Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So, Ok, Great - All Right Then

I've not written about Predators, though I saw it weeks ago. Let me see. Laurence Fishburne has an awesome cameo, Topher Grace is miscast, Yakuza vs. Predator fight is the best part. Also, Alice Braga says something along the lines of "Don't you see? We're the predators." One of those movies you pretty much forget about as you leave the theater. Not bad, though. Definitely on par with the original, so if that's your bag, go for it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Je Ne Regrette My Ticket Purchase

Count me among the many members of the Inception fan club.  Not a rabid member, mind you, but one who quietly loves, one who does not feel that deep, passionate "MY GOD THIS FILM IS THE PERFECT BEST EVARR", but instead feels the sweet, subtle assurance that this is one for the ages, one that will remain close to my heart for a long time.

Beware. It's a difficult movie to discuss without spoiling some aspects.

Tread carefully. You've been warned.

I'm sure it's easy to dismiss Inception. It's got an intricate structure that distracts from what is actually a pretty simple story: that is, the redemption of Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio). Never mind all that "inception" business that Ken Watanabe starts us on. That's really just the subplot, the MacGuffin to distract us from the first Nolan film that actually has a woman at its center. While it's fun to debate over that last scene, while watching the dream-within a dream-within a dream sequences is breathtaking, while that fight sequence with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (all done with practicals, no CGI) kicks all the ass and stands as a shining moment of cinema...while all that is very well and good, this is a movie about a man dealing with grief. Everything else is just a means of getting him there, a setup for the journey he is going to have to take, a journey of guilt, love, redemption.

Now, really, Dom Cobb of Inception and Teddy Daniels of Shutter Island are interchangeable. "Boo-hoo, I don't know what's real and I'm obsessed with my dead wife." The difference is in the approach, and Leo does some very subtle things to differentiate his approach to Cobb from his approach to Teddy. The most important aspect, of course, is that despite his protests to the contrary, Cobb fears that he may be losing his grip. He sees his dead wife Mal while in other people's dreams, and even sedates himself at nights so that he can be with her. Well, not really her, but a memory of her. Leo plays Cobb with tragedy and desperation, and without a weird accent to distract from the performance. He is ably met by Marion Cotillard as Mal. She manages to be a full-fledged character and a mere projection of a man's idea at the same time. It's the toughest character to play, and wouldn't you know it, Cotillard nails it better than anyone could possibly imagine. She's probably the best actress of her generation.

Ellen Page is the real stand-out for me. As the Architect, she creates the dream world our team must navigate -- but her role is so much more than that. As the film progresses, she becomes both Cobb's confessor and his conscience. Is it just that I love Ellen Page that I found her portrayal of Ariadne strangely magnetic? Maybe, but it's not my fault she plays even the most underwritten of characters so wonderfully. The girl really only exists so that Cobb can deliver exposition on both the dreamworld and his own backstory, but Page does a lot with her. We get a quiet, studious girl who becomes enthralled with a world she can control, but only so much.

And in a business suit and bun? Hell yeah.

Next in line, performance-wise, is Tom Hardy as The Forger, Eames. Laid-back and humorous, Hardy allows simple line-readings and body language to inform us about his character. His feelings about Arthur, his intrigue for the job at hand, his love of risk, Hardy gives us all of that just with his gait in his first scene. Between this and Bronson, I'd say the man's a born star.

In his look at the performances in Inception (Page ranks #1), RC of Strange Culture posits the theory that praise for Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance (which he ranks #2) could possibly be based more on the fact that he is the central figure in the hotel fight sequence, featuring "scenes that are shot so wonderfully and stylized. How could Gordon-Levitt not also seem great...?" I'm going to go ahead and say that it's that, mixed with the general love people have for him anyway, that has led to all the praise being heaped on him. Now, truly, his character is the most serious of the ensemble, but he's also the only performer that never lets me in. Everyone else in the cast allows us to see the different dimensions of their characters. but JGL -- who, don't get me wrong, I usually adore -- kind of plateaus. He's serviceable, but except for a single moment with Ellen Page mid-film, he's one mood throughout. And that mood has a stick up its ass. What could he have done differently? I can't really say. All I know is that JGL disappointed me for once. Though that man certainly knows how to wear a suit.

Hans Zimmer's score is great. Its simple, building the tension and complementing the action without distracting from it. My roommate must read Rope of Silicon, for he pointed out, and Nolan admitted as much on Chud, that the score is a super slowed-down version of Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien", a song that plays an important part to the film. Little things like that amaze me, and it just made my appreciation for the score grow. I'm a fan of simple, minimalist music with repeated themes -- Philip Glass is my favorite composer -- so the pulsing strings of Zimmer's score really send me. And while Nolan may have used the Piaf song because it is oh so haunting, you know the meaning of the words had an influence on its inclusion. With Cobb consumed with guilt and wishing to rebuild his life, is it any wonder that the song that brings him back to reality has this lyric:

No! Absolutely nothing...
No! I regret nothing
Neither the good that I've done nor the bad
All this is much the same to me!

No! Absolutely nothing...
No! I regret nothing...
It is paid, swept away, forgotten
I don't care about the past!

It's a nice thought, one that he undoubtedly wishes he could share with Edith. But the man is absolutely consumed with nothing but regrets, with an inability to forget, with caring far too much about the past. That's some good stuff.

Now, it's not a perfect movie, per se. Besides JGL's cipher of a performance, there's also weird moments that may be plot holes, may be false memories, may be dreams. I guess that's the irritating thing about Inception, is that a mistake my not be a mistake, depending on what your theory is. Me, I'm gonna go ahead and say MAJOR SPOILER ALERT that Mal being on the other balcony is stupid. How did she get there? Why is she there? Wouldn't it make more sense if she's on the balcony of her hotel room? Or is that, like, the dream, man? Well, if it is, it's a stupid dream. Because that moment almost kills the movie for me. END OF THAT MAJOR SPOILER WHOO BACK TO NORMAL NOW

But it doesn't kill the movie for me. Because the movie's great. In the end, it doesn't even matter that most of the other characters aren't fully developed, because this isn't about them. This is about love and its consequences, and the effect those consequences have. It's simple, but that's always a story I can get behind.

Casting Coup Tuesdays: Sunset Boulevard

I know it's been driving my girlfriend crazy, but ever since discovering it, Sunset Blvd. has been on repeat in my head. This ain't just the Billy Wilder film I'm talking about here, but the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical from the early 90s. Some people hate it, but then some people just plain hate ALW. I love him, and I love the musical (though I admit the titular song leaves much to be desired). As we speak, three songs from the soundtrack are among my iTunes' Top 25 Most Played -- Max's solo "The Greatest Star of All" at 13 times, the signature tune "With One Look" at 17 times, and Norma's triumphant Act Two solo "As If We Never Said Goodbye" at a whopping 27 times. I've watched YouTube clips of Glenn Close, Patti Lupone, Elaine Paige, and personal favorite Betty Buckley taking the stage as that great silent screen siren, Norma Desmond. I am, as they say, obsessed.

The movie version, of course, isn't far away from my mind...but how long must I wait? Since 2005, we've been hearing news that a film adaptation of the Tony-winning musical is in the works, but no movement has been made. In 2007, it was rumored that Meryl (of fucking course) was in contention for the lead, alongside Glenn Close (who won the Tony for this role) and Barbra Streisand. Naturally, whoever gets the role is probably a guaranteed an Oscar nom, so all the old divas are champing at the bit for this part. And surely, the role of Norma must be played by a STAR, a DIVA, a FACE.

But what of the others? What of cynical, handsome narrator Joe Gillis, the protagonist of the piece? What of ingenue Betty, a pretty girl with (gasp!) a brain? Or the mysterious Slavic manservant Max, fanatically devoted to Norma? What of the rest of the supporting cast? I've given it some thought, of course. I leave it to you to decide if I've made the right choice:

Who is He: The tailor Norma calls in to dress Joe on his birthday. A pompous, opportunistic guy.

My Choice: 

George Hearn (Flags of Our Fathers, The Pagemaster)
He won the Tony for originating the role of Max. This is the original George in La Cage aux Folles on Broadway, too, so he can bring out Manfred's showmanship. It'd be a fun cameo for everyone!

Who is He: A studio executive who Joe tries to sell a screenplay to. It doesn't over so well. A scheming, cigar-chopping schmuck. He also is the one who wants Norma's car for a movie.


Let's Have Lunch (4:42 in)

Originally played by:
Fred Clark (Auntie Mame, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine)

My Choice:

Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Evening)
Bostwick has a thing now for playing those sleazy exec types. To see him singing with a cigar-chomping relish would be too delightful to pass up. Plus, it's a comic role that requires great timing, and Bostwick is a learned comic actor.

Who is He: The man, the myth, the legend. Working on Samson and Delilah, he receives an on-set visit from old friend Norma Desmond, who hopes for a comeback with her favorite director. DeMille is not so keen on the idea, much as he loves her.


Paramount Conversations, Surrender [Reprise] (3:00 in)

Originally played by: Academy Award Winner for Best Picture (The Greatest Show on Earth)
Cecil B. DeMille (Star Spangled Rhythm, The Ten Commandments)

My Choice: Academy Award Winner/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor [in a Drama] (American Beauty) and Best Supporting Actor (The Usual Suspects), BAFTA Award/SAG Award Winner for Best Actor (American Beauty), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Drama (The Shipping News) and Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Swimming with Sharks), Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Actor (Swimming with Sharks), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (American Beauty)

Kevin Spacey (Beyond the Sea, Moon)
With some makeup, why not? He's got a younger resemblance to the man, and he can sing. A cameo like this is in keeping with the effect the DeMille appearance gives anyway.

Who is He: An assistant director at Paramount. Artie is old friends with Joe, and is engaged to young writer Betty Schaefer. While the two work on a screenplay together, Artie is away on a set. He's a genuinely nice guy who hopes to marry Betty and raise a family with her. He hosts the New Year's Eve party that closes Act One.


Let's Have Lunch, Every Movie's a Circus [Reprise], This Time Next Year (his part is at 1:16)

Originally played by:
Far R: Jack Webb (The Men, "Dragnet")

My Choice:

Jason Segel (Can't Hardly Wait, Knocked Up)
Well, I mean, he can sing pretty well. And look at him! I don't know of many actors that just proclaim Nice Guy the way Jason Segel does, while at the same looking old enough to know both Joe and the way the studio schmoozing works.

Who is She: A script girl who works for Sheldrake, she has dreams of becoming an actual screenwriter. She believes Joe is writing pieces that are below his abilities, and suggests a collaboration. The two work on a screenplay together, and eventually become more than just colleagues. She's a sweet girl, engaged to Artie, but surprised by her attraction to Joe. Don't worry, she's more than just an ingenue -- this dame's got spunk, and is willing to call crap crap.


Let's Have Lunch, Every Movie's a Circus, Every Movie's a Circus [Reprise], Girl Meets Boy, This Time Next Year, Paramount Conversations, Girl Meets Boy [Reprise], Betty's Office at Paramount, Too Much in Love to Care, The Final Scene

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Sunset Blvd.)
 Nancy Olson (The AbsentMinded Professor, Airport 1975)

My Choice: Academy Award/Golden Globe/Indie Spirit/SAG Award/Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actress [in a Drama] (Rachel Getting Married), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Brokeback Mountain)

Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, Becoming Jane)
She's still young and wholesome-seeming enough to play Betty, but she's also smart and tough enough to play Betty. Because Betty is all things sexy and great. And she's a brunette, which means she doesn't seem slutty.

Who is He: Norma's devoted manservant/chauffeur, with a secret of his own. An awesome, sad secret. Best role.


Greatest Star of All, Back at the House on Sunset, New Year's Eve, Paramount Conversations, New Ways to Dream [Reprise], The Final Scene

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Sunset Blvd.)
 Erich von Stroheim (The Grand Illusion, Alraune)

My Choice: Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (A Fish Called Wanda), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actor (A Fish Called Wanda), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Soapdish, Dave, In & Out, De-Lovely), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (Life as a House)

Kevin Kline (The Big Chill, French Kiss)
Of course, I don't expect Oscar to notice, since they already missed out on Soapdish and De-Lovely. Anyway. He can do accents, he can sing, and he can bring gravitas. I'd love to see him in this role, especially at the end.

Who is He: The protagonist, who starts out shot to death in a swimming pool. He then narrates the circumstances that got him there: hack writer on the run from debt-collectors takes advantage of an aging actress...unaware that she brings her own special brand of crazy to the mix. He becomes a kept man, but starts to fall in love with his friend's fiancee, Betty. A cynic and opportunist.


I Guess It Was 5 AM, Let's Have Lunch, Every Movie's a Circus, At the House on Sunset, Salome, Every Movie's a Circus [Reprise], Girl Meets Boy, Back at the House on Sunset, New Ways to Dream, Completion of the Script, The Lady's Paying, New Year's Eve, The Perfect Year, This Time Next Year, New Year's Eve [Back at the House on Sunset], Sunset Boulevard, Journey to Paramount, Paramount Conversations, Girl Meets Boy [Reprise], Who's Betty Schaefer?, Betty's Office at Paramount, Too Much in Love to Care, The Final Scene

Originally played by: Academy Award Winner for Best Actor (Stalag 17), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actor (Network) and Best Foreign Actor (Picnic)
William Holden (Executive Suite, The Towering Inferno)

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award/Indie Spirit/SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (The Hurt Locker), Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Actor (Dahmer), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (The Hurt Locker)

Jeremy Renner (North Country, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
He's manly, he's young-looking, he can sing. He's also played complicated characters before, and can be mesmerizingly subtle in establishing whole character histories. What a great fucking actor.

Who is She: Siren of the silent cinema. Holed up in her mansion on Sunset Blvd., the lady's crazy, and has written a huge opus about 16-year-old Salome as a vehicle for herself...though she's over 50. Jealous and possessive, she keeps Joe for herself, employing him to help finish her screenplay...and falling crazy in love with him. Norma is a wealthy woman, and was even a great talent, but that can't buy you sanity. One of the most iconic screen characters in all of cinema history.


Surrender (2:28), With One Look (5:43), Salome, New Ways to Dream, Completion of the Script, The Lady's Paying, The Perfect Year, New Year's Eve [Back at the House on Sunset], There's Been a Call [The Perfect Year - Reprise], Journey to Paramount, As If We Never Said Goodbye, Paramount Conversations, The Phone Call, The Final Scene

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress (Sadie Thompson, The Trespasser, Sunset Blvd.), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress in a Drama (Sunset Blvd.)
Gloria Swanson (Zaza, Father Takes a Wife)

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress [in a Musical/Comedy] (Cabaret)

Liza Minnelli (The Sterile Cuckoo, Sex and the City 2)
Yes, it absolutely needs to be a diva. And remember, people: Liza can frickin' act. Even on "Arrested Development", we could see that she'd lost none of her timing. Ten years too old? Fuck, just change the word "fifty" to "sixty". It's easy as that.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Silliness

Back-to-back Silliness was the order of the day yesterday. A midnight showing of The Sorceror's Apprentice followed by a 9:45pm showing of Salt assured me that Sunday was going to be ridiculous, but at least enjoyably so. Is my forehead bruised from the many times I smacked it? Possibly. Did I have a great time? Oh, honey. You don't even know.

The Sorceror's Apprentice begins silly. It ends silly. Throughout the entirety of its 111 min. running time (wait...really? that long?), it never stops being silly. This is a movie that's proud to wear its silliness on its sleeve, and not for one moment is there a line or an action that makes any sort of sense. Things just happen. Oh, sure, there's a a plot about having to stop Morgana le Fey (Alice Krige) from raising the dead and wreaking havoc on the world, but whatever. I guess. Oh, and of course there is some apprenticing, but, you know, who cares? There's a romantic subplot that's lazy, and then another romantic subplot that's even lazier. It's all so...shruggable.

 I can't imagine either of these two caring. Ever again.

But I wasn't angry. In fact, I had a smile on my face throughout, mostly because I just could not believe that someone actually made this movie. There's not even a script. There's barely an idea. Three writers are credited, but what did they do, exactly? Smoke pot and high-five each other? I don't know, but it strangely works somehow. The movie has a tone and feeling all its own, to the point where you could do something completely insane to your friends, but as long as you shout, "You've just been Apprentice'd!" everyone would totally understand. It's just weird. And silly.

We do get three great sequences, though, all involving Tesla coils. The first is when Jay Baruchel's character, the Apprentice, gets his coils working in time to music playing on his love interest's radio program. The second is when he actually shows her the Tesla music on a date, and it's timed so perfectly and it's adorable and cute and you wonder why the whole movie can't be like this. And then there's the final battle against Morgana, and there's one shot that made it completely worth the $9.50 I spent on the ticket. Thank God they repeated it twice. I love Nikola Tesla. The great shame, though, is that The Sorceror's Apprentice only flirts with brilliance in these three sequences, so that they're great surprises. The rest of the movie is an exercise in how gobsmackingly illogical a film can be.

Salt, on the other hand, tricks you. Its shot and cast seriously enough that you're actually taken in for a majority of the running time. Despite the plot hinging on either a bizarre plot to bring Communist power back to Russia, or maybe start a war with the US -- but not both, I'm pretty sure -- you're lulled into this sense of security. You think to yourself, as I did, "Wow, this is like old school James Bond!" Everything's edited so that you can see the action. Angelina Jolie is clearly doing her own stunts, and delivering a great performance in the meantime. It's a great chase thriller, a great conspiracy caper, and the suspense almost kills you. Where's it gonna go? How is she going to prove her innocence? Is she even innocent? WHAT'S HER DEAL? And for over an hour, you're invested in a serious thriller.


Then comes one of Salt's disguises, and no I won't spoil it, but if you see the movie, you totally know which one I'm talking about. And it's there that I realized the movie was silly and preposterous. Because I was totally on board with training Russian children to be Soviet spies by memorizing episodes of "The Brady Bunch", and I could go with the ol' knife-in-the-shoe trick made famous by From Russia with Love, and I'm in full support of any movie that has a JFK conspiracy theory as a footnote. But that NATO disguise was just...silly. And ridiculous.

Not that it completely changes the tone, for that's the genius of director Phillip Noyce and writer Kurt Wimmer: they slowly reveal the silliness on display until it's too late to do anything. No, it's just ridiculous because it is. Because there's no way to take the movie seriously after that, even though it has one of the best villain executions of ever. But I think the movie understands this: why else would James Newton Howard's score suddenly go into a choir chanting, "SALT SALT SALT SALT SALT"? He knows what he's dealing with.

In the end, you could live without seeing either of these films, neither of which will be remembered in two years' time. Never mind that Salt leaves itself open for a sequel (maybe a trilogy!) -- I don't want that, and I can't think of anyone who would. These movies are distractions, lightweight popcorn films, and though Salt is certainly cut from a better-made cloth, in the end, it's all a lot of Summer Silliness.

Oh, and Jay Baruchel is awful in The Sorceror's Apprentice, while Salt has nothing but good performances.

A Parker Pause

by Dorothy Parker 

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Indie Over-Sharing

Cyrus really surprised me. I went in expecting this escalating battle of wits between John C. Reilly and the titular character, played by Jonah Hill, that would only get worse/more hilarious as the film progressed. I thought Cyrus would do everything in his power to drive a wedge between his saintly mother (Marisa Tomei) and her new beau, and new beau John would respond in kind with hilarious tactics of his own. I certainly was not prepared for an honest and vulnerable performance from Hill as a boy fighting against oncoming adulthood. Nor was I ready for a Reilly-Tomei relationship that actually worked, that managed to ring true despite the fact that she's mind-blowingly beautiful and he's, well, Shrek.

Now, it's not always successful. It doesn't quite find that balance between broad comedy and realism, and often you'll find yourself in either one movie or the other. When it goes for a more realistic tone by the end, it's surprising, a little off-putting...but it works somehow. You can thank the actors for that, for Hill and Reilly always manage to keep themselves grounded in reality. Hill, as I've said, is the real surprise here. He can act! Who knew? Reilly is solid, as always, and Tomei's a sweetheart -- though I don't think she always finds her character, you know? Like she's only playing the surface. Maybe there is only surface to her character, since everyone except Cyrus is strangely honest with each other. But again, thanks to the actors, it never comes off as on-the-nose or stilted. That's just how they are.

It was a pretty good time. Oh, sure, the constant and unnecessary zooming irritated the bejeezus out of me, but overall it's a fine movie with some solid performance. Again: Hill. Wow.


Speaking of honest characters. In Please Give, Nicole Holofcener introduces us to six people who are all very blunt with each other. Sometimes, they're passive-aggressive. Most of the time, they're very aggressive. But the trait that binds them all together is this strange habit of saying whatever mean thoughts come into their heads. Also, over-sharing. This movie is about over-sharing, I think. And youth, and our obsession with it. Also, it's about giving, whether it be monetarily or emotionally, whether it be to charity or at home. Because, really, charity begins at home. I think that sums up the last scene, really.

Anyway, the film follows six people from two families. Catherine Keener and Rebecca Hall are the leads, one a wife and mother with that famous guilt upper-class liberals feel, the other a radiology technician who takes care of her grandmother (Ann Guilbert). Keener's bought the grandmother's apartment next door, and is basically waiting for her to die so that she break through and remodel her apartment. She feels guilty about this, and about her job: buying furniture at estate sells and then selling them at her furniture store for more than she paid. She tries to give to the homeless and volunteer, but something always backfires. Hall's character is just naturally giving and dutiful, and though it's difficult caring for her grandmother, she does so without complaint. Hall's sister, a conceited beautician/masseuse/cosmetologist/I don't know what (Amanda Peet), is openly hostile towards Grandmother. Also in the mix are Keener's dorky husband (Oliver Platt) and their self-conscious daughter (Sarah Steele).

Again, a good movie. Good. Rebecca Hall is the especial stand-out (isn't she always?), though Keener is, of course, magical. Platt seems a little miscast to me, and I can't figure out what would lead Keener to marry and procreate with this man. His playing of the role is a little off, too: my roommate said he thought Platt was the gay best friend for the first fifteen minutes. Steele is great, funny and sad as the awkward 15-year-old. Guilbert has little more to do than be cranky, while Peet has little more to do than be a bitch. Oh, but her self-conscious moments are delicious.

But overall? It's just good. When all is said and done, I don't know why Keener chooses to do something that fills her with as much guilt as it does. And their business doesn't really seem to be doing that well, anyway, so it can't be the money. Like, I just didn't understand these people's motivations. Is that the point? Are they just normal human beings fumbling their way through a strange existence? I don't know, but it's not very fulfilling. I could watch it again, but I wouldn't buy it. Unless it was to savor Rebecca Hall's performance again. She's great.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Casting Coup Tuesdays: August Edition

Coming Attractions for August CCTs:

From Russia with Love

Rock of Ages

A Wrinkle in Time

Slim schedule, but it's going to be a busy time for me. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Casting Coup Tuesday: Miss Lonelyhearts

When my grandfather gave me The Day of the Locust to read two summers ago, my friend Gemma became quite excited. She had read the Nathanael West novella in high school -- indeed, I watched her read it during lunch! I myself didn't really remember this, but then she mentioned that it was in a book that contained both this work and its predecessor: Miss Lonelyhearts. Well, that one I remembered, and this may be because I don't read past the top of the page sometimes. But now that she started me on that track, I knew that before the year was out, I would find and read Miss Lonelyhearts on my own. Fortunately, the film school has a library, and I checked out the slim paperback upon my return to school.

West was not the most optimistic of writers. I've heard Miss Lonelyhearts described as dark comedy. Dark indeed, but if there is comedy to be found in this assemblage of grotesques, you'd need someone with a keener ear for it than me. The title character is an otherwise-unnamed young man who writes this advice column for the lovelorn and hopeless. He, himself, is hopeless, who feels unworthy of the somewhat Messianic role he feels he's been given. Like The Day of the Locust, it's a series of depressing events illustrating the moral decay and utter hopelessness of the world, a cynical treatise against humanity. Don't it sound exciting?

Still, it's been quite a popular work. Juilliard put on an operatic version of it some years ago, and was previously adapted for the stage. Then, of course, there's the somewhat popular film version, titled simply Lonelyhearts. Made in 1958, the film is the most high-profile adaptation of the novel, probably due to its place in Cinema History. Ya see, it happened to be the cinematic debut of one Maureen Stapleton, who, as Fay Doyle, was nominated for both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She lost to Wendy Hiller's performance in Separate Tables, but Stapleton became a familiar face on the Oscar circuit, with another two nominations and an eventual win, all in the same category.

That's all well and good, but this is my version. Were I to make Miss Lonelyhearts a film...well, it would be a hard sell, methinks, since it's so effing depressing. Not a lot of mass appeal, except for fans of the novel or of my chosen actors. Do tell me, what category would you fall into? Would you go because of your appreciation for this landmark piece of literature? Or would it be for this cast?:

Who is She: Wife of M.L.'s editor. Mary is a virginal woman who frequently cheats on her husband with other men, but never allowing them to do more than kiss her. Not because of her marriage, but because she's keeping her virginity. Mary and M.L. have an ongoing affair.

My Choice:
Fran Drescher (Ragtime, Cadillac Man)
I've always had great admiration for Fran's acting. She's played the want for a better life before, albeit in comedy, but talent is talent. Certainly, if someone is going to play an object of men's desires, it should be a sexy piece like Fran.

Who is He: A gasman, Doyle is a weakling who shares a rare connection with M.L. Himself a letter-writer to the advice column, Doyle suffers from a crippled foot and a dominant wife. Bullied by her, he believes M.L. has attempted to rape her, despite the spiritual and physical connection the men have already made. It is at his home that the consequences of M.L.'s career are fully realized.

My Choice:
Tom Kenny (Shakes the Clown, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie)
Well, I like him, and he's a lean guy -- Doyle needs to be thin. His voice-work lets us know that he can do absurd, he can do sad, he can do it all.

Who is She: Doyle's wife, a beauty in her day, now a bitter woman in a loveless marriage. She married for convenience, and abuses her husband daily. She drinks, she whines, she writes to Miss Lonelyhearts. Fay writes to M.L. and later seduces him, but tells her husband he raped her. When she realizes the two men have a connection, she calls them "fairies", then sends her hubby out so she can seduce M.L. once more. Classy broad.

My Choice:
 Marissa Jaret Winokur (Never Been Kissed, American Beauty)
 This voluptuous actress is best-known for her Tony-nominated work in the Broadway musical Hairspray. But hell, I loved the TV movie Beautiful Girl, co-starring Fran Drescher. It's a pretty fun, OTT role sometimes, though with sadness and bitterness, and I think she'd have a good time with it.

Who is She: The optimistic virgin who loves Miss Lonelyhearts, she tries to get him to forget about the troubles of the world by whisking him off to the country, her own paradise. She turns down his marriage proposal before the novel begins.

My Choice: Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Actress (All the Real Girls)
Zooey Deschanel ((500) Days of Summer, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
The latter title is what makes me convinced for her in this role. There is a simple kindness in her portrayal of Dorothy Evans, the last person to befriend Robert Ford. Deschanel has, I think, a natural sweetness, and the character of Betty needs that.

Who is He: M.L.'s editor. A loudmouthed cynic, Shrike constantly mocks M.L.'s column and religious fascination. It is he who first associates the advice column's readers with Christ's disciples. He allows his wife to carry on affairs because it saves him money.

My Choice:
Wallace Shawn (Manhattan, Toy Story 3)
Shawn's pretty good in loudmouthed roles, like Vizzini in The Princess Bride or...I don't know, his TV work. He's great at despicable is what I'm saying. And he plays great opposite Fran Drescher, having guest-starred on "The Nanny". I swear, it's just coincidence that she's co-starred with everyone.

Who is He: The depressed advice columnist. He becomes disillusioned with the world by the letters he receives and the people around him. Despite his pursuit of guidance from Christ, he finds himself unable to live according to His ways. M.L. leads Betty along, goes for trysts with Mary and Fay, and beats a harmless old man at a bar. He feels the weight of the world on his shoulders, and much of his journey parallels Christ's own.

My Choice: Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Actor (Soldier's Girl)
Lee Pace (Infamous, "Pushing Daisies")
He has the looks of a man weighed down by the world around him. Think of him in The Fall -- that's the kind of performance you want for this, and obviously he can give it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Social Network - First Full Trailer

All I can say is WOW. The music, the images. It's like a two-and-a-half-minute filmgasm. Yowza.

Reminder: this was #16 on my Most Anticipated List. It just climbed up.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Southern Belles and What the Hell?

From the opening credits, I immediately felt some worry about Crimes of the Heart. As each actress's name comes up, a cartoon heart falls through each in place of the letter "a" in their names: Keaton, Lange, Spacek. And then it falls in place of the "a" in the title. My first, cynical thought was, "What, did they cast these gals just so they could do that?" Having finished the film, I am convinced that I must be partly right.

Based on the play by Beth Henley (who also wrote the screenplay), Crimes of the Heart follows three days in the lives of three sisters, brought together when the youngest shoots her husband. From the picturesque houses and dusty roads, we can tell we must be in the South, and man do those shrill accents start in fast and furious. You think you'll get used to them over the 1 hr. 44 mins. of fighting, laughing, gossiping, etc., but you don't. Not all of them.

Sissy Spacek is the youngest sister, Babe, giving us the best performance in the film. Married at 18, Babe appears to have never grown out of her childhood, and even her costumes suggest the dresses of a child bride rather than the wardrobe of a senator's wife. Spacek has never been more lump-in-the-throat beautiful. While her co-stars make entrances and exits, Spacek strolls along, every movement completely fluid, every line flowing spontaneously. The girlishness she has after a meeting with her handsome lawyer is both touching and a little sad, and no matter how hard the script works against her, she manages to bring out the human being in Babe. Even though she shot her husband, even though she fooled around with a minor, even though she should probably be put in an asylum, we still manage to sympathize with her and hope for the best. Spacek was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and for now I can't argue with that.

Jessica Lange is the wild one, Meg, who went off to California to be a star. She is the only other believable, interesting character in the movie. Her accent ain't too bad, neither. When she and Spacek come together, the movie is easy to get through. Fortunately, most of the film is between these two, the "outsiders" bound by their spontaneity and beauty (though Lange almost suffers in this department thanks to the most unflattering hairdo I've ever seen on a woman). She's sexy, funny, and full of life! Yet she also lets us in on that sadness, never going full tilt into tears or anything, but hinting at it here and there. When she lies to her sick grandfather about her success, we know it's just as much for her as it is for him.

Tess Harper was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as busybody Chick, their cousin and next door neighbor. It's a small role, and I guess it's meant to be the comic relief, but Sissy and Jessica already give us both the laughs and the pathos, so in the end it feels like Tess is there merely to provide some exposition. I mean, she sells the role, and except for her last, strangely miscalculated scene, she's a welcome sight. But Judi Dench's work in A Room with a View was passed over in favor of this, and that cannot be forgiven.

No, the real weak link here is the horrifyingly miscast, head-scratchingly underwritten Lenny, played by Diane Keaton. I love my Diane, but dear Lord in Heaven, what in the blue blazes happened here? It's a shrill, scenery-chewing turn, as she screams, slams things around, whips her hair about, and even leaps off of her feet (!!!) a number of times. Her accent is atrocious, and she appears to be playing everything for the benefit of the rear orchestra -- there's none of the subtlety or nuance that her earlier comedies and dramas showcased. Even the script seems uninterested in her, and for much of the movie she is relegated to the background, tilling in the garden as her sisters talk out their lives and share plot developments with each other.

I can't believe this is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning, Tony-nominated play. Beth Henley's characters are mostly whiny do-nothings, most of them amoral. A lot of it works, though, so obviously she knew what she was doing -- though so many inconsequential things occur, you'll wonder what THE POINT of it all is. I think the main problem here is director Bruce Beresford, who seems too entranced with the quaintness of The South to actually plumb the depths of despair and hurt Lange and Spacek are so desperate to explore. Sure, it's a comedy, but it's a DARK one, which means you can actually go for emotional truths and sincere moments. Tonally, it's a mess, going from dramedy to broad comedy to whatever movie Diane Keaton's in. Seriously, Spacek and Lange are the only people making sense, and that's probably because they have the only real characters.

Crimes of the Heart is not a terrible movie, but in the hands of a different director -- and with someone besides Keaton in the film -- it could've been largely enjoyable. It's half-interesting, half-forgettable. A real treat for Spacek fans, as I keep reiterating (she's just so good in this movie!), but it's not a must-see.

Academy Award Nominations
Best Actress - Sissy Spacek ***
Best Supporting Actress - Tess Harper **
Best Adapted Screenplay - Beth Henley **

Golden Globe Nominations
Best Picture - Musical/Comedy **
Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy - Sissy Spacek *** (WIN)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Casting Coup Tuesdays: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

When a book becomes a worldwide bestseller, it's only natural that Hollywood comes sniffing around to see what all the fuss is about. When the same book becomes a hit foreign film, Hollywood knows it can have better results without subtitles. And when David Fincher takes an interest, greenlight that baby, man, greenlight that!

I've never read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's 600-plus page count is a little daunting, and I only tackle tomes like that once in a while (it's been four years since Atlas Shrugged, though that's admittedly longer). I have seen the highly-acclaimed Swedish film starring Noomi Rapace and directed by Niels Arden Oplev. There's much to admire about the film, like the story -- though that comes from the novel. And the lead actor, Michael Nyqvist, is pretty good. But otherwise, this is a film that needs a remake by a director as talented and amazing as David Fincher. It's pretty murky, it jumps around a lot, and it's almost irritatingly on the nose sometimes -- the original title in Sweden is Men Who Hate Women. So, yeah, I'd welcome a remake by someone dependable, subtle and clear-headed.

But I started hearing rumors of Brad Pitt, Kristen Stewart, Ellen Page, Natalie Portman...and all I could think was, "No, no, no, no, no!" Mr. Fincher, if I may interject here: I have some ideas of my own. One of these has been heavily rumored as well, but I want to point out that I had the idea first (my cousin and my roommate can confirm). Let my other brainstorms be known:


Who is He: Lisbeth's boss. He assigns her to get info on Mikael for the Vangers. So it's really his fault that she gets involved in the muckedy-muck.

Originally played by:
Michalis Koutsogiannakis (All It Takes is a Miracle, The Girl Who Played with Fire)

My Choice:
Peter Friedman (I Shot Andy Warhol, Someone Like You...)
Dragan only has one scene in the movie, but he's in the full trilogy. With a regular, you want someone dependable, one who could believably play a middle-aged bossman/father figure. Oh, hey-hey-hey, if it ain't Mr. Friedman, one of the best character actors working today!

Who is She: Mikael's editor and sometimes lover.

Originally played by:
Lena Endre (Jerusalem, Day and Night)

My Choice: Indie Spirit Winner for Best Supporting Actress (Lovely & Amazing)
Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island, Harry Brown)
Very awesome, talented actress, one I've watched with great interest since Scream 3. She looks great in a pants-suit, and I don't mean that like, "ooh, sexy", I mean that she seems smart and looks like a pro. So, if you need to cast someone as an attractive newspaper editor, why not get the great Mortimer?

Who is He: I think he's the parole officer in charge of Lisbeth Salander, though I guess in Sweden they call them "guardians". Nils is the new guy, one is not as understanding of Lisbeth as his predecessor. He is a grasping, corrupt, evil man who takes power over women through abuse and rape.

Originally played by:
Peter Andersson (Zero Tolerance, Mouth to Mouth)

My Choice:
Harry Enfield ("Harry Enfield and Chums", "Skins")
Though a comedian, in Marple: The Moving Finger, he showed a skeezier side. I guess that's all the reasoning I have. It feels right.

Who is He: A tech wiz who helps Lisbeth with her computer hackery. I'm pretty sure. He's also fat.

Originally played by:
Tomas Kohler (The Love Life of a Fat Thief, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest)

My Choice:
Jorge Garcia (The Good Humor Man, Deck the Halls)
He's large and a good actor. And, come on, he's going to need the work now that "Lost" is over. Could do worse than a Fincher-directed remake of a hit series.

Who is He: A corrupt businessman Michael investigates. Nothing to do with the main story, but gives the investigation a "ticking clock" to work against after Wennerstrom manages to get Mikael convicted of something or other.

Originally played by:
Stefan Sauk (At Point Blank, Dear Alice)

My Choice:
Zeljko Ivanek (Dogville, Live Free or Die Hard)
Have you seen "Damages"? He's AWESOME on that show.

Who is She: The one who can provide the most important clue of all.

Originally played by:
 Ewa Froling (Sally and Freedom, Fanny and Alexander)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress (The Contender) and Best Supporting Actress (Nixon, The Crucible), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (The Crucible), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress in a Drama (The Contender) and Best Supporting Actress (The Crucible), Indie Spirit/SAG Award Nominee for Best Actress (The Contender), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actress and Best Ensemble (Nixon)
Joan Allen (Pleasantville, Bonneville)
It's a small but important role, so it needs an actress par excellence. An actress with great gravitas. An actress who can deliver a solid performance without vanity. Joan Allen.


Who is He: Vanger attorney and Henrik's friend. He's the one who gets Michael involved in the investigation of the forty-year-old disappearance of then-teenager Harriet Vanger.

Originally played by:
Ingvar Hirdwall (Let's Play House, Daybreak)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Chariots of Fire), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (The Bofors Gun, Chariots of Fire), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
Ian Holm (Henry V, Lord of War)
And now we get to the all-star aspect. Older gentleman, a real trustworthy type.

Who is She: Daughter of old hermit Harald Vanger, niece to Henrik, cousin of the missing Harriet.
Cecilia was close with Harriet, and the two of them briefly looked after Mikael. She seems to be attracted to Mikael, but he does not respond.

Originally played by:
Marika Lagercrantz (All Things Fair, I Wonder Who's Kissing You Now)

My Choice:
Kim Cattrall (Mannequin, The Bonfire of the Vanities)
I really liked her in The Ghost Writer. She's another well-known yet non-distracting actress. Right age and right talent.

Who is She: The sixteen-year-old favorite niece of Henrik who disappeared mysteriously forty years ago.

Originally played by:
Julia Sporre

My Choice: Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (That Evening Sun)
Mia Wasikowksa (Defiance, Amelia)
Yeah, she'll do.

Who is He: The patriarch of the Vanger clan, he unofficially reopens the investigation behind the disappearance of his favorite niece. Henrik is a kind, old man, and the only one of his brothers not completely in love with Nazis. Now retired, he was the CEO of the Vanger Corporation.

Originally played by:
Sven-Bertil Taube (Jerusalem, London Voodoo)

My Choice: Academy Award/Golden Globe/Indie Spirit/SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Last Station), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (A Beautiful Mind)
Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, Dreamscape)
When I saw the movie, I immediately thought of Holm, my two leads, and Plummer. Plummer can play the controlled emotions. He can play the great grief in the private moments. He's an old pro, but he's in great shape.

Who is He: Current president of the Vanger Corporation. Harriet's brother. He and Mikael warm to each other, and he tries to get the other family members to cooperate.

Originally played by:
Peter Haber (Sommarmord, All It Takes is a Miracle)

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Far From Heaven), Indie Spirit Winner for Best Actor (The Big Easy) and Best Supporting Actor (Far From Heaven), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Traffic)
Dennis Quaid (Dreamscape, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra)
A guy who always rocks when he stretches, and this role would put him through the wringer. And hell, I would see anything he's in.


Who is He: Journalist for, and publisher of, Millenium. He gets into trouble after investigating corrupt tycoon Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Now he finds himself sleuthing alongside Lisbeth when Henrik asks him to find the truth behind a forty-year-old disappearance.

Originally played by:
Michael Nyqvist (Day and Night, London Voodoo)

My Choice: BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actor (Casino Royale), Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Infamous)
Daniel Craig (The Mother, The Invasion)
He's got what Mikael needs: smart, middle-aged, and sexy. Not ridiculously sexy, but you can understand why ladies would go for him. He's an action star and a dramatic actor, meaning you're going to get a great performance no matter what he's doing.

Who is She: Bisexual computer hacker with a dark past. She helps Mikael find the truth behind Harriet's disappearance.

Originally played by:
Noomi Rapace (Bloodbrothers, Daisy Diamond)

My Choice:
Olivia Thirlby (Juno, Breaking Upwards)
Hear this. She's age-appropriate, but it wouldn't be creepy if she hooked up with Daniel Craig. She's beautiful, but you could totally see her doing the bad-ass thing without looking strange or acting mannered. And she's a phenomenal actress. She'd be my perfect Lisbeth Salander.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Excellent Emmys

I shan't list all the Emmy nominees -- you can look at those here. But they got me a little more excited than usual. I don't remember the last time I actually looked forward to these. Season Three of "The Office"? The Final Season of "The West Wing"? Anywho, the best of the noms:

"Glee" for Comedy Series -- Thrilling! I'm rooting for it, of course, because I did musical theatre in high school. It' snot show choir, but I understand the mindset. It takes me back, and I recognize the struggles, the trials and tribulations...except I don't think my high school believed in keeping a societal order. Is this a midwest thing? Because I noticed most "high school hell" films take place in the midwest.

Matthew Morrison for Lead Actor in a Comedy -- His voice. Is awesome. Rap, rock, pop, Broadway, ballads...good Lord I'm jealous of this man. And his hair.

Steve Carell for Lead Actor in a Comedy -- But I'm still rooting for this guy to win. He's always great, and I think Morrison needs to work on not overplaying the same character beats. Carell can also be guilty of this, but he adds such hidden gravitas in his performance that your heart breaks, while still wanting to reach into the screen and murder him.

Edie Falco for Lead Actress in a Comedy -- I don't watch "Nurse Jackie", but I'll still root for Falco. Why? Because I have a soft spot for Edie Falco, that's why. Simple as that.

Chris Colfer for Supporting Actor in a Comedy -- Absolutely shocked me in the greatest way possible. I just did not think he'd be in for a nom, yet there he is, and I hope he wins. Colfer's Kurt is one of the best TV characters I've seen in a long time.

Jane Lynch for Supporting Actress in a Comedy -- And so is Lynch's Sue Sylvester. She better win. Lynch makes her sudden changes in character fluid and logical, and we see where all the evil and competitiveness come from. Her moments with her sister come off as more natural than exploitative or demanding of tears, and that's all thanks to Lynch. A phenomenal actress who deserves her due this year.

Matthew Fox for Lead Actor in a Drama -- Finally! Fox FTW!

Glenn Close for Lead Actress in a Drama -- I've only seen Season One of "Damages", but I'm equally in love with both Patty Hewes and Glenn Close. Hell, if she wins again, I'll be the loudest to applaud. My money's on Margulies, but my heart's with Close.

Terry O'Quinn & Michael Emerson for Supporting Actor in a Drama -- I pray for a tie.

Maggie Smith for Lead Actress in a Miniseries/TV Movie -- For Capturing Mary, a film I've yet to see. Maggie Smith is my favorite actress, though, so you get it.

Mike O'Malley for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series -- As Kurt's father, a macho mechanic who loves and accepts his son, O'Malley hit something in me. We all want that acceptance from our fathers. His performance floors me every time I watch. Win. (Also...can you believe he was on "Yes, Dear"???)

Betty White for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series -- Well, oh my God, do I even need to go into this? "Just let her stay home and lez."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Casting Coup Tuesdays: Cheers

I've discovered many shows by just watching whatever followed reruns of The Golden Girls. The Nanny, Designing Women, Cybill...and eventually, Cheers. Naturally, Cheers was different from these other shows for many reasons. For one, it appealed to men more. For another, it was a show I remembered from childhood, having watched it in syndication with my parents during lunch. I remembered nothing except the opening credits and Norm, except what I had gathered by watching Frasier. So, when Hallmark offered, I accepted.

It's a hilarious show, if you've never seen it. The ensemble is a collections of employees and regulars at a bar in Boston. The protagonist, Sam Malone, is a former baseball star and recovering alcoholic. We never see him partake of what he proffers, though he indulges liberally in women. His unquenchable lust meant the first couple of seasons centered around the on-and-off relationship with snobby, intellectual barmaid Diane Chambers (She would later fall for, bring along, and eventually leave psychiatrist Frasier Crane; he, in turn, would meet and marry Dr. Lilith Sternin). Diane looks at the patrons of Cheers as below her intellectually, but divorcee/head barmaid Carla Tortelli always managed to outsmart her, especially in the clever insults department. The most notable of the barflies are mailman Cliff Clavin, who lives with his mother, and Norm Peterson, an accountant who LOVES his beer. Sam's old Coach served as bartender until his passing, then farmboy Woody came in. And, of course, there was rich, neurotic Rebecca Howe, who bought the bar from Sam after Diane left Boston. It's a rich mythology.

If it wasn't for the fact that I'd found the perfect new Sam Malone, this CCT might not have happened. But one night, I was watching it, and thought to myself, "Oh, you know who'd make a GREAT Sam...?" It all just snowballed from there. Perhaps I had grown used to the idea of recasting TV shows from the increase of film adaptations and TV reboots of old series. The cineplexes this year got The A-Team, a new Hawaii Five-O series is on its way, and there's no end in sight. Why not hop on and join in the (possible, but not guaranteed) fun?

Who is He: Sam's former coach on the Red Sox, he came to Cheers to bartend. Having taken a number of pitches to the head, Coach isn't the brightest of the group, but he's the kindest man, a father to everyone in the bar.

Originally played by: Three-Time Emmy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Cheers)
Nicholas Colasanto (Family Plot, Raging Bull)

My Choice: Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Actor (Hard Eight), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Boogie Nights, Magnolia)
 Philip Baker Hall (Rush Hour, Fired Up!)

Who is He: An old pen pal of Coach's (they exchanged pens), Woody comes to Cheers to meet him. Upon learning of his death, Woody takes over as bartender. Hailing from a small town Indiana, Woody is a naive innocent, frequently misunderstanding the goings-on at the bar. He's a gentleman and pretty handsome, too, which means girls tend to find him attractive.

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor [in a Drama] (The People vs. Larry Flynt) and Best Supporting Actor (The Messenger), Indie Spirit Winner for Best Supporting Actor (The Messenger), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (No Country for Old Men), Emmy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Cheers), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Messenger)
Woody Harrelson (White Men Can't Jump, Zombieland)

My Choice:
Michael Angarano (Man in the Chair, Gentlemen Broncos)
He's handsome, young (but not too young), and has played naive, goofy kids before. Maybe not ever this dim, but that's acting, right?

Who is She: A cold, analytical psychiatrist with a hidden libido, Lilith dates and eventually marries Frasier.

Originally played by: Two-Time Emmy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy (Cheers)
Bebe Neuwirth (Celebrity, The Faculty)
By the way, Neuwirth only did one Woody Allen film? For shame!

My Choice: SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Sideways)
Sandra Oh (Bean, Blindness)
Too obvious? She has that voice, after all.

Who is He: A well-to-do psychiatrist from Seattle. Despite a childhood of pretensions and snobbery, Frasier warms to the beer-and-nuts crowd of Cheers. At first in love with Diane, he is eventually set up with, and marries, Dr. Lilith Sternin.

Originally played by: Four-Time Emmy Award Winner for Best Actor in a Comedy (Frasier)
Kelsey Grammer (Toy Story 2, Swing Vote)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (What's Love Got To Do With It?), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Mystic River, Bobby)
Laurence Fishburne (Othello, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
The man's voice is almost British in its lyricism. And he's surprisingly funny, too: in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he plays the bear in the beer commercial!

Who is He: A mailman with little to no social skills, a mind full of useless trivia, and a bedroom in his mother's house.

Originally played by: Two-Time Emmy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy (Cheers)
John Ratzenberger (The Empire Strikes Back, House II: The Second Story)

My Choice:
Ed Helms (Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Hangover)
Not much of a stretch from his previous roles, maybe...but we could still give him a mustache!

Who is He: Accountant, house painter, interior decorator. Norm is the most beloved of the regulars, greeted by a chorus of "Norm" whenever he enters. Norm loves the bar, loves the beer, and loves his friends. He's Cliff's bestie, which means he's the only one subjected to invitations to craft days with Cliff and his mother.

Originally played by: Six-Time Emmy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy (Cheers)
George Wendt (House, Dreamscape)

My Choice: Academy Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Chicago), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy and Best Song - "Walk Hard" (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Anniversary Party, The Good Girl), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Chicago)
John C. Reilly (Dark Water, Step Brothers)
Isn't this obvious? He's like the skinnier George Wendt (think about that). Pudgy and lovable, he has an easygoing-ness about him. He's also one of the best at both understated and over-the-top comedy, which could serve him well here.

Who is She: Head waitress/barmaid of Cheers. Carla is a tough-talking, wise-cracking, working-class broad with three marriages and eight kids under her belt. Though unlucky with men, she does get lucky quite often. She hates Diane and Cliff with equal disdain.

Originally played by: Four-Time Emmy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy (Cheers)
 Rhea Perlman (We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Matilda)

My Choice:
Wanda Sykes (Pootie Tang, Monster-in-Law)
So she's not Italian. So what? She's sassy, funny and tiny, and that's all I need to know to cast her as Carla. Tortelli's just her married name, anyway.

Who is She: After Diane leaves Boston, Sam sells Cheers to a corporation. Rebecca is assigned to manage it, and boy is she nuts. She wants to present herself as a poised, in-charge woman, but she's often clumsy and neurotic. Rebecca often goes after rich men, though there is considerable tension between her and Sam.

Originally played by: Emmy Award Winner for Best Actress in a Comedy (Cheers)
Kirstie Alley (Look Who's Talking, Drop Dead Gorgeous)

My Choice: Academy Award/SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Junebug, Doubt), BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Nominee/Hollmann Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress/SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Doubt), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress in a Comedy (Enchanted), Indie Spirit Winner for Best Supporting Actress (Junebug)
 Amy Adams (Drop Dead Gorgeous, Serving Sara)
Neurotic. Funny. Hot. I think we've got these bases covered.

Who is She: The only child of a wealthy family, Diane arrives at Cheers after being jilted by her lit professor/lover Sumner Sloan. She begins waitressing there, but considers herself intellectually superior to everyone around her. Intelligent yet naive, elitist yet attracted to Sam, Diane is a hodgepodge of sexy and awful. She and Sam are perpetually on-again-off-again, due less to their compatibility than to their sexual chemistry.

Originally played by: Emmy Award Winner for Best Actress in a Comedy (Cheers)
Shelley Long (Irreconcilable Differences, The Brady Bunch Movie)

My Choice:
Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up, The Ugly Truth)
She is Diane. In interviews, she comes off as smart, but not as smart as she thinks. She declares herself to be a feminist, but she stars in films in which she surrenders to an alpha male. But she's also a fine actress who could excel in this role.

Who is He: Former relief pitcher for the Red Sox, recovering alcoholic, owner/bartender of Cheers. Sam is a notorious ladies' man, regaling Norm and Cliff with tales of his conquests. He frequently proposes to, and is denied by, Diane Chambers, until she leaves to pursue a writing career. He then turns his attentions to Rebecca, though Diane still haunts him.

Originally played by: Two-Time Emmy Award Winner for Best Actor in a Comedy (Cheers)
Ted Danson (Saving Private Ryan, Little Danson Man)

My Choice:
Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers, The Hangover)
Handsome, fit, funny, and a little smirky, Cooper has that great combination of humor and charm -- and MAN -- that is Sam Malone. Expect the fireworks between him and Heigl, or him and Adams, because it would be explosive. He's also got great chemistry with most of his co-stars, which would work with an ensemble-heavy project like this.