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Dream a little dream 

As the explosive summer season approaches, Hillary Titley plays studio exec and staffs a few movies she’d like to see.

Sports fans put their rosters together. Office gossips match-make and project affairs upon innocent couples. Film snobs, for their part, allow their fantasy cast and crew to play out some masterwork in their heads. Ever read a book and cast a famous actor in your imagination as the lead character? That is the best analogy for what dream- teaming is—except without the film snob’s other futile fantasy of “One day when I’m famous.”

Why bother? Well, everybody wants to be right. Sports fans put their team together with the belief that it is the magic formula to reach the top of whatever game they are attempting to win. Office gossips are always trouble, but maybe some of them think that love really is in the air. For film snobs, it is the hope that their team might make a film that could erase or at least hide the flaws that film snobs have trained themselves to notice.

All at once, Hollywood dream-teaming is a romantic yet arrogant hobby. It is romantic because dreaming about an actor (or anyone else, for that matter) is basically about idealizing their qualities. It is arrogant because it implies that you think you could do better. But maybe you can.

Jerry Bruckheimer and Ang Lee with a script by Brian Helgeland: Success in Hollywood is a formula for big box office returns, and this formula leads to hackdom —directors and producers who make money but don’t get any respect as artists. Redemption from all of this is to win an Oscar, and imagine the ironic thrill of Mr. Con Air winning the Oscar for Best Picture. The Bruck has the money to pay off a cast of talented actors, even if they are not otherwise attracted to Helgeland’s (LA Confidential, Mystic River) moody scripts. Mr. Lee would bring class and a steady hand to all of it.

Rachel McAdams and Lucy Maud Montgomery: Having a star like Rachel McAdams illuminates the need for this country’s cinema to accommodate such a world-class talent, the way Australia’s cinema accomodates Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. Until that time, McAdams could star in a biopic of Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery—if McAdams is into slow tragedy for no money. Which is the problem: Why Canadian filmmakers aren’t throwing phenomenal roles at her or finding her gobs of money (or Mike Myers, Eric McCormack or Hayden Christensen) for mid-level stuff is beyond comprehension. Who wouldn’t go and see McAdams strain to write the sunshiny Anne books as her real world fell apart? With Myers and McCormack as a comically inspired yet dignified pair of rival WWI sergeants coming together to lead their respective platoons to victory on Vimy Ridge with Christensen on the front lines taking a bullet between the eyes? For a show like that, people would be lined up around the block.

Rian Johnson and Graham Greene: Johnson’s Brick featured a teen propelled by loss and guilt solving a mystery, while Greene writes about adults solving their own selfish problems with the weight of the world on their shoulders. This would be a mature next step away from the teen angst and into adult desperation for Johnson, who has the storytelling skills necessary for tense drama and the visual flair that would complement the exotic and enhance the more banal locales of some of Greene’s stories.

Gillian Anderson and Alexander Payne: For those who let Agent Scully’s incredulous glare turn them into goo week after week on The X-Files, the resurrection of Anderson’s tough yet vulnerable persona has been a long time coming. Anderson has made a career of being the least obvious but eventually essential casting choice, while Payne’s films delight in featuring unlikely actors—look what he did for Virginia Madsen! It would be up to Payne to write a role for Anderson that transcends Scully.

Some people are lucky enough to have the job of casting movies in real life, but unless their name is Martin Scorsese, their days are probably filled with the cajoling, manipulating and negotiating the rest of us reserve for convincing our negligent housemates to do their dishes. Thus, we dare to dream—and dream-team—and in our dreams, unlike in Hollywood, Gillian Anderson can come and go as we please.

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Vol 25, No 28
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