Sunday, August 26, 2012

"11/22/63" Review and Dream Cast

Stephen I love you.

11/22/63 has three of my obsessions wrapped into one: The JFK Assassination, time travel, and the writing of Stephen King. No matter how many books I read of his, he always manages to pack-in new surprises to  his stories. For example, I wasn't expecting a first-person narrative with the book (it isn't a style King frequents) but it worked delightfully well in this story. I have heard, as well, that a film is in the works, to be written/directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia) so I shall attach my dream cast after a short review. 

Here is my spoiler warning, skip to the cast list if you just want to see who I hope appears in the apparent film.

The surprise that I loved the most about this story was that it was not so much about the assassination, as advertised, but instead, proved to be a wonderful character study of Mr. Jake "George Amberson" Epping. His life in 'the Land of Ago' was delightful, mostly relaxing and more importantly, fascinating. When it was clear most of the book would focus on his calmer life in Jodie rather than on his time-traveling spy life in Dallas, I was glad. Perhaps it was just a case of the right book at the right time, but I found this 'toned-down' King novel to be one of the most enjoyable.  This calm story of an 'unremarkable' life, was perfectly balanced with moments of classic Stephen King adrenaline. It also was a great parallel to Lee Harvey Oswald's character. While Lee couldn't wait to escape his 'unremarkable life'...Jake wanted nothing more than to secure his.

I will say that I'm quite proud to call my self a conspiracy theorist (or as we prefer, realists) when it comes to the Kennedy Assassination. Going into the book I already had plenty of hours of research under my belt in the subject and early in the book it is established quite clearly that King is going the 'Oswald did it, and did it alone' route. Not historically accurate, I would say...but that's a different blog post for a different day. I only bring up this debate at all for two reasons. Firstly, because King makes a very interesting character out of Oswald in a intriguing parallel character study to Jake. Secondly, King handles the two schools of thought about the shooter(s) beautifully and, although I know he firmly believes Oswald did it, I was able to enjoy the book just as well as someone who believes Oswald never made it to that sixth floor. Again, an argument for a different day...back to the book.

My last blog post about King (and my most popular post to date, I might add) was on the epic Under the Dome, and while 11/22/63 didn't showcase that kind of adventure, the one it did was incredibly original for King, and departed from many of his 'old tricks'. King's strong-suite is storytelling. Always have been, and always will be. 11/22/63 proves that King is still at the top of his game.

Now, just like when Under the Dome came out, it was announced that a film adaptation is in the works. With Dome it was a mini-series directed by Steven Spielberg which has yet to get off the ground. I'm not altogether positive that 11/22/63 is about to hit production, and I can't (at least right now) find any real info on it, but it does appear to be in planning stages and currently does not have a cast.

Originally, I didn't intend write-up one of these dream casts, because I wasn't so sure the book would translate well to film.  But since there is significant film buzz...I figured I'd give it a shot.

Jake "George Amberson" Epping.................Mark Ruffalo

Sadie Dunhill............................................Rachel McAdams

Lee Harvey Oswald....................................Sam Rockwell

Al Templeton............................................Martin Sheen

George de Mohrenschildt...........................Anthony Hopkins

Deke Simmons..........................................John Lithgow

Harry Dunning.........................................Bill Paxton

Frank Dunning........................................Adam Baldwin

The Yellow Card Man................................John Hurt

I spent a long time looking for my Jake and couldn't come up with a damn thing. Then, all of the sudden, Ruffalo popped in there and seemed to be about as perfect as I could get. Personally, I would love to play Jake...but currently I'm about 10-15 years too young, so I'll let it go for now I guess. I also couldn't come up with a perfect Sadie, and McAdams (a blonde one) is about as close as I could get.

I think Rockwell would be a perfect Oswald and would be incredibly interesting in the role.  As for Sheen, I'm not entirely sold either. It isn't exactly how I pictured the role while I was reading, but when I came across his name while looking for others, I thought he just might work.  The same is true of Lithgow. A totally different version of the character than what I imagined when I read the book...but I think he'd bring an equally valid version to the story. That said, I'm still not sold on my own choice. Hopkins would shine as de Mohrenschidt, and as for Hurt...well, he's just what came up.  I also considered him for Harry, but ultimately I give that one to Bill Paxton. Paxton isn't perfect, either, but again...nothing really came to mind.

For the life of me I couldn't think of a good Bobby Coslaw or Bobbie Jill, but I did think that Sally Field would be a great "Old Woman across the street" when Jake lived beneath the Oswald's in Dallas.

I think the reason I had trouble coming up with names was because I honestly don't see this working well as a movie. I'm not saying it won't, but when I read the book I guess I just didn't really picture any big-name stars as the characters. I also pictured myself as Jake...guilty as charged. Sue me.

All around, another great adventure from a great author. His next book, Doctor Sleep, is the sequel to the third big success he had, The Shining. I couldn't be more excited. At first it also looked to be more low-key...but now it promises to go back to King's "balls-to-the-wall horror", something he actually hasn't visited in a few years.

It's long overdue.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Matt - just finished reading the book and I loved it. I'm a history buff and was excited to read a book about the JFK Assassination by one of my favorite authors. Like you, I was pleasantly surprised by the fascinating story of Jake/George.

    I'm pretty excited for the eventual movie/miniseries. What do you think of Allison Janney to play Sadie? Throughout the book, that was the one person I pictured in a potential movie adaptation. I also think Steve Buscemi would be a great 'Yellow Card Man.'