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Remake Paperback – January 1, 1995

3.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the Hollywood of the future there's no need for actors since any star can be digitally recreated and inserted into any movie. Yet young Alis wants to dance on the silver screen. Tom tries to dissuade her, but he fears she will pursue her dream--and likely fall victim to Hollywood's seamy underside, which is all to eager to swallow up naive actresses. Then Tom begins to find Alis in the old musicals he remakes, and he has to ask himself just where the line stands between reality and the movies. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Willis (Doomsday Book), a fan of old movies, uses them cleverly and thoughtfully in Remake, her fourth solo novel. Roughly 20 years into the future, computer graphics have ended live production in Hollywood. Tom, the narrator, reluctantly pillages old films for remakes starring dead actors or alters them to suit the politico-social correctness of the moment. When he meets Alis, who has come to Hollywood burning to dance in movies no longer being made, he falls hard. As in Willis's Lincoln's Dreams, while boy is obsessed with girl, she is obsessed with her purpose. Boy loses girl, then sees her, impossibly, dancing in old musicals which couldn't have been altered. After several red herrings he finds both her and an explanation, but, given her higher passion, finders aren't necessarily keepers. Willis's writing, as usual, is transparently clean and deft. She has fun playing with old film references and with the levels of illusion in a Hollywood more irreal than ever, and is discerning both about the way movies inform our imaginations, giving us roles to play, and about desire, purpose and possibility. One flaw is a scene of requited love that neither the form nor tone of this bittersweet romance can support. But if the characters are mostly stock and the sentimentality easy, this is still popular fiction at a high level, entertaining, thoughtful and often touching.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553374370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553374377
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you're a movie nut, and moreover an MGM musicals nut who's seen most of the films excerpted in the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT movies, and you like good speculative fiction, this is definitely going to be down your alley. If however, you have no idea who Eleanor Powell was, and invoking Fred Astaire's name doesn't speed up the heartbeat, forget it: this ain't for you. And if you're one of those Connie Willis fans who only likes the fun & funny books (To Say Nothing of the Dog and Bellwether, etc.) and not the deeply somber ones (Doomsday Book, Lincoln's Dreams, etc.), this is gonna sail right over your head and under your emotional radar. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and is one of my favorite Connie Willis novels.
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Format: Hardcover
Unfortunately, Willis does not quite manage her usual blend of vivid characters and phenomenal insight in this novel. She probably would have been wiser to condense her plot into a short story--it could have made an excellent one, but for a few other problems.
She develops her characters only to a limited extent, an unusual tactic for Willis that she may have intended to tie in to the superficial movie world of "faces." Even so, as I read, I ended up caring very little about what happened to the primary characters themselves. The narrator Tom's actions are haphazard and seem to lack a unifying emotion, and his relationship with Alis contains so very little that I had trouble understanding what reason she had for becoming angry with him at all.
In addition, the majority of the profanity did not contribute in any way, rendering it annoyingly gratuitous.
And, finally, I confess I failed to detect a viable theme. The closest contender I saw would go something like: "Don't let anything, even impossibility itself, stop you from doing what you want to." Since that statement says nothing proactive about the human condition, I doubt it is the one Willis had in mind; still, it was all I could find.
I finished reading the book solely because I am a confirmed Willis fan. If I decide to read it again, I probably will change my mind and re-read _To Say Nothing of the Dog_ or _Bellwether_.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It takes Willis a long time to write a novel, due to the incredible amount of research that she does for them. Of course, this is also one of the reasons why they are so good. In the early 1990s, her editor had a brilliant idea--why not write shorter novels? Connie, in a rare fit of insanity, agreed. The idea was crazy because she does the same amount of research for a novella as for a novel. If there was a silver lining in this cloud, it is likely the increased amount of shelf space that Willis now takes up with seven different titles instead of four (I'm not counting her new book, nor the collaborations with Cynthia Felice).
There may be another silver lining in that we got three novellas that might otherwise not have existed, and it is a format that Connie excels at, and a format that, rarely, is as financially rewarding. This is the second of the three that I have read (I also commented on Bellwether). It is not a screwball, per se, which is somewhat surprising given that it is about movies. It does, however, contain that signature Willis humor.
Tom is a poor student at the UNC film school, who has to moonlight as a film "editor" to pay his tuition. I have to put editor in quotes, because this is the future, where movies are not made but remade with digitized famous actors. Into this walks Alis, a "face" who confides to Tom that she wants to dance in the movies.
Like many of Connie's stories, this one plays with the concept of time-travel, although the one-way trip into film nostalgia here is an unusual twist. If this was made into a film, the likely category it would fall into is romantic comedy, although comedy and tear-jerker aspects are there. Think of it as Willis' Jerry Maguire.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Alis is a determined young woman who comes to Hollywood to dance in the movies. Unfortunate, that, because in this world of the not-too-distant future musicals are dead, as is most live-action film-shooting. The hot properties in the movies are the images of stars long-dead - Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, River Phoenix, and James Dean, and every new film is a remake. Tom is a freelance movie editor whose primary occupation is fitting classic films with the images of the studio boss's latest girlfriend. This sad fact galls him to no end, since unlike most of the beautiful young people on the make in Hollywood, Tom actually watches movies, and hates to see the classics butchered by the soulless, self-serving, drug-numbed, money-hungry executives who run the studios. Fascinated by Alis and her impossible dream, Tom tries to help her as best he can and gives readers a sardonic overview of how movies will be made in the future in the process, but Alis proves resourceful enough all by herself, and manages to achieve her dream in a way that no one could possibly have imagined.
The novel is structured something like a treatment for a movie script (possibly a hypermodern, science fiction remake of Casablanca), and the first-person narrator shows his obsession with old movies by constantly referencing classics by Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, and Alis's favorite dancer, Fred Astaire. This is not another tightly knitted time travel story along the lines of Willis's irresistible To Say Nothing of the Dog. The sci-fi/fantasy aspects of the story are extremely hard to follow and may ultimately prove disappointing to fans of such, and the humor tends to fall flat more often than not.
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