Reaching Across the Ocean


Where do filmmakers get their story ideas? Sometimes, from places you might not know about.

Sure, there have been comic books, novels, classic TV shows and old Hollywood movies that have provided story bases for many a contemporary film. But more modern movies than you’d think have sprung from the cinematic productions of other nations.

Just this year, we’ve seen “The Upside,” a heartwarming drama with Bryan Cranston as a moneyed quadriplegic and Kevin Hart as an ex-con who becomes the rich man’s unlikely caretaker. But haven’t I seen this premise before? Yes, and you did, too, if you showed up to watch a globally successful French film called “The Intouchables” at the Flint Institute of Arts two years ago. “The Upside” is a remake.

Many Americans don’t know 2011’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” as an English-language re-do of a 2009 Swedish film of the same name. Besides introducing the enchanting Noomi Rapace to the screen, the Swedish take was the first in a string of hit films based on the world-famous series of thriller novels by Stieg Larsson. We showed the foreign film at the FIA to packed houses, with many on hand because they’d read the books. As much as I liked Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in the U.S. version (which in key ways was more fidelitous to the novel), the original flick was better.

You also might not know that, say, “The Birdcage,” “The Departed,” “Vanilla Sky,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “True Lies,” “12 Monkeys,” “The Ring” and all those Godzilla flicks in undubbed English were remakes of foreign films. I won’t even get to “Star Wars,” which is nominally original but, of course, has too many national and international influences to recount.

I bring this up now, because the FIA is soon to present “After the Wedding.” No, not the Oscar-nominated 2007 film from Denmark that starred Mads Mikkelsen, but an American remake with Michelle Williams in Mikkelsen’s role as manager of an orphanage in India who must travel to New York to receive a gift from a benefactor (played by Julianne Moore). The complication is that the benefactor’s daughter is getting married at the same time as the manager’s visit.

“After the Wedding” will be shown at 7:30pm on October 18-19 and 2pm on October 20 in the Friends of Modern Art film series in the FIA Theater. Find the Mikkelsen version (streaming on Amazon Prime, BTW) and compare, if you’d like.

The October portion of the FOMA series begins October 4-6 with “The White Crow,” a dramatization of events in the life of superstar ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev in the 1960s. An American independent comedy, “Give Me Liberty,” follows on October 11-13.

There’s also “Ophelia” (October 25-27), with Daisy Ridley of “Star Wars” as the Shakespearean character; the environmental documentary, “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” (October 17, 19, 20); and in time for Halloween, the horrific “Midsommar” (October 31, November 2-3). As usual, information on FIA screenings is available at or 810.234.1695.


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