DID YOU READ

Adapt This: “Unknown Soldier” by Joshua Dysart & Alberto Ponticelli

unknown soldier

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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a cool comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from various comic creators and other industry experts about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: Unknown Soldier by Joshua Dysart & Alberto Ponticelli (Vertigo)

The Premise: After fleeing war-ravaged Northern Uganda when he was seven years old, Dr. Lwanga Moses returns years later on a humanitarian mission, only to find himself caught up in the atrocities committed by the savage Lord’s Resistance Army in their guerilla war against the Ugandan government. When his first encounter with the LRA sends him into a violent rage that leaves one child soldier dead and his own face scarred beyond recognition, he discovers that there’s something lurking deep within him that’s not only comfortable amid the violence around him, but thrives on it. Struggling to reconcile the difference between the peaceful man he was and the ruthless killer he’s becoming, Lwanga begins to think that his bandaged alter ego might be exactly what his enemies deserve.

The Pitch: The first volume of this bloody, brutal series by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli didn’t skimp on the reality checks, and offered a terrifying look at the savage, real-world war currently being waged in Northern Uganda and the surrounding African territories. A big-screen adaptation of the series — or its first volume, at least — would need to be similarly unflinching if it’s going to be effective.

The war in and around Uganda has served as the setting for a number of films in recent years, including “Machine Gun Preacher” (based on the real-life story of Sam Childers, an American who operates an orphanage in South Sudan). And though Unknown Soldier is a fictional story, Dysart’s meticulous research and the unique spin he puts on the character make it stand out from the crowd with a tone that’s significantly more gritty and raw than much of what’s been seen on the screen.

To that end, a movie based on Unknown Soldier certainly wouldn’t be aimed at the typical comic book movie audience, though Dysart does give the title character a preternatural, Jason Bourne-like knack for military strategy and combat techniques. If the war in Uganda did give birth to a superhero, it’s not hard to believe that the scarred — both physically and psychologically — result is the Unknown Soldier.

Casting Suggestions: It’s easy to name-drop Denzel Washington as a fantastic choice for the role of Lwanga Moses, given the gritty, violent characters he’s played to perfection in films like “Man On Fire” and “Training Day,” but Hollywood isn’t likely to provide a Denzel-level paycheck for a project as grim, gritty, and decidedly non-mainstream as an “Unknown Soldier” movie. A better option might be someone like “Gladiator” actor Djimon Hounsou, who’s no stranger to violent subject matter and brutal action sequences, but hasn’t found the right project yet to feature him front and center. Up-and-coming actor Anthony Mackie also seems like a nice fit for the role, having established himself with gritty dramas like the “The Hurt Locker.”


Would “Unknown Soldier” make a good movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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Ho Ho Ha

Xmas Miracles You’ll See At Joe’s Pub

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special Premieres December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It’s just so tempting to bah-humbug the holiday season. And while there’s much we can’t wait to put behind us, one thing left to look forward to with pure and wide-eyed joy is Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celebration in the true spirit of those splendid TV specials from the ’70s and ’80s, complete with special guests, musical numbers, awkward segues and an (intentionally) wafer-thin narrative through line.

As if you need more convincing, here are a few juicy nuggets to get excited for…

Tony Hale plying the captive audience with hot chocolate (and it working).

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Bridget Everett dressed like an ornament…

and in a state of nearly constant wardrobe malfunction.
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Matteo Lane hitting a crazy high note in a Snuggie.

Not a Slanket. There’s a meaningful difference.

Lisa Loeb creeping on Kurt Vile.

#hairlikeapony #whynotme
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Judah Friedlander getting replaced by a robot…

and it pretty much going as expected.
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Bottom line: the miracles abound. Grinches, Scrooges, and Tiny Tims alike will find their Holiday joy. And it’ll be awkward–in the most wonderful kind of way.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10p on IFC

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