Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Casting and Q&A

I agree with Christina Ricci being a great choice to play Blue. She definitely harnesses that mysterious aspect as far as looks go.

For Gareth I am torn between Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, and Dennis Quaid. I realize that in reality both Hackman and Redford are a little bit older than Gareth in the novel, but I feel Gene Hackman would be great for acting with the omniscient attitude that Gareth presents, and Robert Redford definitely fits the mold of how, according to what Blue says, Gareth wasn't that handsome when he was younger but he grew into his good looks upon becoming older.

I keep finding myself thinking that Vera Farmiga, the love interest of both detectives in The Departed, would be great for playing Hannah. Mainly because she does a great job with changing her look as far looking sexy/modest/unattractive etc. Just take a look at some of her film stills and press photos and you'll see.
If anybody wants to check it out, there is a great discussion forum for Special Topics on its page. Just search the book and scroll down on its page towards the bottom where it says discussion. There is some interesting input from people in it.

Some extra thoughts:

I am concerned with how the actress who will play Blue will be directed. A lot of the time, Blue's character usually doesn't push the plot forward. Instead, everything around her is pushing both her and the plot forward. Until the latter portion of part 2 and certain parts of part 3, Blue more or less is a reactionary character. A lot of her drastic changes including the way she dresses directly come from the Bluebloods. The situation in Special Topics is different from the typical film where the "nerd is transformed into the popular girl" in that Blue's personality doesn't really change that muc. I feel that the movie find a way to honor Blue's silence. Her ability to observe a situation, feel it out, and discover whether it is uncomfortable not plays a large part. In fact, a lot of the voiceover is derived from the fact that our protaganist is someone who continuously judges the world through her eyes. I imagine the character in the movie anxious, with her hands semi-folded, sitting near the Bluebloods, and absorbing everything to say as if those words were the defining factor as to how Blue judges them. I am also a firm believer in a theme of how the teenage imagination can blow things out of proportion. In respect to that, Blue's time spent as an observer (whether the time span be short or long) allows the viewer to insinuate that Blue's ability to "deduct" information of what sees to possibly be way over the top. There could be moments where Blue takes notice of seemingly irrelevant information about the person she is talking to or the area she is in. From there, either in voice over or simply from within Blue's expression, we could hear/see how her observations could be her downfall.


Hugh Laurie would be an ingenious choice for Gareth. My only concern would be how he would show affection for Blue or anyone else for that matter. From what I've seen of House, I can’t imagine him being a loving father. He is mean to dying kids! But then again that is what the script calls for. Who knows, he might be able to pull off warm widowed dad. What about Hugh Grant for Gareth?

How will Blue’s physical appearance change/evolve throughout the course of the film? I think Blue’s changes in look should coincide with her rebellion against her father. Before she befriends the Bluebloods she could look really studious. (button down shirts, glasses, really simple clothes, no makeup) As she joins the bluebloods and gets pulled deeper into their group she can start imitating the way Jade and Leulah look, dress and even act. (more provocative clothes and makeup) She should definitely dye her hair that rusty bronze color. After the camping trip she can go back to looking the way she did at the beginning. This would signify that she is no longer a member of the bluebloods clique and never truly was.
This is who I picture Blue being:

P.S. Molly: Lindsay Lohan is going to stage a comeback when she emerges from rehab and Hillary Duff is not past her prime.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I too feel it is important not to introduce Hannah too soon. Some time should be given to Blue and Gareth’s character development before Hannah comes on the scene. Blue’s crush on Andreo Verduga and his stabbing should be shown briefly. In the book Blue says that her father was at a faculty diner in honor of the new dean when Verduga appeared bloody at the door. I now find myself questioning the existence of this diner and wondering if Gareth was somehow involved in the stabbing. Details, anecdotes or descriptions that make the whole Nightwatchmen conspiracy seem more plausible should be included if at all possible. After seeing the movie once, the viewer can watch it again and again, each time picking up new clues that foreshadow and validate Blue’s discovery at the conclusion of the book. With the book I found myself rereading passages during the climatic final sequences just to make sure I had everything straight. You can’t rewind at your leisure while in a movie theater so the details of how everything weaves together at the end must be very clear. The movie should be like the book in that after it is finished details are still up for discussion. The director should leave certain things open ended. Was Gareth involved in Hannah’s death? Did Gareth and Hannah have a romantic relationship? Was that Gareth at the Costume Party? Was Natasha’s death really an accident? Did Hannah intend for Blue to uncover the truth? I picture people debating these questions as the credits are rolling.


Parts 1-3 Pacing & Necessities

I am very concerned about the pace that the film will take, as far as plot events and character exposition go. The reason I say so is because we meet Hannah for the first time (besides what we learn initially about her death) in ch. 5 and this is relatively quick considering the novel is 36 chapters. There are a lot of crucial elements that must be incorporated from chapters 1-5 and I feel the film shouldn't rush this exposition of her past (her mothers death, verduga, etc.) because they will becomes key visual queues for the audience by the end of the film. If anything, the amount of onscreen time for the events of Blue and the bluebloods should definitely be hastened, because this is where the novel tends to get thick. The excursion to France can also have some fat trimmed, but it must be visually emphatic as far as Blue's alleged encounter with Verduga and also when she walks in on the conversation that her father and his friend try to hide from her. Lastly, I feel that the stage where Blue begins piecing the Nightwatchmen conspiracy together must be elaborated on, because in the book she begins doing so in chapter 30, and if this time frame were mimicked in the film, the audience would certainly have the feeling of a rug being pulled out from underneath them. Blue won't be able to just throw herself into this tangent as she has done in the novel, rather it should be prolonged so that the visual story queues from earlier in the film may be cleverly alluded to.

That is all from me for now. More later on the characters and some interesting stuff I found on the web about the novel.

Oh, for those of you who haven't, take some time and check out the official site for Marisha Pessl, it is all based around Special Topics in Calamity Physics. It is pretty interactive and interesting to say the least. Here it is:

post 5 actors

I personally think that Blue should be cast as a complete unknown because she describes herself as Jane Goodall. She is someone who can walk amongst the gorillas unnoticed. Therefore, the actress who plays Blue shouldn’t already be a star. However, the look that I see Blue having is that of a young Christina Ricci or a young “Beetlejuice”-“Heathers” era Winonna Rider (who someone mentioned would now make a good Hannah). Both actresses have a similar look that could be taken as “owl like” and would be convincing before and after the makeover.

I like what was mentioned in class about having all the Bluebloods be the opposite of Blue, and be a household name. However, the biggest difficulty would be finding these actors since this decade does not have a “Brat Pack,” or really much a teen star system. I guess the best place to look is Disney. In the past they have started careers of many young actors. Most recent examples: Hillary Duff and Lindsay Lohan (who are now both past their prime, at least in my opinion).

As far as the adults go, I agree with Keegan’s choice of Naomi Watts for Blue’s mother Natasha. She does seem to have that more timeless and wholesome beauty that seems to characterize her. If you think of Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” she completely looked the part of the 30’s starlet. However, for Hannah I have been leaning more towards Nicole Kidman, despite her hair color (which could be easily fixed) and the fact that she has been making some poor role choices recently…Anyways, I thought of her because she has that way of standing out “like an ostrich among buffalo” (Cold Mountain and To Die For, which I think both we set in small towns where her character always looked some what out of place). Plus she and Naomi Watts are known friends which could add an interesting dynamic to the whole Natasha and Hannah relationship.

For some reason I keep thinking of Hugh Laurie for Gareth. I don’t think he has the right look, but I think there are parallels between Gareth and his character House, from “House.” For example (if you don’t know the show) House is this brilliant doctor who has this near encyclopedic knowledge of things, which he tends to use against people. This reminds me of the way Blue describes the way Gareth deals with people that he doesn’t want to bother with. Also with House, there is a fine line between loving him and hating him, which I think is the same with Gareth. There are moments for both when it seems like deep down there is a nice guy who truly cares about his patients (House)/daughter (Gareth). However, sometimes House is the egomaniac who likes to experiment with patients, and Gareth is the jackass who abandoned his daughter.

multiple posts

For some reason my internet went down so i am just going to post these posts in a lump sum

Post 2

Relationship with Bluebloods:

Part two of the book was probably the most boring part for me. When reading the book I felt that the film style would be something like virgin suicides meets Rushmore. The virgin suicides part would deal with the character introductions and details and the Rushmore style would deal with the encounters between blue and the blue bloods/ Hannah schnider. We would have blue point of view and V.Os to describe Jade, Zach, Natasha and Hannah… etc but it would be apparent as molly said that blue is the odd one out. I feel that this is key to the coming of age story within the social structure of the school and the blue bloods that blue keep her objectivity and distance but at the same time be able to comment on the mistakes she made. It is through this social circle, its acceptance, and the loss of it that blue learns about herself. All the while there should be a certain amount of magic surrounding the blue bloods but especially Hannah as she is key to the development of both blues identity and also the later plot. You would need someone gorgeous but also mysterious to play as Hannah but no actress comes to mind. As for blue you would need a girl that can go from frumpy to that all to played out pretty girl montage…. Or something similar… at least I see a scene like that being jammed into the film for popular value.

Post 3

The watchmen

This was perhaps the best part of the whole book but several problems arise when dealing with blues clues (yeah hahaha….) about the watchmen. As we discussed in class there is a certain difficulty in putting all the clues she goes through into the film. Should it be a flashback sequence done in V.O or should the clues be apparent in the frame and left up to the viewer to find. I am for leaving the clues embedded in the frame and perhaps doing a slight recap for those viewers who are not adept at mystery solving. Part of the novels appeal is its ambiguity with what exactly happened to Hannah and to Mr. Van Meer and the ability to successfully hide clues through out the film would add to this. We do not want as we discussed in class a Scooby doo ending where we the viewer feel completely disconnected from the solving process nor do we want the clues to be overly apparent. I believe a key scene is the revelation that the woman that picked young blue up was in fact Hannah. That could be a way to tie all the clues together definitely without abusing the viewer. Also the segment about her uncovering her fathers work could be used as a method to speedily progress through her rationalizing of the facts although I feel this is much weaker and that the writers would need to toy with this part to make it fit. I must disagree with Steven and say that the coming of age story I feel is the backdrop to the greater mystery and that the mystery element should prevail because it is through this process that blue looses her father, Hannah, and the blue bloods, and these are causes for her coming of age.

Post 4

The conclusion to the novel is perhaps the best way in the film to illustrate a change in blue. I believe the key scene for the ending is her encounter with the “new” Zach and how this change comes about in her. Also I believe that the disappearance of blues father and his omission from the end strengthen the mystery elements. I really hope they don’t sneak him in to the end as some figure hiding in the crowd because that really would just ruin the whole watchmen element. Also I feel that there should be some visual compilation of the clues blue has collected like a scrap book or journal and thus we can watch blue put away the mystery. As for the exam at the end of the novel I do not think it can translate well into film except for something fun to do during the end credits.