remakeIn the future that Connie Willis paints for us in Remake, Hollywood has stopped making live-action films. Instead, their CGI technology is so good that all they’ve had to do is patent the old film stars — Jimmy Cagney, Marilyn Monroe, River Phoenix, James Dean — and put them into endless sequels and remakes. Terminator 9. Gone With the Wind, this time with a happy ending (“I love you, Rhett.” “Frankly, my dear — frankly, I love you, too!”) Casablanca, starring Julia Roberts. The studio executives are out for blood, and the parties are a blur of sex and drugs.

The narrator, Tom, is an infinitely jaded film student, who loves movies but ruins them for a living. His current project is to remove the AS’s (addictive substances — drugs, cigarettes, alcohol) from all his studio’s old films. Imagine removing the alcohol from a film like Harvey or Philadephia Story, and you’ll see the difficulty. And then Alis walks into the party he’s cruising. Alis, against all logic, against all possibility, wants to dance in the movies — despite the fact that no one is making live action films, or the fact that musicals were dead in the 1960s. Like Fred Astaire, like Ginger Rogers, like Eleanor Powell and Gene Kelly, she wants to dance. And the rest of this short book — more of a novella, really — is twined around the mirror images of wanting what you can never have, and believing that anything is possible.

Connie Willis is a genius storyteller. She writes biting satire, screwball comedy, farce, science fiction, and poignant drama on the same page, where so many writers would find themselves incapable of pulling off even one of those. I’ve never been disappointed (and you can see my reviews of Bellwether, Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, Inside Job, and The Winds of Marble Arch to prove it, though my favorite of hers is probably Passage or To Say Nothing of the Dog.) Grab anything of hers, and get ready to enjoy.

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6 Responses to Remake

  1. Kim says:

    This sounds very funny! I’ve always sort of loved and hated the end of Gone With the Wind, so it’d be funny to see how it might be done differently :)

  2. adevotedreader says:

    This does sound like fun. I’m not sure if you’ve read Ben Elton’s Popcorn, but that’s another very enjoyable satire on Hollywood.

    Re Gone with the Wind, I’m convinced that eventually Rhett and Scarlet would have got back together- but I don’t need to see in filmed!

  3. priscilla says:

    This sounds so interesting. Another one for the TBR list…*sigh*

  4. Jenny says:

    Kim — I never liked GWTW, myself, but it wasn’t because of the ending. :) Willis loves the movies, so she’s wonderfully protective about the good ones.

    Sarah — I haven’t read Popcorn! Thanks for the heads up! And unfortunately, I agree with you about Rhett and Scarlett.

    Priscilla — No need to sigh. Remake is only 140 pages long, a breeze to get through, and thoroughly enjoyable. It’s her books like Doomsday Book that take more investment, but are correspondingly even more worth it.

  5. Amanda says:

    Oh I loved this one too. I own it as well. My brother and I used to live in the town in Colorado where she is from. He worked at a video store where she would come in and rent movies. She was so nice and chatted with him. She LOVES movies. He got her to sign a few books to me. I love her books and I love that she’s such a cool down to earth lady.

  6. Jenny says:

    Amanda — you’re kidding! I’m so jealous! I have actually fantasized about going there (to Colorado) and trying to meet her. I never thought about hanging out in the video store, though that is the obvious solution. :) Thanks for the great story!

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