Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Top 10 Hollywood Biopics I would love to see

Speaking of Hollywood biopics, here is a list of the top 10 biopics I would like Hollywood to make. Anyone who wants to play along in this game is welcome. I’d love to hear your top ten.

1. Martin Luther King-Really it’s amazing that this movie hasn’t been made already. I think I saw a TV movie on Martin Luther King’s life once, but not a proper Hollywood release. I don’t know what they’re waiting for, it would make the perfect movie. Not only would this be the perfect kind of inspiring movie that would win Oscars and get shown at school assemblies, it would also be pretty entertaining. There would be no lack of interesting material: the bus boycott, the march on Washington, bloody Sunday, his opposition to the Vietnam War, the harassment by the FBI, etc.

The only thing I would be worried about would be Hollywood’s tendency to really sap this up, pile on the emotion and the turbulent home life, throw in a troubled childhood, and make it interchangeable with every other Bi-opic already out there. I mean, you can just see it already, can’t you.
Wife: “We need you Martin, the Children need you.”
King: “The Work I do is important.”
Wife: “We’re important too.”
Lots of crying, yelling, et cetera, and the standard husband/wife fights that are a part of every Hollywood Biopic film. I’m not suggesting King’s marital infidelities be white washed out, I just hate to see the sap become the main part of the story. (Actually, that goes for all the movies following as well.)

2. Emma Goldman-Emma Goldman would be a polemical figure, and wouldn’t get the broad based support of a Martin Luther King Biopic, but it could happen. If Jack Reed could become a big Hollywood movie, why not Emma Goldman? And she led an absolutely fascinating life, as anyone who has read her autobiography knows, from her youthful attempts to assassinate Frick, to her being caught up in the investigation of the actual assassination of a US President, to her deportation to Russia, and her subsequent disillusionment with the Bolshevik regime.

3. Pete Seeger-instead of making movies about musicians addicted to drugs and sex, what about making a movie about a musician harassed by the HUAC and black listed from television for 10 years? Those are problems I’d be much more interested in.

4. Carlos the Jackal-I should make it clear that, unlike some of the other names on this list, I don’t really approve of anything Carlos the Jackal did. But he certainly lead a fascinating life. If you could somehow make a movie about his life that showed his exploits without glorifying them, I think it would make a really interesting 2 hours. Go and read his life story here, and tell me this wouldn't be a fascinating movie.

5. Tom Hayden-I was really excited back when I was in college and the Abbie Hoffman Bi-opic “Steal this movie” came out. But since then I feel like I’ve outgrown Abbie Hoffman. At this point I would be much more interested in seeing a movie about the serious side of the student movement, and I think Tom Hayden’s life would be the perfect starting point. Again there would be no shortage of his material, from his being assaulted in the South while working for civil rights, to the rise of SDS, to the Chicago 8 trial, to his infamous trip to Vietnam with Jane Fonda.

6. Clodius/ Curio-I’m going to indulge my classical history geekiness for a moment, but I've always thought that the gang warfare in the late Roman republic would make a fascinating subject. (You could even get Martin Scorcese to direct it, and call it “The Gangs of Old Rome”). I’m not sure whose viewpoint would be more interesting though, Clodius or Curio. Obviously Clodius would be more central to the story, but there might be problems making him a sympathetic figure.

A story about Curio could have him initially involved in the gangs, but then growing out of it and joining Caesar’s camp, along with his friend Marc Antony. This would give some progression to the story, and also have the unique viewpoint of seeing some of the great turning points in Roman history through the eyes of its minor players.

7. Romulus and Remus-Along the same lines, I always thought this would be a cool movie to do. You could explore the lives of the young brothers growing up and fighting off bandits, to their discovery of their bloodline and their fight against the evil king, to the founding of Rome, and their eventual falling out. I’ve always thought the classical sources never did a very good job of explaining why these brothers ended up killing one another at the end after all they had been through, but a Hollywood movie could try and explore the motivation. Obviously this is probably more mythical than historical, but probably lots of sword and sandal type action and an interesting story behind the origin of the world’s greatest empire.

8. John Brown-I know this has been done before, but it hasn’t been done recently, and it hasn’t been done well. I think Hollywood should take another crack at it.

9. Fredrick Douglas-Like Martin Luther King, I’m a little mystified as to why this hasn’t been done yet. What are you waiting for, Hollywood?

Actually, you know what I think would be really cool? Fredrick Douglas and John Brown actually met once and discussed how to end slavery. They had a cordial conversation, but didn’t really ever see eye to eye on strategy. I always thought it would be really cool to do kind of a double feature. One director works on a movie about John Brown, one works on a movie about Fredrick Douglas, both movies could be released the same year, and the 10-minute scene when they meet could be in both movies. Kind of like a cool crossover, huh?

10. Thomas Paine-Yet another figure whose life is one interesting event after another. For a man who played a central figure in both the American and the French revolution, this would be a fascinating movie about a time when dreams of freedom and a universal republic were at their peak in the Western world. I think if you read some of Tom Paine’s speeches in the French assembly (“I would rather people talked about 100 errors of mercy in our revolution than one error of cruelty”-or something like that, I don’t have a copy in front of me) he still has wisdom for governments and revolutions of today. And the fact that at near end of his life this man who worked so hard for both the French and the American government was abandoned by both of them and just barely escaped the reign of terror and the guillotine by a clerical error is a story worthy of Shakespeare.

Those are my 10. What are yours?

Useless Wikipedia Fact
The Adventures of the Gummi Bears was Disney's first successful foray into television animation (it was released back to back with another show, The Wuzzles, which lasted only 13 episodes). At the time of its first premiere, very few, if any, animated television series were on par with Gummi Bears' production values. It even exceeded the quality of much Japanese animation made for TV at the time. Gummi Bears is often credited by animators and animation historians as having helped jump start the massive boom of television animation in the late 1980s all through the 1990s.

Link of the Day
How George H.W. Bush Helped Saddam Hussein Prevent an Iraqi Uprising

1 comment:

Whisky Prajer said...

I dislike biopics - the Johnny Cash / Ray Charles flicks didn't do much for me; even Gandhi required a great deal of my unwilling suspension of disbelief. (Little discussed fact re: Ray - that cat got off the hard drugs thanks to the miracle of Mary Jane and a nightly pint of gin. Funny how that didn't make it into the final cut.) Documentaries are another story, of course.

Still and all, I'd pay to see a well-wrought biopic on Nikolai Tesla. I don't think it would take too much effort at the word processor, either.

Now that I think of it, though, I did enjoy Oliver Stone's Jim Morrison biopic, even if it did star Meg Ryan. Had a surreal non-linear feel to it, which can only help.