‘The Witches’ movies – 2020 and 1990 versions

I’ve read about how some people don’t consider the new remake of ‘The Witches’ which was released last month, as good as the classic 1990 original.

(Oh my God, that’s 30 years ago! How time flies. And I was only 17! *Gasp*).

I vaguely thought the same after watching the new remake. But after watching the classic one again, I was a bit surprised to find I feel it’s not as good as how I remembered it! Nostalgia struts around wearing rose-tinted glasses, I guess.

Of course, 30 years is a long time and I was a different person as a 17-year-old. Some of my tastes and viewpoints have changed and that contributes to how I feel about the classic movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the original to bits, and while Anne Hathaway did a great job as the Grand High Witch in the new remake, I still prefer Angelica Huston’s iconic performance in the original. But comparing the two versions overall? The new remake feels to be better, in my opinion, due to several factors such as Octavia Spencer’s performance in the grandmother role, and the set decoration which I find much more beautiful and interesting to look at.

Here’s my opinion about which version I prefer with regards to specific parts of the movies:

  • Grandmother role: 2020 remake.
    • Octavia Spencer has tons of talent and movie charisma and is incredibly watchable in every single role she does, and her work here is no exception.
  • The grandson / Luke role: 1990 original
    • Referring to the role itself, I feel the nerdy Harry Potter-like character from the original is more fun and child-like. That lightens the children’s movie a little bit more which helps because both versions are actually pretty scary.
    • As for the child actors portraying the role, they did an equally fantastic job.
    • I find Chris Rock‘s voice as the narrating grandson in the remake annoying and distracting, but only because I can’t detach his distinctive voice from the visual of the zebra role he did in the ‘Madagascar‘ animation movies.
  • Hotel Owner role: 1990 original
    • Both the role itself and the actor who played him in the original, Rowan Atkinson, were better than in the remake.
    • Stanley Tucci is a wonderful actor who I love and is usually fantastic, but the role in the remake is quite boring and does not deserve him.
  • Grand High Witch role: 1990 original
    • Angelica Huston is clearly the better Grand High Witch, in my opinion. She hams it up yet somehow she is perfectly at ease and natural. I think this is also why her Morticia Addams portrayal in The Addams Family movies is also so perfect and iconic, just flawless, and so, so much loved.
    • Anne Hathaway‘s version is certainly entertaining, but her portrayal is more cartoony and over-the-top, but in a fun way.
  • Set design: 2020 remake
    • The ‘Grand Orleans Imperial Island Hotel‘ in Alabama is stunning. The room the Grand High Witch occupies with its balcony is particularly fun to look at, featured in important scenes including the Grand High Witch’s final appearance.
    • The ‘Excelsior Hotel‘ in England in the original is beautiful and charming too, just not as much as the hotel in Alabama.
    • I also love Grandma’s House and town in Alabama much more than I do the one in Norway in the original, although beautiful too.
  • Mouse pet (Daisy/Mary): 2020 remake
    • Called Daisy initially, the talking pet in the remake is a great character and adds substantially to the fun.
    • In the original, the pets can’t talk and are not important supporting characters like Daisy is.
  • Special effects and make-up: 1990 original
    • The 30-year difference between the two movies means the remake features more polished effects technically, but the original comes across as more winningly charming to me. Jim Henson‘s puppetry is still wonderful to watch after all these years.
    • The Grand High Witch’s ‘real’ face in the original is also more morbidly fascinating to me.
    • If I’m a parent, I would be far more concerned with the ‘real’ face of the Grand High Witch in the remake. The one in the original is also very scary, but somehow it has more of a ‘fantasy’ element (if that makes sense), whereas in the remake it’s what nightmares are made of, to me.
  • Deformed 3-claw hands of the witches: 1990 original (for not having them!)
    • This reportedly did not feature in either the book (which I have not read) or the original movie, and was added to the remake, resulting in backlash from some people with physical impairments, who are concerned it may cause people with physical impairments to be seen as abnormal or scary.
  • The Grand High Witch’s end: 2020 remake
    • The remake’s version is far more thrilling and fun. Also, I can’t help but notice she’s not shown actually dead/defeated. Is this to pave the way for her appearance in a sequel, in case the movie does well? For years now it seems that everything must have sequels and trilogies! So more money can be squeezed out from them, why not! LOL
  • Ending of Story: 1990 original
    • I much prefer the relatively simpler and sweeter way the original ends. A happy ending with a little surprising twist for the character development of one of the witches.
    • The remake’s ending seems to be very sequel-friendly, so I won’t be surprised if there is one in the future.

I’ve just changed my mind! After considering the points above, I now feel that, although it’s not as good as I remember it, the original from 1990 is still better than the 2020 remake, overall. Nostalgia wins! :-)

Much more importantly, the original also does not feature limb differences in its villains, that may cause kids and adults suffering from such physical conditions in real life to feel bad, or worse, made fun of by other kids.

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The following is a cool and interesting video comparing the two versions:

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Related:

  • BBC.com – The Witches – Backlash over film’s portrayal of limb impairments – 4 November 2020

Down With Love (2003)

This post is part of ‘The Essential 60s Blogathon‘ hosted by Nuwan of the blog I follow No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen, which I’m delighted to take part in. I love both movies in general and those set in that decade. The music too. Fashion, art, interior decor. Fascinating stuff.

First I had to decide on the movie, and I wasn’t sure which I had seen that qualified. I looked through several Wiki pages related to films set in the 60s. I spotted Little Shop of Horrors (1986) in one list. That’s one of my favourite musical films, which I had actually already written about a bit here. I finally decided on the romantic comedy Down With Love. Seeing the title put a smile on my face as I remembered how much fun it was.

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A fun, fluffy chick flick that had me tittering merrily because it’s such entertaining silly fun. Set in New York City in 1962, and starring Renée Zellweger as writer Barbara Novak and Ewan McGregor as journalist Catcher Block, this movie pays homage to Hollywood romantic comedies of the early 1960s, like the movies of Rock Hudson and Doris Day such as the much-loved Pillow Talk.

Barbara Novak arrives in New York City to promote her book ‘Down With Love’ at a publishing house, a self-help that persuades women that they don’t need men and that they should be as free as men are to enjoy sex without commitments. The male executives at the publishing house refuse to publish her work. Barbara’s editor Vicki Hiller (played by Sarah Paulson, more recently seen in the TV series American Horror Story) decides Barbara could ask Catcher Block, a journalist and notorious playboy, to help her promote the book. Catcher, however, is too busy with his conquests and keeps postponing their meeting, infuriating Barbara.

Barbara and Vicki manage to get the book published without his help (but with Judy Garland‘s! More on that later.), and it becomes a worldwide bestseller. Catcher is now intrigued by Barbara and wants to meet her, but now it is she who blows him off. When Barbara proceeds to embarrass him on television by naming him as an example of ‘the worst kind of man‘ while discussing a chapter from her book, Catcher vows revenge. He intends to prove that Barbara doesn’t really believe what she preaches in her book, by making her fall for him. Taking advantage of the fact that they have not met and she does not know what he looks like, Catcher poses as a simple and sweet gentleman to woo her.

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(Note on video above: for this post I cut it down to the 7:06 mark as the rest contain *spoilers* to the movie)

I absolutely love the 60s aesthetics, especially the interior design but also the entire look and feel of the style. The production sets of the apartments and offices are delightful, especially the nifty James Bond-esque elements of Catcher Block’s apartment so suited to his playboy character. The magnificent visual spectacle is one of the aspects of this movie that entertain me most.

Another main draw is the performances by all four actors; the two leads and two main supporting actors, the abovementioned Sarah Paulson as well as David Hyde Pierce, whose best-known work I think is as Dr. Niles Crane from the TV series Frasier which I really enjoyed. Here he plays a similar executive-type role, as Catcher Block’s boss and best friend Peter McMannus. It was fun watching these actors take on the script and comic acting style of romantic comedies from the 60s, in keeping with the spirit of the genre from the era.

Ewan McGregor is an absolute joy to watch here, as he usually is in any movie. An incredibly talented actor who has taken on so many varied roles, his Catcher Block is all cheeky smiles and charmingly wicked. It’s a more boyish portrayal of a ladies-man compared to the more manly quality of Rock Hudson’s roles, and a charismatic performance I enjoyed very much. He has great chemistry with Renée Zellweger too. At the end of this entertaining battle of the sexes, there is an unexpected twist, delivered in an impressively long speech in one take, in a sweetly ditzy way that I can’t imagine any actress other than Renée pulling off, all breathless and squinty eyes and all. Her adorable performance here is really under-rated.

As is the whole movie. Down With Love is not very well-known, I believe, and it did not perform very well at the box office when it was released in 2003, which to me is a great shame. It was something ‘new’ and interesting; an unconventional, smart and stylish offering in the romantic comedy genre. It still is.

Below is a video of Judy Garland singing a song called ‘Down With Love’ in 1964 for an episode of her The Judy Garland Show. A captivating performance that was cleverly scripted into the 2003 movie as a promotional event for Barbara Novak’s book which led to its global success.

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Related:

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The Essential 60s Blogathon_Easy rider

Mambo Italiano

A full gay movie on YouTube! I’m always happy to come across any full movie there. But a gay movie, in it’s entirety! That’s even more of a treat, because it’s not like they are shown in the theatres or available in DVD rental shops here. And the best part is that there seem to be quite a lot. I can’t wait to watch more.

Mambo Italiano (2003) is a Canadian release shot in Montreal. A family drama-comedy which features the coming-out tale of the protagonist Angelo Barberini. Angelo upsets his traditional Italian-immigrant parents by moving out of the family home, and then shocks them further by coming out as gay. On top of that he needs to cope with a boyfriend who refuses to accept he’s gay.

I enjoyed it, even though I don’t think of it as a good movie. Even for a comedy some of the dialogue and the characters seem exaggerated, like they’re really pushing for Italian stereotypes when it comes to many of the supporting characters. Some parts of the movie are actually annoying. But there are also funny moments which cracked me up, and the leading actor Luke Kirby is engaging in his role, not to mention handsome. Plus there is Paul Sorvino, an actor I like, in the role of Angelo’s dad Gino.

While watching this, I couldn’t help but think of his other Italian family comedy, Love Is All There Is (1996), which also stars the then teenage Angelina Jolie as his daughter. That was a riot of a comedy, really fun and entertaining.