Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Southerner Looks to the North: Part Two

Michael Angarano as Arthur Parkinson

A Chat with David Gordon Green: On the Adaptation (click here for part one)

I was in the band the fall my father left, in the second row of trombones, in the middle because I was a freshman. Tuesdays and Wednesdays after school we practiced in the music room, but on Fridays Mr. Chervenick led us outside in our down jackets and tas-
seled Steeler hats and shitkicker boots and across the footbridge that spanned the in-
terstate to the middle school soccer field, where, like the football team itself, we ran square-outs and curls and a maneuver Mr. Chervenick called an oblique, with which, for
the finale of every halftime show, we described-all 122 of us-a whirling funnel approx-
imating our school's nickname, the Golden Tornadoes. We never got it quite right, though every Friday Mr. Chervenick tried to inspire us, scampering across the frost-slicked grass
in his chocolate leather coat and kid gloves and cordovans to heard us into formation un-
til-in utter disgust-instead of steering a wayward oboe back on course he would simply arrest him or her by the shoulders so the entire block of winds had to stop, and then the brass and the drums, and we would have to start all over again.
-- Opening paragraph from Snow Angels (Copyright Picador)

The original novel
Another thing from the press notes, that people can interpret in interesting
ways, is that Sam Rockwell compares you to Glenn. He phrases it really carefully.

What does he say? Does he say, 'He's crazy as hell'?
He doesn't. What he says is very flattering, but someone who knows more about Glenn [an alcoholic at the end of his rope] than about your career might read it in the wrong way. He says you're really passionate, ferocious, smart, instinctual, but he's saying, 'So is this character.' Do you agree you're like Glenn in those ways?
I'm like Glenn in a lot of ways; I just didn't know what he was letting people in about.
He meant it in a good way, but if you've seen
the movie and you know what Glenn does...

All the characters are enough of me where I find the movie very private, and
I'm thrilled to be able to exploit my own passion and dialogue and stories
and to be able to use the generosity of actors that have brought a lot, and
to try to blur the lines, so that [it's] some weird amalgamation of Stewart
O'Nan's original novel, characters that have been brought authenticity by the
actors, and some of my strange little twists and turns of life along the way.
It's interesting that you mention improv, because I know you've used that
in your other films, but you haven't done an adaptation before. From what I
understand, Stewart's made promotional appearances on behalf of the film.

Tom Noonan as Mr. Chervenick
Yeah, I met him last week. He's really cool.
What did he think about the improvized or altered parts?
[Green changed the structure of the narrative, but preserved primary events.]
He's fine. It's all very true to the characters he created, and ultimately, you
know, the book takes place in the '70s and there are some characters taken
out and combined and all the typical adaptation-bastardizations of a novel,
but he seems happy with it, so it's a real seal of approval for me. I tried to
bring enough of myself to the role so that I could be invested in it, but I want-
ed to make sure it was still obviously inspired and instigated by his great book.
That reminds me of James Ellroy. I met him years ago, and
he's known for being a no-bullshit kind of guy, and one of the
first adaptations of his novels was Cop with James Woods.

I saw that.
When I asked, 'What did you think of it?,' he said, 'It was awful, a
piece of shit,' but at the time he was promoting L.A. Confidential, which
I could tell he really liked, and we talked about what was changed
his novel]. He seemed happy about it, and I think he was being sincere.
That's good that his first experience was bad, so that he could kind
of expect the worst, and then be happily surprised. I know Stewart
O'Nan is good friends with Stephen King, so Stephen probably said,
'It's hit or miss. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.'
Angarano, Beckinsale, and Green at the LA premiere
Next: On the production
Snow Angels is currently playing at the Harvard Exit Theatre. Images from
Warner Independent Pictures, The New York Times, and Fantastic Fiction

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