Thursday, May 9, 2013

Brad Tyer's "Opportunity, Montana"

Brad Tyer has worked as an editor at the Missoula Independent and the Texas Observer. His writing has appeared in Outside, High Country News, the New York Times Book Review, the Houston Chronicle, the Drake, Texas Monthly, No Depression, and the Dallas Morning News. He's been awarded a Knight-Wallace Fellowship, a Fund for Investigative Journalism grant, and a Fishtrap writing residency.

Tyer's new book is Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape.

Here the author dreamcasts an adaptation of Opportunity, Montana:
Here's the fun of this exercise for me: Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape will never be a movie. The book's murders are entirely tangential, and fish are the only ones having any sex. The story traverses 10,000 years, and it doesn't always go in order. I had when I wrote it and have now no cinematic ambition or expectation for the book. It's a story I think is best told in book form. If I'd wanted to make a movie, I'd have made a movie.

But let's say  Terrence Malick directs it, all maddeningly ponderous long shots of landscape and weather. I see Montana's three 19th century Copper Kings, who took their fortunes and left the state with a ring of poison, as a tense Steve Buscemi, a fat Jack Black (in a serious turn), and The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons.

Joel Chavez, the engineer rebuilding a river destroyed by 100 years of mining, is totally Cheech Marin. The environmentalist who takes down a dam is Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain. The conscience of Opportunity, Montana—George Niland—strikes me as particularly Edward James Olmosesqe. Dennis Washington, the yachting multibillionaire who's fashioned an ecosystem into a funnel of cash, is definitely  Robert Redford.

Then there's the memoir part, me and my deceased dad, Bob. Glen Campbell should play Bob. And I'm going with Jason Bateman for me. Not because he looks or sounds or acts anything like me, but because I'm pretty sure nobody especially loathes Jason Bateman.

The book's most important character, though, is the state of Montana itself. Unlike certain other films purportedly set in Montana (I'm looking at you, Legends of the Fall), Opportunity will be filmed—though of course it will never be filmed—in Montana.
Learn more about the book and author at Brad Tyer's website and the Opportunity, Montana blog.

--Marshal Zeringue