Saturday, November 8, 2014

Canada stands in for the American West in Leonardo DiCaprio's The Revenant


Is there a term for literature designed specifically for the male of the species? Something that's the polar opposite of so-called chick-lit? Because Michael Punke's The Revenant : A Novel of Revenge — not to put too sexist a point on it —sounds like it needs to be filed under that genre, whatever that is. Man-venture? They've made up a genre for this one, they're calling it a 'revenge western'.

Here's the lowdown on the book over at Amazon where it's filed under thrillers and suspense—
AN UNFORGETTABLE NOVEL OF REVENGE, SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, STARRING LEONARDO DICAPRIO
The year is 1823, and the trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company live a brutal frontier life. Trapping beaver, they contend daily with the threat of Indian tribes turned warlike over the white men’s encroachment on their land, and other prairie foes—like the unforgiving landscape and its creatures. Hugh Glass is among the Company’s finest men, an experienced frontiersman and an expert tracker. But when a scouting mission puts him face-to-face with a grizzly bear, he is viciously mauled and not expected to survive.
The Company’s captain dispatches two of his men to stay behind and tend to Glass before he dies, and to give him the respect of a proper burial. When the two men abandon him instead, taking his only means of protecting himself—including his precious gun and hatchet— with them, Glass is driven to survive by one desire: revenge.
With shocking grit and determination, Glass sets out crawling inch by inch across more than three thousand miles of uncharted American frontier, negotiating predators both human and not, the threat of starvation, and the agony of his horrific wounds. In Michael Punke’s hauntingly spare and gripping prose, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession, the human will stretched to its limits, and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.

Meh. Not for me. But the movie, with Leonardo DiCaprio thrown in, just might be. According to the Calgary Herald, the film is currently shooting in Canada, primarily all over the province of Alberta with a week or so in B.C. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu it's reportedly being shot in script order, a very unusual and pricey proposition. In the news just now for Birdman, the acclaimed director has Babel, Beautiful and 21 Grams under his belt. I first learned about the project this past spring in the context of Danny Boyle talking to Leo about doing the Steve Jobs movie, believe it or not. Thank God, DiCaprio was busy with this one; I don't see him as Jobs at all. Then again, I don't see Fassbender, now in the mix, either. Mark Strong anyone?


In addition to the lovely Leo as Hugh Glass, the maulee, the cast of The Revenant includes Tom Hardy (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The Dark Knight Rises) as John Fitzgerald, a fugitive mercenary, and one of two men left to watch over Glass and bury him upon his death. Things don't go as planned in the story based on a true incident. I've just started watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix, apparently Hardy's in that as well, but I've been too mesmerized by Cillian Murphy's performance to notice. Hardy is barely recognizable —that's him, above — that mustache eclipsing his trademark full lips.


Domhnall Gleeson, he of the hard-to-spell first name, and who I've been writing quite a bit about on this blog, is Capt. Andrew Henry, who refuses to leave Glass alone, charging the unethical Fitzgerald and young Bridger to watch over him. The red-headed Gleeson can be seen this Christmas as one of the band of men captured by the Japanese in Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed movie. He's also Eilis Irish love interest in Brooklyn, based on the book by Colm Toibin. I've been paying attention to Gleeson's career because he was one of the few good things about the failed Anna Karenina movie starring Jude Law and Keira Knightley. Will Poulter plays Jim Bridger, who in real life ended up a frontier hero.

Megan Ellison is producing – the young female producer behind Zero Dark Thirty — but as of this writing she appears to be one of the few woman on board. Of the eighteen cast members listed on imdb not one is female. The costume designer is a woman - an A-list one at that; Jacqueline West did the costumes for Tree of Life, Argo, The Social Network, Benjamin Buttons and Quills. She earned Oscar noms for the last two. And there's a smattering of women in the make up department, but that's about it.

Emmanuel Lubezki is the award winning cinematographer. He's been nominated six times for the beautiful The Tree of Life, Sleepy Hollow, Children of Men, The New World, A Little Princess and Gravity, for which he won the Oscar, the BAFTA and the ASC's highest honor.  So at least we know it will look good.

Still, it's not exactly my cup of tea. I like to see women in the mix, not necessarily in a romantic or sexual way, but the stories that interest me most, tend to be peopled by both sexes, much the way the world we know it, is. That doesn't mean there's no room for boy's life adventure stories (I don't thing 'man-venture' will stick do you?) but it better be good, damn good.

Read a bit more about The Revenant in The Calgary Herald.

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