Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Casting Coup...Wednesdays?

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Apparently, I didn't get the sleep I needed Monday night, so as soon as I ate lunch after work yesterday, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I cleaned, went out, and didn't get back until my parents were already locked away in the only room with internet access.

Thus, Casting Coup Tuesday was not to be.

But I promised you I would cast the new James Bond book, so I'm going to cast the new James Bond book.

Written by Sebastien Faulks, Devil May Care takes place during the Cold War, the first Bond book since Kingsley Amis's Colonel Sun to do so. Well, OK, I guess the Cold War was still on in the 80s, but the Bond books there were more politically correct. Which, you know. Blech. Bond doesn't use condoms. Bond doesn't filter his cigarettes. Bond doesn't want to marry every broad who comes his way. Bond is a ruthless womanizer who smokes ten packs a day and is impervious to both STDs and bastard children.

That's the Bond we get in Devil May Care, in which 007's career is put on the line when he tangles with Dr. Julius Gorner, a villainous Slav who deals in pharmaceutical drugs--and heroin! From the tennis court to Turkey, Bond is always one step behind Gorner, until a thrilling climax that leads into a so-so Parisian finale. Along the way, he fights a mute but deadly henchman (of course) and romances a beautiful banker (naturally).

Can Walter choose a believable Bond girl? A credible Bond villain? Will the supporting players kick ass? Check it out...

Who is She: M's personal secretary, she keeps up a flirtatious relationship with 007.

Previously played by:

Lois Maxwell (The Connery Years, The Moore Years, The Lazenby Flick)

Caroline Bliss (The Dalton Years)

Samantha Bond (The Brosnan Years)

Barbara Bouchet (the original Casino Royale)

Pamela Salem (Never Say Never Again)

My Choice: We need a brand-new Moneypenny, one who is sophisticated and attractive, but not as drop-dead gorgeous as the Bond Girls.

Claudie Blakley (Gosford Park, Pride & Prejudice)

Who is He: Chief of Staff to M, and James Bond's best friend in the Secret Service.

Previously played by:

James Villiers (For Your Eyes Only)

Michael Kitchen (GoldenEye, The World is Not Enough)

My Choice: Tanner is Bond's best friend. He needs to be intelligent and professional, yet warm and approachable. And around Bond's age.

Ben Miles (TV's Coupling, V for Vendetta)

Who is He: Bond's ally, a retired CIA agent who now works for Pinkerton's Detective Agency.

Previously played by: Okay, you ready for this?

Jack Lord (Dr. No)

Cec Linder (Goldfinger)

Rik Van Nutter (Thunderball)

Norman Burton (Diamonds Are Forever)

David Hedison (Live and Let Die, Licence to Kill)

Bernie Casey (Never Say Never Again)

John Terry (The Living Daylights)

Michael Pate (TV's Casino Royale)

My Choice: I'm sticking to the latest Felix Leiter, seen in Casino Royale, who will reappear in Quantum of Solace.

Jeffrey Wright (Angels in America, Lady in the Water)

Who is He: He's with the Deuxieme Bureau, the French Secret Service. An old friend of Bond's who is utterly wasted in this novel.

Previously played by:

Duncan Macrae (the original Casino Royale)

My Choice: Again, I'm sticking with the guy EON Productions already has in charge, seen in Casino Royale, only to reappear later this year in Quantum of Solace.

Academy Award Nominee Giancarlo Giannini (Seven Beauties, My House in Umbria)

Who is He: The Head of the British Secret Service, MI-6. Strict and orderly, but with a soft spot for Bond.

Previously played by:

Bernard Lee (The Connery Years, The Moore Years up to Moonraker, The Lazenby Flick)

Robert Brown (The Remaining Moore Years, The Dalton Years)

Academy Award-winning actress Judi Dench (The Brosnan Years, current)

Academy Award-winning director John Huston (the original Casino Royale)

Edward Fox (Never Say Never Again)

My Choice: Well, this M happens to be a man, so Judi Dench won't do at all. Time to step it up a notch.

Michael Gambon (Gosford Park, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow)

Who is He: Works with the branch in Iraq. Supposedly a chauffeur, but he also carries messages and acts as bodyguard. A fast but able driver, Hadim is loyal to his friends and comrades.

My Choice:

Sayed Badreya (Iron Man,You Don't Mess with the Zohan)

Who is He: A shady CIA agent stationed in Iraq, he has an agenda of his own.

My Choice:

Richard Schiff (TV's The West Wing, The Lost World: Jurassic Park)

Who is He: A pilot on Gorner's payroll, his assignment is to crash a plane in Russia with Bond at the helm, making it look as though Britian was attacking the Soviet Union. This would spark WWIII, you see.

My Choice:

Faran Tahir (Iron Man, Charlie Wilson's War)

Who is He: Gorner's henchman. A psychotic who had part of his brain removed, Chagrin is self-conscious and insane. As a Communist soldier in Vietnam, he murdered priests and deafened children with chopsticks. Impervious to pain, mute as Oddjob, Chagrin has a habit of ripping people's tongues out with pliers. He's a sicko.

My Choice:

Francois Chau (Rescue Dawn, TV's Lost)

Who is He: A suspiciously polite businessman who has a grudge against England. Having done his research, he punishes and tortures Bond according to methods the "honourable" British used on slaves, the Irish, etc. He is obsessed with destroying their country, planning to start WWIII and flooding London with heroin. He wears a glove on his hand so as not to show his monkey's hand: the thumb is un-opposable and makes a straight line with the fingers; it is also covered in hair.

My Choice:

Theatre director/actor Simon McBurney (Friends with Money, The Golden Compass)

Who is She: Scarlett is the Bond Girl, an investment banker who follows Bond on his mission so that he may rescue her twin sister, Poppy. She's quick-witted, intelligent, and a good shot. She's also sexy as hell, and Bond has to earn the love-making.

My Choice: Her mother was Diana Rigg, my favorite Bond Girl

Rachael Stirling (Tipping the Velvet, Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage)

Who is He: Secret Agent 007 of MI-6, with a licence to kill. Drinks, but not to excess. Weaknesses: Women.

Previously played by:

Barry Nelson (TV's Casino Royale)

Academy Award Winner Sean Connery (Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, Never Say Never Again)

Academy Award Winner David Niven (the original Casino Royale)

Roger Moore (Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill)

Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill)

Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day)

My Choice: Oh, come on. I'll just say it: he is James Bond.


Well? Do we have a Bond movie or what?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Coming Soon...

I offer you the schedule for next month's Casting Coup Tuesdays! Hooray!

July 8 -- Slaughterhouse-Five gets the CCT treatment, by special request from Gemma.

July 15 -- Sleeping Beauty was a hit; now let's see if I can keep the masses pleased with Beauty and the Beast, as requested by Becca.

July 22 -- From my Summer reading list, Dominik Dunne's quasi-fictional account of murder and money, A Season in Purgatory

July 29 -- Lea finally gets her say in things as I take on Astrid Lindgren's first book featuring Pippi Longstocking, entitled Pippi Longstocking.


Huh. I just realized that there are a few movies I've yet to review. Like, a lot. Without any further ado...

Heartwarming, endearing, magnifico. 80s-era British schoolboys make a Rambo sequel for a young filmmakers' competition. One of them is a bad-ass with absent parents, while the other is a shy kid with a religious family (no music, no movies, etc.). They form a friendship, a bond over films and filmmaking that is akin to the one I share with my friend/roommate Ben. Not only is it funny, it takes one back to the first time one realized that this was their future, that film was going to be apart of your life forever. ***1/2

OK, I loved it. I put it up there with Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer as one of the best Adam Sandler comedies made yet. A Mossad agent fakes his death and becomes a hair dresser in New York. Simple enough. I know how this sounds, but to me it played like Munich with laughs. It nailed the Israeli-Palestinian in a way that few movies do. And again, it was hilarious. ***

Beautiful cinematography. Stunning visuals. Fine performances. And yet, I felt little. I don't know if it was the story (a depressed man makes up a fantasy tale for a little girl in a California hospital in the 1920s) or what, but I have to admit that I was not as engrossed as I thought I would be. Great things are being said about the little girl's performance. Meh. I'd probably be more impressed if it wasn't so obvious that most of her scenes were just filmed on-set conversations (apparently, she thought Lee Pace was actually hospitalized). I don't want to say I was disappointed, and yet, what else can I say? **1/2

Interesting documentary about the famous court case that sent Polanski fleeing to Europe. Makes no bones about the man's guilt, but rather offers the premise that even the guilty deserve justice, and this was a case where justice was mishandled. The subject is more interesting than the execution, which interrupts absorbing interviews with title cards explaining away information that could have easily been left to the subjects to tell. Fascinating stuff, though. ***

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Casting Coup: A Key to the Suite

Bear with me here. I know most of you probably have not read this, since it seems to be one of those hard-to-find-yet-not-out-of-print books, but it will not leave me. It haunts my dreams. It floats about in my subconscious. It interrupts my thoughts. According to those in the know, it is very true to life.

John D. MacDonald, creator of Travis McGee and author of Condominium and Cry Hard, Cry Fast took on the business world in his 1962 opus, A Key to the Suite. Set in a South Florida hotel, Suite reveals the inner workings of a business convention--the double dealing, the backstabbing, the adultery, the sin. It's very delicious.

Several things happen during Suite, but the central plotline focuses on the axeman, Floyd Hubbard, sent to evaluate and (probably) fire old-school salesman Jesse Mulaney. Mulaney's pal Fred Frick, who runs their business's set-up at the convention, comes up with an underhanded scheme to stop Hubbard. They've prepared for everything--except unpredictability.

MacDonald has this wonderful ability of writing pulp with substance. His books are barely 200 pages long, the dialogue consists of words like "baby", "sweetheart", and "lover", thrown around higgledy-piggledy, and there's aways a fair amount of sex and violence. Yet there is something much, much deeper going on. In illustrating the amorality of modern American business, MacDonald offers a comment on the human condition. We are all capable of cruelty, of betrayal, of being able to lie without guilt. And yes, while this may seem obvious to a lot of us, MacDonald's execution is both horrifying and real, a mirror that reflects our own misshapen inner images.

Out of everything I've cat thus far, this is one of those. This is the real deal. This is my movie.

Who is He: Director of Public Relations for the Sultana Hotel. A former tenor and an ex-agent, Amory knows all the ins and outs of every business. He knows everybody who checks in, what clubs are accessible, and which girls to beware of. Snappy dresser, too.

My Choice:

Hollmann Awards Host Philip Baker Hall (The Rock, The Shaggy Dog)

Who is She: A call girl, a high-priced hooker whose almost through with the business. In her thirties, but tries to look and act younger. She's run off plenty of times, but she always comes back to work. This time, she insists it's different. Posing as a reporter, she's hired by Fred Frick to set up Floyd Hubbard. But something goes wrong...

My Choice:

Maggie Gyllenhaal (Stranger Than Fiction, SherryBaby)

Who is She: Cory's boss, a slick madam who feels a little rundown herself. She used to have a thing with Jesse, but that's all past.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Tommy and Carnal Knowledge

Ann-Margret (The Break-Up, Viva Las Vegas!)

Who is He: A cop who is always on call, especially when the Sultana needs some help.

My Choice:

Chi McBride (The Frighteners, Waiting...)

Who is He: The new executive vice president of the American General Machine Division, of GAE, the company that recently merged with AGM. He's the man calling the shots for Hubbard. He wants to see if Hubbard has it in him to cold-bloodedly kill a man's career. It's all a test--Mulaney is out no matter what. Camplin is cold, unemotional, and all to aware of how fickle the business can be.

My Choice:

Jeffrey Wright (Syriana, Casino Royale)

Who is She: One of the showgirls acting as spokespersons for GAE/AGM. She's got little going for her but her looks, but she's a damned good salesgirl.

My Choice:

Elizabeth Berkley (The First Wives Club, Showgirls)

Who is He: One of the AGM employees at the convention. His brawny build belies his intelligence, though he has a drinking problem. Believes no woman could his resist what he has to offer; when Cory does, he sets his sights on her.

My Choice:

Kevin Durand (3:10 to Yuma, Wild Hogs)

Who is He: A cop under Brewhane's jurisdiction who sometimes does favors for Frick. This time, it's taking care of an employee who's gone off the deep end.

My Choice:

Michael Brandon (Marple: The Sittaford Mystery)

Who is He: One of the new guys, a young man who's training by way of fetching drinks and taking care of the drunks. Too cynical, though he may be the wisest of them all.

My Choice:

Nate Torrence (Get Smart, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip)

Who is He: Assistant District Supervisor of this branch of AGM, he's good friends Jesse Mulaney. Ruthless and amoral, Frick hires a prostitute to seduce the married Hubbard, thereby discrediting him and causing his resignation. At least, so he hopes.

My Choice:

Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, The Wedding Singer)

Who is He: The axeman. A scientist by education and trade, he was hired as an engineer when GAE acquired AGM. A happily married man, he's in charge of evaluating Jesse Mulaney at the convention, hammering that last nail into the coffin. But then he meets Cory, and this boyish husband is suddenly tempted by desire.

My Choice:

Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac, View from the Top)

Who is She: Jesse's wife. Completely devoted to her husband, she is not entirely blind to his faults. She likes Floyd, and even tries to stop him from losing himself in all the goings-on at the convention. Probably the only sympathetic character, though she shouldn't drink too much.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Pieces of April

Patricia Clarkson (Married Life, No Reservations)

Who is He: A great salesman, president of NAPATAN (of which GAE/AGM is a part of), one of the old-school. But because he's old-school, the new bosses consider him more of a detriment than an asset. Unused to the way things are done nowadays, Mulaney goes to Fred for help, but balks at the idea of setting up Hubbard with Cory. Nevertheless, he gives the go-ahead, and sets off a chain of events that spirals out of control.

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Michael Clayton and In the Bedroom

Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins, Recount)

Hand to God, I really want to make this. Script away!