We’re all thinking it, so I’ll just say it: Syphilis sounds like the name of a cartoon unicorn.
No, what we’re all thinking is that director Wes Anderson needs to stop farting around and just make a goddamn movie out of The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society album.
it struck me that Anderson MUST direct a motion picture adaptation of The Kinks’ seminal and somehow overlooked and/or overrated album The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. MUST. The film would undoubtedly be some sort of consummation of all the 60s aesthetics, musically as well as cinematically, that Anderson regularly employs.
It would also cement his inevitable and steady ascension into the highest strata of hipster wunderkind godhood.
Also, you know the soundtrack is already done. So there’s that pressure off pre-production.
If you haven’t been keeping score, Wes Andersen likes few things. But the things he likes he likes a whole lot. In fact, he likes the things he likes so much he likes to use them and mostly only them, like, all the time. He’s just like that.
And he likes four things most:
- Inhumanly methodical cinematography.
- Bill Murray.
- Elephant skin riddled with diaper rash dry humor, accompanied by a tincture of displaced poignancy (See Bill Murray).
- 60s rock.
And of all 60s rock, he likes The Kinks the most, or maybe The Stones … whatever.
Besides, Kinks’ Village Green rules ass all over the Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request. Even The Stones know that.
Kinks’ Village Green is a loose concept album conceived by main songwriter Ray Davies as sort of his band’s answer to The Beatles Sgt. Pepper. Each song on Village Green serves as an isolated character study, kind of like a 60s rock version of the poetry book Spoon River Anthology.
It explores the motivations, fears and worldview of a particular inhabitant of a British village or hamlet. An example of the type of British village we’re talking about, as well as a good cinematic use of the Village Green title track can be found in the excellent comedy Hot Fuzz.
The themes that run throughout the album include nostalgia for simpler times, stubborn defiance to relinquish old-fashioned sentimentality and the often futile attempts to protect purity against modern efficiency and cold indifference. It’s about the once great British Empire already well on its decline, trying to retain a little bit of its former charm and old-timey quaintness.
So it’s basically a Wes Anderson movie already. Furthermore, the British Empire basically is Gene Hackman. Mostly just Gene Hackman as Royal Tenebaum, but also just Gene Hackman in general.
Which leads me to the main point of this article: the cast!
Can you imagine the cast in this thing yet?
Even if we just use the usual Anderson alumni, the Village Green Preservation movie would be unstoppable and more timeless than an Asian vampire. And what’s important to keep in mind when casting is that the denizens of Village Green don’t just live in some ordinary rural town.
This is a magical, surreal place occupied by talking trains, child snatching witches and transcendental morbidly obese cats … among others. Think Springfield from The Simpsons only English and taking place circa ’68.
So now only one question remains, who plays Johnny Thunder?
List time, let’s do it up.
Luke Wilson/ Leader of the Village Green Preservation Society/Walter: Luke’s going to handle the main protagonist in our ensemble piece. The Village Green album opens with the title track that basically sums up what the ‘Society’ and the album are all about. “We are the Village Green Preservation Society. God save Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety.” And also later, “We are the custard pie appreciation consortium. God save little shops, china cups and virginity.” Most important are the lines “Preserving the old ways, from being abused. Protecting the new ways for me and for you.” Luke has that perfectly earnest yet slightly off everyman with a boyish heart shtick down to a science. His character will be named Walter after the second track off the album, “Do You Remember Walter,” which leads us to our next Anderson-frequent-collaborator.
Owen Wilson/The Star Who Leaves Town/Walter’s Old Mate: The more wily of the Wilson flock will handle the chores of being the narrator of the song, “Do You Remember Walter?” The song is from the perspective of someone who was friends with Walter back in school and who together with him dreamed one day of leaving the confines of their small English village. But for some unknown reason, Walter stayed and has apparently changed his mind and decided he loves his home town and wants to keep it from the forces of progress and the modern world in general, whereas Owen’s character followed through on his youthful passions and left the village and found some sort of stardom. I say stardom because another track called “Starstruck” seems to be about a star who returns to his hometown and tries to escape the adoration of a local girl.
The dynamic between the two Wilsons here will give our movie its central push and pull.
Owen’s guy (who will basically be like Mr. Flash, another of The Kink’s Ray Davies creations from a different but related album), will represent change, sleekness, corporate modern life and other such nonsense. Whereas Luke will want to keep the focal local and continue drinking draught beer with Fat Old Uncle Charlie down by the Animal Farm. Don’t worry. We’ll cast Fat Old Uncle Charlie in a bit.
Angelica Houston has that “you know I’m old but I’m still gorgeous because Jack Nicholson and me used to have amazing tantric cocaine pagan sex in the seventies all the time” look about her.
Most importantly for this role is that the woman plays nothing but witches. Nothing.
In Addams Family she played the crepuscular and coquettish Morticia.
In the movie Witches she played the Grand High Witch.
Witch. Oh, sorry. SPOILER ALERT!
Seriously, like super witch.
Even in her first Wes Anderson role in Royal Tenebaums, most folks would say she just played the matriarch to the Tenebaum flock of hyper precocious geniuses. No, she raised a brood of supernaturally gifted youngsters.
Life Aquatic, she plays Bill Murray’s incessantly smoking, cryptic/poetic/ex wife/manager who leads him along on a string.
She’s like some menopause chimera diva.
Darjeeling Limited. Fuck, she played a mom who becomes a nun.
Anyways, “Wicked Annabella,” besides being my favorite song on the whole album, is about an evil witch who apparently abducts children and kills them or at the very least cooks them. Which usually results in death when tried with children. Sample line, “Little Children who are good. Should always go to sleep at night. Cause Wicked Annabella is up in the sky. Hoping they will open their eyes.” Jesus, I would watch the shit out of this movie.
Bill Murray/ Multiple Roles: What? Did you think we were going to make a Wes Anderson joint without Mr. Bill? Come on, dude’s been in every single Anderson movie except Anderson’s first Bottle Rocket, and we all know that’s only because Anderson hadn’t accumulated the Hollywood clout yet to get Dr. Peter Venkman on the phone. Now it’s just a given that his Billness will show.
This time around I think Murray should go the Peter Sellers route and do multiple roles in this mother.
First off he’s going to pull a Garfield again and voice a feline, this time a decidedly non-CGI cat. The Phenomenal Cat from the song of the same name. The song is one of the ultimate “what the shit?” moments on the record. It contains the line, “In the land of idiot boys, there lived a cat, a phenomenal cat. Who loved to wallow all day.” The song just gets stranger from there as it goes on to mention the cat’s travels, corporeal and metaphysical. He learns “the secret of life” after flying to Hong Kong, then “gives up his diet and eats himself to eternity.” So essentially this cat is Garfield only even more stoned than usual … and British.
Murray can do this.
I just hope Anderson includes the ultra creepy high pitched sex predator elf voice that intones the chorus’ “Fee fi feetle fi fum.”
It could be the eeriest thing I’ve see on the big screen since the ptyerdactyl ponytail rape scene from Avatar.
A scene which left me with more emotional damage than even the digestion of the well-worn plot of that film did. That being said, it was still probably the best ptyerdactyl ponytail rape scene in cinematic history (outside any love scene filmed with Steven Segal) … but I digress.
Second off, Bill Murray’s going to be Fat Old Uncle Charlie. The character is mentioned in one line in the great song “Picture Book.” Seriously, “Picture Book” sounds like the “how to write slightly-off but gorgeous pop hooks manual” that Stephen Malkmus must have read before starting Pavement. The song’s anonymous narrator simply recounts the joys found in the act of combing through an old family picture book. Fat Old Uncle Charlie is mentioned lovingly thus, “Picture book, your Mama and your Papa, and Fat Old Uncle Charlie, are cruising with their friends.” Bill can do avuncular better than Vonnegut at this point in his career.
Third off, I don’t know? But he’s gotta do a third role. It’s how the Sellers thing works. We’ll come back to Bill’s last role later on.
Jason Schwartzman/Tom The Grocery Boy Who Now Owns A Grocery: That pretty much sums up Schwartzman’s character, but nevertheless he’ll be integral to our movie. In the song “Village Green,” the narrator appears to be the same from “Starstruck,” the star who left the town and comes back to find it mostly the same and a little different. And remember this is Owen Wilson’s big shot guy, who before he left town had a thing for a girl named Daisy but apparently after Owen’s character left she got with a kid he remembered as Tom the grocery boy who will grow up to be Tom who owns the grocery; and played by Jason Schwartzman.
Lucky bastard, indie-cred, Coppola, ubiquitous admiration of lovely bookish women everywhere. Then again, he does have to deal with Nicholas Cage during family get-togethers.
Screw that, who am I kidding, Nic Cage would be the most fun crackpot relative of all time. But back to our movie, it’s all here in the lyrics, spouted from Owen Wilson’s character’s point of view, “T’was there I met a girl called Daisy and kissed her by the old oak tree. And though I loved my Daisy, I sought fame and so I left the village green.” We’ll have Schwartzman’s Tom the grocery boy/man team up with Luke Wilson’s Walter after Owen’s Star Guy comes back into town, swoops in and scoops up Daisy again.
Olivia Williams(Super sultry British chick from Rushmore who played teacher)/Monica: Monica is an intangible ultra hot British chick who lives in the village. She is Olivia Williams. And like her character in Rushmore, all men want her and maybe none can have her. Plus she’s actually British!
He’s the guy who played replacement Dumbledore after What’s His Cock died.
(Richard Harris, yeah I know, calm down dorks). British, Anderson alumni, looks sort of like an old English train, why not?
Natalie Portman/Daisy: The chick who Owen Wilson seduces away from Schwartzman. Yeah, I know she’s only been in one Anderson flick so is technically not an alumni member. But screw it I wanna see me some Natie Po.
Brian Cox/Voice Of The Big Sky: The Big Sky is sort of a god-like figure who watches the town and all the people pushing each other around. He pities the townsfolk but strangely is too big to help anyone beneath him. In our movie he’ll be the overall narrator.
Brian Cox is Scottish, he’s got a voice; it’s Scottish too.
And lastly we have Johnny Thunder. Before when I said “Wicked Annabella” was my favorite track, that wasn’t really the truth. “Johnny Thunder” is really the heart of the album and in a lot of ways can be the heart of Anderson’s adaption of Village Green. And that’s what makes it so hard to cast. The character is described as a mythic outsider who dwells around the village, never really a part of it but also never truly apart either: “Johnny Thunder lives on water, feeds on lightning. Johnny Thunder don’t need no one, don’t want money.”
The character needs to be enigmatic, iconic, a little sad but mostly heroic in a quiet and understated way.
He’s mysterious in a very ordinary world. Which is what the album is all about. A place beyond the modern world which is becoming more and more about money and the pursuit of cheap disposable kicks. Where nothing is kept for long because something “better” is coming down the pipeline. A place and society where nothing is preserved. The character of Johnny Thunder will be the barometer between Luke Wilson’s Village Green Preservation Society leader and Owen Wilson’s out of towner Mr. Flash. Because they’re both flip sides to the same coin. They both love the Village Green for what it is, but want to leave it or change it for what it can never be. Johnny Thunder has found a way to stay and leave. Which is why he’s going to have to be Bill Murray’s third role. The man really stands on his own. Still not quite part of the old guard but also not a cog of the machine which has taken its place.
Untouched, weird, heart on sleeve yet tongue in cheek.
Kind of like any scene in a Wes Anderson movie. Especially one with a Kinks’ song playing through it.
God save the Village Green.