When remaking a film that many consider to be a modern classic, you've got to work hard to sell it as something new and worthy of audience attention. And to borrow a phrase from director Spike Lee's favorite sport, the makers of the latest Oldboy have been putting on a full-court press to prove their version deserves it. They promised a deranged brand of torture through twisted trailers. They played up intrigue with a striking poster. And they took to the defensive at New York Comic Con. This latest featurette appeals to those who crave a mesmerizing performance, by showing all the work Oldboy star Josh Brolin had to do behind the scenes to go from a schlubby mess of a man to a lean and mean man on a mission.
Brolin has come a long way from being one of The Goonies. After decades of plugging away with roles in forgettable movies and TV shows (Mister Sterling anyone?) Brolin became a force of nature with Joel and Ethan Coen's Academy Award-winning neo-Western No Country For Old Men. Since then he's taken on one challenging drama after another, from Paul Haggis's chilling crime drama In the Valley of Elah to Oliver Stone's controversial George W. Bush biopic W., and Gus Van Sant's celebrated historical drama Milk, for which Brolin was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Harvey Milk's Twinkie-blaming murderer Dan White. But could Oldboy at last be his path to an Oscar gold?
This clip definitely wants to begin that conversation. And in the past the Academy has stood up and taken notice when a performer greatly alters their physical appearance in service to a role. Consider Tom Hanks, who shed weight to play an AIDS patient in Philadelphia which won him his first Academy Award, or Renee Zellweger, who packed on the pounds and earned a rare Academy nod for a comedy with Bridget Jones's Diary, or Nicole Kidman who won for The Hours in which she dulled down her natural beauty with a big prosthetic nose. Of course the Oscars are still a ways away, and the Academy tends to shy away from films as graphically violent as Oldboy plans to be. But talk of them and Brolin's performance might urge audience out of there "been there seen that" malaise over remakes. At least that seems to be the hope of this clip. But did it work?
Having watched the above featurette, are you more interested in seeing Spike Lee's Oldboy?
Get an idea of just the kind of gore Lee and company have in store with this previously released red-band trailer.
Oldboy will open on November 27th.