Of Mice and Men
The significance appears to be that pie in the sky divides and conquers men, and better than suffer outrageous fortune is to just pass on your slice, or as Beckett says (long after Chamfort), “Hope is a knave befools us evermore,” etc. Steinbeck’s cunning work makes this a tragedy. Different perspectives give you The Iceman Cometh, Waiting for Godot, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, and The Dumb Waiter.
Starting from the top in a remake is a blunder not made by Sinise. It goes without saying you need not do what’s been done, and Lewis Milestone did this very well indeed. His two main points could be said to have been an exact technical specification for his setups, and a feeling for nature even in a sound stage.
That practically tells you how to proceed: shoot on location, get it right. Sinise’s setups are often very demanding, such as a long shot of George and Lennie at a campfire in the middle of a dark night. There are a number of these conscious pictures serving as punctuation, as in Polanski’s Tess. The beauty of California hillsides is thrown into wonderful backgrounds for the dialogue, which literally begin where Milestone leaves off.
John Malkovich’s performance is calculated to put the thing, which is now a period piece, in its proper place. Mark Isham is a ham, but a little mood music never hurt anyone.