Wednesday, June 26, 2013

FTT Off-Topic: Reboot This

More Nina, Less Reboot
Not sports, and I should stop intro- ducing these the same old way, right?

Here's something you probably didn't care to know about me: I really like Stephen Sondheim's work. I'm generally not a big fan of musicals, but Sondheim is so good, it doesn't matter. I've seen "Into The Woods", "Sweeney Todd", "Company" and "Sundays In The Park With George", and I'd love to see "Assassins." The first two I could recommend to anyone at any time. "Company" is too arch but still worthwhile, and "Sunday" has the best song ever written about the creative process ("Finishing the Hat"; I'll embed it later.)

I haven't been lucky enough to see any of them live, but DVDs of the original Broadway casts exist, and there's nothing lacking from any of those performances. Particularly the work of Bernadette Peters, who was born to do the range-spanning gymnastics and near rap-speed lyrics that Sondheim loads up on his stars.

There are, as I mentioned, DVDs of these shows... which means that, of course, Disney is going to remake one of them ("Into The Woods", because we're required by modern law to hump folk stories until that meme is dry as dust) into a movie, and as ESPN and Pixar prove, Disney Is Here To Ruin Everything. They are going to throw a slew of Big Big Stars At It (Meryl Streep! Tracey Ullman! Chris Pine! There's no way I can't see this, if for no other reason than the Wife loves Pine), because that's how these things are done. The Shooter Wife sent me the link for the casting, and asked, well, we loved the original. What do I think about the casting?

And here's what I think, and the miracle of my marriage is that I even got to tell her this without pissing her off too much: these works already exist. As de facto movies, since they are on video, and we watched them the same way we would a movie. As much as I've appreciated Streep and Ullman over the years, they are making a ridiculous mistake to take Peters' roll while she's still, well, alive and capable. But most importantly...

Until people start making the principled and definitive decision to JUST FREAKING IGNORE REBOOTS, no matter how much we like the original and maybe the actors of the "new" movie... that's all we're going to get.

You know what I'd prefer to see instead of a reboot of "Into The Woods"? "Artemis Fowl", a YA series with a tween criminal mastermind that's clever and original. It would also make my eldest squee. If not Fowl, perhaps a treatment of "The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane", written by the same writer who did "Because of Winn-Dixie." It's the story of an inanimate china rabbit that grows despite a series of misfortunes, has odd Christian allegories that would make it a ton of money in the heartland, and could work as animation or a voiceover live story. That would thrill my youngest.

I read Tina Fey's "Bossypants" while traveling a couple of months ago. It's not as laugh out loud funny as some would have you believe, but there's a movie in that, and Fey has proven she's got a sizable audience by now. Drew Magary's "Someone Could Get Hurt" would be a movie that people haven't seen before, since it's unflinchingly honest, poignant by turns, and ribald about parenting in a way that would make Louis CK blush. Filming whatever Elmore Leonard wrote in the last six months is always a good idea, as the man still hasn't lost the fastball.

I'd be highly interested in seeing an adaptation of "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell, which did more to make dry American history live for my eldest than anything we've read before. Neil Gaiman's "The Cemetery Book" could be astoundingly great, and Gaiman's a proven money maker with his "Sandman" work, along with "Coraline." Tim Burton was born to make that movie, and goth kids would absolutely inhale it. "Venus In Fur", which I saw off-Broadway a few years ago, should reach a much larger audience, and won star Nina Arianda a Tony. If that made it to video and made Arianda a star, American culture would be better, and we'd all have a new and ridiculously skilled actress to drop into stuff.

So that's seven different movies, off the top of my head, that I'd be genuinely enthused to see. I'd bring people to them. I'd organize movie nights around them. Depending how well they were made, I might even spring for the DVD. I came up with that list in 20 minutes, just thinking back to what I've read and really liked in the past six months, and pulled out the real niche stuff.

If you're counting, that's one YA comedy / adventure, a folk story for kids, two very different biographies, a documentary, an American anime and a psycho-sexual character study; all very different films with lots going for them.


Life is short. We might only have the one time to go around.


And until they do, everyone please stop going to the old things that are fake new.

Or else suffer the wrath of another half dozen Batman, Superman and Spiderman origin reboots in the next ten years...

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