As we speak, the new, live-action “Beauty and the Beast” is making all the money — this despite it being a near-beat-for-beat, song-for-song redo of a movie that already exists. At least the studio was adventurous enough with “Pete’s Dragon,” another in their new rash of remakes but one that tries something completely different. No, last year’s sleeper hit remake of a not very good 1977 original isn’t terribly faithful; basically the only things they have in common are a boy named Pete and a dragon. But it’s soulful where “B&B” is calculated, modest where the other is lavish. It’ll be a classic one day. And then, in 40 years, Disney can remake it.
‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’
If you have memories of stuffing VHS tapes full of old episodes of “MST3K” — the show where a dude and two talking robots watch bad movies and talk over them — you’ll be happy to know Netflix has suddenly gifted subscribers with 20 random episodes. Some of their greatest hits are now live: “Manos, the Hands of Fate,” “Time Chasers,” “Future War,” “Space Mutiny.” (Alas, “The Final Sacrifice” is currently AWOL.) Honestly, we’re not entirely crazy about the idea of watching old movies just to laugh at them. At the same time, there’s a deep affection behind the barbs, and at heart the “MST3K”-ers are amazing archivists: How else would you have ever heard of something as nutty as “Werewolf,” which features a guy changing into a lycan while driving a car?
When you hear the words “Merchant-Ivory,” you probably think of stuffy English costume dramas. Well, you’re wrong! First off, the team — of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, plus frequent cohort Ruth Prawer Jhabvala — made a lot more than E.M. Forster adaptations. Secondly, they’re all surprisingly lively. In one of their finest hours, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter play modestly incomed sisters who rub against a family of decaying richies, lorded over by Anthony Hopkins. Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala keep a dense tome moving, while there has rarely been a more lively sibling pair than Thompson and Bonham Carter.
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