Tuesday, October 4, 2011

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Casting Coup Tuesday: Carrie

Remember in Cinema paradiso, how that kid's great mentor ran the local moviehouse and introduced him to cinema and kept all the kisses the Vatican made them cut out? I like to think Andrew was that mentor for me in college. He furthered my knowledge of film noir by introducing our class to Kiss Me Deadly, The Reckless Moment, One False Move and a whole semester of other under-seen classics. He encouraged my love of the bizarre and the campy through screenings of Myra Breckinridge, The Jezebels, and For Your height Only. He introduced me to martial arts films like Master of the Flying Guillotine and The Crippled Masters, my first forays into this little-respected genre. He really is the Mr. Miyagi to my Daniel-san.

Among the great things he did for me was add, at the very least, two films to my all-time favorites list. The first is Xanadu, which quickly rocketed up the ladder to get into my Top Ten of All Time (one day I'll list my top 100, but that's for a day when I see enough movies...maybe when I'm 25 or 30). The other is the subject of today's Casting Coup: Carrie, the 1976 film directed by Brian de Palma.

 Starring Edie McClurg as Helen, the unlikeliest of popular girls

I'm a lover of horror films. It's a genre that can always be tweaked and toyed with, so broad that any number of thrillers or dramas could also be considered horror, in one way or another. Many times, we get a horror film that is big on gore and blood and teens in peril, but not so big on characters and atmosphere and suspense. Carrie delivers on those fronts, but it's always a bit curious because, truthfully, there is no real "horror" until the film's famous climax: the prom. The fact that social outcast Carrie White is telekinetic seems like a bizarre throwaway device -- like Javier Bardem's ability to communicate with the dead in Biutiful -- for much of the film. Rather than get all spooky and weeeeeird about little ol' telekinesis, the film focuses on Carrie the Person, walking on eggshells whether at school with the mean girls or at home with her religious fanatic mother. Ok, the movie does have freaky telekinesis scenes sprinkled throughout, but they grow as Carrie grows...until public humiliation turns her into an unholy monster.

I loved Carrie from the first frame. I have the soundtrack, I quote it with friends, I bought the three-pack that also includes The Rage: Carrie 2 and the TV movie version with Patty Clarkson, and I watched Snake Island just because William Katt (nice guy Tommy Ross) was in it. Actually, I'm such a huge fan...I even adore the Broadway flop. Yes, I have a bootleg soundtrack -- there was never an official one -- and I play it constantly. It's terrible and amazing, and when those powers combine, Captain Planet can suck it.

In my re-casting of Carrie, I kept the musical in mind, and with the exceptions of Billy Nolan and Sue Snell, all the cast members have proven musical chops. As for Megan Fox's desire to lead the recently announced remake...honey, can't you just toss on a baseball cap and rock the Norma Watson?

All original cast images come from Aveleyman, a great source for screencaps and cast pics.

Who is He: Chris's boyfriend, a thug who helps plan Carrie's humiliation. Billy helps to "collect" the pig's blood.

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor (Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actor (Pulp Fiction), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor - Musical/Comedy (Get Shorty), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actor (Pulp Fiction) and Best Ensemble (Get Shorty, Hairspray), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (Hairspray)
John Travolta (Staying Alive, Old Dogs)

My Choice:
Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four, Beastly)
Pettyfer's not a bad actor, he's just more effective as a jerk. In Beastly, at least, and that's fine, that's a career. Look at Christopher McDonald! A role like this really allows an actor to loosen up, too, without any of the restraint of having to be likable.

Who is He: Sue's boyfriend, a track star and academic, an all-around nice guy. He takes Carrie to the prom on Sue's request, hoping to do a nice thing for a misunderstood girl. Then, of course, everything goes to hell.

Originally played by:
William Katt (House, Jawbreaker)

My Choice:
Chord Overstreet ("Glee", The Hole in 3D)
Unless something happens next season, Overstreet is the poster-boy of nice guy athletes on Glee. I'm always hoping those kids get more work outside the show, and he's great so far.

Who is She: The resident mean girl, finally punished for making Carrie's life hell. After being banned from the prom, she makes a plan to get Carrie elected Prom Queen so she can exact her revenge.

Originally played by:
Nancy Allen (Dressed to Kill, RoboCop)

My Choice:
Selena Gomez (Ramona and Beezus, Monte Carlo)
One of the strongest Disney actresses, actually. While she's hinted at snottiness and being a "bad girl" before, I'd love to see her go all-out vicious. She's so cool.

Who is She: At first, she's teasing Carrie with the other girls. But since Sue is a pretty nice girl, she comes up with a plan to help her: persuade Tommy to take her to the prom. Sue also happens to be neighbors with Carrie, so she knows what kind of family the girl comes from.

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Yentl), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress - Musical/Comedy (Crossing Delancey), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Traffic)
Amy Irving (Tuck Everlasting, Adam)

My Choice: Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)
Ellen Wong ("Combat Hospital")
Her turn in Scott Pilgrim was impressive; now we need to see more of her. Sue is a very different person from Knives Chau, but I feel like we saw a bit of Sue in Wong's final scene.

Who is She: Girls' coach...obviously. She tries to educate Carrie and make her feel more comfortable with herself. Coach is even suspicious of Sue and Tommy's plan, not wanting the little outcast to get hurt.

Originally played by:
Betty Buckley (Tender Mercies, Another Woman)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee/Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress [Musical/Comedy] (What's Love Got to with It?)
Angela Bassett (Waiting to Exhale, Meet the Browns)
I immediately felt that she was the perfect woman for this role. First, I'd listen to her no matter what position she held at the school: she's so authoritative! Second, those arms. Of course she's an athletics director.

Who is She: Carrie's religious single mother. And I mean crazy religious, to a point that Jesus would find excessive. She sees Carrie's period not as, you know, normal, but as a sign that the girl is as cursed as she once was. Because after the blood come the boys, sniffing around.

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress (The Hustler) and Best Supporting Actress (Carrie, Children of a Lesser God), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Foreign Actress (The Hustler), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Carrie)
Piper Laurie (The Faculty, Another Harvest Moon)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress, SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress and Best Ensemble (Good Will Hunting)
Minnie Driver (The Phantom of the Opera, Barney's Version)
I had my Carrie settled, so then I just needed a great actress who looked like she could have birthed my Carrie. I surprised myself by settling on Minnie Driver, but damn it feels so right. She's such an underappreciated actress, and I feel like she could bring the crazy without being unbelievable. I mean, Piper's shoes are tough to fill, but Minnie's up to the challenge.

Who is She: Our telekinetic heroine, a social outcast whose powers actually give her some confidence, up until the pig's blood fall son her.

Originally played by: Academy Award Winner for Best Actress (Coal Miner's Daughter), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actress (Coal Miner's Daughter, Missing, In the Bedroom), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress - Musical/Comedy (Coal Miner's Daughter, Crimes of the Heart) and Drama (In the Bedroom), Indie Spirit Winner for Best Actress (In the Bedroom), SAG Award Nominee for Best Actress and Best Ensemble (In the Bedroom)
Sissy Spacek (The Straight Story, The Help)

My Choice:
Emily Browning (Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Sleeping Beauty)
 Because she has that odd kind of beauty that can be believably plained up (like The Uninvited with Elizabeth Banks). She's a neat actress, too, one who plays confidence and distinct lack thereof with equal ease. Look at her in Sucker Punch, ably playing the innocent until it's time to take action. I would love to see her play Carrie.

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