Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying!...but not soon enough

You know why I like Richard Burton? Because even in dreck like Cleopatra, he keeps his dignity intact. This, truly, is a film that is not worthy of the performance he gives. Even when he's over-the-top, it's a drunken reverie of awesome. "Pff--Octavian!" Schweet.

Elizabeth Taylor, on the other hand...hoo, boy. I'm surprised there was any set left after her mastication of the scenery. And every time she says "Rufio", I think of the Lost Boys. And Grandmother Wendy. Which leads me to Maggie Smith, a great actress.

Damn, I really can't wait for that rock opera with Hugh Jackman and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Yet surely, it couldn't get any sassier than the original. The Taylor-Burton slapfest is just so...wow.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Casting Coup: Les Miserables

I have made an executive decision that pretty much consists of me saying, "Hey, this my page, I can do what I want!" and "Casting Coups are for everyday! Or anytime I feel like it!"

From now on, no more waiting until Tuesday, only to be disappointed by a review for Rachel Getting Married. Oscar Month is still Casting Coup Month, but every day could potentially be a Casting Coup Day. So...Casting Coup Thursday!

And have I got a special treat for y'all today. You know I love me a good musical. Why, just take a look at my Top Five Movies of All Time. They all have musical elements in them:

Nashville -- singing
Everyone Says I Love You -- full-on musical
Magnolia -- singing
Lolita -- dancing
The Hours -- gay people

It seems to me, though, that Hollywood very rarely takes a stab at the MUSICALS. The big show-stoppers, the ones everybody knows of, the legends. Oh, sure, My Fair Lady here, The Sound of Music there. But look how long it took to get the Hollywood versions of Rent, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, and the upcoming Nine. We're still waiting for Sunset Boulevard and Jekyll and Hyde, as well as Sondheim's Company and Follies. And it was only recently announced that Wicked would be headed for the Silver Screen--but when?

This brings us to a criminally overlooked musical that is already very cinematic. True, it is all-singing, and something about an ensemble just screams "STAGEY" to some people (wankers, I call them). But when you're dealing with a sprawling, three-hour, ensemble musical about class, crime and politics, some close-ups could help clear things up. Besides, who doesn't like a good French play?

Les Miserables is the play to which I refer, and I am dead serious about all I say regarding it. There is already a guaranteed target market, made all the wider by the fact that older people like it, too. Besides, it would be a better interpretation and more faithful adaptation than the 1998 version, which was simultaneously amazing and disappointing.

Do Read More! in order to
Who is He: Houses Valjean after his release from jail and gives him the gifts of silver and absolution. The moral compass of the show.

Quote: "By the witness of the martyrs/By the passion and the blood/God has raised you out of darkness/I have bought your soul for God..."

My Choice: Academy Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Iris), BAFTA Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Moulin Rouge!), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Iris) and Best Ensemble (Little Voice, Moulin Rouge!)

Jim Broadbent (Hot Fuzz, Bridget Jones's Diary)

The Bishop is always cameo time. Most adaptations will give it to an old, semi-recognizable veteran. I'm keeping with that tradition. Broadbent can bring dignity and believability to the role.

Who is He: Enjolras leads Marius and the rest of the student revolutionaries. The action hero of the show.

Quote: "Red: The blood of angry men/Black: The dark of ages past/Red: A world without a dawn/Black: The night that ends at last!"

My Choice:

Dominic Cooper (The History Boys, Mamma Mia!)

Cooper is an up-and-comer. That's what she said. Chicks dig him, and he's built, and he could play an action hero, I feel. Not a Bruce Willis type, but a protesting student type, certainly.

Who is She: The unscrupulous wife of M. Thénardier. The comic relief of the show.

Quote: "Enough of that, or I'll forget to be nice!/You heard me ask for something,/And I never ask twice!"

My Choice:

Catherine O'Hara (Penelope, Home Alone)

O'Hara is an underused actress that I like to cast often. Because she is amazing, has amazing comic timing, and can sing.

Who is She: Daughter to the Thénardiers, Éponine grew up with Cosette and is in love with the same man as Cosette. The...well, I guess she's just sad.

Quote: "Without him/I feel his arms around me/And when I lose my way/I close my eyes/And he has found me"

My Choice:

Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield, Mean Girls)
Another character actress I like to use. She got her degree from a College of Music, so I'm just going to assume that she can probably sing. Because a lot more people can than you realize. Anyway, she's able to play the pouty, brooding chick that can't get laid. Wasn't that Janice Ian? Even though Janice was totally hot?

Who is He: A student revolutionary, close with Éponine, but in love with Cosette. The romantic lead of the show.

Quote: "There's a grief that can't be spoken/There's a pain goes on and on/Empty chairs at empty tables/Now my friends are dead and gone"

My Choice:

Lucas Grabeel (High School Musical, Milk)

I know I might catch a lot of flack about this. But he is the most talented of the HSM cast, he's actually straight, and let's face it--Marius is kind of the sweet-faced pussy of the cast. He does absolutely nothing in battle, cries all the time, swoons over dames. Only one actor I've seen brought actual depth to the role, and I think we all know who that is. Lucas could do this.

Who is She: The daughter of Fantine, in love with Marius. The ingenue of the show.

Quote: "In my life/I'm no longer alone/Now the love in my life/Is so near/Find me now, find me here!"

My Choice:
Only one person could play Cosette.

Raye Lederman

Raye's never been in a movie before, but she has played Cosette in three different productions, with possibly more to come. I think Jon Lovitz put it best when he said, "Raye is the ingenue. Raye farts doves."

Who is He: An inn-keeper and small-time crook. The comic relief and immoral compass of the show.

Quote: "Everybody loves a landlord/Everybody's buxom friend/I do whatever pleases/Jesus! Won't I bleed 'em in the end!"

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Actor (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, As Good As It Gets) and Best Supporting Actor (Terms of Endearment), BAFTA Winner for Best Actor (Chinatown, The Last Detail, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and Best Supporting Actor (Reds), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor (Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Prizzi's Honor, As Good As It Gets, About Schmidt) and Best Supporting Actor (Terms of Endearment), SAG Award Winner for Best Actor (As Good As It Gets), Hollmann Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (The Departed)

Jack Nicholson (Batman, Tommy)

Nicholson's singing abilities are rarely explored, but they are excellent. He even sings in Something's Gotta Give. Thenardier has been played by great performers and less than stellar ones; Nicholson could do wonders with it.

Who is She: A worker who loses her job and becomes a prostitute in order to pay the Thénardiers for the welfare of her daughter. Despite dying near the beginning of Act One, she is The Lead Actress. It's all about this bitch.

Quote: "I dreamed a dream in times gone by/When hope was high/And life worth living/I dreamed that love would never die/I dreamed that God would be forgiving"

My Choice: Academy Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress (Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Children) and Best Supporting Actress (Sense and Sensibility, Iris), BAFTA/SAG Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet)

Kate Winslet (Romance & Cigarettes, The Holiday)

Winslet is the right age, has a glorious voice, looks like the girl playing Cosette. She is one of the greatest actresses working today, alongside Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and Maggie Smith.

Who is He: Respecting the law above all else, Javert relentlessly pursues Valjean, hoping to bring justice to the escaped convict. One of the most complicated characters in literature.

Quote: "And so it must be/And so it is written/On the doorway to paradise/That those who falter and those who fall/Must pay the price!"

My Choice:

Timothy Dalton (Licence to Kill, Sextette)

Dalton has the face of authority. Apparently, he can sing, too. After his marvelous performance in Hot Fuzz last year, I think he's ready for a comeback tour. An all-singing, all-opera one. YES!

Who is He: Valjean is released from jail after spending nineteen years there for stealing a loaf of bread and multiple escape attempts. He breaks his parole and changes his identity, becoming mayor of a small town. He later adopts Cosette, the daughter of Fantine.

Quote: "I'll escape now from the world/From the world of Jean Valjean/Jean Valjean is nothing now/Another story must begin!"

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Actor (Gladiator), BAFTA/Golden Globe/SAG Award Winner for Best Actor (A Beautiful Mind)

Russell Crowe (3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster)

Crowe is a fascinating actor, a star of both stage and screen in Australia. Valjean is a character that ages--what, twenty or thirty years?--and has to believably both sing and lift carts with his back. With retired non-singer Sean Connery out of the picture, only Crowe could do this justice.

Best Actor: Russell Crowe
Best Actress: Kate Winslet
Best Supporting Actor: Dominic Cooper, Timothy Dalton, Lucas Grabeel, Jack Nicholson
Best Supporting Actress: Lizzy Caplan, Raye Lederman, Catherine O'Hara

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

Wowsers, folks. I experienced a real doozy tonight. Rachel Getting Married is getting some Oscar buzz, and I can't see any reason to argue against it. There's a great score within, first of all -- all performed within the world of the film itself, so it gets extra points for that. Jenny Lumet's screenplay is tightly written, subtly conveying the dysfunction that makes this family function. Jonathan Demme and Declan Quinn have this documentary-style thing going on. It puts you in the moment, and I found myself quietly applauding at toasts, chuckling with the family, guilty about spying on those intimate moments between siblings. Effective work, this.

Excerpts from an AIM conversation:

It's a dysfunctional family movie, and it's shot like a documentary, so it feels super-realistic. At the same time, it feels like watching someone get beaten up, and you're just standing by, letting it happen. Some of the characters can be awfully loathsome....some parts are also really adorable.

There's just such an uncomfortable tension in the air. And Kym (Anne Hathaway) is just so aggravatingly self-centered, and Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) is just so goddamed unforgiving, and the dad (Bill Irwin) is just so annoyingly clueless, and the mom (Debra Winger) is just so despicably cold....but they're all REAL. Like, i could easily identify with them as a family unit.

I'd gladly see it again. ****

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fill in Oval Completely (That's What She Said)

I just got back from voting. For the first time. In my life.

It feels so fucking good. I even got a sign for my front lawn. Amazing.

What an aphrodisiac. Am I right?