Friday, January 30, 2009

The A Team is Back!

You probably have a couple of choices if you're looking for inspiration as a screenwriter - you can reach for high quality literature and craft great films - such as LOTR - or you can rip off TV shows and do a bad job as with Starsky and Hutch (actually I liked that movie - its just that it was self-consciously a p-take, whereas the original didn't realise it was funny...).

Which brings us to the A Team - could it be that such great lines as "I pity the fool" will be reincarnated for the big screen? Apparently yes. Release date is set for June 2010 and with Ridley Scott apparently involved you'd at least hope it might be OK.

What really interests me is who they might get to play the main parts. So I went to the casting couch of the mind to make my choices for the main roles:

Hannibal - the hardest to cast by a mile - George Peppard was so distinctive in this role. Another George...Clooney would be interesting (or predicatable), but may just be the wrong kind of urbane. You could go to the "older" generation - Bruce Willis, Tommy Lee Jones, Burt Reynolds...but I think I'd replace one made for TV face with another and go for the laconic Richard Dean Anderson aka MacGyver - kinda the same show...

BA - this is hard - Samuel L Jackson might have the verbal chops but he doesn't have the physique. Ving Rhames has the physical presence but may actually be too big - remember BA was shortish. But he appeals as the best of the more well known actors - maybe they should cast an unknown dopplegangar of the man as the dialogue is not that challenging and acting was never a necessary part of this role - there must be an over-hyped rapper who could do with the celebrity and perhaps it would help bring a new audience in - for an outside chance, how about Mike Tyson? Nah the dialogue would be beyond him and his little girl voice...

Face - there are a bunch of smooth-faced options for this role - Tom Cruise will probably try to get it but really?! Val Kilmer before the weight went on...I suppose they could go for a Damon-Affleck-Pitt kind of "character". What about Ashton Kutcher? He already has the droopy 70's look down...or you could go for Owen Wilson - you'd just need to find a role for Ben Stiller somewhere in there...

Murdoch - surely this is Jim Carrey's perfect role? Possibly the one character who could be enhanced by a fresh face.

How good would it be to have a job transforming these shows into movies? Now that would be working for a living...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Holiday Reading Review

Holiday reading isn't what it used to be! With kids discovering new and varied ways to kill or maim themselves every day and a certain suicidal fascination with the beach, there just isn't the free time to lie back with a book. In fact, reading itself changes - some pages you get to read 5 times; others you skip (mainly because of cunning repositioning of your book with the result of losing the page). Anyways, I managed to get through a few in the margins. Here they are:

Dreamsongs - George RR Martin

Yes this is the Song of Ice and Fire author and it does include a short novella "The Hedge Knight" set some years before the action of the series. An interesting feature of this collection of short stories, TV screenplays and novellas is the running commentary by the author which reveals a range of career highlights including involvement as a writer for the Twilight Zone and the TV series Beauty and the Beast! I suppose at least it wasn't that angel one with the Little House on the Prairie guy...

Good fun with a broad selection of fantasy, sci-fi and horror - the interesting thing about Martin is that really he scorns the boundaries between the various genre, preferring to explore the characters most of all as they battle with their humanity. I quite liked Unsound Variations, a sci-fi twister concerning chess and time travel, The Skin Game, which was equal parts horror and sci-fi and of course The Hedge Knight. 8/10

Atilla - William Napier

I'm a sucker for a well-drawn historical novel and this met my expectations in all but one respect. It tracks the early years of Atilla as the sun sets on the Roman empire. Atilla learns more about Rome than they would probably like as a hostage to keep the allied Hun cavalry in line. Its a good yarn with some excellent action as well as thoughtful characterisation. Too late I realised it was a series. Still, I think the series will survive being broken. 8/10

Snare - Katharine Kerr

A classic Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel this one. Fantasy paradigm set on a sci-fi post civilisation breakdown foundation. Lots of interesting questions about identity and genetics as the protaganists discover their world is not what it seems. Some quite original concepts and a good read. 7/10

Sagramanda - Alan Dean Foster

Gosh I must have read a dozen books by this author and he never lets you down. This is set in "near-future India" and you get a sense of the population issues and resource scarcity playing out. Its a kind of sci-fi, commerial espionage, eco thriller. The underdog trying to make a newly created resource available to the world. Was excellent fun with its wacky range of characters but a little disappointing when you discover what the big secret is! 7/10

Days of Infamy - Harry Turtledove

This guy specialises in alternate history, perfect for a sci-fi/history buff! The premise is: what if the Japanese invaded Hawaii after Pearl Harbour? Its a good story with some excellent characters and some nice twists - like the invention of the windsurfer! Lots of "in jokes" as history is subtly changed. Also asks some big questions about racism and what people will do under pressure. 7/10

All in all, I missed finding that truly excellent read in the 9 or 10 range, but with all the distractions, I'm not sure I would have appreciated it.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Beneath the Surface

There are lots of opinions out there on the whole Israel-Palestine thing - the why's of various participants. This may be one of the less informed views! But hey call me cynical, call me whatever you want but this is how I see it:

  • The "why" of Israel (apart from the terrorist acts of the Palestinian militants) is in the timing - political expedience with upcoming elections - the sacrifice of human lives for political goals.
  • The "why" of Hamas in failing to curb its militant tendencies (apart from the terror pay off that outweighs the deaths caused) is in the publicity - why would Hamas push Israel to retaliation? It makes better international press for their cause - the sacrifice of human lives for political goals.
  • And then today some sad protestors at the ASB Tennis Classic in Auckland - protesting professional tennis player Israeli Shahar Peer's involvement - Global Peace and Justice aka John Minto, parading the so-called "developing international consensus" for a sport boycott - which right now doesn't exist so GPJ are on a limb with this one - local influence being leveraged by international tragedy through unilateral action not yet justified by international consensus - there may be a place for boycotts through sport but you do it with the accountability of international consensus when the protection of one group's rights involves the infringement of another person's rights - the sacrifice of one person's rights ostensibly for the rights of others.

Each group has an "end" which is in some sense justifiable. Each group selects means that are not defensible. It's the sad reality of these kinds of conflicts - ideology trumping justice.