Friday, September 26, 2014

Joe Gannon's "Night of the Jaguar"

Joe Gannon, writer and spoken word artist, was a freelance journalist in Nicaragua during the Sandinista Revolution, writing for The Christian Science Monitor, The Toronto Globe and Mail, and the San Francisco Examiner. He spent three years in the army, graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and did his MFA at Pine Manor College.

Here Gannon dreamcasts an adaptation of Night of the Jaguar, his debut novel:
I always had a very specific man in mind for my detective, Captain Ajax Montoya – he is on the cover of his memoir of his years with the Sandinistas. His name is Omar Cabezas, and his book, Fire from the Mountain, was a big hit when it was published in 1980’s.

But for the movie, I have always channeled Javier Bardem, who can play a fop, a super- sized James Bond villain, or the cool psychopathic killer from No Country for Old Men. He has the face of a man overcome by sadness, but not defeated by it. However, Demian Bichir, who plays the Mexican cop on The Bridge, would also make a great Ajax. Bichir plays perfectly the vaguely corrupt but nevertheless stalwart Mexican detective, who is brave and loyal, but dirty. And Ajax is vaguely corrupt – a drunk who extorts cigarettes from smugglers because he can’t afford the good stuff on his salary. Bichir has the grizzled, growly look and sound of a man who’s wrestled with angels and while beaten by them, is stronger for the defeat at the hands of greatness.

The right director for the movie of my novel depends on finding the artist who “gets it.” But, if I had my druthers, I send the novel first to Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican director who started with dark fantasy like Pan’s Labyrinth, but also action films; he’s produced animation films like Kung Fu Panda, and now has a vampire series, The Strain, taken from his graphic novels. What can’t the guy do?

His style is incredible, and he would, I think, find Ajax an appealing character – teetering on the verge of madness, a saint’s soul but a killer’s heart.

There are lots of great secondary roles too. James Edward Olmos, from Battlestar Galactica, would make a great Horacio – the elder statesman of the Revo who seems to know everyone and everything. Gael García Bernal – crossed over from Mexican films to international superstardom, would make a great villain – and there are several!
Visit Joe Gannon's website.

The Page 69 Test: Night of the Jaguar.

--Marshal Zeringue