one, but despite the chronically literal-minded knuckleheads on IMDb messageboards (yeah, I know, don’t read ’em. But they’re just sitting there. Sometimes you get curious) I feel like some people would enjoy this movie if they knew to give it a chance. It really didn’t need to be mocked and beaten and forced to wear a crown of thorns like that fuckin cover.

I guess HIGHWAYMEN and OUTLANDER weren’t treated as badly, but those are legitimately good movies he stars in that they failed to get people to see. They forgot to tell people how unusual HIGHWAYMEN was, or that OUTLANDER is a movie that exists and that you could watch.

Maybe there really is a McCarthy style blacklist against conservatives in Hollywood, like the AIRPLANE! guy said when he made that horrible piece of shit movie. I didn’t know it but I’m reading up on Caviezel here, it turns out he doesn’t believe in doing sex scenes, and did an ad against stem cell research (rebutting an ad by Michael J. Fox – like an anti-Marty McFly dis record), and donated money to notorious gay-hating douchebag former Senator Rick Santorum.

That last one is hard to forgive. On the other hand I kind of feel sorry for him because he got struck by lightning, and because a crazy guy threw a bike at him and made him crash his Harley. Plus he adopted two Chinese orphans who have brain tumors, so he can’t be that bad. After you hear that it’s hard to really hate him, unless you’re an animal or a tree or something. So I doubt somebody said “this prick gave money to Rick Santorum, just wait til’ you see how shitty we made the DVD cover!”

Anyway, it’s okay. I think he works good as an under-the-radar actor.  I feel like I got my money’s worth out of this one, but I don’t think I can recommend it to most people. If you haven’t seen the original you should see it, and if you have seen it you’ve already seen it. The slick digital photography here looks really good and I guess it was filmed in a part of Australia where a feature has never been shot before. But the original was even more beautiful, and I prefer that grainy ’70s film look. And let’s be honest, so do you.

The movie is dedicated to the memory of Colin Eggleston, director of the original. If you’re paying attention you’ll also notice a hotel called The Eggleston Hotel. So, wait a minute. Carla, when she correctly suggested that they should stay at the hotel instead of sleep in the car, wanted to go back to Eggleston. As if she’s saying to go back to the original version, instead of the remake. Hmmmm.

Maybe the real purpose of this movie is to sharpen Jamie Blanks’s directational teeth. It’s good practice for him, studying how the classics are put together. He does a good job, he works with these actors and gets some nice footage of nature and what not. And I guess if there’s anybody out there that has a fetish for women masturbating in tents who get interrupted by the cry of a sea cow, well, now there are two movies for you to work with there. Merry Christmas.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 30th, 2010 at 3:35 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

18 Responses to “Long Weekend (2008 remake)”

  1. I heard he was struck by lightning twice, and not in the movie voice-over way.

  2. Maybe the U.S. title is just using a contraction to be short for “NATURE IS GRAVE”, as in it’s not something to be taken lightly?

    By the way, Vern, I was pleasantly surprised to find your article in CLiNT magazine, and you’ll be pleased to know it was opposite a comic page of a guy wielding a shotgun. Or maybe not, since you were talking about Badass Juxtaposition. Should he have been stroking a bunny instead?

  3. I’ve heard Caveziel’s not exactly a rabid conservative, just super-religous evangelical christian. And really sincere in his beliefs, like, he truly believes in trying to bring the good news of the word of god to everyone. Of course, these days, it’s almost impossible to be a devout Christian and NOT overlap with hate-filled authoritarian morons….

    Anyway, I’ve been looking at Criterion’s wonderful new disc of THE THIN RED LINE and having similar thoughts about Caveziel (and a bunch of other actors like Dash Mihok, Kirk Acevedo, David Herrod, Larry Romano, and the guy with the thompson who’s taunting the Japanese–his character’s named Dale). Where did they all go? Mihok’s still acting (he was on FELICITY for a while, and in KISS KISS BANG BANG), but I don’t think any of them have had roles anywhere near as good as they did in that movie. How weird is it that the guys who got cut down to either cameos (Adrian Brody, Tim Blake Nelson) or totally out of the movie (Mickey Rourke, who is amazing in his deleted scene) later did so well and the guys with the most screentime largely fizzled out?

    I mean, Caveziel is SO good in THIN RED LINE–his performance in THE PASSION is impressive too, but doesn’t even come close to how great he is as Witt, in my opinion. But what is up with his career? He moved right on to FREQUENCY and then it was pretty much downhill into b-movie genereland from there. And he’s never given a truly bad performance, he’s elevated a lot of stuff, but….I dunno, it’s just not what I was expecting for him.

  4. Nature’s kicking my ass here in the ‘Stan.  I’m sharing a giant, cold tent with about 250 dudes & about 100 cots, all of us surrounded by snow as we await word on when we can catch a long flight back to North Carolina (probably too late to vote, damnation, but at least I can recall with a smile that that Savage guy hilariously ensured that that Santorum assface is only on the cultural-political radar for one reason  http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/08/rick-santorum-google-problem-dan-savage  ), so it’s a good thing I have the skills of that bitchass kid in Die Hard 4, giving myself mobile internet access and seeing Vern pop out a piece about every 13 hours as the Halloween season inspires him.  It motivates me; I’m jealous of anyone who can consistently produce good shit like this without a supervisor’s deadline forcing his hand.  

    In my college days and a brief postgrad period I had the wonderful semi-academic opportunity to city-hop & see many live productions of Shakespeare’s greatest hits across the US and one in Montreal.  I also watched most known film versions and available filmed onstage versions of Macbeth.  It was all enjoyable work.  And with the uberpractical & financial upside of becoming something of a Macbeth expert, who *wouldn’t* go on a cross-continent Macbeth binge, right?  

    The tour was fun for lots of reasons.  When I first arrived at a new city on my tour, I would always try to hit the bar scene or call my local friends to help me line up a girlfriend/girlfling for the weekend as soon as I checked in at the hotel or friend’s place.  That way, when I wormed my way into the post-play cast party I could ignore the temptation to just flirt with the actresses and could register more rewarding hours in my semi-academic labor of love.  
    Much as Vern is the only person ever to detail all the thematic significance of the dialogue in Seagal’s filmography, I would be seemingly the only guy at the cast party to care deeply about the director-costume designer-lighting technician-performer-Shakespeare relationship.  Under the pretense of journalism, sometimes, I would force performers to share their methods with me.  Or I would bring 3 bottles of champagne backstage and let the bubbly work its magic while I took notes.  

    With the hazy goal of determining the nature of an English-speaking world’s centuries-spanning adoration & reverence for one man’s words, I spent many a dark contemplative night pondering the same exact things Vern brings up in this article [and also having my weak, English language-based original hypotheses obliterated when I determined that Throne of Blood (in Shakespearean Japanese!) is among the best Macbeths ever made and Kurosawa’s best film!].  

    ***It’s interesting to me to see two different sets of actors doing the exact same shit. It shows how great the script is that it can be done with different people in a different style and an entirely different era and still work. The characters still work, the situation still works, the . . . themes are still relevant, it’s still funny when he points out that he just got attacked by an eagle.***

    Some may downplay the profundity of Vern’s succinct declaration of this Truth, dismissing it as mere sound & fury told by an idiot* who likes van Sant’s Psycho for chrissakes, either because it is presented in an obscure review of a nonessential film or because of the eagle attack thing.  I will make no such mistake.  Sustained commitment to a life of marathon movie sessions and one’s embrace of cinema nerdiness is another form of my Shakespeare project, which itself was a variation on the Auteur Theory that Vern says he honorably uses as his guidance in selecting his next subject.  And, in the account of his feelings toward Long Weekend (2008 remake), Vern’s words are timeless words, a timeless declaration of the curious & artistic Truth-hungry audience’s impetus to explore all that one script, one set-up, one scenario, one cast of characters, one person’s material can be when it occupies variegated artistic spaces & times.  

    *Macbeth Act V, Scene 5:  “It is a tale, Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

  5. And that Criterion The Thin Red Line sounds awesome.

  6. I just got to watch the blu-ray The Thin Red Line a couple weeks ago on my lucky brother’s giant screen. It’s been my personal favorite film for several years, but seeing it like that was…dang good.
    I also was fascinated by the Mickey Rourke deleted scene. He’s carrying a sniper rifle in it, which makes you wonder what other footage with him might have been cut out…
    I once went to hear Billy Weber (who edited this and one of Malick’s other movies, Days of Heaven) and he talked about how they had to edit around a lot of Jim Caveziel’s takes to make it work, but maybe that was more the editor in him talking than reflective of Caveziel’s performance.
    Anyway, I’d love to see Vern reviews on any/all of Malick’s movies. Maybe in leading up to the release of The Tree of Life in 2011?

  7. Next they need to do the Muppets version.

    “I just got attacked by Sam the Eagle!”

  8. Reg. Rourke in Thin Red Line: It was just one scene. He played a “Marine Sniper” and apparently there’s quite a bit more to that scene–people who’ve seen the whole thing call it “powerful”. I guess Malick apparently chose some highlights, basically, for the DVD. Mickey Rourke was reportedly really upset when he heard it had been cut and to this day considers it some of his best work. And he may be right, what they put on the DVD is very good….

    In the shooting script, it just says “Further along, Witt encounters a Marine Sniper.” That’s it. Malick improvised the whole thing on location. I strongly suspect it was inspired by a very powerful and atmospheric drawing of a sniper that’s included in a coffee table book of war art that James Jones, author of the original novel “The Thin Red Line” edited and wrote text for.

  9. Oh wow, thanks CC, didn’t know about the war art book. That makes my day.

  10. Hey CC, do you have a title on that book, a cursory amazon search did not give me it.

  11. The book is called just “WWII” and was published in 1975. I own a copy I found at a used bookstore, and a lot of libraries seem to have it. So it’s out there–shouldn’t be too hard to track down.

    The drawing of the sniper is on pg. 69 and by the artist Kerr Eby.

  12. If it’s true that Caveziel is a “super-religous evangelical christian” who “truly believes in trying to bring the good news of the word of god to everyone,” that must have made for some interesting conversations between takes when he did that crappy remake of THE PRISONER with Gandalf.

  13. Well, according to reports, Caveziel and Sean Penn reportedly had some stormy debates while they were filming Thin Red Line…

  14. i dunno… this movie sounds awesome, but it’d kinda make me the villain. i hate and fear nature, especially Australian nature. it’s not a popular position over here though…

  15. I haven’t read the comments for the original version of this film; but does anyone else think that Australia is about the first place on the planet where Nature shouldn’t be ticced off?!

    What I mean is that it sounds like both movies go with a minimalist approach featuring animals commonly available anywhere–which may increase the universal appeal, and certainly ought to help reduce the budget. But how awesome would this movie be if Nature suddenly realized these yuppies are insulting her IN FREAKING AUSTRALIA, and decided to get serious by throwing as much wacky Australian wildlife (and plantlife) as possible at them?

    Though then again, maybe that would be kind of a waste against two weekend-vacationing yuppies. Australia may reserve the house-sized giant pigs and 30-foot crocs (at least one of which is a real animal) for crazy youth gangs in armored sports vehicles. Who would seem to be disrespecting Nature rather much more, come to think of it.

  16. i’d love to see Aussie wildlife eat a bunch of self-righteous Aussie hippies, ‘roots’ bands and the John Butler Trio (think Jack Johnson)

  17. Fun Fact for Mouth and the others:

    Back in the 30s or something when dubbing a movie with a different language was not possible there were productions where they would film the movie twice with a different cast for different languages. Like actually film the same scene back to back with different actors.

    That could be interesting to compare.

  18. Yeah, I remember seeing clips of a “German” Laurel & Hardy movie. I also read that Fritz Lang didn’t direct one single second of the English version of M.

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