Monday, January 3, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays: If I Ruled the World

What better way to ring in January than seeing a new Liev film? In honour of Every Day (starts January 14th) I've compiled a list of the Top Ten leading roles for Liev if I ruled the world. 

I make no apologies for the abundance of choices which would have Liev playing (a) a New Yorker (b) a Jew (c) a New York Jew.  For people outside New York, his city is as exotic as the Grand Bazaar.  So while it’s true that “his backyard has been done," he must also understand that seeing him in his element holds great appeal.

Okay, (in no particular order) here goes:

84 Charing Cross Road
There is a halting passion to epistolary stories that suits my need for intensity interspersed with relief. To bring this film into today, I suggest we turn it on its ass, geographically. Helene (for me, Kate Winslet) is a classically trained working actress in London. She collects rare and important screenplays as a hobby, which is how she begins her letter writing relationship with Frank (Liev), purveyor of a theatre book store not unlike Samuel French in Los Angeles. If you know the original book and film, I’m sure my version is not hard to visualize.  

Julie Delpy holds great appeal for me. Her co-star in this movie - who I will not name so this never comes up when he Googles himself - notsomuch. I know it’s harsh but for me he has no business being a lead in a romantic comedy. He is Mr. Paranoid Neurotic Guy, which is fine except he continues to play himself in every role he does. The only thing that ever fluctuates are his varying degrees of hostility. There was so much more to this character than what he had to offer. I think it was too easy to go to the already freaked out guy and then, because of Marion’s parade of ex-boyfriends, freak him out even more. Seeing the decline of a relatively steady guy would have been a much more interesting arc. So, I think Julie should still play Marion but I would have loved to see Liev as Jack.

This movie was my real introduction to romantic comedies. In many ways it’s a classic. In updating it, the only thing I would change would be to dial down the springy disposition a tad. My version, with Liev’s Harry to Chloe Sevigny’s Sally, is just what the doctor ordered.

John Cusack once said that he looks at the projects coming across his desk as either for himself or “for them.” Grace is Gone is obviously one that was for himself. Cusack stepped away from his comfort zone, toned down the self-deprecating delivery and took some risks here, letting us be a part of his pain. He was great. I would just love to see Liev take it for a spin. 

This recommendation came to us by our own Forum member Wolverina. There is softness to Ariel that I think Liev would play well in contrast with his imposing physical presence.  Gwyneth Paltrow would make a great Emily if she were willing to bang out some of her inner New Yorker like I’ve only really seen her do full throttle in skits on SNL.

Not much needs to be said about this gem. To bring it up to date I would love to see Liev tackle the role of tormented Ronnie and for Loretta I would have to go with the extraordinary Marisa Tomei. She is the only woman who could do justice to Cher’s most perfect original.

John Krasinksi is a great guy. Always. But the more I got to know Verona the more I wondered why she was with Burt. Then I realized it was this version of Burt that I was questioning. For a women as deep and intelligent as her, puppydog-like devotion would not usually be enough to sustain the thing. Maya Rudolph can stay as she is but I would like to see a more vital Burt. I think Liev is just the man to deliver.

No one's ever heard of this wonderful little film, so dotted with well known actors and full of charm. I've watched it a dozen times and it keeps getting funnier. It`s not a difficult role and I think many actors could do Sam well, but I would love to see what Liev would bring. Annabella Scioria can stay as Ellen; she was perfect. Christine Baransky, Justine Batemen and Jeanne Tripplehorn are all hilarious.
What is it about Ben Affleck that still makes me think Frat Boy? Even after appreciating his more recent, profound works like Gone Baby Gone, I still can't visualize him without craving Jager shots. The guilt, responsability, curiosity and excitement that Buddy must have been feeling all at once as Abby lets him get closer is something we needed to see more of. Furrowing eyebrows aside, it was a shiny, pretty picture, but the story itself was much darker than that. I think Gwyneth did a decent job with the help of some good material.  Her scene explaining how she got addicted to nicotine, for example, could have easily slipped from endearing into annoying depending on who delivered it. I would have been equally open to Winona Ryder in this role. I was also going to say Diane Lane because she can do vulnerable like nobody's business, but lately I've grown tired of watching her mourn.

Crossing Delancey
You knew it was coming. Don’t tell me you can’t picture Liev’s most serene Sam explaining to Isabelle why he soaks his hands in milk and vanilla every night. And in my heart, Isabelle could only be played by the gut-wrenchingly soft Lily Taylor.

Okay, that's where my head's at right now. Bonne nuit chรจrs amis.