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Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks & Woody Harrelson Complete Jason Reitman's 'American Beauty' Live-Reading Cast

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by Edward Davis
September 5, 2012 3:08 PM
10 Comments
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It's not a Toronto International Film Festival without Jason Reitman (his father Ivan of "Ghostbusters" fame is on the committee, of course). The director, who has had most of his features debut at the festival (aside from "Young Adult"), had tweeted some question mark suggestions about TIFF earlier in the week that some took as hints that he had completed his just-finished "Labor Day" drama starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. That was not to be as expected (c'mon guys, the thing just wrapped a few weeks ago and is coming out in the summer of 2013). Instead, Reitman revealed he was orchestrating another one of his popular live readings series which thus far have included "Reservoir Dogs," Billy Wilder's "The Apartment," "The Breakfast Club," "The Princess Bride," "Shampoo,"and "The Big Lebowski" (the concept: contemporary actors doing stage readings of the original screenplay in front of an audience).

This time, Reitman will put on a live reading of Sam Mendes' 2000 Academy Award-winning Best Picture feature, "American Beauty" (the picture won five nominations in total that year and was nominated for eight awards). Already featuring appearances by Sarah Gadon ("Cosmopolis") and Adam Driver ("Girls") ,earlier today half the cast was revealed, including Mae Whitman as Thora Birch's character and comedian Nick Kroll ("Community") playing Peter Gallagher's part.

Entertainment Weekly has finally revealed the big coup of three more key parts from the original movie. Bryan Cranston as Lester Burnham (originally played by Kevin Spacey in a Best Actor-winning role), Christina Hendricks in the role of his wife Carolyn Bumham (played originally by Annette Bening) and Woody Harrelson reenacting the role of Col. Frank Fitts (Chris Cooper in Mendes' film).

It's a outstanding choice of actors, but personally, this writer doesn't think "American Beauty" holds up. It probably doesn't help that the "plastic bag" sequence in the film has been mocked ad nauseum, but it's possible I'm in the minority. Your thoughts on the film? Reitman's latest live read takes place on Thursday, September 5th at 6 p.m. in Toronto.

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10 Comments

  • Remy | September 5, 2012 5:13 PMReply

    I think it holds up great. It's my favorite movie.

  • JD | September 5, 2012 4:36 PMReply

    There was a heavy backlash a year or two after it came out, but there's a pretty strong backlash to the backlash now. It obviously has problems, but some of it still hold up incredibly well, particularly the semi-Hitchcockian video voyeurism and most of the Spacey stuff.

  • Alan | September 7, 2012 5:10 AM

    The backlash occurred for a number of reasons. 'Six Feet Under' overshadowed the film to a degree (exploring concerns about suburbia, sexuality and death with a greater degree of depth, given its longform structure), and there were a number of new critics that replaced others: A.O. Scott replaced Janet Maslin, who praised the film, has frequently disparaged the work of Sam Mendes. It must have been a badge of honor, I guess, to piss over the work of your predecessor.

  • BEF | September 5, 2012 4:26 PMReply

    Amazing cast. Fun night. The film may not hold up to repeat viewings but remember the first time you saw it and it felt original, funny and alive. Later it felt silly. But this one reading will probably feel like the guest viewing, which would be fun. If this were part if his LACMA series I would clamor for tickets.

  • sp | September 5, 2012 4:28 PM

    Bef, this film still holds up.

  • BEF | September 5, 2012 4:27 PM

    *first viewing

  • drew | September 5, 2012 4:12 PMReply

    I wish I could hear some of these? Are they archived anywhere?

  • Sean | September 5, 2012 4:10 PMReply

    Minor nitpick: Nick Kroll should be credited for the League not Community. A staring role as opposed to a guest spot in one episode? Come on.

  • Barracuda | September 5, 2012 3:24 PMReply

    "Paper bag" or plastic bag?

  • Barracuda | September 5, 2012 3:25 PM

    Either way, I still like the film.

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