We’ve all seen the initial casting options for The Godfather, but what’s even more unfathomable than Dusty Horffamn playing Michael Corleone is the recently revealed original sign-in sheet from the first day of auditions for The Office, a list which is totally cool and hilarious to think about.
Rainn Wilson posted a photo of the list on Facebook yesterday, saying, "This is the original sign-in sheet for the first day of casting for The Office given to me by Allison Jones, our incredible casting agent…I was the very first person to audition for the series, 11/06/03. Notice all the amazing talent on the sheet, including the amazing #13! This is perhaps the greatest Office keepsake I have. So grateful for the best job I will ever have"—signed "Rain ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’ Wilson."
It’s hard to imagine a Dwight Schrute more ridiculous and wonderful than Wilson but if there was ever man to take it over it’s pretty great to imagine it as UCB legend Matt Besser in the role. Mary Lynn Rajskub was one of the options for Pam, which totally makes sense, but Hamish Linklater has Jim?! Nope! Adam Scott, okay yeah maybe but then would he ever have found his Leslie Knope?
And where would Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Steve Carell, and whole cast be right now if they handed landed the role? Would Wilson always be remebered as that dud who worked at Rolling Stone in Almost Famous or for his creepy stint as Arthur Martin on Six Feet Under?
With this "historic" blizzard looming over us, there’s quite a good chance that you will not be leaving your house this weekend. But that’s such a shame, considering throughout New York there’s a plethora of incredible films screening and come on, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to see some of these on the big screen. There’s Abbas Kiarostami’s fanscinating Close-Up tonight, David Fincher’s cult-favorite Fight Club at midnight today and tomorrow, Bertolluci’s Before the Revolution—and plenty more. But whatever your preference, there’s still a decent chance that you’ll have to find cinematic solace in the comfort of your own home this weekend. So, in lieu of getting too thrilled about leaving the house, I’ve cooked up a list of not only the best films showing around the city, but the best of what’s streaming on Netflix and Hulu, along with clips from what critics had to say about each picture to give you a taste of what you’re in for. Enjoy.
Close-Up at The Film Society of Lincoln Center
"No doubt the film is disturbing: its portrait of Sabzian, described by one acquaintance as a “mythomaniac,” shows us an eloquent autodidact who is nonetheless deeply troubled, more a prisoner of cinema than an emblem of its salvific power. Yet it is the self-aware, suffering Sabzian of Close-up who touched the world’s imagination and survives as an icon of the Iranian cinema’s humanistic ideals, its faith in the dreams that offer avenues out of the world’s worst oppressions." —Godfrey Cheshire
Reprise Streaming on Netflix
"An exuberant, exhilaratingly playful testament to being young and hungry — for life and meaning and immortality, and for other young and restless bodies — “Reprise” is a blast of unadulterated movie pleasure. Made under the self-knowing influence of the early French New Wave, before Godard discovered Mao and Truffaut lost his groove, the film wears its influences without a trace of anxiety, in part, I imagine, because its precociously talented Norwegian director, Joachim Trier, doesn’t worry about old-fashioned conceits like creative patricide. You don’t have to kill your fathers, just learn from them."— Manohla Dargis
Blow Out at Nitehawk Cinema
"No less a virtuoso than cinematographer Zsigmond told me this year that De Palma “is one of the greatest visual filmmakers around.” He still marvels at the work they did in Blow Out: “Think about the 360-degree circular dolly shot near the end of the movie: we had to light practically the whole seaport of Philadelphia with the July 4 fireworks behind Nancy Allen and John Travolta.” For Kael and for legions of true believers, De Palma has, to use a sixties phrase, “kept the faith.” This man of many parts—realist, fantasist, ironist, tragedian—has never fused them more dynamically or poignantly than in Blow Out." —Michael Sragow
Three Colors: Red Streaming on Hulu
"This feeling of mysterious presence reflects the way Kieślowski spoke of the narrative of Red. He described the story, and particularly the “missed” relationship between Valentine and the judge, in ways that suggest that the world has a hidden design, albeit one prone to flaws. For him, “the essential question the film asks is: Is it possible to repair a mistake that was committed somewhere high above?” The idea that there is an invisible but fallible authority presiding over the world within the film naturally invites us to consider the director himself in that role."—Georgina Evans
The Tenant at IFC Center
"There is then an ironic ending that will come as a complete surprise to anyone who has missed every episode of "Night Gallery" or the CBS Mystery Theater. It turns out that — but never mind, never mind. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an audience talk back to the ending of a horror film. "The Tenant" might have made a decent little 20-minute sketch for one of those British horror anthology films in which Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price pick up a little loose change. As a film by Polanski, it’s unspeakably disappointing." —Roger Ebert
Primer Streaming on Netflix and Hulu
"Whether these will add up to anything more than a cerebral diversion is hard to say. Mr. Carruth has invented something fascinating — a way of capturing, on film, some of the pleasure and peril of scientific inquiry — and you don’t need a time machine to predict that as he goes on, he will discover exciting new ways to put it to use."—A.O.
Fight Club at IFC Center
"Fincher is a visionary who keeps Fight Club firing on all cylinders, raising hallucinatory hell in ways too satisfying toi spoil here. As for the dissenters, "I Am Jack’s Complete Lack of Surprise". Fincher’s refusal to moralize and reassure has possed off the watchdogs of virtue. Let ’em bark. They think anything alive is dangerous. Fight Club pulld you in, challenges your prejudices, rocks your world and leaves you laughing in the face of an abyss. It’s alive, all right. It’s also an uncompromising American classic." —Peter Travers
Wings of Desire Streaming on Hulu
"Is the plot arc of Wings of Desire a cry against cinema, even as it equates watching with love? Or does it suggest, to the choir, only a more engaged participation for us, the give-and-take of art film as opposed to the utterly passive experience of Hollywood dross, the Godardian sense that cinema is not an escape from life but life itself? Once Damiel goes human, awakening in the no-man’s-land between the east and west sections of the wall, we as viewers may have an experience akin to Greta Garbo’s after she’d seen the Beast in Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast transform into the clean-shaven Jean Marais: “Give me back my Beast.”—Michael Atkinson
Killer of Sheep at Museum of the Moving Image
"But there is more to neo-realism than formalist gestures; context counts too, and much like the characters in Rossellini’s “Open City,” Stan and his family are casualties of war. This may be Mr. Burnett’s most radical truth-telling. In “Killer of Sheep,” the characters’ identities as African-Americans are material and existential givens, while poverty is the equal-opportunity destroyer." —Manohla Dargis
The Night Porter Streaming on Hulu
"The Night Porter depicts not only the political continuity between wartime Nazism and 1957 Austria, but also the psychological continuity of characters locked into compulsive repetition of the past."
Before the Revolution at Anthology Film Archives
"What makes the film worth reviving is its stylistic elan, some channeled through Godard, Fellini and Antonioni, but all fresh and vigorous: its jump cuts and dynamic editing; its expressive, freestyling take on neo-realism; its powerful lighting. The soundtrack, by a youngish Ennio Morricone, is limpid. And Aldo Scavardo’s photography, especially during a wonderful ode to the beauty of the River Po, is unforgettable." — Sukhdev Sandhu
Revanche Streaming on Hulu
"Spielmann is interested in aspects of life that exceed simple comprehension. Fathoming the interconnections between disparate people, he emphasizes realistic perception and spiritual discovery. He told an interviewer: “Loneliness is probably an inextricable part of our modern lives, and yet I consider it an illusion. We always think of ourselves as being separate from the world, and in this way we deceive ourselves. This separation is just an invention of our imagination; in many ways, we are constantly and directly interwoven in a larger whole. Loneliness is an attribute of our limited awareness, not of life itself.”—Armond White
The Godfather at Landmark Sunshine
"Although the movie is three hours long, it absorbs us so effectively it never has to hurry. There is something in the measured passage of time as Don Corleone hands over his reins of power that would have made a shorter, faster moving film unseemly. Even at this length, there are characters in relationships you can’t quite understand unless you’ve read the novel. Or perhaps you can, just by the way the characters look at each other."—Roger Ebert
My Night at Maud’s Streaming on Hulu
"Rohmer’s films offer us an exceptionally vivid picture of how we navigate the twists and turns that life throws our way on a daily basis. “All the pleasure of life is in general ideas,” wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes. “But all the use of life is in specific solutions.” No artist has expressed this dichotomy more eloquently, or lovingly, than Eric Rohmer."—Kent Jones
Any seasoned cinephile is familiar with the January Movie: something genre-driven, with a kind of gray or bluish tint, that wouldn’t even register were it not released in the dead of winter, when we’ve already seen everything good but still don’t want to sit around the living room making conversation. Gangster Squad, I am pleased to report, takes this underwhelming formula to new heightslows middles.
First up, of course, you’ve got A-list talent wandering around doing laughable noir voices—Josh Brolin is a notch below Michael Shannon’s Boardwalk Empire growl, and Ryan Gosling landed near Al Pacino’s high-pitched Godfather. The ultraviolence is a Dashiell Hammett novel rendered as Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. Oh, and never have so many dudes fired WWII-era machine guns at people five feet away and missed entirely.
It’s Sean Penn who should be really pissed, though: easily the most impotent bad-guy super-mobster in half a century. The Terminator-like good guys (seriously, one of them is Robert Patrick, who played the T-1000) basically destroy his empire throughout the movie as he rages helplessly in a mansion and never comes close to exacting any adequate revenge. Plus, terrible makeup. And it looks like they ran out of money in the final fight scene, so it’s just a bunch of dark, grainy footage that Michael Mann may have cut from Public Enemies? All it was missing, really, was a labored nod to Chinatown. Just kidding! That’s in there, too.
If you’re like me, which is to say, cheap, then you’ve probably never picked up Paul Duncan and Steve Shapiro’s The Godfather Family Album. Loaded with stills—Francis Ford Coppola barking orders, Brando suffering through his turn in the make-up chair—from everybody’s favorite mafia movie franchise, it’s a cinephile’s treasure trove and, until yesterday, it was only available in a limited edition hard cover at a rather high price point. Now, a more affordable version has hit the marketplace. At forty-four bucks, I just might have to pick it up. Pix after the jump!
Ah, memories! It’s hard not to pine for the days when Coppola was not yet the director of films like Jack and The Rainmaker.