Monday, May 31, 2010

Casting Call: Rosemary's Baby

[Note: This was composed for a recurring Wonderchroma column entitled Casting Call, in which the film adaptations (or remakes) of various classic properties are envisioned.]

Rosemary's Baby is one of the classics of horror, a masterpiece of mounting dread. Adapted from the novel by Ira Levin, the film tells the story of Rosemary and Guy, a pair of young newlyweds who move into Manhattan's stately Bramford building (based upon the notorious Dakota), which happens to be populated by a coven of witches. Without Rosemary's knowledge, Guy cuts a deal with the coven to saddle his wife with the spawn of Satan in exchange for career advancement. By the time Rosemary realizes that something is wrong, it is already too late—everyone she knows has conspired to make sure her unholy child is delivered.

Helmed by the incomparable Roman Polanski, Rosemary's Baby is a textbook exercise in suspense and paranoia, one of the most timeless and seminal works of the genre. As such, it is the perfect fodder for some studio hack (read: Satan) to option (read: violate) as a remake (read: Antichrist). Let us hope that said desecrators at least pack the film with genuine talent, lest their bastard product be a complete abomination.

Director (Roman Polanski): David Cronenberg

Cronenberg is a master at capturing the suffocating effects of our reliance on technology, as well as the paranoia that results from urban living. His entire career has been an extended study of the devastation that modern science has wrought upon the human frame, a theme which dovetails perfectly into Rosemary's Baby, the ultimate reproductive nightmare.

Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow): Amy Adams

Rosemary is a pure spirit, a classic ingénue with whom the audience can empathize immediately. Her character requires an actress with a wholesome demeanor and a sense of vulnerability. Amy Adams, whose recent turns in Junebug and Doubt have established her as one of the most promising new talents in Hollywood, would be perfect.

Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes): Javier Bardem

Guy is the embodiment of the pre-Feminism male, a man who is inured to the subjugation of women for his own benefit. Yet he maintains a presiding love for Rosemary, and although he proves susceptible to the wiles of the Castavets, he remains only a begrudging accomplice to their plans. Javier Bardem has demonstrated his capabilities as both a sensitive leading man in The Sea Inside and a terrifying psychopath in No Country for Old Men; this dramatic range, bolstered by his dark and mysterious good looks, would afford the compassion necessary to temper his character's shady actions.

Minnie Castevet (Ruth Gordon): Pat Crawford Brown

As the headmistress of the coven, Minnie is the prototypical nosy neighbor, investing herself into every decision regarding Rosemary's pregnancy. Pat Crawford Brown has made a career out of playing kindly old ladies, most notably on television series such as General Hospital and Desperate Housewives, and her genteel persona would lend itself beautifully to the sinister duplicity of this role.

Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer): Peter O'Toole

A stately old man with a grandfatherly air, Roman is the mannerly yin to Minnie's boisterous yang. Peter O'Toole, with his piercing blue eyes and impeccable class, would be ideal as the cool-headed spokesman for Minnie's schemes.

Edward 'Hutch' Hutchins (Maurice Evans): Bob Newhart

Rosemary's former landlord serves as her father figure and confidant, and is the first person outside of the Bramford to figure out what is going on. The character of Hutch requires an actor with affability and tenacity, someone to whom the audience could understand Rosemary's inclination to turn for guidance. Bob Newhart, with his immense likability and beleaguered disposition, would be a delight.

Dr. Abraham Sapirstein (Ralph Bellamy): Edward Herrmann

Sapirstein may well be the most devious character in the film, as it is he who exploits Rosemary's faith in authority to enable the Castavets to carry out their plot. To deliver the proper aura of paternalism, you would need someone with a commanding presence. Edward Herrmann, who so expertly utilized this capacity in The Lost Boys and The Cat's Meow, would be the best possible choice.

Terry Gionoffrio (Victoria Vetri): Natasha Gregson Wagner

As the daughter of Natalie Wood, the legendary starlet whose death by drowning remains shrouded in mystery, Natasha Gregson Wagner already carries some foreboding baggage. She would be ideal for the role of Terry, the gorgeous and headstrong recovering heroin addict who is considered for the role of Satan's surrogate baby mama before Rosemary comes along. Unfortunately, Gregson Wagner's screen time would be limited due to the early death of her character, but her staggering beauty would more than compensate for her transience.

You know what? After meticulously compiling the perfect cast and director for this project, I'm actually looking forward to seeing it. Anybody wanna pony up $50 million?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Get a Rope.

I am fascinated by those instances in which the thin façade that covers the throbbing, ever-present American mob mentality suffers a temporary breach. Much has been made lately of the growing chorus of outrage regarding the bailouts and the health care reform bill, but that vitriol is largely confined to a small contingent of loutish, inexplicably disaffected rich white men. No, your prime entertainment value ("entertainment" in the public lynching sense) comes from smaller human interest stories, primarily those regarding racial issues or child endangerment. has become notorious among my circle of friends for its comments page, which routinely exposes the unabashed racism and reactionism that typify much of the Post-Dispatch readership (i.e., those who live in the county and the sticks). Alas, throw enough tinder into the national pit, and you can warm yourself on an even bigger pyre, one which burns intensely, if only momentarily. (Give it up for that other classic American trait, zero short term memory.) recently covered a story about a four-year-old boy who was beaten to death for having wet his pants. The alleged perpetrator was the child's new rent-a-father-figure, who had been living with the boy's mother for about six months. Beating and/or killing children fulfills the societal need for emotional absolutes, in the same way that Hitler and 9/11 provide an easy knee-jerk reference to pure evil. People who would otherwise keep a tight lid on their anger feel safe to express themselves under such circumstances, knowing that they can vent their innermost rage without fear of recompense. Factor in total anonymity and a public forum, and you've got a perfect incubator for hysteria.

The comments page on the CNN article jumped off immediately with calls for extreme violence against the defendant, including castration and prison rape. As generally happens, the hostility fed upon itself, increasing at the same rate as the deterioration of grammar and spelling. Sample comment (verbatim):

I wish I was present in this situation I will beat this bastard to a pulp and have my dogs drill is ass , and I will take is teeth’s with an hammer and dose acid over before put a bullet on him
Like (2)

Sensing a raw nerve, I decided to push it.

Articles like this are great because their comments pages consistently expose the mob mentality.
Like (6)

What do you suggest we do? Provide him with some therapy? Kids are OF LIMITS!
Like (3)

Mob mentality? are you nut ? are you from San Francisco? is call People justice You moron!!!

or maybe we should give him a cookie and pat him on the back?
Like (4)

JoyGrenade is right. For days I have read Americans spewing hatred at each other over idiotic and petty political disagreements. Now, everyone has a common enemy to spew their hatred toward, but what is most revealing is the level of aggression that is ever present in people in this country. Everyone is on simmer, ready to boil over. For "the greatest country in the world" people are sure angry and vitriolic.
You liked this (3)

CeNsoriNg, what the hell are you talking about? Have you read the article? What do you expect people to do? Laugh and give high fives? If you don't get upset after reading something like this, you might have a problem.
Like (2)

JoyGrenade and CeNsoriNg you two are complete brainwashed drones, devoid of any emotions. You obviously didn't read this article...
Like (3)

No, I did read the article. I believe he should be tried and convicted and sent to prison. I do not feel the same inclination as you to fantasize about him being gang raped, strung up by his balls, tortured, killed slowly, had things rammed up his ass etc etc....I think the crime was horrible, and truly tragic and sad, and that is what I feel - sad. The world is an ugly place, and people do ugly things, and I don't think doing more ugly things stops ugly things from happening.
Like (1)

then next time you decide to comment you may want to at least acknowledge the brutal heinousness of this crime before you lambaste 99 percent of contributors to this forum with a stupid comment about mob mentality.
Like (2)

This is far too easy.