Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Adam Simcox's "The Dying Squad"

Adam Simcox is a London-based filmmaker who’s shot commercials for brands such as McLaren, Primark and Vice, and music videos for Britpop veterans as well as fresh on the scene alt-country stars. He began his film career by writing and directing three features: the first sold to Netflix; the second and third won awards and critical acclaim at festivals worldwide. He is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course.

Here Simcox dreamcasts an adaptation of his debut novel, The Dying Squad:
My background is in film – it’s how I’ve earned my misbegotten living, up until now — so when it came to writing The Dying Squad, casting choices were always lurking, flicking my ears and tweaking my nose. I’ve written and directed three films before, and when working in those micro-budget terms, casting was always a challenge. Now I’m here, with my fantasy film selection, it’s time to splash that cash.

Our hero, Joe Lazarus, is a no-nonsense copper with a big problem: he’s dead. That state of being has left him with a swiss-cheese memory, so we need an actor that can portray this sense of confusion, but also get across his intelligence and silent steel too. Let’s go for Paul Bettany. Half tempted to have him in his vision costume just for kicks, but cooler producing heads will probably prevail.

Daisy-May, Joe’s also-dead 16-year-old partner, is the real star of the show. She’s sarky, she’s gobby, and she’s not afraid to call you on your bullshit. She’s also the moral compass and beating heart of the book, and we’ll need an actor of substance to play the role. Let’s go for Anya Taylor-Joy – she’s got just the right measure of insolence and face-down-the-odds nerve.

The Duchess is the governor of The Dying Squad, the spectral police force Joe’s recruited to, all cut-glass cheek bones, steely reserve, and kick ass presence. Let’s not mess around here; let’s get Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson in a knife fight, and the winner stays on as Warden, ruler of the Pen. A controversial means of auditioning, perhaps, but we’re shooting for greatness here, damn it.

Mabel is the Duchess’s sister, and sort of the Q of purgatory. Seen it, done it, killed it. We’ll need someone uncompromising, but also someone capable of getting across heart and sensitivity. We’ll give Judi Dench’s agent a call, but under the strict proviso she doesn’t wear her Cats costume.

Pete was Joe’s flesh and blood partner before Joe was murdered. In the book he’s described as a rugby player gone slightly to seed, but I’m going to go a different way with casting for the film – Stephen Graham’s our man. I want that no-nonsense, ultra-violence bubbling slightly under the surface Graham brings. Plus, the man’s an absolute magician of an actor.

That just leaves one major role to fill – that of director. Am I allowed to nominate myself? Is that too egotistical? Well tough. It’s my fantasy list, and I’ll self-indulge if I want to. If I’m locked out of the director's chair, I might see if Ben Wheatley fancies it. I’m a big fan, and I’d love to see what he does with it.
Follow Adam Simcox on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 19, 2021

Joe Clifford's "The Shadow People"

After spending the 1990s as a homeless heroin addict in San Francisco, Joe Clifford got off the streets and turned his life around. He earned his MFA from Florida International University in 2008, before returning to the Bay Area, where he currently lives with his wife and two sons (Holden and Jackson Kerouac). His autobiographical novel, Junkie Love, chronicles his battle with drugs and was published by Battered Suitcase (2010). He is the author of the award-winning Jay Porter series, as well as several standalones including The One That Got Away, The Lakehouse, and the newly released The Shadow People.

Here Clifford dreamcasts an adaptation of The Shadow People:
If they make my book into a movie … they can put anyone they damn well please in whatever role they want as long as I get paid!

Not like I’d get a say anyway. But to play along…

I could see Tom Holland as Brandon. I could see a lot of other actors as well. Brandon is meant to be an everyman, and as such I think any number of reasonably attractive, likable twenty-somethings could pull it off. The role of Francis, however, is more specific. Writing this novel, I kept envisioning Jonathan Banks, who plays the character Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad and its prequel Better Call Saul. If I’m being honest, I sorta wrote the part with him in mind.

Director? It’s funny, but when the deal for this book was first announced, we were contacted by Sam Raimi’s people, who asked for an ARC regarding a possible adaptation. They (obviously) passed in the end, but I think Raimi would’ve been the perfect choice. While ultimately a thriller, this book employs more elements of horror than usual.
Visit Joe Clifford's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Lakehouse.

Q&A with Joe Clifford.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Liv Constantine's "The Stranger in the Mirror"

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Together, they are the bestselling author of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, The Last Mrs. Parrish, The Last Time I Saw You, The Wife Stalker, and the newly released The Stranger in the Mirror. Their critically acclaimed books have been praised by USA Today, The Sunday Times, People Magazine, and Good Morning America, among many others. The Constantine sisters are national and international bestselling authors and their books have been translated into 28 languages, are available in 33 countries, and are in development for both television and film.

Here they dreamcast an adaptation of The Stranger in the Mirror:
Our newest book, The Stranger in the Mirror, features Addison Hope, a young woman with retrograde amnesia. Addison doesn’t know her real identity and can’t recall anything of her life since before she found herself bleeding and bruised on the side of a highway. The jagged scars on her arms, proof of a failed suicide attempt, are the only clue to what may lie in her past. For the last two years she has cobbled together a new life and identity, even finding love, and is preparing to marry, but she is haunted by whom or what she left behind. Terrifying flashbacks of bloodshed and violence plague her, making her wonder if something bad was done to her or by her.

The book has a large cast of characters, and it was fun (and also challenging) to choose just the right actor, giving us much more appreciation for the job of casting director. So, let’s get started…

Because our protagonist, Addison, has no recollection of her past or who she is, her character is one who is sometimes tentative and off balance. She’s smart, doesn’t like conflict and can retreat into an interior world when she feels vulnerable. On the other hand, she can be charming and warm when she feels safe with those around her. Her passion is photography, and her work is exceptional. We’ve chosen Lily James to play lovely, raven-haired Addison, because she has the perfect combination of winsomeness, intelligence and strength. James has appeared in Downton Abbey as Rose, took over the role of Meryl Streep in the sequel to Mamma Mia! and became Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. With such a variety of past lives, she’d make a great Addison.

Julian Hunter is a highly successful Boston physician whose wife has been missing for two years, leaving him as the single parent to 7-year-old Valentina. Julian, at thirty-five, is blond and still boyishly handsome. Trim and fit, his style is controlled but casual. He’s dedicated to his work, a voracious reader and a devoted dad. We’ve chosen Simon Baker, who so brilliantly played the Mentalist, for Julian because, well, who else could fit that bill so perfectly?

Gabriel Oliver is Addison’s twenty-nine-year-old fiancé. Gabriel runs his wealthy family’s Philadelphia art gallery. Athletic and nice looking, he’s outgoing with lots of friends. He was smitten with Addison from the moment they met, and is her biggest cheerleader, proposing to her after just six months. We think Liam Hemsworth would make a good Gabriel.

Blythe Oliver, Gabriel’s mother, is an elegant and refined woman in her late fifties who descends from generations of wealth. She is a sculptor and started a Philadelphia art gallery with her husband, Ted, soon after they married. Close to her son and daughter, she’s warm and supportive of her children and a calm, steady presence in their lives. Despite the fact that Blythe is fond of Addison, she worries that her son is hurrying into this marriage and will be hurt in the end if and when Addison remembers who she is and what life she left behind. The choice here was easy. Michelle Pfeiffer is Blythe.

Darcy should have been the one about to marry Gabriel. At least that’s what both of their families, friends for years, hoped. Darcy, a violinist, is tall and lithe, blond and ethereal looking with an easy grace. She remains kind to both Gabriel and Addison, despite the pain she felt when Gabriel ended his relationship with her. Elizabeth Debicki is our choice to play Darcy. Debicki, blond, beautiful and 6’3”, is an award-winning actress of both the stage and screen, and she will portray Diana in the next season of The Crown.

Ed, a long-haul trucker, picked up injured hitchhiker Addison on a New Jersey highway two years ago. Ed took her home with him to Philadelphia where his wife Gigi, a nurse, saw to her medical needs. In his fifties, over six feet tall, and with a deep voice and a commanding air of protectiveness about him, Addison feels safe with Ed. If Sam Elliott were just a little younger, he would be our pick for Ed. In his place we’ve put Viggo Mortensen. Mortensen as Tony Lip drove Don Shirley (Ali Mahershala) on tour through hostile towns and groups in The Green Book. Who wouldn’t feel safe with him?

Lastly Gigi, Ed’s wife, is a no-nonsense, take charge woman who has a heart of gold and a mile long nurturing streak. She’s spunky, fun, generous and takes Addison into her home, giving the young woman a sense of belonging and love. We think Reba McEntire could put in all the heart and spirit needed to make red-headed Gigi come to life.

It hasn’t slipped our notice that four of our choices are foreign actors with Hemsworth, Baker and Debicki hailing from Australia and Lily James from England. But we more than make up for it with the strength of American actors Pfeiffer, Mortensen and McEntire. And isn’t it always fascinating to hear how spot on Aussies’ and Brits’ American accents are!
Visit Liv Constantine's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Valerie Constantine & Zorba.

Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson.

My Book, The Movie: The Wife Stalker.

--Marshal Zeringue