Sunday, March 19, 2006

Coming Soon #12: "BUG"

Coming Soon But Not Soon Enough
#12 Bug (Lions Gate. Supposedly arriving in December)

The cropped Avedon photo to your left appeared in full frontal glory in The New Yorker [NSFW version] back when Tracy Letts' play "Bug" was all the rage Off Broadway a couple of seasons ago. I don't have to tell you that Richard Avedon is a great photographer but what I love about this photo is the way it catches so much of Bug the play; the exposed actors (not just physically, mind you) and the paranoid hostility projected from its insular love affair. The stars were Michael Shannon (who will reprise his role in the film) and Shannon Cochran. Ashley Judd will be taking over for Cochran in the film.

This story involves a down on her luck woman (Judd) hiding out from her estranged ex-con husband (Harry Connick Jr) and falling in with a sweet stranger (Shannon) who protects her. The play never leaves the woman's hotel room. It starts off very grounded and gritty but lifts off into the surreal in the second act. For those of you who have not had the privilege of attending much live theater, trust me when I say that when you see a great show it packs a visceral wallop. There's a unique potency felt when you're breathing the same air as the storytellers.

Bug's memorable narrative force could make for a corker of a film. But the intense lunatic vibe of its second half was so rooted in theatricality (and close quarters with the audience) that I scratch my head wondering how this'll transfer to the screen. It'll be a high wire act. William Friedkin, the film's director, will need every bit of his 70s Exorcist powers to make it as explosive as it could be. Certainly he'll have to go without the nudity (Hollywood being more prudish than live theater) so Judd and Shannon will have to give extremely naked performances to do full justice to the unraveling souls of Bug.

tags: Michael Shannon, Bug, Ashley Judd, theater, theatre, Harry Connick Jr

7 comments:

daveylow said...

I saw Bug onstage in Greenwich Village and don't think the film would work without nudity. It's integral to what the play is about. And the current director of the film doesn't sound right either. Of course, I'd love to see the material work on film.

NATHANIEL R said...

well i don't know for a fact that that film won't have the nudity, i just highly doubt it given that a) movies don't usually go full monty and certainly not for long stretches. And neither do big stars like Judd. so i'm an assumption.

Ramification said...

Is Ashley Judd still considered a 'big' star ?

Its always difficult to adapt plays, I keep thinking of Wit which I saw on stage in Toroto just before the film came out. The film was good, but the experience in the theatre was much more powerful I couldn't help but be disappointed with the film.

NATHANIEL R said...

i hear you on Judd's falling stature, but even so... even B list celebs (unless they're european) won't generally spend half of a film naked. Maybe there'll be a quick nudie shot? but lengthy storytelling passages. I can't see an American film having that kind of guts.

Arden said...

Ashley Whaaaa?

daveylow said...

Gosh, now that we're talking about nudity I hope the actors are naked for at least 20 minutes in a row of the movie.
That picture from The New Yorker that you've cropped says it all.

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