Friday, October 06, 2006

Where I'm Calling From

Here’s the new semi-regular feature I warned you about last week. I’ve added pictures to keep you interested should you grow weary from the text.

Also in the interest of making this feature less boring, since most of you probably aren’t familiar with this song, I thought it might be interesting to cast the parts if this song were ever to be made into a short feature. But first, our feature presentation.

This week’s entry is from Tom Waits. Delivered as they are from his skid-row troubadour personae, Waits’ lyrics often run from fiendishly funny to downright disturbing. But on the song “I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You” he delves compassionately into the soul of a lonesome barfly who lives life in his head, while his head is in a bottle.

As the song starts, the lead actor, who we’ll call Tom, is at his usual place. We assume he’s been there for some time, probably years. Tom spots a woman from across the room. With the music playing in the bar supplying the soundtrack, his liquor-fortified imagination sets the reel rolling on a love story, if only it could be.

Without a word spoken or a glance exchanged, Tom picks-up on her heart’s yearning for him. He pretends to resist, telling himself that he doesn’t need the heartache. Another beer, and he can hear her calling to him.

By the second verse he seems less sure of her attraction and he wonders if he should approach. Would she take pity on a lonely fool? Does she understand those “tomcat feelings” that make men start to pine when darkness falls?

Tom searches for an in, a way of introduction. Maybe she is just as lonely as he is and it would simply be a matter of bumming a smoke. As each verse ends, he protects himself from the inevitable heartbreak by repeating to himself that he doesn’t want to fall in love again.

As time passes, the only interaction he is able to muster is with his glass. Rising from his stupor, induced by equal parts reverie and whiskey, Tom realizes that the music has stopped playing. A hazy search across the bar reveals that she has gone. It’s closing time. He fell in love.


The cast of I Hope I Don't Fall in Love with You

The obviously choice to play Tom is Waits himself. He’s demonstrated his acting chops in several films, but his turns usually have a comedic element to them that would distract from the forlornness of our tale.

Paul Giamatti would be a good choice based on his expressive face and ability to communicate emotion without words, but he ultimately lacks the Bohemian-ness the role requires.

So we’ll have to get Sean Penn down off of his soapbox to play the part. Nobody broods and mumbles as artfully as Mr. Spicoli. His ability to seem rugged yet vulnerable makes him the perfect choice to play a hardened character who douses his melting heart with alcohol.

For the role of the anonymous dame who stirs Tom’s imagination, it’s tempting to go with Angelina Jolie or Amanda Peet. Of course, if I were casting the role of Eleanor in an FDR biopic, I’d be tempted to sign-up Angelina or Amanda. The more movies these two are in, the better for all of us.** Although it pains me to say this, perhaps we shouldn’t let infatuation interfere with the artistic integrity of the production.

Faye Dunaway has to be considered based on the strength of her performance as Wanda in Barfly. She was a drunken mess of emotions in that film, but we need someone with an outward appearance of grace that only hints at an inner turmoil.

Ellen Barkin, she of the wide-set eyes and crooked smile, has an offbeat sexiness that would shine through in even the dimmest and smoke-filled of bars. She’s also a bit crazy, a trait that comes through in all of her roles. I could believe that Tom would fall for her. He’d think her approachable if he could just bottled-up enough courage, yet unattainable enough that he would never make it off of his stool.

The only other role that could reasonably be written-in to the film would be that of the bartender.

We could go the comedic cameo route and cast Woody Harrelson, but that would be too jokey and distracting. Steve Buscemi is always great at bringing eccentricity and peculiarity to nondescript roles such as this. But this is Seymour Cassel’s part to lose. If you walked into some seedy tavern tonight and saw him tending bar, even if you did recognize him from Rushmore or the Royal Tenenbaums, you wouldn’t think it odd when he poured you a rye and asked about that shiner under your left eye.

And that’s my little attempt at artistic interpretation for this week. After writing this, it occurred to me that it would be easier to write about songs that I despise. Believe you me; I have quite a few things to say about the lyrics to that inane James Blunt song.

*The title comes from my favorite collection of short stories, written by Raymond Carver.

** See what I mean



Mick Shrimpton said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that was great. Now do one on a song we all want to have dissected and thoughtfully discussed. That song? "Giving the Dog a Bone" by AC/DC.

I have always wondered just what they mean by that. Hopefully Dan, you will be able to clear that up for us. Thanks.

Laura said...


Ok, now I know how well I know you. Before this post, I was going to reply to the one where you first floated this idea and request that this little gem by Tom Waits be considered. But I never got around to it, and I didn't really think I'd have to suggest it anyway - I knew you'd do it.

I found it especially interesting that you cast the parts. If you ever do a Sarah Borges song, and you think maybe Sarah was at some point actually singing about Binky, I think Mike Bondmass would be a good choice for that role. You'll have to post pictures from this past weekend to see if others who know Mike would agree.

Anyway, I am also anticipating that Aimee Mann's 'Mr. Harris' will be featured in a future post?