Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(Late) Casting Coup Tuesday: Funny Face

Sorry for the lateness of this: packing for a trip, constant working, etc., etc.: it's been a busy time.

Hard to preface Funny Face without just bursting to song. It's one of my all-time favorite movies. Of ever. Definitely in my Top 100, definitely in the 50, maybe the 25...? And yet, because I'm the kind of mind who thinks that way, I wonder what a remake made now would look like...

Not that they could ever make it nowadays. They'd have to punch up the Audrey Hepburn character, an intellectual who runs a philosophical bookshop only to find herself the model of a new French fashion line when a magazine photographer becomes enchanted with her face...her sunny, funny face. Not that there's anything wrong with a young woman becoming a model, but when the guy you want her to wind up with says, "He cares as much for your intellect as I do" and sings, "If you could cook/The way you look/I'd swim the ocean wide/Just to have you by my side". It's seems like quite a sexist film, even down to a musical number where Kay Thompson teaches Audrey how to be a proper, lovely woman.

Kay Thompson! My God, but that's the most challenging aspect of this recasting! Hepburn and Astaire are fantastic in their roles, but their roles are stock characters from the House of Musical Theatre. But Thompson??? In the middle of what seems like a sexist film is this powerhouse, editor-in-chief of a leading fashion magazine, an Anna Wintour 20 years before Wintour even landed a job. Thompson's portrayal of Maggie Prescott is one of the greatest ever committed to film, a tour-de-force of PERSONALITY. This is the woman who created Eloise, trained Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, and yet to me, she will first and foremost be Maggie Prescott. Maggie!

Anyway, I think I did the old girl proud. Take a gander and you'll see:

Who is He: The fashion designer whose line Jo is set to model in Paris.

Originally played by:
Robert Flemyng (The Man Who Never Was, Shadowlands)

My Choice:
David Bowie (Labyrinth, Zoolander)
Bringing a sense of style all his own, Bowie easily commands a room, as Duval undoubtedly does as well. His coolness would be an interesting flip from Flemyng's more harried interpretation.

Who is He: A French philosopher, founder of a philosophy called Empathy. He frequents an artsy club in Montmartre, and has a lavish apartment where he holds meetings for his fellow intellectuals. Oh, and he totally just wants to lay some hotties.

Originally played by:
Michel Auclair (Beauty and the Beast, The Day of the Jackal)

My Choice:
Vincent Cassel (Irreversible, Black Swan)
My goodness, but he's rather good at playing these dominating, manipulative, sexual types, isn't he? And he's so FRRRRENCH, you know?

Who is She: Editor-in-chief of a leading fashion magazine. She realizes that a new look is necessary to appeal to the new consumer -- and Paul Duval -- though she believes it is a regular model in an intellectual background. She is the most amazing human being in the world.

Songs: Think Pink, Bonjour Paris, On How to Be Lovely, Clap Yo' Hands

Originally played by:
Kay Thompson (Manhattan Merry-Go-Round, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon)

My Choice:
Jenifer Lewis (Meet the Browns, The Princess and the Frog)
Oh my God, when I saw her in Madea's Family Reunion, it was like Maggie Prescott reborn! She's fun and fabulous, equally great in supporting turns and diva roles. And she can SING!

Who is He: A professional photographer. He thinks little of Jo's intellectual studies, believing that such things are not meant for pretty young things...even though he clearly respects powerful women like Maggie. Dick realizes that Jo is perfect for the New It Girl wanted by Maggie and Duval, and he volunteers to watch her when they bring her to Paris. He does, and he photographs her, and...he falls in love with her.

Songs: Funny Face, Bonjour Paris, Let's Kiss and Make Up, He Loves and She Loves, S'wonderful

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actor (The Towering Inferno), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Three Little Words)
Fred Astaire (Top Hat, On the Beach)

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Kate & Leopold)
Hugh Jackman (Australia, Real Steel)
How few there are that can cut a rug, sing to bring down the house, and never lose a shred of their masculinity. Dick's a red-blooded male, though artsy. And Jackman? He can bring both of those aspects, as well as that incredible voice.

Who is He: Owner of a book shop in Greenwich Village catering to intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals. When Maggie and Dick burst in to use her place as a set for their new shoot, they wind up running into this headstrong, intelligent young woman. Dick brings her on as a model and whisks her off to Paris, but she's much more interested in meeting philosopher Emile Flostre. Still, she can't deny a certain attraction to Mr. Avery...

Songs: How Long Has This Been Going On, Bonjour Paris, On How to Be Lovely, S'wonderful

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress [in a Drama] (Roman Holiday), BAFTA Award Winner for Best British Actress (Roman Holiday, The Nun's Story, Charade)
Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina, My Fair Lady)

My Choice: Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actress (Avatar)
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, The Losers)
A beauty, a dancer, and a singer, if I'm not mistaken. Most importantly, though, a fine actress, believably integrating good looks with intelligence.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fairy Tale Hokum

Riding, indeed.

I think I need to speak up for Red Riding Hood. It's been two weeks or so since I saw it, only my second exposure to 2011 Cinema (which, for me, is a drought indeed). Perhaps it's too late. Perhaps, by now, it has come and gone at your local bijou (we've still got it where I work). Perhaps you've heard the bad buzz or Twilight-ish trailer and decided already to catch it on HBO, if ever you catch it at all. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

You'd certainly have reason to avoid Red Riding Hood. The production design, while inspired in concept -- those ominous, spear-like branches jutting out from the trees; Grandmother's house -- is sometimes disappointing in execution. The forest looks like a soundstage decorated with trees and leaves, for one thing. The main village where the film is set, for instance, looks like a set, and frequent mentions of a hierarchy within this village are little seen. Everything looks the same, so how does one distinguish the rich from the poor? For that matter, what is this family selling in such abundance that they are considered richer than everyone else there? Is it because they seem to be the only people are aren't woodcutters? And if so, then it seems strange that Julie Christie, wife and mother of woodcutters, is the only person who can live on their own in a sizable house outside the village. Then again, maybe there aren't land taxes outside those village walls, so it's a sign of her poverty that she lives outside?

Obviously there are issues of clarity here, and I don't blame the writer. He's clearly set up everything for the love triangle, the hierarchy of wealth, the admittedly intriguing and well-handled Where's the Werewolf mystery. Catherine Hardwicke, however, does not really commit to an idea. The scares and mystery elements are dealt with almost half-heartedly, the better to get them out of the way so that Seyfried and Shiloh Fernandez can continue staring at each other, she hornily, he sullenly, in that new language of teen romance that fetishizes anyone with tousled hair and a blank stare. Yet I don't for one moment believe that Fernandez's Peter loved Seyfried's Valerie more than he lusted after her; nor do I believe that Valerie's arranged groom Henry is interested in anything sexual. Hardwicke is content to keep the love/lust quotient at close-ups of people's eyes, and while this aspect is plot-related, I wish there was a little more done on Hardwicke's end. Seyfried's got it, but she always does, and her directors shouldn't rest on her sexuality alone. Surely they should put in a little work?

And yet...

I'm here to tell you that you should see it. Yes, absolutely. Hardwicke may not have a grip on things. The production values may look fake. And yes, there are plot elements that almost made me laugh.

But there's so much going for it! The actors, ranging from solid (Julie Christie) to could be better, perhaps they're miscast (Fernandez and Billy Burke) are selling it. Nobody's phoning it in or picking up a paycheck; everyone seems genuinely interested in the story and invested in their characters. Sure, not all the performances are successful, but they're committing. Gary Oldman is doing his own thing, camping it up and bringing some life-force with his over-the-top portrayal of werewolf-hunting Father Solomon, resplendent in a fabulous violet tunic, equipped with a large, hollow brass elephant and some gadget that charts the solar system. Hear him ROAR, watch him POINT ACCUSINGLY, see his SPIT FLY.

Fabulous, I say! FABULOUS!!!

Also, Seyfried is just...well, she's just great in everything, isn't she? Whether it's pluck, innocence, wantonness, or suspicion regarding who is a werewolf, she succeeds at portraying any character thrown her way. Now, whether or not the character is well-written, or written at all, does not matter. The point is, she gives the filmmakers exactly what they need want.

If there's any reason to see it, however, it's a small scene in which the villagers (mistakenly) celebrate the end of the werewolf's reign. There's a big party, there's a bonfire, there's a strange song performed by Swedish electronic vocalist Karin Dreijer Andersson...and it all works. Finally, the film has found the perfect blend of fairy tale, horror, and hormonal excitement, and it's perfect. It's sexy, it's scary, it's absolutely hypnotic, and for five minutes you forget that the film doesn't work as a whole. Indeed, there are several moments like this, where you have a brief feeling that the film will recover and become what the trailers promised it might be, but this is perhaps the greatest instance of it. And hey, the literal roll in the hay that follows is genuinely sexy!

Pay for the two hours, but stay for those five minutes. It ain't perfect, but there are worse ways to spend an afternoon.


Meanwhile, Beastly remains forgettable despite some good intentions, a magnetic Vanessa Hudgens, and an effectively campy Mary-Kate Olsen. The rest? Whatever. It's not terrible, just terribly unmemorable. I can't help but think that Alex Pettyfer is better than his air-punching tantrums in this film would indicate. As if that weren't disappointing enough, it's much too dark to make out many of the night scenes. I permit you to skip, if you must.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Casting Coup Tuesdays: Tommy

My relationship with Tommy is a long and lovely one. It began when I was still in early middle school, and I was part of a local children's theatre. The teen group, including my sister, got to do the riskier shows, so while I remained in Treasure Island and The Wizard of Oz, my sis got to do Newsies (they cuss!) and Tommy (they cuss and sex and drug and stuff!). Mom and Dad frequently bragged on my sister, as well they should have: she was a natural on the stage, always alive, never pulling focus, but when it was her time, she absolutely commanded the stage. Every role she played was phenomenal, whether it be Glinda in The Wiz, Kim McAfee in Bye-Bye Birdie, or Nora Walker in Tommy. Others were scandalized when they saw my fourteen-year-old sister involved in a production that included acid queens and the lyrics, "lovers break caresses for me/love enhanced as I go by". Me? I was besotted.

Yet it wasn't until college that I finally experienced Tommy. My school did a midnight screening of the Ken Russell film, and while others in the audience clearly had some "assistance" in their perception of the film, I was left to my own devices. Hot damn, I think I got the most out of it. Like many campy, weirdo musicals, it left others appreciating it either as a mindfuck or a what the fuck, leaving my friends and I to genuinely fall in love with a piece of cinema unlike any other we had witnessed. That Acid Queen section, with the iron maiden made of syringes? Or a mass devoted to a Marilyn Monroe statue? Or the heavy-handed Christ symbolism? Bread and butter, folks, bread and butter.

So I got the albums, both the motion picture one and the original concept by The Who. I love the different takes in each one. I prefer the film versions of "Go to the Mirror" and "Acid Queen", the original versions of "Cousin Kevin" and "Pinball Wizard" are not to be topped, and don't make me choose when it comes to "Christmas" and "It's a Boy". (the latter, while brief, is just so beautiful)

Listening to both versions led me to the discovery of two different versions. In the original, Tommy is rendered psychosomatically deaf, blind and mute when he witnesses his MIA father return home and murder his wife's new lover. In the film, it's because his MIA father returns home and is murdered by his wife's new lover. In the film, "Eyesight to the Blind" is performed by a street preacher with a congregation that worships Marilyn Monroe. In the original, it is performed by the Acid Queen's pimp. So I've heard, at least, though this would mean the Acid Queen is referred to looooong before she actually shows up. Which would be cool, actually. Anyway.

The point is, there can be different interpretations of Tommy, not just in terms of story, but musically. Just listen to the two recordings and you'll find that the movie is far more experimental, the concept album more musical. It's impressive. And really, doesn't this mean we can interpret it in other ways? Like, with a new cast?

(in order of appearance)

Who is She: The nurse who delivers Tommy on Armistice Day.

Song: It's a Boy

Originally played by:
Vicki Brown & Margo Newman

My Choice:
Jill Scott ("The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency", Why Did I Get Married?)
It's the voice, and I don't care how brief the role is. I want that voice.

Who is He: The man who comforts Tommy's mother after her husband is declared missing, believed dead. He is with her and Tommy for the new year of 1921...just when her husband arrives, very much alive. The Lover is killed, and it is his murder that helps to drive Tommy to his psychosomatic blind-/deaf-/dumbness.

Song: You Didn't Hear It (1921)

Originally played by: BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor, SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Gladiator)
Oliver Reed (The Devils, Oliver!)

My Choice: Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Supporting Actor, SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (The Hurt Locker)
Anthony Mackie (Million Dollar Baby, Night Catches Us)
Good-looking young man like Anthony Mackie? Can't you see someone turning to him for comfort? An actor that I hope to become more familiar with, since he's rather strong in the three films mentioned above.

Who is He: The Acid Queen's pimp, promising miraculous cures for he who spends a night with her. I like to imagine him as her son, a user himself, maybe of her own wares.

Song: Eyesight to the Blind

Originally played by: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Original Song - "Tears in Heaven" (Rush)
Eric Clapton (Water, Blues Brothers 2000)

My Choice: Indie Spirit Winner for Best First Feature (Sweet Land)
Alan Cumming (Eyes Wide Shut, X2: X-Men United)
 Cumming excels at such roles. His brief turns in Burlesque and Eyes Wide Shut are memorably funny and sleazy, and the Hawker could surely bring that second part out of him.

Who is She: Originally written as a boy named Kevin, Keira is Tommy's cousin, left to babysit him for the night. The cousin, a sadist, proceeds to torture the helpless Tommy, hitting him, burning him, water-boarding him. I made Kevin into Keira for a few reasons. First of all, I think people trust women more as babysitters, and I believe women are more capable of seeming innocent and responsible where parents are concerned. Secondly, I'm intrigued by the idea of a woman in this role, demonstrating a monstrous cruelty. I'm an equal opportunist, after all. Thirdly, I couldn't think of any men that could bring what I was looking for.

Song: Cousin Kevin

Originally played by:
Paul Nicholas (Lisztomania, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (I Am Sam)
Dakota Fanning (The Secret Lives of Bees, The Runaways)
Fanning, I feel, can be kind of a robotic actress, sometimes emotionless. Like a sociopath. Like Cousin Kevin. And Fanning proved that she has the vocal chops to take on the role.

Who is He: Tommy's uncle, a drunkard who molests the helpless boy when he is left to babysit him.

Song: Fiddle About, Tommy's Holiday Camp

Originally played by:
Keith Moon (Son of Dracula, Sextette)

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actor (Cyrano de Bergerac), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actor (Jean de Florette), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Green Card)
Gerard Depardieu (The Last Metro, The Man in the Iron Mask)

Who is She: A drug addict who claims to heal the sick through sex. I see her as an older, somewhat pathetic, drug-addled woman. She wants it even more than her desperate clients.

Song: The Acid Queen

Originally played by:
Tina Turner (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome)

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress (Shakespeare in Love), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Actress (Mrs. Brown, Iris) and Best Supporting Actress (A Room with a View, A Handful of Dust), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress in a Drama (Mrs. Brown), SAG Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress (Chocolat) and Best Ensemble (Shakespeare in Love)
Judi Dench (Nine, Jane Eyre)
Oh my God, I think she would just own this, with smeared makeup and a bedraggled old prostitute gait. Dench as the Acid Queen would be an instant Oscar nom, or at least a long-discussed curiosity piece.

Who is He: A local hero, the current pinball champion. He loses what he hoped would be an easy competition against Tommy. It is he who gets the word out about the miraculous Pinball Wizard.

Song: Pinball Wizard

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Original Song - "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" (The Lion King)
Elton John (The Road to El Dorado, Spice World)

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (The Social Network)
Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog, The Love Guru)
It takes a star to play a star.

Who is He: A doctor whose Tommy's father hopes can cure the boy. He is the one who diagnoses Tommy's condition as psychosomatic. He is intrigued by the boy's obsession with the mirror, though.

Song: Go to the Mirror

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor [in a Drama and in a Musical/Comedy] (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, As Good As It Gets) and Best Supporting Actor (Terms of Endearment), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Actor (Chinatown and The Last Detail, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and Best Supporting Actor (Reds), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Drama (Chinatown, About Schmidt) and in a Musical/Comedy (Prizzi's Honor), SAG Award Winner for Best Actor (As Good As It Gets), Hollmann Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (The Departed)
Jack Nicholson (Broadcast News, How Do You Know?)

My Choice: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Kinky Boots), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (American Gangster)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (TV's Endgame, Salt)
The specialist oughta be the smartest-seeming guy in the room. When isn't that Ejiofor? He's got this aura of confidence, intelligence and trust that you want in a doctor, a doctor that tells it like it is. Besides, I love watching him work.


What is It: The spirit guide, in a way, that Tommy sees in his mind, working as a narrator and someone for Tommy to communicate with.

Songs: The Amazing Journey, Sally Simpson

My Choice:
Anthony Mackie
It's an idea borrowed from Ken Russell's version, where Tommy sees visions of his dead father (killed by the lover in the movie). In this case, it's the lover he sees, but it all makes sense. Wouldn't it make sense that this is the guy you forever see in your mind? I'm taking a risk since I don't know whether or not Mackie can sing, but hey, Oliver Reed couldn't and he was great in the original film.

Who is He: A war hero who returns home after being presumed dead, only to find his wife with a new man. He kills her lover in a rage, only to realize that Tommy is in the room. Guilt-ridden, he searches for a cure with his wife.

Songs: You Didn't Hear It (1921), Christmas, Do You Think It's All Right, There's a Doctor, Go the Mirror, Tommy Can You Hear Me

Originally played by:
Robert Powell (TV's Jesus of Nazareth, TV's Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage)

My Choice: Golden Globe Winner/Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actor [in a Musical/Comedy] (In Bruges)
Colin Farrell (Cassandra's Dream, London Boulevard)
Remember how the ruthless killer became a guilt-stricken antihero in In Bruges?

Who is She: Supposedly widowed, she is left to raise Tommy alone. She meets a man that she hopes can be a father for her son, until her real husband arrives and kills him. Mother is guilt-ridden, desperate and angry.

Songs: You Didn't Hear It (1921), Christmas, Do You Think It's All Right, Tommy Can You Hear Me, Smash the Mirror

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee/Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress [in a Musical/Comedy] (Tommy) and Best Supporting Actress (Carnal Knowledge)

Ann-Margret (Bye Bye Birdie, Any Given Sunday)

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe/Hollmann Award Winner/SAG Award Nominee for Best Actress [in a Musical/Comedy] (La Vie en Rose)
Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies, Inception)
Remember the quiet pain of her performance in Nine?

Who is He: A deaf, dumb and blind boy who becomes a celebrity due his championship pinball playing. He later becomes a Messianic figure, hoping to inspire others in the way of purity.

Songs: Go to the Mirror, Sensation, I'm Free, We're Not Gonna Take It, See Me Feel Me

Originally played by:

Roger Daltrey (Lisztomania, Buddy's Song)

My Choice:
Eddie Redmayne (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Savage Grace)
I like his face for this. It can be neutral, it can be animated, and all the while one would be comfortable with this as the face of the Messiah. I believe he trained with a music academy, too, so I know he's a singer. Right? That seems logical.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Casting Coup Tuesdays: Goodbye, Mr. Chips - The Musical

I do sometimes take requests, and this was one that I could not resist. Though I already cast James Hilton's classic novel Goodbye Mr. Chips, our friend Tom challenged me to recast the musical version. Released in 1969, the musical version starred Peter O'Toole (in an Oscar-nominated performance) and pop singer Petula Clark. I was going to respond that the actors I chose could sing already, and I might have left it at that, were it not for a chance screening of this very version on TCM. Hey, it was a chance to cross another film off ym list, so why not?

As my sister remarked when I described it to her later, "That sounds nothing like the book." Indeed, it isn't. Beginning in the 1920s, the musical version picks up with Mr. Chips as a veteran teacher, used to the idea of the boys dislking him. Well, all right, he was stuffy in the original, too. I wondered what Staefel would get to sing, and if Ralston was going to show up, and---

Oh, whoa, wait a minute. The first surprise was the appearance of women on the school grounds. The original made a point of Katherine being this young, vivacious, feminine spirit in a world completely sans women (except for the sexless Mrs. Wickett). Yet already we had the headmaster's wife as a major character. Fine, I get that. The story's been updated, it's only natural to want to bring in another woman. How much longer until Staefel and Chips go to Austria and he meets Katherine?

What the what??? In this version, Katherine is a music-hall singer, the girl who shows up to sing the show-stopping tune and then gets to go to all the fun parties. One of Chips' younger colleagues takes him to a performance, for he is smitten with the girl. They all dine together, but Chips' frankness means he and Katherine do not hit it off. By coincidence, though, they meet while on holiday...IN POMPEII!!! There they fall in love, and eventually get married, and it's the story as usual.

Incorrect. Whereas the novel and original film focus on Chips' career, this is about the great romance that both previous versions insisted changed his life. Here, we get to see that great change, as he warms to everyone, and his students go from singing about how much they dread his class to demanding he be made headmaster. Katherine also has to acclimate herself to life as a schoolteacher's wife, since the more conservative staff and parents do not approve of her past life or her friends -- among them your typical boozy, witty actresses based on Tallulah Bankhead and played by Sian Phillips.

If you can separate yourself from the previous ncarnations, you should enjoy it. Though a bit slow-going at times -- I feel like they excavated Pompeii in the time it took to get through those scenes -- it's got some beautiful songs, a winning performance by Petula Clark, some real touching and heartbreaking moments, and a strong turn by O'Toole. I like especially how much darker this Chips was. This wasn't the well-meaning, "Pip-pip-cheerio" old man of Donat, but a cynical, more morose incarnation that really brightens up when he falls for Katherine. There's much more commentary on the class system -- the students at Meadowood come from families that would never dream of having a teacher in the family, much less a chorus girl. And there are dance numbers. 

Naturally, it was irresistible to me. A film I enjoyed but still had some flaws? Aren't almost-great films the one most in need of a remake, the ones who need a second going-over so that their greatness can be fully realized? And isn't the cast the perfect place to start?

Who is She: ...come on. She's a snobby woman who doesn't take to that common woman Chips married.

Originally played by:
Allison Leggatt (The Day of the Triffids, Far from the Madding Crowd)

My Choice:
Patricia Routledge (To Sir with Love, "Keeping Up Appearances")
One of those immensely talented comic actresses that I grew up watching, only to wonder whatever happened to them. Routledge does stage work, but she perfected middle-class snobbery as Hyacinth Bucket in "Keeping Up Appearances".

Who is He: Mr. Chipping's best friend at the school, an intelligent German who takes Chipping with him on holiday to Pompeii. When war breaks out, he returns to Germany to fight for the Fatherland.

Originally played by:
Michael Bryant (The Ruling Class, Gandhi)

My Choice:
Thom Hoffman (Dogville, Black Book)

Who is He: ...come on. Likes Mr. Chips, taps him as the replacement for when he retires.

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (Mourning Becomes Electra), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best British Actor (The Night My Number Came Up, Time Without Pity)
Michael Redgrave (The Browning Version, The Dam Busters)

My Choice:
Clive Swift (A Passage to India, "Keeping Up Appearances")
He played Routledge's husband, the ever-patient Richard, on "Keeping Up Appearances". He's fairly versatile, though, and has appeared in a number of comedies, dramas, thrillers, epics, etc. I'd love to see him and Routledge together again.

Who is He: Father of one of Chipping's students, Sutterwick is giving money to the school for new playing fields. Alas, he recognizes Katherine from her showbiz days, and threatens to pull out both his money and his son unless Chips is canned. Little does he realize that Katherine knows a thing or two about his past...

Originally played by:
George Baker (On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor & Best Director (Henry V), Best Short Film (Swan Song) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Hamlet), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Director (Henry V), Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Picture (Much Ado About Nothing), SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Othello)
Kenneth Branagh (Pirate Radio, My Week with Marilyn)
Not that he should be typecast as stuffy, stiff upper-lip types...but he's great at it. Maybe he could actually bring some humor to the role as well. Baker was so...colorless.

Who is She: A boozy, diva-licious stage star and friend of Katherine. Loud and unaware, Ursula thinks Chips is another actor, and so gladly invites him to her parties. It is Ursula who shelters Katherine when she runs away from the school, and it is Ursula who played a part in Lord Sutterwick's past.

Originally played by: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Goodbye Mr. Chips)
Sian Phillips (Valmont, The Age of Innocence)

My Choice: Indie Spirit Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Shy People)
Martha Plimpton (The Goonies, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle)
Plimpton's brief appearance in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle showed a vivacious spirit who comfortably wears period flapper garb. Over the years, she's shown herself to be a gifted comedienne and dramatist, a gal who clearly knows how to have a good time while excelling at her craft. To see her playing a tipsy thesp would be fabulous.

Who is She: A music-hall star who meets Mr. Chipping at the Savoy, where he says the wrong thing. Then she meets him on holiday in Pompeii, where she says the right thing and become inseparable. When they return to England, neither fits into the other's world...but they love each other, and their marriage is a joyous one.

Songs: London is London, And the Sky Smiled, Apollo, Walk Through the World, Fill the World with Love (reprise), What Shall I Do Today, And the Sky Smiled (reprise), Schooldays, You and I

Originally played by: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy (Finian's Rainbow)

Petula Clark (Here Come the Huggetts, The Runaway Bus)

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

[at 1:10]
Anne Hathaway ("Get Real", One Day)
Not only does she boast some incredible pipes; Oscar night proved that she's quite the showman, as well. Katherine is BIG, but she's also a nice, sweet girl. Hathaway can go BIG, but she can also be the nice, sweet girl. Can she do an English accent, though? Hm...

Who is He: A stuffy, middle-aged schoolteacher. He meets Katherine at the Savoy, where he unwittingly insults her show. Luckily, they run into each other in Pompeii, of all places, where he educates her on the history and mythology of the area. They somehow fall in love, and it is from her that he receives the nickname "Mr. Chips". With her help, he goes from hated, strict schoolteacher to beloved, humorous standby.

Songs:  Where Did My Childhood Go, What a Lot of Flowers

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter, Becket, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, Venus), BAFTA Award Winner for Best British Actor (Lawrence of Arabia), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor in a Drama (The Lion in Winter, Becket) and in a Musical/Comedy (Goodbye Mr. Chips), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (Venus), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Ratatouille)

Peter O'Toole (Supergirl, King Ralph)

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe/SAG Award Winner for Best Actor [in a Drama] (The King's Speech), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Actor (A Single Man), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Shakespeare in Love, The King's Speech), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actor (A Single Man, The King's Speech) and Best Supporting Actor (Easy Virtue)

Colin Firth (Valmont, The Importance of Dorian Gray)
I thought he was quite good in Mamma Mia. He's no Pavarotti, but he has a capable voice, certainly more melodic than O'Toole's. And he is an Oscar-winner, after all. Forgive me for joining this bandwagon, but it's a worthy one.

Best Actor: Colin Firth
Best Actress: Anne Hathaway
Best Supporting Actress: Martha Plimpton

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Castie Cast Cast

News of Julianne Moore being cast in the role of Sarah Palin for HBO's adaptation of Game Change has been making the rounds, inspiring discussion of Who's next? and What does this mean for the Emmys? The telefilm, from the team that brought you Recount, is based on the book of the same name by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, detailing the 2008 presidential race from primaries to Democratic victory. Nathaniel of The Film Experience has started an impromptu game of Cast This! to bandy about ideas of who should play the other roles, and you know I can't resist such a challenge. Give it some thought, read his post, make your own cast. You'll find mine in the comments.

Also, this Tuesday starts a new month of Casting Coup Tuesdays, one in which we celebrate (once again) MUSICALS.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips


Funny Face

Monday, March 7, 2011

Books Books Books!

A fine day of thrift-store shopping with my sister led to a bounty of books, some film-related (of course!) and some kind of. Behold:

Top to bottom:
Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal, "32 PAGES OF ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE FILM!"
The Man Who Knew Kennedy by Vance Bourjaily
The Company by John Ehrlichman, but seen here with the title Washington Behind Closed Doors as a promotion for the TV miniseries with Cliff Robertson, Andy Griffith and John Houseman
Lana by Lana Turner, an autobiography
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a novelization by Henry Edwards of the critically-butchered film (as my friend put it, "the book of the film of the LP")
The Evening News by Arthur Hailey, about network news, from the author of Airport 
Wheels by Arthur Hailey, about the automotive industry, from the author of Airport

in addition: The Happy Hooker, Celebrity, some Anne Rivers Siddons, Twins by Roxanne Pulitzer, Jackie Collins, and more!