Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If I had a Bazillion Dollars, Part 2374: Central Casting

By Cornelia

Okay, so I totally missed the Oscars on Sunday night. I was actually busy WATCHING movies, which seemed like a better investment of my time given that the only thing I'd seen nominated for anything this year was Juno, which I pretty much consider God's gift to cinema. I will come back to this.

Meanwhile here's what I watched:

The Magdalen Sisters. Twice. In a single 24-hour period. Boy, if you wanna get pissed off about misogyny and Catholicism-as-practiced-in-Ireland (well, and misogyny-as-practiced-in-Ireland, when you come right down to it--though that seems redundant, like, say, reading Jim Thompson while living in downtown Syracuse), that's the movie to see, let me tell you.

I'd like to blog about it, but I am still so blind with rage that I might implode at any second, which would make for a rather terse blog post, so I think I'll wait on that one.

Meanwhile, ahem, here is what I wanted to say about Juno:

It made me finally play that game which almost all authors of novels are heir to, that being "who I'd cast in my movie, if I had a bazillion dollars."

Okay, making it that specific probably means a game which can ONLY be played by me, Cornelia.

Where was I? Oh yes, Juno. Here is the thing about Juno... the actress in the title role? She is goddamn awesome. She is smart and funny and so young looking you want to say, "hey, dude, you are totally goddamn awesome, and thank you for braving Hollywood at your tender age, because it would probably downright kill my sorry ass before I even got to the baggage claim at LAX, thank you very much, and I'm just a couple weeks shy of forty-five."

Here is her picture:

I wouldn't have gone to see this movie, except my Mom's friend Alice emailed me and said "I am TAKING you to see this movie, because the whole time I was watching it the first time, I kept saying to myself 'Oh my God, this movie is like listening to Cornelia,' which is a very good thing." Which was a also a very nice thing of my Mom's friend Alice to say, I thought right when she said it, but I was even MORE deeply grateful to her after I'd actually seen the movie. I mean... to have even one person say it reminded them of me, not least Alice herself who, like, reads Spectator and P.D. James and Proust, practically, as though they're the National Enquirer and she's standing in line at the grocery store--which is to say she is totally brilliant and plus! also has amazing taste in practically everything.

And! Alice has a whole chapter written about her in Passages. (she's "Roslyn," the one who runs away with a sculptor and her two children from her first marriage and ends up in a commune in Big Sur, but only briefly, because to her life on the commune basically consisted of "a bunch of untalented people sitting around a bonfire every night playing nose-flutes.")

But I digress.

Here is the point of this post. It was not until I saw Juno that I could answer the perennial book-signing question posed to authors of all stripe, that being, "who would you cast to play the main character in your novel?"

Frankly, every actress who ever struck me as at all suitable is either at LEAST twenty years too old now if not outright dead (Jodie Foster, Helen Mirren, Frances Farmer, Tallulah Bankhead), or they're young with admirable anti-gravity in the boobulage department and everything, but also--you'll pardon my saying--dumb as mud, as pond scum, as a box of rocks, as... well... let's just say so dumb that if they happened to overhear you saying, "She 's not the sharpest pencil in the box," they would get all pouty and scream, "are you calling me fat?" at you--rather missing, as it were, the point.

BUT! Anyway! The Juno actress's name is Ellen Page. And she can not ONLY say lots of big words really fast, she can also bend them to her ironic and sublimely snarky will... at the same time!

I mean, seriously, can you imagine Nicole Ritchie or Mischa Barton trying that? The mental effort involved on their respective parts would overwhelm the forces of physics, whereupon they would disappear from the universe with a puff of smoke and noxious bang, not to mention quicker than a watermelon seed squirted from between the fingers of God.

SO! If had a bazillion dollars, Ellen Page would be cast as my protagonist Madeline Dare in A FIELD OF DARKNESS: THE MOVIE.

So then I got to play around with who I'd cast after I talked her into it. (WARNING: the following will be INCREDIBLY boring if you have not read the book. So click here if you haven't read it. And buy two, they're small, plus Fifty Million Frenchman Can't Be Wrong, etc.)

This guy would play Madeline's farmboy/genius-inventor husband, Dean Bauer:

His name is Patrick Wilson. You may remember him as the Mormon/closeted-gay-protégé-of-Roy-Cohn in Angels in America, which I also watched this weekend instead of the Oscars.

Here is who would play Dean's father, the somewhat snarky elder farmer:

Tom Berenger. Because he looks pretty damn authentic in a plaid flannel shirt and a gimme-cap, if you remember that movie about evil neo-Nazi agriculturural type dudes he was in with Debra Winger playing the undercover Fed, back in the day. Plus now he's old enough to play a father in law.

Here is who would play Madeline's mother-in-law:

Mary Kay Place. Because she's a goddamn genius.

And here is who would play Dean's Uncle Weasel, because nobody does weaselly like Bruce Dern does weaselly:

And here is who would play Madeline's mother, the debutante-cum-hippie who's returned home to Long Island at long last:

Laugh all you want. It is my imaginary movie, so I get to have Emma Thompson play my imaginary mother, okay? Besides, I bet she could do a totally KILLER Locust-Valley Lockjaw accent (just think of her doing an impersonation of Jim Backus as Thurston Howell, if you have never heard denizens of Locust Valley engaged in conversation in real life).

Besides which, she really does kind of look like Ellen Page, you know? Here, check it out:

(Okay, actually, here I have to say that there may be a problem casting Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson together, since they are apparently ALREADY cast together in a film called Hard Candy. But what the hell: it's imaginary.)

And here is who would play Madeline's mother's boyfriend Bonwit--the guy who's the heir to a large carpet fortune and has a private dock and everything, but bitches out Madeline for washimg her hair at his house because "hot water is expensive":

Sir Michael Gambon... AKA the cool older smart curmudgeon dude in everything from Layer Cake to The Life Aquatic to Charlotte Grey.

Especially because I think he would go so well with Rutger Hauer playing Bonwit's ex-Nazi German gardener, Egon:
Slick that man's hair back and put him in a wife-beater with a pair of hedge clippers, et voilà, you have aging gossipy back-biting erstwhile Hitler Jugend servant guy up the damn wazoo.

And here is who should play Kit and Binty, the parents of Lapthorne Townsend, Madeline's childhood crush/older cousin:

Jeremy Irons and

Glenn Close.

Not just because they made such great von Bulows together, but also because Glenn Close is Madeline's friend Ellis's godmother, in real life.

AND because they make the perfect fictional parents for the only actor today whom I can see carrying off the part of Lapthorne with the necessary edge, that being:

Robert Downey, Jr. I mean, the guys is so totally secret-lovechild-of-Glenn-Close-and-Jeremy-Ironsesque, right?

And here is who would play Madeline's best friend and sidekick Ellis:

Lauren Ambrose, who is also both smart and funny (and YOUNG) at the same time. She needs shorter hair, though. Also darker.

Which brings us to Kenny the Bartender:

(I have an imaginary BAZILLION dollars here, remember.)

As for ancillary characters,

Dennis Hopper as Schneider, the coke-dealing ex-cop

with Lara Flynn Boyle as his girlfriend Vomit Girl, because she's noir enough to TOTALLY pull off a drunk, bruised, coke-addled chick from Hyannis with a toddler daughter in tow:

Plus she still has that creepy Twin Peaks vibe goin' on in a major way.

And Harry Dean Stanton as Farmer Johnston, the nasty old piece of work who found the bodies of the first two victims, back in 1969.

My daughter Grace and my niece Sasha want to play their corpses, since they wouldn't have to learn any lines.

And last but not least, Madeline's sidekicks at the Syracuse Weekly:

Wallace Shawn as Simon the Photographer, and Omar Shari as Wilt, the hippie political reporter (at the request of hippie political reporter Walt Shepperd, on whom that character is based):

That's all, folks...

.......oh wait, except for my favorite joke so far this week:

(hat tip to for this IMHO totally brilliant lolcat)

Is it any wonder I don't write cozies? Lightning would strike me right down flat in this chair if I so much as thought about it.

Now, fess up... who do you want in YOUR movie?


  1. IT...MIGHT....WORK!

    Brilliant casting, Cornelia! May it all come true.

    Man, Rutger Hauer really is a magnificent ruin these days, isn't he?

    Like all of you (fess up) I've kicked around some casting ideas. I once thought of Matthew McCounaghey (or however you spell it) to play Jack Keller, but my friend Kristy says if I let that happen she'll never speak to me again, and I really really like talking to Kristy, so that's out. Viggo Mortenson's at the top of the list right now. I'm still looking for my Marie. Lucas Berry can only be James Earl Jones.

  2. I have to admit that I might have a much more mercenary approach, Cornelia. I was chatting with an old classmate one day, and mentioned my screenplay that I'm playing around with, a romantic comedy. Her response was telling, if not entirely flattering.

    "If you have George Clooney in it, I'll see it no matter how bad it is".

    So if I have dual male leads with Clooney and Brad Pitt, I'm covered, right? :o)

  3. Random Thoughts:
    1. You watched "The Magdalene Sisters" TWICE? Has a more gut-wrenching, heartbreaking movie ever been made? I was reduced to a puddle.

    2. Re your cast: Perfecto!

    3. Re Ellen Page & Patrick Wilson. If you haven't seen "Hard Candy," do so. It's a nasty little movie that lets Ms. Page demonstrate her virtuosity with some stunning monologues. (She was 18 when it was filmed).

    4. And yes, smartypants. Your friend is not the only one to think of you when seeing "Juno."

  4. Love the casting, Miss C - Ellen Page rules ;-)

  5. Two things I now have to do:
    1. Watch Juno, The Magdalen Sisters and Angels in America.
    2. Re-read A Field of Darkness with your inspired cast in mind - I have this weird thing where I really love reading the book after I see the film. Due to my feeble-mindedness, I can fully picture everything about a character's essence from the description in books, but I find it hard to picture characters faces, so I can picture the actors instead. Bizarrely, this works well for me even if their description in the books and appearance in the film contradict each other.

  6. So brilliant except that I thought of Frances McDormand as the mother in law. And you picked some of my favorite actors, including Wally Shawn. What a star-studded miracle it would be! Fuck Hollywood. In the end you'll get a better deal. By the way way, this game reminds me of the "who would play you in the TV movie of your life?" game.

  7. You guys are wonderful, and I love YOUR casting, Dusty!

    Am just back from annual school nightmare meeting for my kid, now have to go to court to show some judge that I DID have insurance on my car, et cetera, et cetera...... Can't I rent a grownup to do this for me? Oh wait... I'd need money for that...........

  8. Ariel - that game 'who would play you in a TV movie of your life?'... unfortunately for me, the only suitable "Marcus" out there would be the love child of Russell Crowe and Danny De Vito. And just quietly, I think De Vito would make Crowe his bitch.

  9. Loved Juno and Ellen Page and was so glad that Diablo Cody won the Oscar for Best Screenplay. Her acceptance speak rocked. This was great fun, Ms. C.

  10. Omar SHARIF. With an F. I knew that, really. It was just my fingers.