Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Counterfactual Cinema

Tonight marks the return of a long neglected feature here at the Lens -- the counterfactual of the week.

Before moving on to weightier examinations of the role contingency occupies in our historical narratives and understandings, we are going to indulge in some rather more aesthetic adumbrations of cinematic consequence.

There are, of course, as many or more counterfactuals than there are "facts", but I'll only mention one or two interesting ones from time to time. It should also be mentioned that these cinematic counterfactuals are not derived from authoritative evidence, but rather gleaned from the gelatinous residue of gossip and hearsay.

This week, we ponder the case of Apocalypse Now (1979).

Steve McQueen was Francis Coppola's first choice to play Willard, but he passed, as did his obvious second choice, Al Pacino. Martin Sheen was next in line, as he had impressed Coppola when he auditioned for the role of Michael Corleone a few years earlier. But Sheen was engaged with another project when filming began in 1976 (perhaps the legendary "Cassandra Crossing", featuring a slumming Richard Harris and a young Orenthal).

Coppola decided to cast Harvey Keitel, then a staple in his buddy Martin Scorsese's stable of actors. Production began, and footage was shot, but Coppola decided that Keitel wasn't right for the role, and he replaced him with a newly available Sheen.

What might have been had Keitel remained on set? Would the film still be considered a flawed masterpiece?

From my perspective, it would have been something special to see Keitel playing across from Brando. As far as I know, they never appeared together before or since.

Perhaps he would have introduced himself to Kurtz differently: "I'm Captain Willard. I solve problems."

When Brando notoriously forgot his lines, the Bad Lieutenant could have rehearsed his later address to Jesus: "Mutt! You got something that you want to say to me? You fuck! You ratfuck, you ratfuck ... you fucking stand there and you want me to do every fucking thing!

Next week: what popcorn pap did David Lynch turn down in order to make his own sci-fi cult classic?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mutatis mutandis

Motion Matters, man.

Things are moving in the right direction.

I'm maintaining the momentum.

The morphology of the membrane has been modified.

Remanufacturing the motivating mojo.

Refashioning the Mandevillian moment.

Molly Maid has come and gone.

The markings of the immoderate no longer mar my apartment.

Will be muscling in the 42 incher and the Tru-Blu-Ray.

Motion pictures are mustering.

Wanna dial M for Murder.

May I marvel again at a Miller's Crossing.

Gonna mull over a Magnolia.

Might be mystified by a Mabuse or a Metropolis.

Can't wait for Melancholia.

Managing the magnificence of my maturing hockey team.

Getting the mainframe back up.

Ditching the mono for a stereo situation.

Marauding through a fridge full of Mill St.

Remounting the Old Masters.

Remastering the Moderate Literati.

Merely a few more meanders down Main Street towards the mind-melting minutiae mutating within the metastasizing mass of the corporate collective.

The immaculate miracle is coming, and with it a million vacations.

Maybe a mix of Menandering Methe and Manoan Macadamians.

Yep, a million vacations is what I have in mind.

After all, you can only drive down Main Street so many times.

Right Kim?