Welcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our diverse lives all led us to convene here together. Got a question you’d like us and the readers to answer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s question was inspired by Siblings Week:
What sibling would you like to see take on another’s work?
What about Maggie Gyllenhaal as the creepy paparazzo in Nightcrawler? Sure, her brother Jake was pretty much perfect in the role—a super creeper who didn’t even realize how fucked-up his plan for success was. But the gender flip might make it even creepier, with Maggie delivering those sociopathic come-ons to a male boss. (Does Rene Russo have a brother?) I’m not sure she could pull off the wide-eyed intensity that Jake does in the role—I’m scared of him permanently now—but I bet she’d have a fun time diving into it.
Reversing Josh’s pick, I’d like to see Jake Gyllenhaal star in his sister’s BDSM film, Secretary. Maggie plays the submissive partner to James Spader’s dominant boss, a common enough sexual practice that’s nearly exclusively depicted as a woman subservient to a dominant man in media. Out in the real world, though, there are plenty of submissive men and dom women, and Jake can stretch his acting chops in a challenging role while breaking stereotypes, much like he did in Brokeback Mountain. While he’s in there breaking down gender role tropes, he can also correct some of the problematic depictions of BDSM portrayed in Secretary—namely, the proposition that spanking is an alternative to self-mutilation. Jake’s sex positive, healthy, and always-consensual exploration of BDSM will be the progressive answer to all the sex-negative stuff that came out of Fifty Shades Of Grey, too. Because as Dan Savage often points out in his column, the BDSM community is actually better at obtaining, communicating, and sustaining consent than non-BDSM practitioners.
Look, I like Jason Bateman as much as the next person, but he’s had a couple of roles at which I would like to see his sister, Justine Bateman, take a crack. Starting with Teen Wolf Too, which isn’t very good but would’ve at least been interesting with Justine as the headliner, we could then get a re-do of The Kingdom with her playing his role, again shaking up and adding some new dynamics to an otherwise milquetoast story. But really, the project that would be most improved by the sibling switcheroo would be The Change-Up, the appalling body-switch comedy starring Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. With the female Bateman co-starring, it may not be any funnier, but the movie would at least be a little more original, and not quite so bro-tastically bad. Plus, she’s mostly left acting behind, and it’d be exciting to see her dive back in.
I love movies featuring the Wilson brothers, especially the ones they did with Wes Anderson (and especially when Owen also contributed to the screenplay). If forced to choose, though, I find Owen leagues more entertaining than Luke, even though he usually plays a similar version of his goofy, groovy screen persona. So I can’t help but think how much more interesting The Royal Tenenbaums would have been had the Wilson brothers swapped places, with outspoken Owen playing the sensitive, disturbed tennis player Richie, and quieter Luke as the bombastic, best-selling author Eli. A chance to play these two against type would have added yet another interesting layer to Tenenbaums. But I’m still a huge fan of the movie, especially in the Wilsons’ scene with just the two of them; it barely contains any dialogue, just hilarious fraternal chemistry.
I’m going to be cruel here and rob poor Stephen Baldwin of one of the few highlights of his career: his portrayal of twitchy, doomed sniper McManus in Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects. Because as good as Stephen is there—and for once in his career, he really is, investing the character with a distinctively laconic kind of nihilism—there’s a twisted side of me that wants to see what his brother Alec would do with the part. It would turn the movie into a train wreck, probably; Alec’s more forceful charisma would disrupt the film’s delicately balanced leads, and the establishing scene in the holding cell would be ruined by him and Gabriel Byrne pushing each other for dominance. But here’s a secret about me: I like trainwrecks, and I love the thought of audiences spending the whole movie wondering if McManus is Keyser Söze, based solely on the big-name actor who’s playing the part. (As long as I’m taking a hammer to the subtext and tone of classic films by pulling the ol’ Baldwin switch, though, let’s say Stephen can get even by investing Alec’s big speech from Glengarry Glen Ross with a slimy undercurrent of desperation and need.)
I realize I have to cheat death to see this one happen, but if only the lazy, hacky comedy of Jim Belushi could be redone by his quick-witted, anarchic brother John. Imagine the elder Belushi ad-libbing back-and-forth with his partner in K-9, or running verbal rings around his only slightly more-articulate partner in Red Heat. Maybe Taking Care Of Business would be considered a classic with top-notch comic talent in the lead instead of an inoffensive schlub. Hell, even dreck like According To Jim would have at least been interesting with a “sell me your children” scene thrown in every once in a while.
Hear me out: most of the time, I think I’d like Ridley Scott movies more if they were directed by his late brother, Tony Scott. Yes, I’ll grant Ridley Blade Runner and Alien, and I’ll throw in the wonderful Matchstick Men and the unfairly pilloried Prometheus, too. He can keep those four (and potentially Thelma & Louise, which I haven’t yet seen); that’s fine. (Really, he can keep all of them; I don’t have access to Deja Vu-style time-travel.) But otherwise, I tend to prefer Tony’s movies, to the point where I’d love to see what greenish hues, swirling helicopter shots, and over-cutting he could have applied to various Ridley Scott snooze-fests like Body Of Lies or Kingdom Of Heaven. American Gangster is certainly a respectable movie as is, but Tony would’ve made a juicier, more entertaining, more stylish showcase for Denzel Washington, who has given some of his best pure movie-star performances for the younger Scott; The Counselor has its virtues, but maybe Tony would have jazzed up Cormac McCarthy’s idiosyncratic script, rather than stepping back and seeming a little puzzled by it. Even the Ridley stuff that seems way out of Tony’s wheelhouse, like Legend or Robin Hood, might have benefited from the late-period sheen he brought to his tragically incomplete “Denzel Washington on a train” trilogy. I ask even the most committed Ridley Scott fan: could 1492: Conquest Of Paradise or Exodus: Gods And Kings turned out much worse?
I would have liked to see Daniel Bedingfield’s career play out more like his sister Natasha Bedingfield’s. Both made an initial splash worth noting—Daniel with his first single “Gotta Get Thru This,” which hit No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart and Natasha with “Unwritten” from her debut album of the same name, which earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. From there, Natasha’s career continued to take off in the U.S. for a few years, while Daniel slowly faded from the U.K.’s consciousness. So, I don’t exactly wish Daniel was still making music today, but it would have been nice to see his ingenuity—he recorded that debut album at home using Making Waves Audio software, and created a total of six top 10 singles in the U.K.—paired with Natasha’s overall success, thus enabling a stronger set of recordings, with his more ambitious, less straight-pop sound.
I am fascinated by the relationships between Eric and Julia Roberts and Michael and Virginia Madsen. Julia Roberts and Virginia Madsen have wholesome, “America’s sweetheart” vibes while their character-actor brothers both seem like the kind of dark, tormented souls who have probably murdered hobos with shivs while blackout drunk. I would love to see Julia Roberts tackle her brother Eric’s role as Duffy, the talking cat in A Talking Cat!?! If she’s like her brother, she could tape the whole thing during one of her coffee breaks in a single take. I would love to see what fans of her romantic comedies would make of The Room of anthropomorphic talking animal movies. And I’d love to see Michael Madsen take over his sister’s role in Sideways. I think his sexual chemistry with Paul Giamatti would be, at the very least, interesting.
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
I’ve been a lifelong Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen fan. I grew up with their movies and even was a member of their official fan club. So it’s not necessarily surprising that I’m still obsessed with an Olsen sister in the year 2015, but I never expected it to be their younger secret sister Elizabeth, mainly because I, like most people, didn’t really know anything about Elizabeth until Martha Marcy May Marlene. Not to knock the twins, but Elizabeth acts on a level that we’ve just never seen from them (it doesn’t help that they haven’t really made any movies since they were teens). Part of Elizabeth’s allure is that she’s so green and undeniably more human than her older sisters, the result of not growing up as a child megastar. But I would still like to go back in time and see remakes of any number of the Mary-Kate and Ashley films I grew up with, but starring Elizabeth… as both twins, Orphan Black-style. I think she would be up for the acting challenge, and I also think—much like she was one of the best parts of Age Of Ultron—she would bring a little something special to the TV movies and direct-to-video films that defined her sisters’ early careers.
In pursuing music, Solange Knowles had maybe the biggest sibling shadow in the world to escape from, but she’s managed it by pursuing a completely different style than Beyoncé’s dirty pop fantasies. Her EP True is an Afro-pop dream, loaded with catchy hooks and grinning refrains. I’d dare you to listen to her unexpectedly peppy breakup anthem “Losing You” without grooving out, but that would be mean, because it’s impossible. So all hail Queen Bey, et cetera and so on (she says to placate the Beygency), but I would love to see Beyoncé take on some smooth jams in the style of her sister. As for Solange, I don’t need her to recreate “Partition,” but I would do terrible things for the surprise release of Solange’s secret video album (especially if it featured her stunning wedding party).