Sunday, February 17, 2008

We Can't Wait #6 Doubt

Directed by John Patrick Shanley (Joe Vs. the Volcano / writer of Moonstruck)
Starring Streep, Hoffman, Adams and Davis
Based on the stage play of the same name (a veritable magnet for trophies and acclaim) written by Shanley, which tells the "parable" of a nun in 1964 who confronts a priest who she believes in sexually molesting a young black boy
Brought to you by Miramax
Expected Release Date December 5th, 2008

Nathaniel: I'm going to let Gabriel, our resident theater guru kick us off here. Tell the kiddies why they ought to be excited about Doubt and how many prizes (a year before the Oscar noms have been tallied) that it's already picked up.

Gabriel: I live but to serve you, Nathaniel. Doubt already has Tony, Pulitzer, Drama League, Drama Desk, OBIE, New York Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle awards stacked on its shelf; it is arguably the most heralded new American play of the last five years. (August: Osage County might change all of that this season, but that's a completely different article, isn't it?) It proved remarkably successful on the road in 2006, where plays usually falter (as opposed to musicals).

But that's the not the important part of the story, is it? What makes Doubt, the play, so special is its gripping battle between rumor and truth, good and evil, sex and religion. Although it is set in 1964, it strikes many people as a morality tale for our gossip-inflected times. It is suspenseful and powerful, but wholly accessible...very few people will see it without finding something to relate to.

The movie, which is written and directed by Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck), also has the 2008 Dream Cast: Meryl Streep as the severe Sister Aloysius, Philip Seymour Hoffman as the conflicted Father Flynn, Amy Adams as the acolyte Sister James, and Tony winner Viola Davis as Mrs. Muller. These were the only characters in the play, but more have been added in the screenplay, including the central role of Jimmy. Who DOESN'T want to see Streep and Hoffman go toe-to-toe? The mind reels at the actor nirvana this film could attain...

Glenn: I had never heard much about Doubt apart from the general stuff from people like Nathaniel - American plays don't tend to get Australian productions and as far as I know this one never did - but you know what movie title went ringin' through my mind while reading Gabriel's exciting description? Atonement --a movie about moral guilt and the power of rumour? Does Keira show up in a sultry green habit citing rapid-fire British clipped dialogue?

Apart from the obvious, I'm incredibly excited to be able to see Viola Davis is an actual featured role again. Nat has already discussed this ad nauseam, but why isn't she a bigger film star yet? Why isn't she being offered vaguely racist roles on primetime soap operas? Hmmm...

Viola Davis, left (Far From Heaven, Solaris) will play the mother of the allegedly abused child. Amy Adams, right (Enchanted, Junebug) the acolyte nun

Joe: It was a shrewd move on the film's part to cast Meryl Streep in the lead -- the one actress who could get me to shut up about how much I'd want to see Cherry Jones reprise her role from the Broadway production (which I never got to see). I won't pretend like I'm not worried about the words "Philip Seymour Hoffman" and "theatrical adaptation" in the same sentence -- I've been liking him much better in recent years, but when he goes over-the-top theatrical, he loses me. Also, in terms of managing expectations, if you're looking for the Atonement-style early frontrunner which gets punished for being seen as such, it's either this or Revolutionary Road. I don't know how you go about combatting that perception, but someone's going to have to try.

Gabriel: Joe's absolutely right...for film buffs who may not know Cherry Jones (M. Night Shyamalan films, the upcoming female president on 24), she's the queen of serious Broadway, one of the most talented (and may I add, nicest to have a drink with) actresses alive today. No one but Streep could take the part from her in a way I'd feel comfortable.

And to quiet your fears about "theatrical adaptation" somewhat, Joe...the major criticism the play had when it was on Broadway, if any, was that is seemed too cinematic. I thought it reminded me of an HBO telefilm (which is where, honestly, I thought the adaptation would end up, like Angels in America). So the piece kind of naturally lends itself to this kind of styling. One hopes.

Nathaniel: Curious. I wasn't quite as excited as the rest of the planet when this hit Broadway but I do think it's a corker of a play. Yet I didn't feel like it was cinematic. It's the type of talky intense thing (all one set) that benefits from the stage and how you have to dive into the ideas of the story because there's no escape from it... It definitely builds as you see the power rising (Streep subbing for the altogether magnificent Cherry Jones --can they give her at least a nun cameo? Oh the humanity) and the parallel stakes rising for this other life (Hoffman)

I hope the movie, which I know will try to "open it up" doesn't go to naturalistic. The play benefits from how little we see of the central mystery and how much it stays only in our heads. I fear that the movies being an indexical artform rather than representational one might topple this particular cart. But whether it can ride the transfer smoothly or awkwardly, I can't wait to see it.

MaryAnn: I'm hugely curious to see how this gets adapted to film. (I also dread and simultaneously anticipate Frost/Nixon ) I haven't seen the play but I have read it, and it doesn't seem very cinematic to me.

On the plus side, Hollywood seems to have discovered the Bronx: this is one of several movies that are filming or have been shot in my neck of the woods recently. I'm looking forward to that, at least.

Oh, but Atonement this ain't...

*
the countdown
#1 Synecdoche, New York / #2 Burn After Reading / #3 Australia / #4 Milk / #5 Blindness / # 6 Doubt / #7 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button / #8 Revolutionary Road / #9 The Dark Knight / #10 Sex & The City: The Movie / #11 The Lovely Bones / #12 Wall-E / #13 Stop-Loss / #14 The Women / #15 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince / Introduction / Orphans
*

24 comments:

ryansumera said...

funny how the play's theme can also be applied to hoffman's casting, noh?

Rural Juror said...

My money is on Revolutionary Road to be the film that disappoints.

As for Doubt, it looks marvelous, and Streep should have a great year! (Except she was supposed to have a great year this year . . . look how that went)

ryansumera said...

streep '07 conked-out.

not really. "lions" wasn't a streep movie. neither was rendition.

Anonymous said...

but she was ok in both just seemed to be collecting a cheque in rendition,lions for lambs i dunno she did not seem to get her character something missing which is how i feel about her roles in a cry in the dark,ironweed,marvins room & the river wild.

Arkaan said...

I think Hoffman's casting ruins whatever ambiguity the play has regarding the central act (trying to be vague here). I don't think the play was as ambiguous as it thinks it was, and Hoffman leans too much to one way for me.

I really hope that Letts play dethrones Doubt, because I thought it was all around overrated (based on a reading).

Now, if this were The Pillowman....

Robert said...

Well done picking a very cleavagey shot of Amy Adams just after you specify she'll be playing a nun.

Oh Catholic school should have been so.

Anonymous said...

Philip Seymour Hoffman's role should have gone to Kevin Bacon. It could have finally been that guy's ticket to the Oscars. If you've seen "The Woodsman", you know that Kevin Bacon could have done such justice to Father Flynn and then some. With Hoffman, I have a feeling that the guilt will come out of every pore in his body in every frame. But still, the play's brilliant, and this is a dream cast that could really make a killing at the Oscars. I do hope that people won't be out for blood if the film becomes one of the anointed frontrunners like so many of the tentpole Oscar-bait vehicles. That's so tiring to see happen year after year to great films that don't deserve the bashing just b/c of lofty expectations that no film could realistically meet.

Kamila said...

The cast of "Doubt" is amazing and I think this movie will give Streep her 3rd Oscar.

Kamila said...

And why not cast Bryan O'Byrne as Father Flynn? Since he was the actor who played the character on Broadway.

NATHANIEL R said...

i agree that the play (at least as I saw it performed) is not as ambiguous as it could be and I also worry about the Hoffman casting since he likes to underline!

NATHANIEL R said...

that said i'm still excited to see it

Kurtis O said...

I just realized that I'm sooooo much more excited for the releases in 2008 than I ever was at any point for anything that came out in 2007.

Anonymous said...

The one that will disappoint will be Austrailia(IMHO). I do agree that Revolutionary Road is more likely to disappoint than this.


-Zee

John T said...

Considering I'm always in love with Streep, recently in love with Adams, and finally found a film that I could tolerate Hoffman in (that'd be The Savages, not his mindless performance that was nominated), I can say that this will be a film that I'll be seeing.

Jimmy said...

critics will love it....streep + it's anti-Catholic....what more could they want!

amir_uk said...

Ah The Pillowman! Thanks for reminding me Arkaan! Now that is the best play of the decade so far. Why hasn't that been given the film treatment yet?

(Obviously very much looking forward to Doubt too.)

Kamikaze Camel said...

I think this will land more in the middle of stuff like Proof and Chicago in terms of the Academy. I can't see it becoming a big favourite lavished with nominations (are the tech categories gonna bite? I, wait for it, doubt it! haha) but I can see it snagging several key noms like actress, supp actress and adapted screenplay.

I too am thinking Revolutionary Road could disappoint, but I don't want to predict that it will.

Arkaan said...

I think McDonnaugh is pretty dead set against any of his plays being turned into movies. But yeah, The Pillowman = play of the decade thus far, and I think it's been a damn good decade.

Here's what should happen with Streep. She'll get nodded (at the Golden Globes) for both Doubt and Mamma Mia, get the oscar nod for the former film, but lose. Then she'll finally do that long gestating Follies film (with Sam Mendes at the helm), belt out some of Sondheim's best songs (can you imagine her take of "Could I Leave You") and win in 09/10. And then she'll win again in supporting, and again in lead and again in supporting and again in...

Sorry, got carried away for a bit.

amir_uk said...

Just imdbd McDonagh and it's also mentioned on his page that he doesn't like his plays being adapted. Shame. It's one of those plays that has so much resonance and so many layers-within-layers inside of it - I just want as many people to see it and be as moved and enthralled and drained and shocked as I was. And film is the only medium where that could happen.

Also found out he's the director of In Bruges?! Crazy. Really now looking forward to that arriving in a few weeks!...

Ric said...

I can't wait for the movie to come out.. I love Streep and hope this will be an Oscar role for her... she deserves another Oscar .. I think critics take her for granted.. she is always great but now it is expected of her and she is overlooked.. after so many great performances, she deserves to win ( if, of course, she delivers the goods )

Ric said...

I can't wait for the movie to come out.. I love Streep and hope this will be an Oscar role for her... she deserves another Oscar .. I think critics take her for granted.. she is always great but now it is expected of her and she is overlooked.. after so many great performances, she deserves to win ( if, of course, she delivers the goods )

filmfan said...

Two of the world's best actors in one film. I'm really excited to see this. Hoffman and Streep will get Oscar-nominations, although Julianne Moore will hopefully win for "Blindness"...

Anonymous said...

Wondering if anyone has seen a screening of Doubt and if so was there a scene in the church when Hoffman's "homily" gets interupted by a sneeze from Amy Adams and a little red headed girl says" God bless you Sister?" Thanks for your response! Mags

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the fim Doubt yet? I'm wondering if a certain scene made the final cut? Maggie