Casting "The Last Unicorn": Part Two

Last week, readers of The Geek and Inkwell were given the opportunity to weigh in on who should be cast in the part of Schmendrick the Magician in a hypothetical live-action adaptation of the 1982 animated classic "The Last Unicorn."  Well, our first poll has ended and the winner is - drumroll, please! - Paul Dano!

I think we can all agree Paul Dano's unusual, boyish look along with his expression of perpetual anxiousness make him a wondrous fit for the part of Schmendrick, the world-weary wizard who hasn't quite exited the hubristic stages of youth.

And now for our next poll, which will call upon readers to cast the part of Molly Grue.  When we meet her, Molly is "romantically attached" to Captain Cully, and has, with regret, fallen into the role of cook for his band of outlaws.

Many fans, myself included, relate powerfully to the exchange Molly has with the unicorn in their first encounter.  This is the cornerstone scene - the emotions of which our casting choice must be able to skillfully access without overstatement, but by drawing upon real pain.  Molly says: "No, it can't be.  Can it be?  Where have you been?  Where have you been?  Damn you!  Where have you been?"  Trapped between youth and middle age with all her regrets and a poignant sense of how the life she could have led is now long gone from her reach, in her curses against the timing of her encounter with the unicorn, Molly is the tale's clearest depiction of mortality - some would argue even the foil for the unicorn.

Molly Grue in "The Last Unicorn," voiced by Tammy Grimes

Taking into account the weight of the part of Molly Grue, it's now up to you, readers, to cast her!  Should it be...

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Helena Bonham Carter

Natasha Lyonne


Emily Blunt

You'll have until 10:00pm Friday, Aug. 26th to take part in the poll!


Casting The Last Unicorn

If you are one of those people who generally enjoys the cinematic art form and watching talented actors and actresses at work, then perhaps you might also enjoy pretending to be the casting director for animated films, books you feel ought to be adapted into films, or even perhaps your own stories that haven't even been published yet (and that we all very much look forward to, I'm sure).

Since I know I cannot be the only person out there who loves playing casting director, I'll be posting a poll each week (found on the right hand side of the web page under the search bar) in which you can vote for your favorite casting choice for characters that belong to films and/or stories that have not yet been made into live adaptations.  Our first film will be the 1982 animated classic "The Last Unicorn," which was adapted from Peter S. Beagle's wonderful novel of the same name.  If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, I highly suggest you do both, not only so you can participate in our casting poll, but much more importantly because of the lasting effect their whimsy, magic, and singular storytelling will have on your imagination.

Weigh in on this week's poll: who shall we cast for the part of Schmendrick the Magician?

Schmendrick the Magician, voiced by Alan Arkin in the 1982 classic, "The Last Unicorn"

If you are unfamiliar with the faces and talents belonging to the names, or just need a refresher, click the links below to review your choices...

James McAvoy

Paul Dano

Luke Pasqualino

Ryan Gosling

You'll have until August 18th at 10:00pm to get your vote in.  Let the games begin!


Reflections on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (Spoilers)

Readers should be informed that leading up to viewing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and also following its release, I have deliberately avoided reading anything about the film.  Obviously, the purpose behind this prior to the film being released is that, like many Star Wars fans, I didn't want to see any spoilers.  The biggest spoiler of all would been to hear any news as to whether J. J. Abrams had managed to resurrect the feel of the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, and VI.)  Having felt burned by George Lucas on several points in Episodes I, II, and III, even knowing Abrams and Disney were in charge, my trust could only be earned back by a viewing of the film.  The reason I have not yet read any reviews  of "The Force Awakens" is that after having finally seen it, it is sacred to me.  I neither care nor want to know what critics think, because when it comes to this franchise - a franchise that is pretty unique in that the fans believe it belongs to them - the most important critic is the fan.

Therefore, if what you read here has been said before or perhaps even disputed, know that I do not plan on finding it out.  I have seen "The Force Awakens," I feel protective of it now, and I will not read a single review.

That being said, I am so glad you do not feel the same way, since you are reading my review.  Or rather, my reflections on the film.  A review analyzes successes and flaws alike, and I'm not here to dissect, I'm here to bask in this film's glory.


"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" Extended Cut Review (No Spoilers)

Last night, across the nation, Fathom Events hosted a special early screening of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" extended cut.  The roughly 20 minutes of new footage was enough to earn the extended version an "R" rating.  However, if you saw the original theatrical cut of BotFA or took your children to see it, you are probably safe doing the same with the extended cut.  Yes, more "classic Peter Jackson" outrageous battlefield deaths occur in the extended cut, but just the fact that they are indeed so Peter-Jackson-esque means that they are played for laughs, somewhat ridiculous, and there's no gore seen up close.  And this is "The Hobbit," after all - this is fantasy violence - orcs beating on dwarves, dwarves beating on trolls, trolls beating on elves, etc.  The MPAA chooses to stand firm on some types of content, such as long, sustained scenes of violence, therefore the "R" rating pops up despite the added scenes not much more gruesome than the theatrical cut.


Geek Gear of the Week

For the die-hard Gatsby fan in your life who will totally get this somewhat obscure The Great Gatsby reference, here is a "West Egg/East Egg" necklace from Modcloth.  The charm is a clever allusion to the dichotomous cities Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby inhabit during that infamous summer... And now to decide... Who's going to wear old money versus who's going to wear new money?

Product page on modcloth.com


"White God" Movie Review

I have been waiting with bated breath for six months to see Kornel Mundruczo's "White God."  You don't have to be a dog-lover to appreciate the powerful and hair-raising sight that is two hundred dogs sprinting through the streets of Hungary.  And the best part is that not a shred of CGI was used to achieve this scene.  It was the sight of this army of dogs, which I viewed in the trailer in March 2015, that intrigued me.  Knowing full well that these well-trained (and extremely photogenic, I might add) dogs were most likely part of thinly veiled political commentary, I settled in for the wait for this story to come to Netflix.


Eden 2.0: A Review of "Ex Machina" (Major Spoilers)

The title of Alex Garland's film "Ex Machina" is a truncated form of the Latin phrase "deus ex machina."  The translation is "god from the machine."  The phrase conjures similar imagery to the idea of the "ghost in the machine" from Cartesian dualism, especially in the context of a film like "Ex Machina" which deals with an artificial intelligence.  The meaning is much more literal, however.  Deus ex machina refers to a device from Greek drama in which a crane (a machine) would suddenly lower an actor playing a god onto the stage, whose appearance typically provided a convenient solution to a seemingly unsolvable dilemma and wrapped everything up in a nice little package.

Most likely "Ex Machina" as the title of this film, however, was meant to carry dual meaning.  Yes, hardware or machinery is the means by which a superior being enters the stage, but there are also undeniable overtones of what it means to play god, and what happens when your creation deviates from your plans for it.