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9 Directors Who Remade Their Own Films

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Remaking classic films for modern audiences is nothing new, but it seems as if Hollywood studios are churning out more remakes than originals every year. Usually, new directors are brought on to remake older films—but occasionally, the same director who made the original will be given the chance to remake his or her own work. Here are nine directors who did just that.

1. Yasujiro Ozu

Original Film: A Story of Floating Weeds (1934)

Remake: Floating Weeds (1959)

To take advantage of modern filmmaking technology such as sound and color cinematography, Yasujiro Ozu remade his 1934 silent film A Story of Floating Weeds in 1959 and called it Floating Weeds. While Ozu re-visited the same themes, stories, and artistic flourishes from film to film over his 35-year career, Floating Weeds is a more delicate and flavorful film than the original black and white version.

2. Michael Haneke

Original Film: Funny Games (1997)

Remake: Funny Games (2007)

In 2007, Michael Haneke released a shot-for-shot remake of his 1997 Austrian psychological thriller for American audiences. It featured a new cast—Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, and Brady Corbet—and relocated the setting from Austria to Long Island, New York. The original is in German, and the remake in English. Aside from those changes, both versions of Funny Games are exactly the same, and involve a wealthy family being held hostage and tortured with sadistic and vicious physical and psychological attacks.

3. Michael Mann

Original Film: L.A. Takedown (1989)

Remake: Heat (1995)

In 1989, Michael Mann wrote and directed a made-for-TV movie called L.A. Takedown for NBC. The original screenplay for the flick was 180 pages, which Mann had to cut down to 110 pages to fit its TV-timeslot.

After the success of The Last of the Mohicans in 1992, Mann returned to L.A. Takedown and elaborated on its narrative, characters, and themes; it became Heat, which was released theatrically in 1995. Heat is a layered film with several subplots and deeper characters, whereas L.A. Takedown is simpler and more straightforward.

4. George Sluizer

Original Film: Spoorloos (1988)

Remake: The Vanishing (1993)

When the Dutch film Spoorloos (which translates to Without a Trace) was released in 1988, it was a critical and commercial success—not just in the Netherlands, but around the world. It received top awards and accolades from top film critics and organizations, and Hollywood recruited the original director, George Sluzer, to make an English version of the film for American audiences. That film, called The Vanishing, was poorly received for its lack of nuance, broad characters, and its new (happy) ending. To many cinephiles and film critics, The Vanishing is a pale comparison to Sluzer's original.

5. Cecil B. DeMille

Original Film: The Ten Commandments (1923)

Remake: The Ten Commandments (1956)

Director Cecil B. DeMille didn't shy away from large-scale set pieces, over-populated crowds, and giant film productions. In 1956, he returned to his original 1923 silent epic The Ten Commandments with the intent of making a bigger and grander version. The Ten Commandments remake featured heavyweight actors including Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, and Edward G. Robinson, but also took advantage of new filmmaking technology such as eye-popping Technicolor, sizzling sound, and award-winning special effects.

6. Takashi Shimizu

Original Film: Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

Remake: The Grudge (2004)

The third film in director Takashi Shimizu's Ju-on series, Ju-on: The Grudge, was such a hit in Japan that it got the attention of major American movie studios. Sony Pictures Entertainment commissioned Shimizu to remake his original film for American audiences.

The American remake focused on only one of the original film’s six interconnected short vignettes and starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bill Pullman, and Jason Behr. The Grudge remake received a mixed critical response, but managed to spawn a new American film series with two subsequent sequels.

7. Ole Bornedal

Original Film: Nattevageten (1994)

Remake: Nightwatch (1997)

In 1997, director Ole Bornedal released an American remake to his 1994 genre film Nattevageten, which translates to Nightwatch. The English-language version was almost a shot-for-shot remake of the Danish original, but starred Ewan McGregor as the university student who takes a job at a morgue as a night watchman; Bornedal shared screenwriting credits with filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. The remake was not as well received as the original, however; critics believed the new film was too shiny and glossy.

8. Alfred Hitchcock

Original Film: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Remake: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Alfred Hitchcock’s 51-year career spanned many eras of movie-making, but perhaps the best example of the director's progression as a true master of suspense is The Man Who Knew Too Much: the original 1934 film and its remake, released 22 years later in 1956.

While the original has its merits with a resourceful heroine played by Edna Best and a very effective villain played by Peter Lorre, the American remake is far more polished and intricate, with Doris Day and James Stewart in the main roles. Although Day is more passive than Best and the villain is not as memorable as the original film’s, The Man Who Knew Too Much remake is Hitchcock’s favorite between the two films.

In the legendary Alfred Hitchcock biography by French director and film critic François Truffaut, Hitchcock said of the two films, "Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional.”

9. John Woo

Original Film: Once a Thief (1991)

Remake: Once a Thief (1996)

Hong Kong action director John Woo remade his 1991 crime film Once a Thief as a made-for-TV movie for the Fox Network in 1996. While both versions showcased John Woo’s talent for creating breathtaking action as well as lighthearted comedy and romance, the 1996 made-for-TV remake also served as a backdoor TV pilot for a new series.

Ultimately, Fox passed on the John Woo TV series, but Canadian CTV Television Network ordered 22 episodes of the crime family action series in 1997. Billed as John Woo’s Once a Thief, the TV series was canceled after one season in 1998.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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