Monday, May 26, 2008

A Director's Mind

One comes across many bizarre things at IMDb. A site I worship and return to multiple times every day that I have access to the Internet. It's a habit.

But, when I came across yesterday's "daily quiz" I was a bit puzzled. The question asked:

(if only I hadn't clicked on Hitchcock's name earlier in the day!)

So, I started to wonder; what if all these director biopics were made? Would they be any good? Who would they star? What already-produced biopic would they most resemble? And would they win Oscars? Here's what I came up with.

Woody Allen
Potential Titles: Woody!, The Woody Allen Chronicles, Everything You Wanted to Know About Woody Allen (But Were Afraid to Ask), A Jewish Mind (er, maybe not)
Potential Imitation Of: Man on the Moon, perhaps a bit too esoteric, much like some of Allen's movies. It could, however, become a minor success as long as the Weinsteins don't distribute it.
Potential Stars: Considering Woody Allen has been making movies lately with Woody Allen-by-proxy I'm sure any actor with a lithe frame could do it. Perhaps Zach Braff, who portrayed Allen's son in Manhattan Murder Mystery back in 1991.
Potential Oscars: The role of Woody as well as the screenplay (Allen is the most honoured screenwriter in Academy history) would be hot bets for prizes, and you know they'd give the role of Soon-Yi to some unknown and they'd take all the acclaim away from the famous actress portraying Mia Farrow.
But Will It Be Any Good?: Well, there's some juicy tabloid storylines and if there was a screenplay half as witty as Allen's best then sure, it could be great!

Pedro Almodovar
Potential Titles: Viva Pedro!, Pedro, All About Pedro
Potential Imitation Of: Frida, an eccentric figure turned vanilla, or Iris, showing his life as a child under the rule of Franco and his later life as a genius film director. Throw in a bit of film-within-a-film Bad Education styled craziness for flavour.
Potential Stars: Get some famous star of the stage or some big Spanish actor to play him. Or maybe they could get a tranny to play him. I'm sure Pedro would approve.
Potential Oscars: A foreign biopic? Of course. Best Actor and Best Foreign Language Film.
But Will It Be Any Good?: Something tells me it'd end up being formulaic in a traditional way, ala Frida, which I still liked, or it could be formulaic in a bastardised way, ala La Vie en Rose, which I hated. Hmmm...

Tim Burton
Potential Titles: Burton, Black Burton, Tim Burton Presents: Tim Burton
Potential Imitation Of: Ed Wood. The only way a biopic could be made is if it were done in the wildly theatrical style of Burton's own film. Realism be damned. Or, if they really wanted to screw with audiences, Tim Burton could direct and could focus solely on Burton making Ed Wood. It'd be meta filmmaking at it's most gothic!
Potential Stars: JOHNNY DEPP! omigodiknowright?! And even though she'd be too old for the role y'all just know Helena Bonham Carter would be played by none other than HELENA BONHAM CARTER!!! omigod!
Potential Oscars: It will be buzzed all year long until it finally comes to be released and people realise "ooh, too much blood!" and promptly award it with an Art Direction Oscar and be done with it. That or they could have a sudden change-of-heart and see it as a way of honouring Burton's long-ignored career.
But Will It Be Any Good?: It could be delightful, actually, if it has a sense of fun and isn't all goth goth blood goth, which some people think is the only thing Burton is about.

Uwe Boll
Potential Titles: Hey Uwe!, Uwe Boll, The Super-Boll, The House of Boll, any other number of witty pun titles that can be created using his name.
Potential Imitation Of: Ed Wood. I imagine somebody someday in the future will decide to make a biopic about the modern day Ed Wood (Plan 9 From Outer Space, remember), forever cementing his status in popular culture. Whoever that director is will have a lot of explaining to do because I doubt Boll's story is anywhere as fascinating as Wood's.
Potential Stars: This could be a Marion Cotillard-style breakthrough for a foreign actor. But, it's alright, Uwe Boll is a male so it's not like the actor's performance will be judged by how much they deglammed. Men don't have to deglam, you see. They can be schlubby in every day life and not have to worry! Hey, I think I hear Paul Giamatti calling...
Potential Oscars: Just like today, whoever will portrays Boll will get no respect. Whoever plays Tara Reid, on the other hand, circa the Boll-directed Alone in the Dark has Best Supporting Actress sewn up!
But Will It Be Any Good?: I imagine it wouldn't be hard to, if nothing else, be better than anything Uwe Boll has directed in his life.

John Cassavetes
Potential Titles: A Man Under the Influence, The Original Independent, John and Gina (a joint biopic about he and wife Gena Rowland!)
Potential Imitation Of: Walk the Line if we're talking a John and Gena double play, but I'm thinking more along the lines of Capote or Pollack. A small character stuff would befit Cassavetes I imagine.
Potential Stars: Time for a previously undramatic actor to stand up and take the reigns. And somebody like, say, Kate Bosworth, can add some pounds (if that's possible) and portray Rowlands.
Potential Oscars: Much like Walk the Line the main star, whoever plays Cassavetes, will get big Oscar buzz, and perhaps due to a weak Best Actress lineup, whoever portrays Rowlands will get a bump into Best Actress. It will flunk out on Best Picture and Director, however.
But Will It Be Any Good?: I predict it'd be respectable and well-made, but nothing stunning.

Joel and Ethan Coen
Potential Titles: The Coens, Super Coen Bros. (hahah), Coen
Potential Imitation Of: Hilary and Jackie for sibling rivalry. I don't know what kind of movie a Coen biopic would be. Have they lead lives worthy of one, even?
Potential Stars: I dunno. Two brothers of some variety, perhaps.
Potential Oscars: Why is this movie even being made? No.
But Will It Be Any Good?: No. Seriously, why would this movie need to be made?

Francis Ford Coppola
Potential Titles: Coppola Now!, Ford, The Italian
Potential Imitation Of: I imagine it could be a Shadow of the Vampire like "biopic" that shows the desperation he went through on the sets of his films during the '70s up to and including Apocalypse Now.
Potential Stars: It's a shame Zero Mostel isn't around anymore! I imagine he'd have a blast with the hystrionics of Coppola's career.
Potential Oscars: The scenes during the making of Apocalypse Now would be Oscar-central (have you not heard the stories?) and I'm sure it'll be technically amazing.
But Will It Be Any Good?: Yes. There's enough material here for a ripping yarn, surely!

Werner Herzog
Potential Titles: Werner, The Other Crazy German, The Man Who Ate a Shoe, WernerMan
Potential Imitation Of: I imagine a documentary-bio film like Herzog's own Grizzly Man is the only way to do justice to passages of film history like Herzog eating a shoe those whole Fitzcarraldo shenanigans. If we're going feature film then I reckon The Life and Death of Peter Sellers or Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus. Herzog needs something a little bit left of centre.
Potential Stars: One of those reliable statemen like Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Gene Hackman... you know. All they need is a good accent. Toby Allen or Willem Dafoe would be a good fit for German actor Klaus Kinski
Potential Oscars: Whoever plays Herzog and his frequent collaborator Klaus Kinski would be locks for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominations, if not wins. They're juicy parts. Tech categories like Art Direction could be good bets too, for recreating all those famous sights.
But Will It Be Any Good?: Ye---maybe. It's hard to tell.

The recreation of this moment in history will join the ranks of the bike flying across the moon in ET, or Darth Vader admitting to his true identity, or Nomi Malone flickin' the blade like a hardcore mothafucker. Classic cinema.

Alfred Hitchcock
Potential Titles: Hitch has been taken by a lame Will Smith romcom, so howabout Silhouettes as a great artsy-fartsy avant guard kinda title. Or the more traditional Alfred.
Potential Imitation Of: The Aviator. Hollywood, Stars, Temper Tantrums, etc
Potential Stars: Well, apparently, Anthony Hopkins has been cast in an actual Hitchcock biopic, but I think someone like Malcolm McDowell could be a lovely bit of casting. But who could play the bevy of leading men and ladies along the way? Well, I'm sure Gwyneth Paltrow would cut of her own arm to play Grace Kelly, Naomi Watts is already replicating Tippi Hedren in a Birds remake so she could take that role, and... Scarlett Johansson could fit in somewhere. She likes playing old fashioned. As for the men? Who could play Jimmy Stewart or Anthony Perkins? Hmm...
Potential Oscars: Well, this would fit nicely into the Oscar mould. A biopic about an obsessive director. It'd feature a lot of scenes of it's star being angry and it's women crying.
But Will It Be Any Good?: I presume so, if for no other reason than the subject is so fascinating.

Stanley Kubrick
Potential Titles: The Kubrick Affair, Kubrickian, Eyes Wide Kubrick, A Kubrick Odyssey
Potential Imitation Of: Some cross between I'm Not There, Fur and Quills for mad geniusness.
Potential Stars: NOT JOHN MALKOVICH. I know he technically wasn't playing "Stanley Kubrick" but just the thought of Colour Me Kubrick sends chills up my spine. I see Paul Giamatti taking the part though. Or, I shudder to imagine, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Potential Oscars: Yeah, Giamatti would win for playing someone famous, naturally. Other than that I expect, like it's subject, to be just a bit too odd for full a full embrace by the Academy.
But Will It Be Any Good?: I suspect so.

Ang Lee
Potential Titles: Ang Tough, lol, no way. I honestly can't think of any. Ang doesn't really have a ring to it, does it?
Potential Imitation Of: I honestly don't know. I don't think Ang's life would befit a biopic. It's like the Coens up there.
Potential Stars: Er... knowing Hollywood they'll cast someone Japanese.
Potential Oscars: I have a feeling that if this were made it'd turn out like that Celine Dion biopic.
But Will It Be Any Good?: No.

Pier Paolo Pasolini
Potential Titles: Sodom: The Life and Death of Pasolini... umm, that's all I could think of
Potential Imitation Of: Some unholy mix of Quills, Before Night Falls and The Passion of the Christ. If you can imagine it.
Potential Stars: Viggo Mortensen. Those two seem like a good fit.
Potential Oscars: Nope. Well, maybe Viggo might get some buzz at, like, the Venice Film Festival (they were big fans of Pasolini), but I doubt anything else substantial.
But Will It Be Any Good?: Yes. It could be amazing. Pasolini's life was event-filled to say the least.

Roman Polanski
Potential Titles: Roman, The Roman Empire, The Polanski Files, Romantown
Potential Imitation Of: AutoFocus for the sleeze factor, or Domino for sensationalism. No joke.
Potential Stars: Is it weird that I can picture Jamie Bell playing him in, like, 30 years? Frightening. Maybe it's the deshevelled hair. And you just know Scarlett Johansson would be all over the role of Sharon Tate, even though they look absolutely nothing alike.
Potential Oscars: Not if it's anything like AutoFocus (awful) or Domino (so-bad-it's-good).
But Will It Be Good?: Not if it's anything like Autofocus, but perhaps if it were like Domino (yet, not).

George A Romero
Potential Titles: Romero, I Direct the Dead, Zombies and Shopping Malls: The George A Romero Story (direct-to-DVD) - this one was tough.
Potential Imitation Of: Ed Wood (again), but only in the documenting-how-a-low-budget-movie-got-made sort of way. Except this time the movie is good (Night of the Living Dead). The destinction needs to be made.
Potential Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal? I dunno. They both have beards. Ryan Gosling?
Potential Oscars: Nah, the Oscars aren't gonna go near a movie about flesh eating zombies, even if it is in the guise of a behind-the-scenes styled comedy with racial overtones.
But Will It Be Any Good?: It could be fascinating. All the horror stories from behind-the-scenes of horror movies are just amazing (see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it even has the mafia!) so it could be ripe for movie-telling.

Steven Spielberg
Potential Titles: Any number of middle-of-the-road idol worship titles, really.
Potential Imitation Of: Ray. Both Ray Charles and Steve Spielberg are gifted and talented individuals, but you just know that Spielberg's life would get a bland whitewashing just like Charles did.
Potential Stars: For some reason I see a bit of Richard Gere in there. If they're wanting to focus on "Spielberg: The Younger Years" then maybe Adam Goldberg? Wait, is it offensive that I chose him purely because he's Jewish and has a beard? Perhaps it is, but you know that's all the casting directors would be doing. Hell, at least I chose someone who is Jewish!
Potential Oscar: The only way Oscar could be more on this would be if it were directed by Clint Eastwood.
But Will It Be Any Good?: If Ray and A Beautiful Mind taught us anything, it's that middle-of-the-road biopics are always crappy, so I would hazard a guess and say that it would not be a good movie, but it could easily turn out to be quite great.

You know who my vote would go to? David Lynch. Imagine that? Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan can star as themselves trying to get to the bottom of why he's so nutters. What about Terrence Malick? Reclusive genius and all. Oh, the possibilities... and you know with Hollywood they are legitimate possibilities, which is the most frightening aspect of it all. It's all a big joke until somebody goes and makes The Uwe Boll Story: A Requiem in Four Parts.

And for those wanting to know, these were the end results for the original poll:

Alfred Hitchcock - 19.1%
Stanley Kubrick - 15.5%
Roman Polanski - 9.4%
"I'd watch a biopic on most/any of these directors." - 7.8%
Steven Spielberg - 7.1%
Tim Burton - 7.0%
"I wouldn't watch a biopic of most/any of these directors. - 5.0%
"I don't watch biopics in general." - 4.9%
Woody Allen - 4.7%
Uwe Boll - 4.2%
Werner Herzog - 2.9%
Pier Paolo Pasolini - 2.3%
Joel and Ethan Coen - 2.2%
Francis Ford Coppola - 2.0%
George A Romero - 1.8%
"I have no opinion." - 1.4%
John Cassavetes - 1.1%
Pedro Almodovar - 0.9%
Ang Lee - 0.4%

At least they got the first and last one right.


par3182 said...

they should've included john waters - now that's a biopic i'd watch

oh, and russ meyer

Glenn said...

Russ Meyer: The Quentin Tarantino Story, as directed by Quentin Tarantino, starring Quentin Tarantino as Russ Meyer and Michael Lerner as Roger Ebert.

JS said...

Katherine Heigl would play Grace Kelly.

Dame James Henry said...

Is it bad that when the poll popped up on IMDb, I voted for John Cassavetes, which got like the third least amount of votes? For some reason, I thought it would be interesting to see a Walk the Line-esque biopic about John and Gena's relationship (and the low budget movies they made).

Ang Tough is also mad brilliant. Even though the biopic would be lame, I'd see it for the title.

And maybe the Coen Brothers biopic can be more in the vein of Dead Ringers. That might make it a little more fascinating.

Glenn said...

This is Hollywood, James. Not 1980s Canada!