'Spider-Man' inspires rebirth cinema

Ring in the season of buds and blooms with films that give new life to their characters.

By R. Kurt Osenlund
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 15, 2012

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The Fly (1986)

One of the more literal examples of David Cronenberg’s fascination with anatomical manipulation, this slimy remake of the 1950s sci-fi favorite sees Jeff Goldblum slowly become an entirely new being, created after Goldblum’s character’s DNA fuses with that of a housefly in a freak science experiment. Influencing later works like “Black Swan,” Cronenberg’s “The Fly” is probably remembered most for the degeneration that leads to new life, like the icky loss of fingernails (among other things).


V for Vendetta (2005)

Otherwise known as the film for which Natalie Portman shaved her head, this supremely well-made adaptation of the popular graphic novel takes place in a dystopian U.K., where a young woman (Portman), the daughter of murdered revolutionaries, is taken under the dark wing of Hugo Weaving’s V. Broken down, then re-released to help lead the resistance, a newly bald Portman emerges a driven freedom fighter, tellingly baptized in a pivotal rooftop rain scene.


Marwencol (2010)

A stunning art documentary that defies description and belief, the magical “Marwencol” profiles the work of reformed photographer Mark Hogancamp, who began as a gifted sketch artist, then had his talents robbed from him during an attack that yielded serious brain damage. Unable to draw, but still tirelessly creative, Hogancamp blooms again as an obsessive builder of a scale-model society, which he later photographs for exhibitions — in women’s heels. Yeah, it’s a must-see.


Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2011)

Puzzling and bewitching its viewers in equal measure, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Thai tale of reincarnation sees its titular protagonist (Thanapat Saisaymar) wind down in the last days of his life, reconnecting with his dead wife and a son who now inhabits the form of a red-eyed monkey. Was Uncle Boonmee once an ox? Or perhaps the princess who’s pleasured by a catfish? There are more suggestions than answers in this deeply meditative Cannes hit, which unfolds at a snail’s pace, but offers rich rewards.


A Christmas Carol (1938)

‘Tis not the season for Dickens’s holiday classic, but is there a better tale of rebirth in our pop-culture library? And, for that matter, is there a better filmed version than the one Joseph L. Mankiewicz produced, with Reginald Owen in the spotlight? Certainly not. Ebeneezer Scrooge needs a new existence like he needs air, and thanks to a trio of ghosts ... well, you know the story. Scrooge’s awakening as a greed-free human never ages a day, and in its own way, it, too, is reborn each year.


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