HOT DOCS 2012 – Glow: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (Paolo Kagaoan casts a fictional version of Glow)

Hot Docs 2012 (Toronto)

Paolo here. Kirk and I keep seeing the same movies, which is going to be a problem unless we do doubleheaders all the time during the festival.

The first movie we saw together is Glow: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, about an all-female wrestling league of the same name that ran in between 1986-1990 and had short-lived revivals afterwards. Kirk’s review is also on the site and out respect for him I’ll forfeit mine. Although I’ll say that the movie has too conventional of a structure and its ‘feminist’ self-projections are kind of wonky for me, but I smiled and laughed more at this movie than any of the ones I’ve seen this year. And more importantly, it’s one of the few docs that can be source material for a feature film.

This idea came to me when the doc put its focus on Mt. Fiji and I kept thinking about Gabourey Sidibe, not just because of the size issue. Mt. Fiji as a character would be interesting to play, having the jovial, lovable quality despite of her toughness in the ring. She’s also had her share of health troubles after GLOW’s short run, which can make for some captivating drama.

What about the rest of the roles? Yes, GLOW fans, those wrestlers are irreplaceable. Many of the GLOW girls were healthy, Carrie Otis/Tia Carrere types with a Joan Jett/Jem doll kind of attitude. Exoticism and diverse body types are missing in the actress pool today. But here are some suggestions.

For the good girls:

Tina Ferrari (Her real name, never revealed on the doc, is Lisa Moretti . She also became WWE Champion ‘Ivory’. She apparently was the focus of GLOW’s second season) – Lyndsy Fonseca. She’s known more as Bob Saget’s daughter in How I Met Your Mother but she was also in Hot Tub Time Machine, where she fearlessly climbed on John Cusack and then stabbed him with a fork. For training, that’s not bad.

Americana – Alison Brie. She shares the spotlight with the ensemble cast in Mad Men. This season her character Trudy is becoming more comfortable as a suburban housewife. She already gives hints of what she might become when she gets older. This will be helpful in any project with plots involving long time spans, if the movie chooses to show both the 80’s and the GLOW girls on present day.

Babe the Farmer’s Daughter – Hayden Panettiere. The actress has to be rewarded by being the best part of the hot mess known as Scream 4, and that reward should mean more work.

For the bad girls, whose personalities often had to do with fictionalized countries of origin:

Godiva (She actually made an appearance after our screening and still looks like the way she was in the 80’s) – Jennifer Lawrence. She proved that she can do a fake British accent in The Hunger Games, which is important because Godiva wasn’t really British. Besides, the other thing she proved in The Hunger Games was kicking ass.

Matilda the Hun (Who was often matched against Mt. Fiji) – Samantha Morton. Morton often plays vulnerable types but she showed her bad side in that scene in The Messenger where she tries to scare off men who were trying to recruit her son into the military. It might not be a bad idea to see another side of this actress.

Colonel Ninotchka (A bad girl who sometimes turns good) – Oksana Akinshina. Most of the accents in GLOW were fake (I was also thinking about blonde Emma Stone when I saw her) but what about casting a real Russian for a Russian role? You might know her in the Bourne series but her presence in Hipsters is impeachable and she can no longer be Russia’s cinematic secret.

Hollywood and VineChrista B. Allen and Emily Vancamp. Allen played young Jennifer Garner twice. The  first time she did it was in 13 Going on 30 as a young girl in 1987, in her short scenes embodying what it’s like to be young in the 80’s. And I included her Revenge co-star Vancamp because I’m boring.

Heavy Metal Sisters/ Chainsaw and SpikeKristen Stewart and Alison Brie. Both have been punks and rebels before, Stewart playing Joan Jett and Brie as Woody Harrelson’s troubled yet wise daughter in the underrated Rampart. And yes, guys, when she gives a crap, Kristen Stewart can act, okay?

Little Egypt – Nasim Pedrad. She finds different ways to play a whack job every week in Saturday Night Live, so why can’t Kristen Wiig’s heir apparent jump start her career with a movie like this?

Dementia – Mae Whitman. Tough girl cred: The fourth evil ex in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Palestina – Alia Shawkat. Tough girl cred: Playing bassist in The Runaways.

And for the characters ‘behind the scenes:’

GLOW co-founder Jackie Stallone (yes, Sly Stallone’s mother owned a wrestling league) – Barbara Hershey. She was intimidating enough as Natalie Portman’s mother in Black Swan but what about being a coach to more young women?

Mondo Guerrero, brother of Eddie and part of the Guerrero family of wrestlers. He trained the girls the proper wrestling moves and taught them how to evince pain. – Edgar Ramirez.

Tony Cimber, son of Jayne Mansfield, brother of Mariska Hargitay, director of the GLOW episodes who Mt. Fiji had a crush on – Emile Hirsch. Where has this guy been?

GLOW co-founder and President David MacLane – Vincent Kartheiser. That smarmy smile of his can only be described as perfect.

Seriously, think about a cast of 18-35 actresses, both known and unknown, beating each other up and occasionally performing politically incorrect sketches and rapping. It’s the worst idea ever but it’s also going to be awesome.

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John Carter Review (Kirk Haviland)

John Carter (2012)

Starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Bryan Cranston and the voices of Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton.

Written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon

Directed by Andrew Stanton

Hello All,

John Carter marks the live action film directorial debut of Pixar director and scribe Andrew Stanton. Much like his fellow Pixar alum, Brad Bird, Stanton has chosen a big budget action project for his first foray into live-action filmmaking. Unfortunately for Stanton, Bird hit big with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol while John Carter has stumbled out the gates.

We are introduced to the titular character (Kitsch) as he is followed down the street during the late 1800’s. He drops his tail to deliver a telegram to his nephew, writer Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara). When Burroughs arrives he finds Carter apparently dead with strange requests regarding his last rites and a journal left behind for him to read. This is the backdrop for our introduction to John Carter, a native Virginian who was a Captain in the civil war. By the time we meet him he is a ruff and tumble prospector looking for a “Cave of Gold” which is part of the local folklore. After a jailbreak and a run in with natives Carter does discover his cave. Unfortunately for John, he ends up being transported unknowingly to Barsoom (know on Earth as Mars) by a member of the mysterious “Thern” who have the ability to shift between space with the aid of a talisman. Carter awakes to discover that he can leap miles high and wide due to the different gravity he is under and that Mars is perfectly suitable to sustain human life.

Carter almost immediately stumbles on a nesting ground for the Tharks, a race of gigantic green tusked warriors, whose leader Tars Tarkas (Dafoe) quickly recognizes Carter’s abilities and adopts him as part of his tribe. While Tars Tarkas sees Carter’s abilities as an asset in Barsoom’s own Civil War, John has no desire to fight for anyone as the War took a heavy personal toll on him. Alas, trouble finds its way to Carter as he literally leaps to the rescue of Deja Thoris (Collins), the beautiful humanoid princess caught between two warring factions, as her father (Hinds) has promised her hand in marriage to end the bloodshed. Carter’s actions land him firmly in the middle of all the fighting and once again he must reluctantly choose a side and fight.

If that synopsis seems overlong and overstuffed then you’re absolutely right. There’s about three movies worth of plot and story crammed into this epic, and unfortunately the film feels muddled and rushed because of it. Somewhere I’m sure there is a kickass 3 1/2 hour cut of John Carter that was lost on the editing room floor. That said John Carter still packs enough fun and action to give it a mild recommendation. This film will captivate the kids who are patient enough with it as it packs some great effects work and well staged action set pieces, even if one is directly lifted from Attack of the Clones. Taylor Kitsch does good work here as the titular character; his charisma and likeability center the film and keep us involved. Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, and Bryan Cranston are given little to do though. Collins is fine as the love interest, but ultimately the entire film lands on Kitsch’s shoulders.

In the end, John Carter is a bit of a missed opportunity. This could have been the next great Science Fiction series if they had the patience to let it play out over a series of movies. Instead, it’s a passable film that will have a hard time recouping its cost, and unfortunately that will probably disuade any chance of this becoming that series.

Til next time,

The Movie Junkie TO

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