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Tyler Beane Kelly

Red Riding Trilogy

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Wow. What a tough slog this was. I'm still mulling it over but right now I don't feel the last few minutes of 1983 were worth all the misery that came before.

Overall I think 1974 was the strongest of the bunch. The look so strongly reminded me of Fincher's Zodiac, so I assumed that was the one filmed digitally. I was surprised to learn it was actually 16mm. As others have pointed out, 1974 is a pretty good stand alone noir.

There are some great performances. Andrew Garfield and Paddy Considine in particular. That being said, the bad guys engage in a little too much mustache twirling for my taste. Am I the only one who thinks it's kind of exploitative to dwell on the murder of women and children so you can go on and on about how corrupt the fat cats are? We get more than one scene of the bad guys toasting each other and saying things like "To the North! Where we do what we want!". Right now I have no desire to ever re-watch this.

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Here's an interesting interview with David Peace from about the time the novel 1980 came out. I was especially interested in this bit, which in retrospect seems a little ironic:

I was unemployed in Manchester for a number of years and spent the days drinking two-litre bottles of red wine and watching three films a day in the Cornerhouse; I saw enough films and wasted enough time to last me my entire lifetime. Film and TV have had an horrendous influence on writing, my own included. For the past ten years film and TV seem to have become utterly bankrupt of anything other than the desire to entertain, which would now seem to the sole desirable quality we demand of everything and everyone in society: that we entertain. The only two recent exceptions I would make are Seven and Gummo.

(Interesting, too, that Peace singles out Seven, since the Red Riding trilogy has been compared to Fincher's later serial killer movie, Zodiac).

Also, in light of the mixed reactions to the darkness in these movies, here's Peace (I don't offer this as justification or argument, just as an interesting connection):

Crime is brutal, harrowing and devastating for everyone involved, and crime fiction should be every bit as brutal, harrowing and devastating as the violence of the reality it seeks to document. Anything less at best sanitises crime and its effects, at worst trivialises it. Anything more exploits other people's misery as purely vicarious entertainment. It is a very, very fine line. Similarly, the sexuality in my books reflects the times in which they are set; I strongly believe that crimes happen at a particular time, in a particular place to a particular person for very, very, very particular reasons. Both Gordon Burn and Helen Ward Jouve in their excellent books on the Yorkshire Ripper have made the point before, but the Yorkshire of the 1970s was a hostile environment to be living in and especially for women.
Edited by NBooth

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Watched the first hour of 1973 tonight, and I'm hooked. Obligations are preventing me from finishing it tonight, but I'll definitely be working my way through the whole thing.

Andrew Garfield is one of the most magnetic actors working today. It's bugging me because he seems to command attention without doing a thing to earn it.

I had a thought while watching him strut around. He could play Mick Jagger someday. He really could. He has the swagger, the attitude, the athleticism.

Great to see Sean Bean in a role that's quite a change of pace for him.

Edited by Overstreet

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So glad you're enjoying it; I've re-watched 1974 about three times, and the others twice each, and am more and more convinced that this is an exceptionally rich set of films. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the whole thing.

BTW, once you've seen the whole thing, I would love to hear your thoughts on 1974--and particularly its ending--compared to (and I'll black this out 'cause I know you hate even the hint of spoilers) Lost Highway; they seem similar to me, but I'm not sure if this is a case of 1974 referencing the older film, or if they're drawing on some even older noir.

Edited by NBooth

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So glad you're enjoying it; I've re-watched 1974 about three times, and the others twice each, and am more and more convinced that this is an exceptionally rich set of films. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the whole thing.

Every time I rewatch one, I want to do a marathon and I never have time. I think this is one of just a few movies that sits on my shelf and every time I glance at them I wish I had the time to dive into the full story again. I love each one of these and it's definitely one of my favorite trilogies. Each of them have such varying tones, and yet the overall arc is still maintained. It's fascinating to explore.

Glad Overstreet's finally seeing them, and like you said, I'm very interested to see what he thinks.

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It's behind a paywall, so I can't see the article, but apparently Channel 4 is wanting to follow up The Red Riding Trilogy with an adaptation of Peace's GB84. Wikipedia describes the book thus:

This is a fictional portrayal of the year of the UK miners' strike (1984–1985). It describes the insidious workings of the British government and MI5, the coalfield battles, the struggle for influence in government and the dwindling powers of the National Union of Mineworkers. The book was awarded the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature in 2005.
Edited by NBooth

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I started 1974 last night, commented to my wife that it felt very similar to Zodiac (not a favorable comparison, since I don't think many films can match Zodiac) and then fell asleep after about 20 minutes. It'd been an exhausting week. I woke up a couple of times but never revived. Saw the very end and was perplexed.

Sarah, who had been looking forward to it and stayed up through the whole thing, was sorely disappointed.

But I'm thinking I'll give the film another try tonight. Maybe.

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Much better when I was awake. I'm not sure where the trilogy goes from here given the conclusion of this film, but I'm going to find out.

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You're up for 1980. It's my favorite of the three.

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My wife is refusing to watch the other films and is demanding to know what the point of the first film was. I'm afraid I'm struggling to make a case for the film.

It's such a strange movie, and it does kind of go off the rails in those last 20 minutes. I suppose fans find the story's progression organic, but it left me scratching my head, wondering what we don't know -- what might justify another two films.

I'm willing to investigate and find out, but Sarah's finished with the trilogy after one installment.

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Well, put simply: each movie unearths another layer beneath the corruption glimpsed in the first movie. The protagonist of 1980 has ties to the investigation of the Karachi Club incident, and that investigation is part of the tension between his investigation and that of the local police into the Yorkshire Ripper killings. And a lot of stuff that made little sense in the first movie becomes apparent (particularly in 1983, where we discover that a certain character is far more central than one would think given his appearances in the previous two movies).

I'm not sure how you could convince your wife of this, though, unless you tell her that the next two movies are very different than 1974 (they are--same cast, different directors, and different tone. 1980 is a police procedural, and 1983 is much more of a redemption-piece).

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I've been dragging my feet about watching these, but I should probably give them a look.

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1983 is much more of a redemption-piece).

Sounds like there might be a thematic payoff after all!

I had meant to mention that I was quite take with Andrew Garfiled in 1974. I didn't quite jump aboard the Social Network train of admirers of his performance in Fincher's film, and could not care less about Spider Man. But he gave a fine performance in 1974.

Funny, then, to pull up Manohla Dargis' review of the film, which I tracked down at Metacritic and which gets the lowest rating at that site, and see it written that Garfield is "not up to the leading-man task." Which raises another intersting parallel to Zodiac, a film I loved but had a leading man as its weakest link.

Edited by Christian

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I just finished RED RIDING: 1974. I'm not sure it's a film I'll ever want to return to--I'm not sure there's much more to discover or wrestle with here than what I encountered on this viewing, though perhaps my perception will change as I dig into RR1980 and RR1983--but it was a fairly solid, grim little film with some strong performances, if never quite stunning or surprising enough to really earn my affection.

Edited by Ryan H.

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I just finished RED RIDING: 1974. I'm not sure it's a film I'll ever want to return to--I'm not sure there's much more to discover or wrestle with here than what I encountered on this viewing, though perhaps my perception will change as I dig into RR1980 and RR1983--but it was a fairly solid, grim little film with some strong performances, if never quite stunning or surprising enough to really earn my affection.

That pretty much sums up my experience with it. Anne and I have been through the first two installments and were impressed, but yeah, I don't think I'll ever watch them again, and the bitter aftertaste of the first two have prevented us from choosing the third installment during one of our evenings together. I'm sure we will eventually, and I'm glad to hear that the last chapter might not leave us feeling so awful.

But they are very well made.

Man, Eddie Marsan is becoming one of the busiest actors around.

Edited by Overstreet

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That pretty much sums up my experience with it. Anne and I have been through the first two installments and were impressed, but yeah, I don't think I'll ever watch them again, and the bitter aftertaste of the first two have prevented us from choosing the third installment during one of our evenings together. I'm sure we will eventually, and I'm glad to hear that the last chapter might not leave us feeling so awful.

I don't want to prematurely judge these films, but based on what many others have said, it seems that these films could have done more to vary the tone. Manohla Dargis describes these films as infected with "miserablism."

But they are very well made.

Yeah. RR1974 had a pretty strong sense of style (even if it is indebted to ZODIAC). It makes nice use of weird wallpaper.

Edited by Ryan H.

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1980 may be "miserable," as Dargis notes, but its stylistically quite different from 1974, yet has another wild finish. Not sure I'm going to warm to those final minutes the way I feel an odd warming, or strange admiration, for the utterly off-putting conclusion of 1974, but these things are hard to predict. I think I may have preferred the second film to the first -- until its finale -- if only because the more straight-ahead procedural feel was less demanding on me as a viewer, and after that first flick, "less" is more.

Unlike Jeffrey, I'm eager to see the final chapter. I don't know that I'm expecting any grand payoff, but I was able to grab both 1980 and 1983, and want a sense of closure -- even if the movies themselves don't provide it for me.

Oh, and I'll make sure

not to warm to the protagonist of 1983, seeing as how the main characters in these films don't meet good ends

.

Edited by Christian

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1980 may be "miserable," as Dargis notes, but its stylistically quite different from 1974, yet has another wild finish. Not sure I'm going to warm to those final minutes the way I feel an odd warming, or strange admiration, for the utterly off-putting conclusion of 1974, but these things are hard to predict. I think I may have preferred the second film to the first -- until its finale -- if only because the more straight-ahead procedural feel was less demanding on me as a viewer, and after that first flick, "less" is more.

These endings make the movies for me, but that might be a personal quirk. But yeah, 1974 ends on a wild, almost apocalyptic note that the ending of 1980 doesn't quite hit (primarily because the ending of the latter movie is much more out-of-the-blue, though on rewatch it's certainly easy to pick up clues).

Regarding style, I think a real strength of this trilogy is exactly the way each movie is different from the first; it's like having multiple narrators crossing and re-crossing story lines (something I presume Peace does in the Red Riding Quartet, and something he definitely does in his current Tokyo Trilogy).

Oh, and I'll make sure

not to warm to the protagonist of 1983, seeing as how the main characters in these films don't meet good ends

.

:D

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These endings make the movies for me, but that might be a personal quirk.

Well, I've only seen RR1974, but I dug the ending. Sure, it was a big downer, but I can get behind that kind of "wild, almost apocalyptic" finale. It's more the monotone nature of the stuff before it that gets a bit on my nerves.

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James Vanderbilt to write the remake

Vanderbilt's the screenwriter for Zodiac, which was a movie mentioned often in connection to the trilogy--so that could be a good thing (he's done this sort of thing before) or bad (because it could be too tonally similar). It doesn't strike me as a bad choice, exactly; more of an obvious choice.

I have difficulty believing the re-make (or re-adaptation) could live up to the stone-cold brilliance of the original movies, but from what I understand there were several subplots removed from the books in making the first adaptation, so I guess it could work.

EDIT: The article indicates that they're wanting to do one movie.... Unless it's a six-hour movie I don't think that's a wise decision, exactly. One way they could do it would be to eliminate Eddie Dumford and the lead of the second movie and just focus on the character played by David Morrisey. But wouldn't that steal much of the character's complexity--to say nothing of the slow unwrapping of layers like we see in the current films? I guess it's to early to speculate at this point.

Edited by NBooth

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I am tired of reacting negatively to all of these sequels and remakes, so I'll just say, "Good luck, Mr. Vanderbilt."

With Let Me In turning out as well as it did and Fincher working on The the Millennium Trilogy, I have to second guess a negative reaction. Still, has it always been so quickly that an original work was remade, or is the lack of creativity these days forcing remakes to be done much sooner?

Edited by Persona

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Still, has it always been so quickly that an original work was remade, or is the lack of creativity these days forcing remakes to be done much sooner?

Well, The Maltese Falcon was adapted three time over the course of ten years, which would give you a roughly similar distance between each version. Of course, the two versions preceding the Huston film are reportedly terrible, so it's not quite the same as taking an already-good movie (or already-respected in the case of Dragon Tattoo <ahttp://artsandfaith.com/uploads/emoticons/default_wink.png' alt=';)'> ) and re-making it; The Magnificent Seven came out six years after The Seven Samurai--which, allowing for production-time and development hell, might wind up being closer to the space between the two iterations of Red Riding (I'm not up on the biz, so that may be all wet). A Fistful of Dollars came out three years after Yojimbo, but since it's an "unofficial" remake, it might not count. More recently, Point of No Return remade La Femme Nikita after a space of three years (that one was by the same director, though, so again it might be considered a special case).

Those are just some that come immediately to mind (or to a brief glance at Wikipedia; they have a whole list of remakes, naturally, but since I'm using my cell phone as a source of internet right now it's not exactly wanting to work for me; presumably one could see the trend more readily there). Whether the uptick in immediate remakes (in proportion to other projects) is really that big is, of course, above my pay grade and expertise.

Edited by NBooth

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Well, The Maltese Falcon was adapted three time over the course of ten years, which would give you a roughly similar distance between each version. Of course, the two versions preceding the Huston film are reportedly terrible, so it's not quite the same as taking an already-good movie (or already-respected in the case of Dragon Tattoo ;) ) and re-making it

The 1931 version of MALTESE FALCON doesn't deserve to be called "terrible." It's not amazing, but it's decent.

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Well, The Maltese Falcon was adapted three time over the course of ten years, which would give you a roughly similar distance between each version. Of course, the two versions preceding the Huston film are reportedly terrible, so it's not quite the same as taking an already-good movie (or already-respected in the case of Dragon Tattoo ;) ) and re-making it

The 1931 version of MALTESE FALCON doesn't deserve to be called "terrible." It's not amazing, but it's decent.

Point taken. I've not seen it or 'Satan met a Lady' and I think negative word on one got confused with the other.

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Still, has it always been so quickly that an original work was remade, or is the lack of creativity these days forcing remakes to be done much sooner?

Well, The Maltese Falcon was adapted three time over the course of ten years, which would give you a roughly similar distance between each version. Of course, the two versions preceding the Huston film are reportedly terrible, so it's not quite the same as taking an already-good movie (or already-respected in the case of Dragon Tattoo <ahttp://artsandfaith.com/uploads/emoticons/default_wink.png' alt=';)'> ) and re-making it; The Magnificent Seven came out six years after The Seven Samurai--which, allowing for production-time and development hell, might wind up being closer to the space between the two iterations of Red Riding (I'm not up on the biz, so that may be all wet). A Fistful of Dollars came out three years after Yojimbo, but since it's an "unofficial" remake, it might not count. More recently, Point of No Return remade La Femme Nikita after a space of three years (that one was by the same director, though, so again it might be considered a special case).

Most of the examples you cite represent a remake in another language, though. The Maltese Falcon does not, but the three versions you cite were all produced before America entered World War II, in other words they were all produced at a time when no one had TV or home video (and every major studio put out a new movie every week, or 50 movies per year), so the recycling of one's source material was not as big a deal.

What's interesting about the remake of THIS trilogy is that it would appear to be an English-to-English remake -- an American remake of a British film -- not unlike the two versions of Death at a Funeral that were produced on opposite sides of the Atlantic only three years apart (in 2007 and 2010).

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