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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Deal With It

I didn't think at first that I'd be doing a post on the not-even-twenty-page short story Popsy, a corker of a tale that was collected in Nightmares and Dreamscapes.

But then I read it.

There is a movie here, but probably not the same kind of movie as the short story. The story itself is over and done with pretty quick and if you already know who and what Popsy is, which you will if you keep reading (oh yeah, spoilers), you can kinda see the ending coming.

The movie I see out of this one isn't called Popsy because it's not about Popsy. It's about a man who wants to think of himself as good but finds himself doing something horrible when he finds himself in dire straits.

What I liked about this short tale is how the entire thing takes place from the point of view of Briggs Sheridan, who seems to at one point have been an average joe whose one big problem is that he can't stay away from a good card game, whereupon he almost always ends up losing his shirt. And his pants. And his job. And his house.

He's a shitty gambler, in other words.

When he finds himself in unimaginable debt to a gangster, he pleads for a chance to make good. The gangster then puts him in touch with a man named Mr. Wizard, who might have some work for him. That work?

Human goddam trafficking.

Now, there's just about not a lower profession to be in, but Sheridan now finds himself in a position where, in order to survive with all arms and legs intact, he makes his living abducting children. And the worst part is, he gets good at it. Gets to a point where it's practically second nature to him. And all the while keeps trying to convince himself that he's not a bad guy.

This is the story I think the movie should focus on. It's a horrible story about a horrible guy who knows he's doing horrible things but figures it still makes him something less than horrible. I'd like to see a movie that tells us where Sheridan started. Maybe start it with him inheriting his mother's home, and planning to move into it with his longtime girlfriend, who he hopes to propose to. She agrees, but only if he promises to stay out of gambling dens, and he makes that promise. Then he breaks it.

We see him struggling to keep everything together as more money goes down the tubes and eventually his secret is uncovered. His girlfriend tries to get him into counseling, but by then he's already lost his job and incurred his crazy huge debt. Knowing he's about to lose his house and his girl, he agrees to work with Mr. Wizard. Before he can pay off his mortgage, he does lose his home, and things are looking grim for his relationship. Finally, he discovers what he's been doing to make money, and that's the last straw.

But he knows she will go to the police, so he ends up having to kill her, but what's murder to someone already delivering children to a horrible fate?

And then, maybe 45 minutes in, comes the main plot of the story. Sheridan sees a kid at the mall, obviously lost, who can't find his Popsy. There's something off about this kid, Sheridan can't quite put his finger on it, but it doesn't matter. He takes the kid anyway, but is warned that Popsy will find him and he'll be sorry. And now, the spoiler. Popsy, and his grandson, are both vampires, you see.

Now, of course, we'll have to drop some pretty big hints early on that Popsy and his breed actually exist, and I'm not sure what the best way is to go about that. Maybe have a subplot where the criminal scum of the city are suddenly worried about a stalker that makes them disappear. Have this told to us in background events; a news report, someone in Sheridan's profession telling him to watch his back, etc.

Another thing I like about this is that Popsy and his grandson are not shown as evil. If anything, they're absolutely justified in all they do. I especially like how the reason they're at the mall together is the kid wants some Ninja Turtle figures. I just...I don't even know how to say this. That line almost made me tear up a little. It's got to be kept in!

Back to the business of creating and marketing; I didn't want to call this movie "Popsy" because the way I want to do it, we'll be spending most of the movie wondering why it's called that. I chose the title Deal With It because it's mostly about a man who can't stay away from cards (deal, get it?) and who continually has to accept a new layer of horrible (losing his job, his house, his girl, being threatened with broken arms and legs, doing something about as morally reprehensible as it's possible to do) and with each new problem, he just keeps telling himself to "deal with it". I figure that can even be his final words, when he realizes what's happening to him.

On to casting!

Sheridan is described as a "big" man, but really, it's a nondescript role. I picked a large actor for it, who can absolutely do the whole underdog-down-on-his-luck part, as well as make us kinda, sorta, almost understand why he starts doing what he does. Sheridan will be played by Vince Vaughn.

His girlfriend will be played by an actress who seems to excel at playing white trash: Robyn Lively.

Mr. Reggie, the gangster, will be played by that character actor of character actors: Peter Gerety.

Mr. Wizard, described as a "greasy Turk" in the book, will be more of an aged Baltic in this one. The accent is really the important part. I pictured Rade Sherbegia.

Now, Popsy himself is barely described in the book, but you get the feeling he's supposed to look a lot like our classic image of Dracula. I pictured him a bit less stereotypical, more like a pale, frightening man with piercing eyes. Danish actor Ingvar Sigurdssen is our Popsy.

I'm not casting the child, who is never named, due to the rules of this blog.

Not much to update on the reading front. I'm nearly finished Misery and after that is a short story called The Doctor's Case which I REALLY want to do an adaptation for. We'll see if there's one to be made. After that, it's The Tommyknockers, one of King's longer novels and also one of those his readers didn't care for. I tried to read it years ago, got about 50 pages in and quit. We'll see what I think this time.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three

Time to resume the quest. On your feet, Gunslingers, the journey is still ongoing.

So much has changed since my initial casting post on The Dark Tower, much of which I detailed in my last post. The Ron Howard-Produced The Dark Tower was released this past summer, bombed and will hopefully be forgotten in just a couple of years' time.

What this means is, should my TV series ever actually happen (it won't), the actors I cast here will probably be too old by that time. I've expressed concern in the past that my actors are going to age out of their roles (one of the reasons I don't cast child characters), so shouldn't I be worried about this one? Not really, because like I said, I'm proceeding as if this most recent movie never happened.

The Drawing of the Three is really where the story of Roland and his quest drew (ha ha) readers in. If they thought The Gunslinger was slow-moving and boring, this one was the far more kinetic. It was also far more King-like, whereas the first volume of this series was a decidedly different outing than usual. Oddly enough, the first time I read it, I was full of mixed emotions. It moved at a good clip and was never boring, but it also was so different I wasn't sure that I liked it. See, I'm one of those who actually enjoyed the first volume (though I totally get the complaints about it) and when I read the very first scene of this one, it felt so much like a betrayal that I thought it just had to be a dream sequence. Nope. Sorry, spoilers for the first scene; what Roland goes through right off the bat is very real.

I also wasn't sure I liked how each of those Roland "draws" were from our own world (maybe!) and were just humans. The fantasy reader in me kinda wanted his companions to be a mixed bag, maybe one a dragon or something. Also, even after I made peace with that (and today wouldn't trade these characters for the world), I kept thinking "this is Roland's story and yet Roland is the least focused on here!"

That wasn't entirely fair. Yes, this book is very different from the first one, but it  does set the tone for the rest, and it introduces two characters that by the end of it all felt like family. 2018 me feels that it is entirely appropriate that a bulk of this book is spent developing the characters of Eddie and Odetta/Detta because I know today that it's as much their story as it is Roland's.

Which brings me to my problem with how to adapt this. The Dark Tower is ultimately Roland's story, but his Ka-Tet (a term you either know or need to read the books to learn about) are just as big, give or take, a part of it as he is. As the books go on, long chapters of face-time are given to each. But they're not even mentioned by name in the first book. Just hints are given of who they are.

So, how do you handle this in a TV series? Book One is very short, and takes place entirely within Roland's world (All-World, it's usually called). Jake's flashbacks show glimpses of the known world but Roland never goes there. Book Two's plot is literally just Roland walking along a beach, coming to three magic doors, inside which are people from New York who he is supposed to "draw" into his world. Each one brings their own set of problems but each one of them is apparently crucial to his quest.

To add a sense of immediacy, there's also the fact that Roland is slowly dying of a venom that's coursing through his veins, which would be curable if he was anywhere near any medicine. But in that other world...

My answer to this is incorporate elements of this book into the first season. This would require some changes to how the characters react upon learning there's another world and a Tower to seek. Throughout Season One, give us occasional visits to New York of the 80's and 60's, and let us get to know Eddie, Odetta, Henry, Balazar, maybe even Jack Mort, who will remain just a guest star, but his mentality, wherein he plans his horrible murders by referring to good murderers who don't get caught as "Do-Bee's" and bad murderers who do stupid things and let themselves get caught are "Don't-Bee's", is just too awesome and must be shown in the series. My Kindergarten teacher used the "Do-Bee" and "Don't-Bee" system to reward/punish us kids.

Eddie and Henry have a dynamic that's later expanded upon in flashbacks and in Eddie's imagination. Odetta has a whole history of issues and Jack is the cold killer who made her what she is. But King's literary presentation of how we learn all this wouldn't work in filmed format. It would be too odd that Season One is a short season of maybe six episodes setting up a Gunslinger in an alternate world searching for the Man in Black to find answers about how he can find a Dark Tower that haunts his dreams, and season two is literally just him walking along a beach, finding a series of three doors, and behind each door is a person from New York that he must Draw into his world. We can't stop in, say, the second episode to explain who Eddie is and why we should care, and then have Roland Draw him. We should already know him. Already be invested in who he is and what's going on in his world.

We need to know what kind of relationship he has with his brother, and how much his addiction is starting to control him. We need to see him starting to work for Balazar, all working up to the first time he mules for him. This can all play out during the first season while Roland and Jake are crossing that desert heading for the mountains.

But it can't just be random. My advice would be that after the scene where the Oracle tells Roland of the Three that he will Draw, the scene where Eddie is introduced will harken back to that.

An episode will open up with a flashback to the Oracle whispering "The first whom you will draw is The Prisoner..." and then cut to Eddie waking up in bed and wondering why he was dreaming of a woman calling him the Prisoner. Perhaps he could even be shown to have dreamed about the Tower before. I can picture it now; when Roland tells him of the mission to find the Tower, Eddie's reaction will be to be stunned, wondering how Roland knows about that. Same thing could happen to Odetta; the Oracle starts an episode whispering "The second you will draw will be the Lady of Shadows" and then we cut to Odetta waking up and wondering why she lost time. Since she has two personalities, Odetta will dream of the Tower and long to go there while Detta will be afraid of it and want to stay away.

The actual acts of Drawing might take two episodes of Season Two. That way we don't spend too much time literally in one place doing one thing before moving on to find the path of the Beam, and reunite with a certain kid.

Now for the cast:

Langley Kirkwood is of course going to return as Roland, and honestly I'm not sure why I was so uncertain the first time I posted about this as to which of my choices was correct. Honestly, he's just so Roland.

Walter, the Man in Black, does not appear in bodily form in this book, but that has to change for the series. We will need to cut back to Walter from time to time, and the Gunslinger does occasionally hallucinate him. Come on back, Lee Pace.

Now to the new characters. Eddie Dean is a young junkie from 80's Brooklyn. When we first meet him, he's muling cocaine for a drug lord and about to pass through customs. But that's just the beginning of his character. Over the next several books, he grows into a well-developed, often funny, often tragic figure, and a very important character. Frequently Roland thinks to himself how much Eddie reminds him of Cuthbert from his first Ka-Tet, and Eddie has a lot to do with Roland learning to love again. I'll be honest, Eddie has changed many times in my head over the years. The initial actors I picked are all too old now (as is Aaron Paul, a fan favorite for this role, but probably only because of how similar Eddie can be to Paul's best-known role, Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad), but I was having a hard time settling on one this time. Oddly enough it was while re-watching the now-cancelled NetFlix series Hemlock Grove (where Bill Skarsgaard co-starred) that led me to my choice: Landon Liboiron, who can embody every aspect of Eddie's personality. At 26 he's a bit older than Eddie is described in the books (he starts off at 23) but not old enough to count.

The next role was also somewhat hard to cast and the actress has changed a lot in my mind over the years. Odetta Holmes is a Civil Rights activist in the 1960's who was involved in the protest at Oxford Town. She's also an amputee, missing the lower half of both legs. Despite this, Odetta is a strong, intelligent and willful woman, who doesn't spook easily and is probably the most healthy, physically and mentally, of the three (which is ironic, as you'll see in a moment). The problem is she's also a pacifist, doesn't trust Roland mainly because he carries guns, and her intellect will not allow her, at first, to accept that the situation she's in is real. Now, I said she was mentally healthy, and I meant it, but only about Odetta Holmes. The other personality in her body, however, is not. Detta Walker is one seriously messed-up individual, full of hate and loathing for nearly everything and everyone, believing that literally every white person she encounters wants her dead, and determined to take them out first. The good side to her is that she's fearless and made of total iron, utterly willing to face down any foe. As I said, the two of them inhabit the same body, and are utterly unaware of each other. If only there were some way to balance Odetta's goodness and morality with Detta's will and determination to act. The actress I chose is Rutina Wesley, who often exhibited both traits of the pair on True Blood.
Rutina Wesley as Odetta Holmes
Rutina Wesley as Detta Walker, Ma-Fah!
The third drawn is named "Death" and Roland realizes fairly quickly that this person on the other side is a means to an end, not the newest member of his Ka-Tet. Jack Mort is, quite simply, a monster. A successful tax attorney, Mort is thin, nebbishy and creepy (at least to a degree). And in his spare time, he pushes people into subway trains or drops bricks on them from the tops of buildings. And while Roland had believed up until now that Jake Chambers had been killed by the Man in Black, it turns out that in fact, Jack Mort was Jake's murderer. The Man in Black had only been using him. I wanted a guy who could play creepy very easily but could also play harmless pathetic nerds. I chose Adam Godley (who, strangely enough, appeared on Breaking Bad).

Eddie's brother, Henry Dean, doesn't have a lot to do in the main "present" scenes in this book, but his influence on Eddie is strongly felt for the rest of the series. Eddie is constantly reminded of the "wisdom" his brother shared with him, and keeps thinking how Henry would have handled almost every situation. In the third book in particular, there are many scenes that could be translated on film as Henry's "ghost" haunting Eddie. So, he will need to be cast, absolutely. I ended up picking a guy I'd considered for Eddie, only to toss him for being too old (Henry is about 8 years Eddie's senior). Zack McGowan of Shameless and Black Sails fame, because, well, he kinda has the face of a junkie.

There are two more characters I'm casting, because while they're fairly small in this book, they won't stay that way. Enrico Balazar is Eddie's "boss", which is kind of a laugh because this is Eddie's frist real job for him. He's a Brooklyn drug lord who enjoys building houses of cards. He's described as a Sicilian who is older and overweight, but I had a hard time buying that image of him. For one thing, Enrico Balazar is not a Sicilian name, and I don't see a problem with keeping that name but making him Columbian or something, instead. It's not like all New Yawk crime bosses are Italian, even if most of his men are (clearly not all). I pictured him played by David Zayas.

Balazar's right-hand man is Jack Andolini, otherwise known as Old Double-Ugly, but never to his face. Also, whatever else you think of him, he's definitely not old Double-Stupid, as he serves as both muscle and council to Balazar. He's described as huge and utterly intimidating, and I picked Matthew Willig, who stands about 6'5" but's actually capable of acting.

I'm headed into what is uncharted territory for Yours Truly. Like I said, I have not read much of what King was putting out in the early 90's. Misery is the next full novel (I'm reading it right now) but I won't be doing a casting for reasons that should be obvious. After that we have a few short stories and The Tommyknockers, which I think probably will be getting its own post, we'll see.

But the next post's title might throw you a bit.

Next Up: Deal With It!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Review of The Grey Castle

Admittedly, that's a very cool poster
Well, I saw it.

Call it The Grey Castle, call it The Dark Bomb, call it Ramblin' Joe and his Magnificent Bumbershoot, if you want, but don't call it The Dark Tower. Because it ain't that.

I tried. I tried so hard to see this as just a movie. To evaluate it as only a movie. But there's so little here as a movie that I could not help but see this the only way that mattered to me; as an adaptation of a series that I love.

As a movie, this is one big nothingburger. No substance. No style of its own. It looked like a million other sci-fi dramas of recent years. If I wasn't familiar with The Dark Tower, you could probably convince me that this was another chapter in some teen-centric sci-fi series like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner or Divergent. Only it's not even as engaging as those three, and I don't really find the others engaging at all.

As an adaptation, this fails on all fronts. I mean, we're just a few steps up from The Lawnmower Man. My first words to my wife when I finished watching was "Well, that was an abomination." Years we've been waiting for this. So many false starts, so many promises...and this is what we got. This whole thing felt like Fant4stic, a rush job meant solely to hold on to the rights.

As I'm sure you all remember, I was not happy that Roland was being played by Idris Elba, but not
because I don't like Idris Elba. I think Idris Elba is an amazing actor, and one of those guys who's always watchable no matter how bad the film is they're acting in. That's probably why they hired him. In fact, that's absolutely why they hired him. And it's only thanks to him that I wasn't bored to the point of playing with my phone whenever his scenes were being shown. Because holy Gan, they were so generic.

So, while I think Elba did a fine job (that was never in question), the fact remains that this was not Roland. And I don't mean Roland is white, therefore Elba didn't look like Roland. I mean this wasn't Roland. This Roland isn't seeking the Tower. He hardly has any interest in it. He just wants to stop Walter, in the most run-of-the-mill good-guy-vs-bad-guy plot I've ever seen. This Roland has no quest. He has no purpose. And really, this isn't even his movie.

It's Jake's. Jake is the central focus of the movie. We see pretty much all of it through his eyes. And that wouldn't be so bad, I guess, if this was actually Jake and not some random kid. This Jake is the son of a firefighter killed on 9/11 (not a terrible idea in and of itself, really) and he's being hunted by Walter's agents (the Taheen) because he has an incredible psychic power that makes him the ultimate Breaker. I'm not describing what all this means. It's in the books and though I know there are some readers here who haven't read The Dark Tower series, it would take too long and I'm not interested in rehashing it all. Long story short is that this Jake has pretty much fuck all to do with Jake of the books, who has no psychic abilities and who didn't find All-World thanks to a machine but in a permanent way that means he can't go back home (which in this film is all he wants to do).

This all plays out in the most boring of ways, again saved only by the fact that Elba has that magnetism that makes you want to watch him. Tom Taylor, who plays Jake, doesn't, which doesn't mean I think he's a bad actor, just that he's not the kind of riveting actor that makes boring scenes seem less so. And unfortunately we spend most of our time following him, with Roland not even appearing for probably 20 minutes.

There's all these little touches that show the creators of this film (at least some of them) have read the books, but that just makes me more angry. The more little Easter eggs, like Roland muttering "the world has moved on", a very brief shot of Charlie the Choo-Choo, references to Roland's guns being forged from the sword of Arthur Eld, Walter using Black Thirteen to communicate with Roland, and even psychic powers being called "shine" (more a reference to King's works in general, and more specifically, The Shining, but I'll take it), the more I realized that whoever included these was an actual fan, and yet still this is the movie they produced. A movie designed to please everyone, that pleases no one.

If there was an unexpected bright spot to this, it's that I was actually a bit impressed with Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick, the Man in Black. Walter is Stephen King's most oft-used villain, the same being (if not the same persona) as Randall Flagg of The Stand, Flagg of The Eyes of the Dragon and probably some others besides. The Man in Black of the books starts off feeling more like an evil wizard from a faerie story, but Roland ultimately meets him in many guises, including ones that are more like Flagg from The Stand. McConaughey is kinda like Flagg but in a dark suit, and he suppresses his southern accent to the point where it's not quite gone but has him speaking in an evil purr that's just right. I almost do want to see him take on Flagg in a Stand adaptation, but I'm not re-working my SKCU to fit him in. It just means I was more impressed than I thought I'd be at his performance. I actually bought him as a villain, and he does appear to have more layers than I initially thought of him.

But ultimately, this is one big fail of a movie. It fails to engage (critics were merciless) and it fails as an adaptation. It made some money (not even its budget plus half, making it nowhere near the massive hit it needed to be), but audiences ultimately gave it a low score themselves, and I'm all but positive that the planned sequel won't happen.

That doesn't mean the people behind it have taken the hint. I hear they're still going ahead with a planned TV series that will focus on Roland as a younger man. Initially it was meant to be a prequel to the movie, but now King himself is saying it will not be related at all, and will be "more faithful". Frankly, I don't trust these producers. I hope the TV series that is currently in the works fails to be picked up, and that a series actually based on the damn books (what is so hard about that?) can be made.

Because, really, this series needs to be a TV series. I'm not sure why I ever thought it could work as a movie.

Jackie Earle Haley as Sayre
I bring this up now because I'm about halfway through the second Dark Tower novel, The Drawing of the Three, and while it's still a very good book, I understand that a lot of changes will be necessary, not just to the way the story in this book is told, but to the story in general. That said, as I've said repeatedly before, change is not bad. Not by itself. Andy Muscietti's It changed a lot. But damn if it wasn't one fine movie, and a fine adaptation. It understood the source material, and it respected it. If Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen and Nikolaj Ayrcel had any respect for the source material, it wasn't evident in the film they produced. Sure, at least two of those five have probably read the books, but it's clear they didn't understand what made them what they were. In fact, it often felt like they'd read Wikipedia summaries or maybe even just clicked at random through the Wiki. The Taheen are there, including Richard Sayre and Pimli, but they're just random mooks now. A truck used to capture Jake has the words "Sombra Corporation" on the side, but who and what the Sombra Corporation is isn't even touched on. The Dixie Pig is there briefly, but again, without context. Twice we see "All Hail the Crimson King" spray-painted on a wall, but his name is never spoken on screen, nor is it hinted that Walter has a boss.

Honestly, it's like the creators just read the first book (or skimmed it) and the last three. Most of the obvious references are from the last three books, when the series kinda went off the rails and introduced so much that wasn't part of the series at all up until then. As much as I liked seeing the House Demon, the stuff that made me come to love this series was nowhere. Roland's backstory doesn't even get a brief mention (Dennis Haysbert cameos as his father, but his one scene is far from relevatory), nor is Roland told about the Three that he will Draw, and in fact the end of the film seems to suggest that the story is wrapped up. Roland never even sees the Tower. In fact, the Tower is in all of three or four shots. And they even get the Tower wrong; it looks okay, but it's apparently here to "protect us from darkness". No. Just no. The Tower is here as the lynchpin of reality. What kind of nebulous bullshit is this mission to "protect us from darkness"? This is the kind of lack of respect I'm talking about.

So, yeah, the slate needs to be wiped clean and re-done, and by different people. I will continue to make my Dark Tower casting posts as if this movie never happened, and as if this new TV series that's in the works gets scrapped. I don't mind exploring Roland's past in the TV series, I mean, hell, it's going to be 100% necessary. But I want the story from the books filmed, or at least as close to it as we can. I want to see the Drawing, and have Eddie and Susannah show up. I want Shardik. I want Lud. I want Blaine the Pain. Hell, I even want Father Callahan to show up. Will there be a ton of changes, even in my version? Yes, of course there will be. But the respect for the source material will also be there, and until Hollywood can get someone working on this who brings that respect, Howard, Goldsman and company need to just quit while they're waaaaay behind.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Eyes of the Dragon

Well, gang, it was a year and a half ago that I typed the words "Next Up: Eyes of the Dragon!" And finally, finally, here we are.

The Eyes of the Dragon is generally considered one of the lesser works of King's canon by Constant Readers, and I can kinda understand why. It's his only out-and-out High Fantasy effort (or, perhaps I should say, his only published high fantasy effort, as I think some of the unpublished material we've learned about over the years have been other attempts at the same) and yet, it's too Stephen King for fans of fantasy and too fantasy for fans of Stephen King. I'm tempted to say that as a major fan of both fantasy and King, I enjoyed it on both levels, but the fact is that this really isn't any more of a fantasy novel than, say, The Stand, aside from the rather standard fantasy setting. Sure, there are kings and princes, castles and towers, an evil wizard, and as the title implies, a dragon. But it's still very much a King story, just not one that we're used to.

The story is actually kind of straight-foward. It's set in the kingdom of Delain, ruled by the well-meaning but oafish King Roland (and yes, it's the same name as King's most famous hero, but there are absolutely zero other common elements; this is emphatically not the same character). I don't know what Roland's family name is, but I like to think it's Flakfizer. When we meet Roland, he's reluctantly getting married despite still having child-like feelings toward the idea of women.

Roland is not a very smart man, and most of the major decisions in his rule are decided by his chief council, the wizard Flagg. If that name sounds familiar to CR's, it should. And yes, this is very much the same man. King's favorite demonic figure, already having walked through a version of our Earth, and the Gunslinger's Mohaine Desert, and now here he is, whispering in Roland's ear and taking control of Delain. It is through Flagg's influence that Roland ends up marrying a quiet, soft-spoken young woman named Sasha.

Flagg's chief problem is, more or less, that evil cannot comprehend good. He thinks Sasha will be as  easy to manipulate as Roland, due to her quiet nature. However, she's anything but, and over time, Flagg begins to realize she has to go, but only once heirs are produced. The first heir, Peter, is born after Roland kills the last dragon in his kingdom (for all his flaws, Roland is a superb huntsman) and Peter begins to grow up a polite, yet very kingly, young man who takes after his mother. His younger brother, Thomas, born of what is essentially drunken rape when Flagg decides Peter won't do for his plans at all, is more like his befuddled old dad.

What are Flagg's plans? Why, to utterly take over, then destabilize and ultimately topple the kingdom. Why? That we're not really told. He's evil and that's all you need to know. I'd be more dissatisfied by that if we didn't already know that Flagg walks through many worlds, taking on many identities and that he does a lot of things we don't know the reason for, all for his master the Crimson King. That's not touched on in this book, but having read King's other stuff, I already know Flagg and know that he's a bad guy with mysterious plans.

But Flagg can be defeated, and it doesn't necessarily take a wizard of equal power. Sometimes all it takes is a person with some form of power who won't take your bullshit. Peter is that person, so if he becomes king after Roland, he'll cause problems for Flagg. So, Flagg hatches a brilliant plan to get rid of Roland and Peter at once, and ingratiate himself with Thomas in the meanwhile, so that once Thomas takes the throne, Flagg will be his most trusted advisor.

And that's all I'll say about the plot, to avoid spoilers, but I will say more about this book, the kind of book it is, and its place in King's canon.

First, and this should be obvious by now, but this is very much a chapter in the saga of King's multiverse and the Dark Man's attempts to bring it down. It might not be a super-important chapter, but the references here are impossible to miss for those CR's who have read and enjoyed the Dark Tower series. Considering that series touches umpteen different seemingly non-related King books and stories, I seriously recommend reading that series just to see the myriad ways it ties everything together.

This book contains the first references to the kingdom of Garlan and Rhea of the Cöos (known here as Rhiannon of the Coos) and also makes clear that in Flagg's wanderings, he's visited HP Lovecraft's world and stolen the Necronomicon. These references to a larger universe that we can read about in King's other books are, I will confess, a major part of why I enjoyed this book.

But I also just simply enjoyed reading it. I can't really explain why; the story is quite standard and the characters are nothing we haven't seen before. But I couldn't put this down, either the first or second time I read this. The first time was back in my mid-twenties and I was again surprised at how little I had forgotten. It's a very pleasant read, with a narrative style King would grow to use more often, which is that the narrator seems to be an actual character, rather than just a function. Often he gives us his opinion and even at one point wishes us goodnight when a character goes to sleep, as if King knew that many of us would be reading this before bed. Which, as it turns out, I was. More on the narrator later.

Is this really a good book? That's hard to say. I know the geekier half of me truly loved the connections with The Dark Tower and the story actually was engaging enough to keep me turning those pages. What probably gets this story a bad rap is that it's thought of as High Fantasy from the master of horror, so really, King could have gone absolutely crazy with this, but instead he's given us a relatively tame and tidy story that one could almost read to their kids.

And, really, that's what it is, and what it was supposed to be. King wrote this for his daughter Naomi, apparently because she liked faerie tales. And that's what this is; it's a faerie tale. Think of it like a modern take on the Brothers Grimm. Do that, and suddenly it becomes a sterling example of the genre!

The question is whether or not this could make a good movie. I think it can, because the story is very straightforward and would require little to slim it down to a coherent 100-minute film. But it has to be marketed correctly. It can't be sold as a High Fantasy story because then people will be expecting swordfights, orcs, magic battles, et al. There's very little of that. It definitely can't be sold as a horror story because it's very much not a horror story. I think it should be somewhere in the middle, like make it look like a costume drama with a trailer focusing on a wrongfully accused prince and the evil sorcerer trying to bring a kingdom down. A tagline could be "A Dark Magic...An Imprisoned Prince...A Kingdom in Peril!" This also might be a good film to keep King's name in small print among the credits, rather than right in the title or prominent on the poster.

I'm gonna select Kenneth Branagh and his team to script/direct this, because he knows how to make this kind of thing and make it very good. This will be one Branagh himself will not star in, although I flirted with him playing King Roland. But Branagh is not known for taking supporting roles in his films; he either doesn't act in them at all or he's in the lead. Odd, but true.

I'm gonna start with Flagg, despite him being the villain of the piece and not the central role. Again, this is the same man as Randall Flagg from The Stand, and Walter/Marten/Etc. from The Dark Tower series. There are rumors he's also He Who Walks Behind the Rows from Children of the Corn and King has openly written in The Stand that one of his names is Nyarlathotep from Lovecraft's mythos (probably how he got ahold of the Necronomicon). I've heard some readers say that this Flagg is nothing like the character from The Stand or The Dark Tower and thus, it almost seems like King just thrust the name on this unrelated character. I can't agree. This Flagg is implied to be several millennia old, he has a habit of coming to, leaving, then returning to, kingdoms and large cities and ingratiating himself with its rulers, sometimes taking different names and sometimes keeping his name the same, working to either bring the various places down or at least secure his control over them, he wears a dark cloak with a hood over his face, he can make himself "dim", he's got the Necronomicon...honestly I don't see how this character isn't reconcilable as the same man from those other books. Sure, it sorta implies that this Flagg can be hurt by conventional means (at one point he catches a cold), but that's always been part of Walter/Flagg is that he's often more human than he wishes he were, but less human than he seems. He even does the same thing he will later do (earlier do? we really aren't told when this takes place compared to The Gunslinger) with Roland Deschaine, and try to get rid of him as a child because he sees him as a threat to his plans. So, yeah, our regular Flagg is back, none other than Lee Pace, that actor who can go from charming to frightening with ease. I will have all of this character's humanoid guises played by him, but with different clothes, hair, possibly make-up, et al, as a way of showing the viewer that he's the same person. This time, let's give him Snape hair.

Then there's Peter, the wronged prince. This character is a natural leader and generally good man, but he spends a majority of the story locked in a tower plotting his escape. In a way he's almost not the lead but merely the most central plot device. That's one of the strange things about the story; the two characters most often regarded as the leads don't actually do much for the majority of the story. We come to know them as people and we like them, but on film, it's hard to know how that will translate. In Peter's case, adding more scenes where he gets to talk to someone might help. In the book he has a lady love we never meet (and thus, I won't be casting her). Maybe in the film she can come to the tower. In the novel Peter isn't allowed visitors, but that can be changed for the film. In the novel, he ages from 16 at the time of his imprisonment to 21 by the time of his escape. I'm aging him up so that the passage of time won't require quite so many different actors to play him. I chose Douglas Booth, who really is a better actor than he's usually given credit for.

Thomas, the younger prince who becomes King after Peter's imprisonment, is a character that absolutely has to be played by someone we naturally feel sympathetic toward. In the book, Thomas spends most of his on-page action time either drunk off his ass (Flagg keeps him that way on purpose) or bitter and angry that his father seems to love Peter more. He's described as sullen and sour-faced, and at one point beats a dog to death because he's angry at his brother. But, as the narrator keeps insisting, he is not a bad boy, and I certainly did see him as a sympathetic character. There's a scene, for instance, involving a toy boat that makes me weep for him. I think it would be a good idea to have a scene shortly after he's crowned where he openly disagrees with Flagg about a new tax or law in front of the other court officials, which causes Flagg to start plying him with drugs and alcohol, as a way of showing that Thomas wants to do good, but Flagg makes him his creature. Who's more sympathetic than Spider-Man? Tom Holland will be my Thomas.

Anders Peyna is the kingdom's Judge-General, a layered character who believes utmost in the process of the law, and he judges Peter wrongly to be guilty, only to later understand the truth. I wanted a proud, stern older actor who conveys absolute authority. And no one does it better than a starship captain. Patrick Stewart is our Anders Peyna.

The role of King Roland is larger than you might expect given that he spends a majority of the story dead. Roland is described as short, squat and bow-legged, though a description of his chest as "scrawny" makes me think he isn't supposed to be fat, just kinda dumpy-looking. He's not the most handsome of men, and he's actually a bit childlike. Again, he should be sympathetic, even if he's a bit of a dullard and kinda mean sometimes without meaning to be. It was hard to think of a suitable actor for him, but I eventually settled on Timothy Spall. Roland, in the story, ages from mid-50's to early 70's, and Spall could play all those ages convincingly.

Another character from the prologue is Sasha, the young queen who is responsible for the kind of boy Peter turns out to be. She has a few very important scenes, and we need someone who can communicate her power in an understated way that might be mistaken for meekness. Also she'll need to go from quite young to somewhere in her late twenties, and that sounds like a job for Jenna Coleman!

Dennis Brandon is Peter's butler, who eventually becomes Thomas's butler, and through whose eyes a major truth is uncovered. A major truth, for that matter, that gives the novel its title. He's young, but I think he's meant to be older than Peter, and he's very much a salt-of-the-earth working class feller. For some reason, I pictured him with a Scottish accent, and that led me to Dunkirk's Jack Lowden, a Scot who is probably the tallest and sturdiest of the young men in that film.

Peter's best friend is Ben Staad, a lower noble who never believes in Peter's guilt and sets out to free him. The role isn't very proactive, but he does have a lot to do in the finale, so a few more scenes establishing their friendship will probably be called for. I chose Luke Bracey, mainly because he's young, handsome and blonde, like Ben.

Ben is aided by a farm girl who keeps sled dogs named Naomi. Her part isn't large, either, but she's the character King named after his own daughter, and she's one of the few active female roles in this story. So I chose Kaya Scoledario, for no other reason than that she's beautiful and still young while being believable as a tough girl of action.

Those are the main roles, but there is one more pretty sizable role I want to cast, namely the narrator. This is the first time I've ever decided that the narrator needs to actually be present for the film version, but this narrator, like I said, is pretty much a character. He doesn't need to be there for all scenes, but there are some lines and quotes of his I'd really like to keep. Who is the narrator? He's clearly not one of the characters in the story, as he knows things he could not possibly know, but he isn't just a passive storyteller, either, but someone as invested in the goings-on as we are. That needs to be included as it was one of the reasons I greatly enjoyed reading this. Could this narrator be...Gan? Maturin, even? I don't know, but I want his narration here with us. Christopher Lee and Peter O'Toole are dead, but Ian McKellen is still with us, and I haven't used him yet, so he's our narrator.

Another small role I'm casting is the royal stabler, Yosef, mainly because actor Rab Affleck would fit the part like a glove.

Finally, two minor roles I'm adding will be played by two actors Branagh nearly always uses, composer Patrick Doyle and character actor Jimmy Yuill.

Doyle can play the small but memorable part of Peyna's butler, Arlen.

Yuill can play Beson, the tower-keeper:

Man, it feels good to be doing this again! I'm glad to welcome you back to the SKCU and now it's on to taller and darker things as we rejoin the last Gunslinger at the edge of the ocean. But fore-warning you now, before I do a post on that story, I think I have some things to say about the recent Dark Tower movie that may very well require its own post. So that will be next, but as far as castings go...

Next Up: The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Picture of Things Past...and Things to Come

This is my "King Shelf". I had to expand the shelving on it recently.

If you see it here, it's on my list to be read for the blog (or already has been). Obviously the reading order vs. the order on my self isn't perfect, as the collections are shown in publishing order, while the individual stories themselves are being read in initial publishing order. That means I've already read everything in Skeleton Crew despite it being the next book on my shelf after The Eyes of the Dragon. I've also read several stories from Nightmares and Dreamscapes and one story from Just After Sunset. The one exception on this shelf is obviously On Writing, which, while I'm glad I own and will likely read when I get there, can't be adapted as it's not a story. There is a lot of Kingian non-fiction that I don't own, and really am not sure I want to. After all, unlike Bryant over at The Truth Inside the Lie, I don't consider myself a King scholar, just a fan, and thus, while I'm reading all his fiction, no matter if I already have or think it might make a good film/TV series, I'm not out to read literally every word he's ever written.

If you don't see it here, and Stephen King or Joe Hill wrote it, I probably have it as an ebook, and some I have as Word documents! I don't have The Plant and there are three Joe Hill short works, The Lady Rests, The Collaborators and The Devil on the Staircase that don't appear to be available anywhere, and there are a couple of comics of his I don't have, but for the most part, if it got published, I have it. And it's getting read for the Blog. If I don't adapt it, I will continue explaining why with Skipped Stories posts (honestly those are some of my favorites to re-read, and I don't know why).

Since getting Sleeping Beauties for Christmas, I have been struggling with the question of whether or not to include Owen King's other works on this blog. Ultimately I decided against it, even though I probably will read his other stuff at some point, if only Double Feature, which sounds quirky and cool. I decided against it for several reasons:

1) The purpose of this blog is to "create" the Stephen King Cinematic Universe. It is not to literally collect and expound upon everything everyone related to King wrote. After all, that would mean I'd have to track down Tabitha's stuff as well and then, well, where does it end? What if Joe's or Owen's kids start writing!?

2) The only reason I even wondered for a moment about including Owen's stuff is that I've already decided to include Joe Hill's stuff. But I didn't do so just because Hill is Stephen King's son. I did it because both men have stated that most (if not all) of Hill's stories are absolutely part of the same mythos that most (if not all) of King's works are part of. I think they've even started referencing each other, though as I haven't gotten to Hill's stuff yet (I read half of Heart-Shaped Box a few years ago and all of Locke & Key, and yes, that is all six volumes of Locke & Key you see there and yes, it's being included) I'm not sure how much they do that. Owen King's material is apparently entirely his own, doing his best not to follow in his dad's footsteps, and even though he's now collaborated with Daddy, I doubt he'll want his books to be thought of as part of a grand mythos his father created.

3) I'm spreading myself thin as it is. Having committed myself to reading all of King's and Hill's output, and realizing that there's more to come from both and that I'll be buying them well before I get to reading them, I just can't add another author. Not yet. Maybe once I've caught up with Daddy and Junior, I'll get to Owen's stuff. I would like to read it, so we'll see. But not now.

As things stand, I'll probably be finished with The Eyes of the Dragon in a couple of days, or perhaps sooner. After that we return to the Tower for a while and then we enter a period where I've strangely read very little in the past. The early 90's is a period I've only read scattershot, so it will be an experience!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The It Crowd

As I mentioned in my last post, I saw Andre Muschietti's It this past fall, and I thought it was really well-done. Not a perfect movie, by any stretch, and there were some things I wish had been done differently, but overall, it was a far better movie than it had any right to be. Adaptations of King's longer works typically suck the caulking off the walls of movie theater bathrooms, but It knew what the novel was trying to do, and did almost exactly what was needed to translate that to the screen.

One of the greatest strengths of this movie was its cast, which is something I never thought I'd say, considering that child actors can often be excruciating, and in Tommy Lee Wallace's mini-series, that was absolutely true, with the exception of Seth Green. Muschietti's young cast were all very solid, even if some of them were better than others. I didn't dislike any of them, although I have to say my favorites were Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak and Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier. I liked Wolfhard's performance a lot, but that didn't really surprise me because I know Wolfhard from Stranger Things (has there ever been a more King-like TV series that wasn't based on King's works?). Grazer really surprised me, because he took a character who could have been really annoying and made me truly root for him. This kid is going places.

As for Bill Skarsgård, he was surprisingly good as Pennywise/It, and I'll admit, he blew my expectations out of the water. I wasn't sure what I'd think of him, and honestly I still kinda wish they'd gone with Doug Jones, who can literally be anything, but hey, that's just me wishing, not to take anything away from Skarsgård. In a match between Skarsgård and Tim Curry, well, there just is no contest. Skarsgård beats Curry eight ways from Sunday. It says something about his performance that they only real complaint I've heard about his performance was that he was too scary, as in, some critics suggested that as scary as he was, he was never going to lure any children to him.

To that I say: spoken like someone who's never read the books. The Pennywise persona is not intended to lure. In fact, the only real scene where he could be said to even be trying to lure a kid is when he's talking to Georgie from the sewers, but in the book it's pretty clear that Georgie just wants his boat back and is maybe kind of enticed by the idea of a circus in the sewers, but he never trusts the clown and feels like the situation is wrong. Countless times it's described that children, even sleeping babies, begin crying and feel afraid as soon as he comes around, clown persona or no. Besides, Pennywise doesn't need to lure the kids. Once he's decided to eat you, you are food, no matter how fast you run (unless you're one of the Lucky Seven being protected by the great Turtle Maturin). Lure the kids? Pennywise is trying to scare the kids and dang if Bill Skarsgård doesn't do just that. Adults too.

As for the other kids, I liked them a lot, some perhaps more than others. For example, Sophia Lillis is a bit too much on the tomboy side for Bev, and I don't understand the decision to have her cut her hair, that thing that attracts Ben so much to her, but hey, at least they kept her a redhead this time. Jaeden Leiberher was just kinda there as Bill, which is bad as he's supposed to be the leader of the pack. It wasn't a bad performance at all, and I did like their adding in Bill's fervent belief that Georgie might still be alive. It lent a real weight to the scene where It pretends to actually be Georgie, and I tell you, that scene got me, in more ways than one. It made me weep, and then it made me afraid...afraid that Georgie might actually have been kept alive by It, waiting to trick Bill into being the hand that murdered his brother.

Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray Taylor and Wyatt Olef were all very good as Mike, Ben and Stan. Ben was actually fat! Yay! Stephen Bogaert was a superbly creepy Al Marsh, Molly Jane Atkinson was freakin' perfect as Sonia Kaspbrak, and to be honest, both are better choices than the ones I came up with. Nicholas Hamilton and Owen Teague were different choices for Henry Bowers and Patrick Hockstetter than I expected (as in, neither really looks like the characters as described) but were appropriate for the new time. And yes, the new time actually worked a lot better than I thought it would. I even said in my casting for this book that the "current" setting is now 30 years old, so Muschetti apparently realized, as I did not, that it's now a nostalgic time period itself.

But this brings me to today's actual topic which is two-fold. Topic number one is, do I want this film (and its announced sequel) to be a part of my considerations for the SKCU I'm setting up on this blog? The answer is yes, because you can't have the SKCU without It, and this version was plenty good enough to not require a remake. But as the first film covered only the Losers Club as children, it remains to be seen what adults will be cast.

In an odd move, the child cast were all asked who they would like to play their characters as grown-ups, and it sounds like Muschietti and company at least are taking this somewhat seriously. Gan knows how many of them are going to sign on, but let's go through them and see how each of them would do. As the kids in the movie (set in 1989) were aged from 11 (their ages in the books) to about 12 or 13, and assuming Muschietti intends to set this in modern day (for accuracy's sake he should probably pick 2016), then we'd need actors who are, or look, about 39 years old. For the most part, I still like my picks, but let's stack them up against the Loser's Club's choices:

Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough) picked Christian Bale to play adult Bill. Now, Bale is one of those actors who can transform himself to be whatever kind of character you want, even losing or gaining weight and muscle, and playing around with his hairline. My pick was Topher Grace, most famous for That 70's Show but still working and visibly mature from that era.
As the bags under those eyes clearly show
Grace isn't really losing his hair, even though I'd kinda like to keep that aspect of Bill, but as Bale has shown, that can be faked quite well. Bale is a youthful 43 which means he's unlikely to age out of the role, as filming is to begin in 2018. Now, I want to make clear that if Bale is cast as Bill, I won't complain. I don't have any doubts about his ability to play this part, with or without the male pattern baldness, but here's my hang-up; Bill is the ultimate good guy, but he's also a nerd. I feel like that while Christian Bale is absolutely able to play a nerd, Topher Grace is a nerd, and therefore he'd be a more natural fit. He also looks more believable as an older Jaeden Leiberher.
Then again, Bale can go from hot to butt ugly even with no makeup...
So, I won't say absolutely not to Bale, but I still kinda want Grace.

Sophia Lillis (Beverly Marsh) wants Jessica Chastain for Beverly Rogan (whom I do hope they have as married, with Tom included as a tertiary antagonist, as in the book). As I was casting a TV miniseries with no clue when or if one would happen, I went with Bryce Dallas Howard as she'd be a fine fit and wouldn't age out, or break the bank. But as this is a movie, there's no need to worry about the actors being too expensive (within reason) and Chastain has already expressed her willingness to do this, which should be surprising as she's worked with Muschietti on a horror movie before. She's 41 and looks at least five years younger than that, she's beautiful and has the necessary red hair (I always prefer matching the actor's natural hair to a dye job) and she's probably in talks for it as we speak. I see no problem casting her. I had, however, chosen her for the lead role in Crouch End. That role can easily be switched with Bryce Dallas Howard. At some point I'll probably update that post.
I can believe Bill and Ben would both want her
One thing I want to mention before I move on, though, is that I really hope the BBB (Beverly/Ben/Bill) triangle is handled differently in the movie. I didn't like that Bill cheated on his wife with Beverly, and I really would like to work it so that perhaps Bill isn't married and Beverly believes this is her chance to be with the man she loves, but after spending time with Ben, realizes that while child Beverly let her hero worship of their stalwart leader turn into love, it's actually Ben who truly loves her for who she is and she who loves him. They removed some of the squickier scenes involving Bev from the movie and ramped up some others (the novel's version of her father Al is much less openly rape-y than the version in the movie), which worked fine, but I don't want to compound it by having her sleep with a married man, especially since she ends up with someone else.

Honestly, Beverly as written is kind of a problematic character for me. She's supposed to not be a slut, despite her reputation, but King has her doing several slutty things. For that matter, he subjects her to quite a heap full of Male Gaze, taking great care to describe what she's wearing and how beautiful she looks in it (even as a child) and even going so far as to frequently have her clothing be too small, and thus, revealing. Which kid is it whose shirt rips open when they confront It? Bev's, natch. Whose shorts are from last year and now look like Daisy-Dukes? Bev's, of course. This translated into every male character in the film casting lustful glances her way, which is odd since they picked a rather boyish actress for her.

Anyway, enough of that.

Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscomb) picked Chris Pratt for adult Ben, and dangit if that's not a casting coup. This kid hit the nail on the head. I was never totally happy with my choice (Charlie Cox), But Pratt, with his natural charm, ability to play serious or kooky and good looks, he's the perfect guy for Ben to have grown up to. An even better reason; Pratt was once a good deal fatter than he is today, and has gone through the same transformation Ben was supposed to go through.
Boy, did he ever go through it
To pick an actor who's literally done what Ben did is genius. Kudos to young Mr. Taylor.

Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon) picked Chadwick Boseman to play Mike as an adult. Now, I understand they're changing Mike's character a bit to have him turn to drugs as a way of coping with his responsibility. I'm not sure how thrilled I am about that, but it does give Mike a bit of a Kingian complex, and thus make him, indirectly, another aspect of King's past. I don't know much about Boseman beyond seeing him as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War but he'd be a fine choice. Sure, I'll swap Anthony Mackie for Chadwick Boseman.
Or, Falcon for Black Panther
And of course, there's Finn Wolfhard who has picked Bill Hader to play the adult Richie Tozier. Readers of my blog will know that I picked Hader, as well, and I really, really hope this happens. I also wish I could meet Wolfhard, so I could give him a high-five for that one. Really, there's only one choice for Richie, and that's Bill Hader.
He'll be better than Harry Anderson, that's for damn sure
Now, at this point, it might seem like I'm ready to toss out all my choices (or most of them) in favor of who the actors picked. But it stops right there because I don't agree at all with Wyatt Olef or Jack Dylan Grazer's picks.

Grazer, who played Eddie Kaspbrak, wants Jake Gyllenhaal, while Olef, who played Stan Uris, wants Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Eddie is described as still being small, gaunt and sickly, with a sunken face and wide, staring eyes. Again, Grazer wants Jake Gyllenhaal.
Gyllenhaal is six feet, and while he can play a softer type, he's handsome, well-built and not the kind of guy you naturally pity. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is shorter, much skinnier and a bit more of a nerd...
The glasses help my first thought was "why not just switch them"? They're both Jewish, so either one has that for uber-Jewish Stan, who also isn't described as particularly handsome, but wouldn't be hurt by being played by a handsome actor, and I do like the idea of Stan being played by a recognizable actor, giving non-readers the impression that he'll be a major character, thus taking them by surprise when we get to the twist. Between the two of them, I think Levitt's younger look probably wouldn't work that well. He's 36 but looks ten years younger (which would work if he was to play Eddie) while Gyllenhaal looks his age. So, I think I pick Gyllenhaal as Stan, not Eddie.

For Eddie, I maintain that Elijah Wood is the only choice. Like Gyllenhaal and Levitt, he's 36, and like Levitt, he looks younger but at the same time, not. I have always thought of him as looking kind of pathetic, like a grown man whose body refuses to admit he's not a child anymore, and there's no question that he can do sickly, and has the gauntness and wide, staring eyes. I even tweeted Jack Dylan Grazer about this, hoping to change his mind.
Even his glamour shots look a bit pathetic
So, I look forward to It: Chapter Two and I will keep this blog going with these actors in mind for our Derry-set stories.

I'm nearly finished my It re-read, and then I'll be reading the short story The End of the Whole Mess which I may or may not be casting, so for now I'll not end this post with a "Next Up", although I do know that my next full novel to read, The Eyes of the Dragon will be getting an adaptation.

See you all in 2018 with my first casting in nearly two years!

Edit: Sorry, I don't know why part of this is highlighted in white, and I can't get it to go away.

Also, I really do hope they keep It's true form in the sequel, and I hope DOES NOT look like a giant spider. It is not a giant spider. That's just the closest the Losers can come to describing it. It's more like something Lovecraftian, that threatened to break their mind. Just as I've heard some people describe Cthulhu as a "lobster" or "octopus", despite neither of those descriptions doing him even close to justice, I hope It looks something like this:

Monday, December 18, 2017

Adapting the King Set to Return in 2018

I don't really have any excuses.

I made promises and I didn't keep them.

I said I'd take a short break and be back soon.

And that did not happen.

So, all I can do is say, I'm sorry and I will do better in the future.

I haven't forgotten this blog, and I haven't forgotten any of you. I recently decided it's time to get back to this. And I am now doing so.

Full confession: I wasn't finished with It when I did the post on it. I was so excited to get it done that I just made the post and then stopped reading. So, in the spirit of being completist, I'm finishing it before moving on to another story.

In the year and a half that I've been letting this blog linger, four Kingian adaptations have been released. I saw It (which is what made me start pondering getting back to this) but have yet to see The Dark Tower (I'll wait for NetFlix) or the two NetFlix films, Gerald's Game and 1922, which I think I'll save for when I'm closer to reading those. I haven't read either book, so I'd prefer going in cold. It does likely mean that I won't be doing adaption entries for either one, however.

I absolutely loved Andy Muschietti's It, and it makes me think that sometimes my approach to these adaptations is a tad too devout. I'm treating them like they're holy writ or something, when really I need to focus on making sure the spirit of the work is kept. Muschetti's It absolutely had the spirit of the novel down cold, even if it changed a great deal. The Dark Tower, from what I've been given to understand, did not really understand the novel and thus presented something that only resembled it on the surface, which is about what I thought would be the case.

I briefly wondered about going back to change my casting for It to match the new film, but ultimately decided not to. I didn't cast the kids, and honestly, most of the adult characters I cast could easily be the adult versions of the kids in the film. Several of the side characters I cast probably won't even be included, and a few of them actually did appear in Muschietti's film, obviously not played by the same people I chose. Bill Skarsgaard did a commendable job as Pennywise, but I still kinda wish they'd gone with Doug Jones, who can literally become anyone or anything.

I also will not be re-shaping my Dark Tower series to to match the recent film. After all, it was a bomb, as I predicted it would be, so now a TV version that takes the source material more seriously can be produced.

But, I am back, and back to stay. I will be posting semi-regularly starting in the new year. In the meantime, there's a reader poll you can use to tell me how you feel about my long time away from this blog.