The original “Dirty Dancing” from 1987 was a remarkable blend of dancing, music, and story. It was eye-catching, sassy, and despite glaring anachronisms (such as the discrepancy between the film’s soundtrack and the time period setting), appropriate for all contemporary audiences. Unfortunately, Hollywood seems to have “gone off on a limb” with remakes during the past 15 or so years. Instead of retelling familiar stories with the intention of bring new, fresh interpretations to the screen, producers and writers have concocted point-blank failures that have attracted more negative than positive attention, their current marketing strategy. I’ve seen one remake after another generate terrible reviews from critics and viewers alike, both complaining about the same issue: “these new versions have no soul.” That may be true overall, but that doesn’t mean that some of these films can’t present new perspectives.
I think I first heard about the new production of Island because I was a devoted neophyte-fan of the British TV show Merlin. When the lead star of a favorite show pursues an indie movie production role, you’re bound to hear about it. My reaction to Colin Morgan being cast as Calum was a bit…different. For one thing, I pursued the novel first instead of the movie itself. After all, at that time Island was completely unavailable in my “neighborhood,” so watching the film and then reading the book it was based on was out of the question for me. So I used the only tool available to me: my vast imagination. And the text of the original work by Jane Rogers.
A brief summary of my experience: for the first time, I sampled adult fiction and decided I wanted a deeper taste. I was prepared for everything and nothing. I took a great plunge…and I was surprised. True, I despised the exorbitant profanity that Nikki (the main character) used, but I actually delved hard into the themes of Island and found things in the story that I…liked. Amazing as that can sound once you read the plot synopsis of the book. I officially reviewed Island for the Examiner with relish and felt a twinge of triumph over having conquered my fear of the adult novel.
Next, I wanted to see the movie adaptation. Obviously, to complete my experience. I was also curious about how certain parts of the story would be handled visually in the film:
- the island itself
- Nikki and Calum’s incestuous relationship
- the murder scene
- the fairy tales
- Nikki’s flashbacks and her fear of the lonely darkness
Parked will be two years old at the end of this year. Being an indie film, it hasn’t received much promotion. Being a foreign film, this Irish production has just been distributed in the US a few months ago. Which means that I immediately grabbed any opportunity to see this intriguing little movie as soon as it came along.
Of course, it’s obvious why I was and still am interested in Parked. Finally, I find a modern flick and longish tale (aside from John Steinbeck‘s mind-blowing The Grapes of Wrath) that focuses on everyone in my shoes: the homeless. And not only, these two homeless people are sleeping in their cars! Parked has the themes of homelessness, seclusion, loneliness, and societal neglect highlighted all over its storyline. It’s simple; it moves along at the same pace that life passes by all of us wanting to climb out of a true abyss of horror and a situation that’s constantly spiralling downward. One of the film’s most painful truths: how people really don’t care at all about their neighbors, i.e. fellow human beings.
Fred returns from England to his homeland to find his boyhood home gone and his life in ruins. Left with only a wreck of a car and his wits, Fred finds himself a spot to park and struggles to survive by sleeping in his car by night and enduring every day in turn. He keeps his circumstances a secret to the best of his ability. With the welfare system refusing to help him financially and finding no chance of work, Fred remains stolidly pessimistic about change. Suddenly, like in a fairy tale where one unexpected event alters the course of the story, a young man named Cathal parks next to Fred and offers him friendship. Who would have ever though a drug addict and a middle-aged jack-of-all-trades could become best friends? Nonetheless, their lives become intertwined as they try to make the most of every waking moment and find light at the end of their dark, dark tunnels.