Suggestion

It might be better for younger would-be viewers of Rod Lurie‘s Straw Dogs (Screen Gems, 9.16) to not see the 1971 Sam Peckinpah original, which is out on Bluray on 9.6. They’re very similar films, and I for one couldn’t stop thinking how similar as I watched Lurie’s version. It’s his best film ever, I feel, but seeing it clean without any back-and-forth going on in your head is preferable, I think, for Peckinpah virgins. See Lurie’s film and then see the Peckinpah — that’s my advice.

DVD Beaver‘s Gary Tooze says that MGM Video’s Dogs Bluray “is probably as good as it’s going to get…with a very high bitrate, it has definite visual advantages over the standard DVD editions. [It] looks pretty good but not pristine — it’s actually better than I expected in motion with some depth sneaking in here and there and detail in close-ups is notable.”

38 thoughts on “Suggestion

  1. Saw a TV spot for it today that was scored to the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” — a song that was already old when the Peckinpah version was released. Way to go after that under-40 demo.

  2. I am going to see the remake purely for the rape scene which was absolutely fascinating. I know this sounds awful, but the original did something I’ve never seen in a movie before or since. Also Skarsgard is phenomenal on True Blood to bring in a little TV reference.

  3. The commercials for Lurie’s version are SHIT. Makes it look like one of those Hills Have Eyes or Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes.

    NOT APPEALING AT ALL.

    For the record, calling this Rod Lurie’s best movie is like praising Kookiehara for working a mouse. Lurie’s only good work in his entire career was every moment in the Contender where he let Gary Oldman and Jeff Bridges be Gary Oldman and Jeff Bridges.

    Other than that, he’s a shite TV hack.

  4. Jeff, do you prefer Peckinpah’s to this one? Do you have to wait until a certain day to discuss this one in depth?

    I agree with Ray that none of the marketing has made this look appealing.

  5. I have not seen Lurie’s film, and am making no judgments about it, but to say that people should rob themselves of the experience of seeing Peckinpah’s film fresh… why would you do that?

  6. Lurie’s film is commendable on several different fronts and in some ways superior (or you know…more arresting, cooler, something) than the Peckinpah…in a way. But I can’t honestly say that it’s better than the Peckinpah overall, It does have its own way of animating the story, and has a certain integrity for that. That’s all I’ll say for now.

  7. Lurie’s film will play better if you see it without Peckinpah in your head…that’s all. This is what I think.

  8. “Lurie’s film is commendable on several different fronts and in some ways superior (or you know…more arresting, cooler, something) than the Peckinpah…”

    I’ll keep this comment pasted on my laptop screen in order to keep a clear perspective on all comments made on this site.

    It’s the ultimate anti-auteur consciousness statement, which indicates all kinds of disturbing equations and suppositions about filmmaking that I personally find too troubling too contemplate without a double shot of Herradura.

    When I feel better, I’ll come back to discuss at length.

  9. To my mind, there’s not a moment in Peckinpah’s masterful STRAW DOGS that is off.

    The great director juggled the hot topics of 1971… sexual politics, feminism, Vietnam, territorial imperatives, you name it, and still managed to play the audience like a violin. The acting was superb across the board and Peckinpah’s editing team (including Roger Spottiswoode) brought the action home and then some.

    So to hear that parts of Lurie’s film are “superior” and (even more odd) “cooler” is startling news. Can’t wait to see how this plays out.

  10. It’s the ultimate anti-auteur consciousness statement, Also Skarsgard is phenomenal on True Blood to bring in a little TV reference.kody blog

    It does have its own way of animating the story, and has a certain integrity for that.

  11. Well, Gaydos, at least you are not one of those pussies (like most of us) posting under fake names. But I am shocked that as a professional critic you are pre-judging the film so overtly.

    I have seen Lurie’s version and I think that JEFF IS SPOT ON. It’s a pretty amazing film, similar (duh, its a fucking remake people) to the Peckinpah, but runs counter to that film’s blatant fascism. Lurie has taken the work of a right wing nutter and with some kind of odd magical wand turned it into a ;et wing manifesto. It’s not politcally correct, that’s not what I am saying, but it doesn’t embrace the territorial imperative of Peckinpah. It rejects it. Outright.

    HERE IS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

    Lurie used to be a critic and was a member of the junket circuit. I remember him being an annoying little runt who hogged the table, asked inappropriate questions, and was always talking about becoming a film writer. When he and Ryan Murphy were together it was unbearable. But, now, here we are – and this little asshole is a film director who has done mostly good, sometimes great, and once in a while shitty work.

    I’ll admit that I as insanely envious of him (both of them, actually- but Murphy is such a queen I can let it go). And the truth is that most of us go after him for that reason. He is the only film maker today that comes from our generation of critics. Most of us – and probably you, Gaydos – have some script somewhere that haunts us. And we probably think it is better than anything Lurie has ever done or will do and fuck him.

    Oh, the TV spots are genius. No, they are nothing like the film, but its going to make ten time what the Peckinpah did – and that is with inflated dollars.

  12. “similar (duh, its a fucking remake people) to the Peckinpah, but runs counter to that film’s blatant fascism. Lurie has taken the work of a right wing nutter and with some kind of odd magical wand turned it into a ;et wing manifesto.”

    Oh, so you’re basically saying that Lurie has taken the subtext of Peckinpah’s film (in which David was decidedly the villain of the piece) and made it obvious for dummies.

    Sounds awesome!

  13. TL- I do not even understand what your comment means. If you re into Peckinpah’s vision than you’re a right wing nutter. Simple as that. I think Rod’s experiment is bold to say the least. he’s no coward, that’s for sure. His version is highly intellectual.

    You really have no clue what you are talking about – which makes sense since you have not seen the film.

  14. Man, I think I might see this. Kinda despise Kate Bosworth, but Marsden is a terrific actor in need of a breakthrough. Maybe this could be it?

  15. “You really have no clue what you are talking about – which makes sense since you have not seen the film.”

    Well, gee, I just took your description at face value. Sorry for trusting you. Peckinpah’s film is a subtle yet undeniable critique of macho attitudes and the “this home is protected by Smith & Wesson” culture. From your description, Lurie is removing all subtly and dumbing it down to black and white, which given the movies of his that I’ve seen (The Contender, The Castle, Nothing But the Truth) sounds in line with his M.O.

    It’s 2011, and the reductive view of Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs as a fascist celebration of hyper-masculinity and violence was kicked to the curb decades ago. Stephen Prince dismantles that interpretation on the Criterion DVD scene-by-scene if you’re interested.

  16. TL-

    What did i write to make you come to the conclusion that in the new version “Lurie is removing all subtly and dumbing it down to black and white”.

    You sound like another guy with an agenda against a former critic (are you one?) who has done well for himself. “The Last castle” is a fun commercial film – but “Nothing but the Truth” and “The Contender” are very strong political essays.

    Rod is a West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar. I doubt you are remotely close to him from an education point of view. Why don’t you wait until you see the film. It may not be perfect, but I think Jeff is right on. If you’re honest you will likely feel the same way.

    And by the way, “Straw Dogs” by Peckinpah was subtle? Really. And I have listened to the Prince track and, nice try, but I think you are far off in your assessment of what he has to say.

  17. littlebigman: First of all, thanks for noting that I speak here without some stupid subterfuge. Don’t understand the point of having a view and then not revealing it’s you with the view. Whatever.

    Secondly, I’m not a film critic. Haven’t written a film review in about 12 years.

    Third, what did I say that warrants you saying I’ve “prejudged” the film?

    I’m talking about seriously about auteurism and the serious half of the talk will resonate with you if you read James Toback’s comments about how he’s been treated this week on the planned remake of “The Gambler.”

    I don’t understand why anyone would want to remake films like “Straw Dogs” and “The Wild Bunch,” but I also find the equation of Lurie and Peckinpah more than a bit audacious.

    How can it be prejudging if both filmmakers have bodies of work to analyze and rank relative to one another?

    Moving on, folks, the purported racism of “The Wild Bunch” and purported glorification of rape in “Dogs” is, in both cases, pretty stupid. But it made good copy decades ago and I guess people are still stupid and lazy and blind.

    For the record: the bravest, most noble person in “The Wild Bunch” is the Mexican member of the Wild Bunch, Angel. As far as the Mexicans being largely horrible characters, check out railroad thug Albert Dekker and the white trash gang following Robert Ryan.

    Not exactly paragons of human evolution, eh?

    as for “Dogs,” Susan George is confronted by HER EX BOYFRIEND. They had a sexual relationship before she took up with the twerp she’s married to. THEN something horrible happens and it’s presented as something horrible.

    Why do I bother. How’s my typing?

    Now shall we go back to discussing the retirement of Steven Soderbergh or the social satires of Alexander Payne? Something nice and safe and maybe people will even drop their pseudonyms and speak boldly of works that will make Stephen Farber’s defiantly middlebrow mind swell with joy.

  18. Who pissed in littlebigman’s Cheerio’s? Love it when critics are so open-minded as to say, “If you’re into Peckinpah’s vision than you’re a right wing nutter.” Guess I never realized I was a nutter until littlebigman set me straight and that Rod Lurie is by definition more educated than any of us lowly non-Rhodes, non-West Point followers.

    I have to leave now and go burn all my Chomsky. In the meantime, maybe littlebigman can get Lurie’s dick out of his mouth.

  19. Geez- how about a sense of humor, guys.

    Gaydos- I spoke with Rod after the screening in NYC. There is a whole new take on the rape scene and it resonated even more after hearing his take on it. I won’t explain it here as it is the differences in attitude that really separate the two films and part of what is fascinating about watching it. Have you ever met Rod or spent any time with him?

    And, yes, mybrainismelting, if you believe in the territorial imperative as did Peckinpah than you are (almost be defintion) a right wing nutter. Get educated on it.

    This film is going to be received much better than any person on this board ever imagined. Jeff is right, it’s his best film by far and gloriously cinematic.

  20. Gaydos, by the way, your comments seem to take umbrage with Jeff’s contention that in some ways Rod’s movie is better than Peckinpah’s. That’s what I meant by prejudging. jeff has seen it. You have not. At the moment, he is speaking with more authority than you.

  21. littlebigman:

    time to read my comments again. and then read my comments about my comments again.

    not prejudging anything. talking about critical theories and two filmmakers’ contributions to cinema. so far.

    and yes i know rod lurie and i wish him great success and good fortune and i hope he makes a film that enlightens, illuminates, shakes us up, changes the way we see the world. i hope YOU do that. That’s what Peckinpah did, before the era of the outlaw directors in Hollywood ended and the railroad won.

  22. Rashad: “So getting raped and liking it is a feminist message?”

    As if that scene is the ONLY scene involving George, and as if that is a fair assessment of the scene. Please see Gaydos’ patient explanation just above.

    We’ve already established, a month ago, that Rashad comprehends absolutely nothing about “Straw Dogs”. Do we really need to go through it again for him?

  23. “I don’t understand why anyone would want to remake films like “Straw Dogs” and ‘The Wild Bunch’…”

    Because they’ve run out of John Carpenter and George Romero movies to remake?

  24. cadavra:

    Eggs Ackley.

    When auteurs are outlawed, only outlaws will be auteurs. Everyone else is just working for the raillroad.

    And if Rashad wants to bother, he can watch “The Wild Bunch” to see if he understands the difference between Peckinpah’s Mexico Lindo and Mr. “So Goddamned Right” Harrigan, whose great grandson now runs a multinational conglomerate that owns a movie studio that makes films for people who work for the railroad and don’t even know it.

  25. @littlebigman

    “You sound like another guy with an agenda against a former critic (are you one?) who has done well for himself. “The Last castle” is a fun commercial film – but “Nothing but the Truth” and “The Contender” are very strong political essays.”

    Not a film critic, so sorry to pop your armchair psychology. As for Lurie’s filmography, “Last Castle” made so little impression on me that all I remember about it is that it was in a prison. All I remember about “Contender” was that Joan Allen was strong despite the film being ugly toward women. And “Truth” was stupid — a movie about a reporter who got a girl’s mother killed to keep a confidence that wasn’t worth keeping. It made a mockery of the free press and made Valerie Plame look stupid by implication.

    If that’s you’re idea of “strong political essays,” have at it.

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