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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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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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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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