It is obvious who should play Joe Exotic in the movie Tiger King. But who should lead it?


What do Michael Bay, Marielle Heller and Werner Herzog have in common? At first glance, less than nothing – in fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a trio of filmmakers who are less alike than the respective spirits behind Transformers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Aguirre, The Wrath of God.

But earlier this week, their three names appeared several times on social media in response to the following question (asked by me): who would you like to see a biopic of Joe Exotic, aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage, from Tiger King?

If you haven’t had the pleasure of this new Netflix real crime series yet, look for it tonight, but be sure to place a cushion on your lap beforehand, so your jaw will have something soft to hit when it falls at 30-second intervals. Located in the deranged and resentful world of American feline collectors, Tiger King himself is an extraordinary feat of cinematographic achievement: the mind is amazed at the skill required to reconcile the often contradictory tales of its colorful subjects of … well , everything… in a fluid layout.

Yet the many twists and turns of the story and the quirky cast of characters are inherently cinematic – and I found that impossible by looking at not imagining what a feature film adaptation might look like.

Exotic himself has already rung from prison, naming Brad Pitt and David Spade as his favorite candidates for the head. Regarding Pitt – he wants it. Spade is a better call, although I think there is a much stronger argument to be made for Danny McBride, or Matthew McConaughey-on-True Detective levels of grizzled. Jared Leto also threw his Stetson raffia into the ring, via an Instagram post with the hashtag #JaredLetoTigerKing, as did Edward Norton and Dax Shepard on Twitter.

Elsewhere on the platform, Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard engaged in an ironic quarrel over who could play the role of Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue and the long-time exotic enemy. But at 43 and 39, they are both a bit young for the role: I would have given it to Emma Thompson or Frances McDormand, with either William H Macy or Richard Jenkins as her third supernaturally composed husband, Howard. As for the croaking reality producer, chain smoking and having coffee, Rick Kirkham: take a step forward Billy Bob Thornton.

In fact, a documentary-inspired miniseries is currently being produced by Kate McKinnon, who has reserved the role of Baskin for herself. But for me, such a singular story requires the specificity of the style in which cinema is much better than television. No writers ‘rooms or directors’ rotations: his binding vision must be as unique and unequivocal as Exotic himself.

But whose vision is it? To find out, I ran a Tiger King Directors World Cup on Twitter this week – gnaw at your heart, Richard Osman – and after 31,076 votes were cast, the Coen brothers came out victorious. This makes perfect sense: Tiger King’s plans are as far-fetched as Blood Simple or Fargo, his intrigue as complicated as Burn After Reading, his ensemble players as idiosyncratic and cracked as those of Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou ?, and the man who was not there. Herzog came very close, however, with 47% of the vote for 53 from Coens. And the playoffs for third place were even tighter: Steven Soderbergh took the lead with 51%, against the 49 of Taika Waititi.

Now, I would personally like to see a Tiger King feature film by one of the directors above – or Bay, Heller, the Safdie brothers, Lee Daniels, Harmony Korine, Sean Baker, Debra Granik or Alma Har’el, to get some more names from the group stage of 32 with which the World Cup started. However, it goes without saying that, apart from their premise and their list of characters, none of these films would have been more distant in common. This speaks volumes about the richness of Tiger King’s history, but also about the ability of cinema to wrestle with the same little set of essential human stories and concerns in an infinitely original way.

Alfred Hitchcock used to joke that if he made a film adaptation of Cinderella, the audience would wait for a body to show up in the pumpkin. It was a line of self-mockery, but again, it’s hard not to imagine what could have been: the flight of the palace at midnight staged like the sequence of the art gallery in Vertigo, or the continuation of the museum in Torn Curtain.

Critic Mark Cousins ​​has written extensively on “want-see” – cinema of particular primal power must draw us in with the promise of being able to really feast our eyes on something, or at least its facsimile, rather than d ” have to synthesize an idea from information and our own imagination.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Hollywood began to use the term “want to see” to describe the special appeal of blockbusters – how they could get people in line with their promise to attend an possessed girl by demons, or a space war, or a man-eating shark.

The same goes for the dream movies that we wish to have been made or that would be: once again, it all comes down to wanting to see. Talking about possibilities just creates an appetite. Watching is the only way to scratch the itch.

PS. For our next watchalong, Tuesday at 5 p.m., we will settle in with the classic Hitchcock 1954 rear window, one of the most beautiful films he fact make. It’s for everyone watching from their living room. Grab some popcorn and join us! And if there are any movies that you would like us to cover in the future, let me know via Twitter.


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