Monday, July 25, 2016

A Philip Roth Renaissance? Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon star in Indignation [trailer]

Philip Roth is having a good year! I'm currently reading Roth's American Pastoral which is headed to theaters at the end of this year with Ewan McGregor both directing and starring, along with Dakota Fanning as his rebellious daughter and Jennifer Connelly as his former beauty contest winner wife. 

But first, due out on July 29th, Indignation based on Roth's novel of the same name, stars Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon. Lerman in particular is getting raves for his performance. One of the blurbs in the trailer below calls it a star making performance; about time for the young Lerman who has been a successfully working actor in Hollywood since 2000. You've seen him in Jack & Bobby, The 3:10 to Yuma, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and last years Fury with Brad Pitt. 

I haven't read Indignation yet but here's the gist of it—
Based on the novel by Philip Roth, “Indignation” stars Lerman as Marcus Messner, a working class Jewish student who receives a scholarship to attend a small, conservative college in Ohio. Set in 1951, the story follows Messner as he attends the college, thus exempting him from being drafted in the Koran War, but a blossoming love affair with a beautiful classmate and a volcanic relationship with the college’s dean put his plans to the ultimate test.

I shared the opening paragraph and some stills from Indignation in that previous post. 

Here's the trailer which makes me want to read the novel right away. It's been almost fifty years since Roth's Goodbye Columbus lit up the screens with its collegiate concerns. The film was a huge hit, its screenplay was Oscar nominated for its adaptation. Will James Schamus be as successful? Here's hoping!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Paris Runaway by Paulita Kincer: Let's play the casting game.

Last week Paulita Kincer shared her dream cast for a screen adaptation of her novel Paris Runaway, her latest book set in France and a terrific beach read. You can check out my take on the book  if you like. Or visit the book's page on GoodReads etc.

I loved her suggestion of Julianne Moore for Sadie, the middle-aged, red-headed divorced mother of two young women, a college student and a high school senior, the so-called Paris Runaway who goes chasing after a French exchange student. 

And no one could fault her choice of Jean DuJardin as the sexy fifty-something divorced French father of the young man. Auguste and Sadie band together to find their kids.

The daughters, Madison Davenport from Criminal Minds as the older daughter Evangeline and Willow Shields from Hunger Games as Scarlet, the Paris Runaway are terrific.

That brings me to my only quibble. Paulita's choice of Ansel Elgort, the popular young actor who starred opposite Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars, to play Luc, the French student.

I get it. Elgort is a handsome young man and a talented actor. Tall, lean, athletic looking. He's a name in Hollywood, a known quantity. A studio would easily be onboard with the costar of one of the decade's most popular films, both with critics and at the box office. On the other hand, with the powerhouse talent of Moore and DuJardin, we don't need another known quantity quite so much. We can look beyond the choices Hollywood wants to serve up.

Paulita could very well be right, that Ansel Elgort could pull off a French accent. The thing is I don't want an American actor pulling off an accent that's notoriously difficult to nail. Did you see Joseph Gordon-Levitt in last year's The Walk where he played the French tightrope walker, Phillipe Pettit? Laughable! Non! I would love to see the real thing, and I think young American women would too. Not an American boy pretending to be French. We want a genuine young Frenchman with a sullen, sightly angry edge. But what do I know about young French actors? I don't know enough about French film to know who today's version of a young Jean Paul Belmondo or Alain Delon could possibly be I took to google, looking up young French male actors, under 30. That didn't work, the results were a motley crew of French actors, mostly in their 30's or older. Vincent Cassel's name popped up a lot. Vincent Cassel has to be at least forty. Sorry, google, Cassel will NOT work for Luc.

Then I found this guy. His name is Louka Meliava and he can currently be seen in Camping 3, a French comedy about, yup, camping. His credits also include Breathe 2014, Beauty and the Beast 2014 and One Wild Moment 2015. By the way, Vincent Cassel—the French thief in the Oceans 11 movies—starred in the last two!
La Belle et la Bete/Beauty and the Beast

Un moment d'├ęgarement/One Wild Moment

Camping 3

To be honest, I can't find his age anywhere. He looks young enough to me but he could be closer to 30 than 20. At my age, I've lost all perspective!

What do you think? Does he work as an 18 year old French exchange student? If you're a fan of French films can you suggest a young French actor you'd like to see in the role? It's not a huge part, but it's pivotal. He has to be able to, as Paulita notes, "pull off an insouciant French teenager who bumbles his way into trouble."

Let me know in the comment section below!

I'm linking up with Paulita's Dreaming of France meme.
Today she has a really lovely post about falling in love with France.

Eddie Redmayne Casts a Spell with New 'Fantastic Beasts' trailer

I'm just about to grab coffee #2 before I take my morning walk—before the heat kicks in here in LA—and get a busier than usual Sunday started. It's my big brother's birthday today, which prompted a little personal writing over on Sim Carter: Memoir+More, so I'll make this Slacker Sunday (Sunday Slacker?) quick so I can get to celebrating.

Eddie Redmayne put a spell on all 6500 fans crowding Hall H at ComicCon this Saturday. According to Variety, as part of the intro to the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trailer, Redmayne literally cast a Lumos Maxima spell on the crowd AND handed out magic wands to all. Director David Yates and fellow stars Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, and Colin Farrell were all there for the panel.

Watch the newest trailer and see if you don't find it fantastic. Unless you think it's beastly? Let me know in the comment section below. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
 opens on November 18th

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Fair Lady #SaturdayMatinee

Yesterday, as part of the virtual walk in London I take every Friday on, I shared the image (below) of Audrey Helpburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady

Thanks, I said to myself, reaching over to pat my own back, My Fair Lady is a great suggestion for this week's Saturday Matinee. Until I realize the classic film isn't available on the usual streaming services to watch on a Saturday afternoon. Not on Amazon, not iTunes, not GooglePlay. And of course it's not on Netflix because when is anything ever available on Netflix when you want it to be

But I can't bear to ignore it. It's My Fair Lady, the Best Picture of 1964! Adapted from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion—did you know that Shaw himself wrote the screenplay adaptation of his play for the 1938 version of the movie?—the words and music for the musical version of are from musical great Alan Jay Lerner. How great? Gigi, An American in Paris, Brigadoon, Camelot. That great. Sort of surprising that while his was one of twelve Academy Award nominations the movie received, he didn't win an Oscar for his work. 

What Oscars did My Fair Lady take home? 

Best Picture

Best Actor in a Leading Role (to Rex Harrison)

Harrison dedicated his Oscar to "two fair ladies." Julie Andrews who he appeared with in the Broadway play and Audrey Hepburn who landed the movie role instead, much to the chagrin of Julie Andrews fans.

Best Director (George Cukor) 

Best Musical Score (Andre Previn)

Best Sound 

And back in the day when certain categories were still separated out by black & white and color films ... 

Best Cinematography (Color) 

Best Art Direction & Set Decoration (Color) 

Best Costume Design (Color)

Did you notice Audrey Hepburn didn't receive a nomination? I wondered why, because surely My Fair Lady would never have been the mammoth success it was without that fair lady?

Roger Ebert explained in his belated review in 2006:
Many viewers would rather discuss the film that wasn't made, the one that would have starred Julie Andrews, who made the role of Eliza her own on the stage. Casting Audrey Hepburn was seen as a snub of Andrews, and so it was; producer and studio head Jack L. Warner chose Hepburn for her greater box-office appeal, and was prepared to offer the role to Elizabeth Taylor if Hepburn turned it down.
One of the best-known items in the history of movie trivia is that Hepburn did not sing her own songs, but was dubbed by the gifted Marni Nixon. So notorious became this dubbing, so egregious was it made to appear, that although "My Fair Lady" was nominated for 12 Oscars and won eight (including best picture, actor, director and cinematography), Hepburn was not even nominated for best actress; Julie Andrews was, the same year, for "Mary Poppins," and she won.
Hmmm. As Ebert points out later in his review, Hepburn did do her own acting, didn't she? She was riveting whether she did her own singing or not. I haven't seen this movie in such a long time, I'd really love to see it again.

So, digging down deep to the dark ages when we actually had to make a trip out to Blockbuster to rent a video, I could rent the video from Netflix for delivery as early as tomorrow, although it could take a few days. But that's only if I had signed up for the DVD membership, which I haven't. It certainly won't be a Saturday Matinee.

Let's watch the trailer. What would you do?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Dakota Fanning to star in The Bell Jar directed by Kirsten Dunst

Kirsten Dunst is making her feature film directorial debut with a movie based on Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. Dakota Fanning will star as Esther Greenwood, the magazine intern who slowly devolves into mental illness. The tragedy of Plath's life of course, is that The Bell Jar is semi-autobiographical, documenting her summer at Mademoiselle as a guest editor while she was still a college student at Smith. The book was published in 1963, the same year Plath succeeded in killing herself in the London apartment she shared with her husband and two small children.

Sylvia Plath's shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. 
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.
I feel as though I need to reread the novel which I read when I was back in college, in the mid-seventies. I can't say I'm looking forward to it, immersing myself in misery is less appealing the older I get! The fact that Plath's own story parallels the book's, takes it out of the realm of pure entertainment. Obviously, it's an important book, and handled well by Ms. Dunst, should be a powerful film. 

What's your take on The Bell Jar and Dakota Fanning as Plath's Esther Greenwood? 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Siracusa: Delia Ephron's latest book getting its big screen moment in the sun

I loved Delia Ephron's The Lion is In so much I put it on my short list of books I wished were movies. I won't have to do that with her latest book, Siracusa, as the novel, released July 12th, was optioned by Working Title back in March. A director is already lined up; Alfonso Gomez-Rejon who recenlty helmed the adaptation of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

The book takes place on the island of Sicily, on the Ionian Sea so the 'sun-drenched' locale seems set in stone. I love movies that show us the world, and Siracusa, full of Greek influence, sounds like a special place to see. All that's left is the casting. I can't wait to start reading! 

Here's the rundown on the book—already named one of New York Magazines top 100 beach reads.  
An electrifying novel about marriage and deceit from bestselling author Delia Ephron that follows two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from one another are exposed and relationships are unraveled. 
New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn; his wife, Taylor; and their daughter, Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage. 
With her inimitable psychological astute­ness and uncanny understanding of the human heart, Ephron delivers a powerful meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none will see coming.
A new twitter acquaintance @BooksandTunes tweeted this quote from the book!
"There are some people who dump all their misery into marriage, make wedded bliss their neurotic nest, & the best version of them lives outside that ugly place."

Oh God! On a bad day, that's a lot of us. 

Have you read Siracusa yet? Who would you cast as the famous author Michael and his journalist wife Lizzie? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in Never Go Back [trailer]

I am married to a man who will occasionally quote Jack Reacher from whatever Lee Child 'Jack Reacher' book he's reading at the time. Sometimes he'll even tell me the plot. Child—who is British—has written 21 books about the American Army vet who is 6'5" and 225 pounds and blonde.  

Tom Cruise is none of those things and while Reacher fans the world over were furious over Cruise's casting, Lee Child himself was completely onboard. He's onboard this time around too, with Never Go Back, the adaptation of his 13th Reacher novel. 

"Reacher has made his way from snowbound South Dakota to his destination in northeastern Virginia, near Washington, D.C.: the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. The old stone building is the closest thing to a home he ever had. He’s there to meet—in person—the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner, so far just a warm, intriguing voice on the phone. 
But it isn’t Turner behind the CO’s desk. And Reacher is hit with two pieces of shocking news, one with serious criminal consequences, and one too personal to contemplate. 
When threatened, you can run or fight. Reacher fights, aiming to find Turner and clear his name, barely a step ahead of the army, and the FBI, and the D.C. Metro police, and four unidentified thugs."

While readers of the book note that Reacher doesn't go to New Orleans in Child's novel as we'll see him do in the movie, the author's website goes to great pains to say that Child—"who has participated in efforts to support the NOLA economy"—gave his permission to include the great city of New Orleans in the film version of his book. 

Er, okay. Check out the trailer for Never Go Back costarring How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders as the head of Reacher's former unit. 

Are you up for round two of Cruise as Jack Reacher? I confess I saw Cruise in Jack Reacher based on One Shot and while I had no preconceived notions of who Jack Reacher was, and how he should look, I thought the movie was thrilling.

Are you in?

Never Go Back comes out October 21st. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie ... 5 things I loved about the #AbFabMovie

5 Things I Loved about the #AbFabMovie

So happy, sweetie-darlings, to have been asked to share my thoughts on Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. My sister, another fan of the AbFab television show, came along to the screening Monday night at the ArcLight Theater, home of the world-famous Cinerama Dome. Even though it's not a movie based on a book, I was planning on seeing the movie anyway. Throw in free tix, champagne and a stipend and I'm there! I'm sure Patsy & Edina would approve. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Most of the audience, like me, were there to have a good time. It's tough out there in the world right now and I was ready for some comic relief. Event host Dave Karger (Today, Access Hollywood, E! and TCM) thanked the audience for coming out as we could have stayed home and watched the Republican National Convention if we just wanted a laugh. And that got the party started.

What I Loved

One ... Characters we love 

Patsy (Joanna Lumley) and Edina (Jennifer Saunders) still share that crackling chemistry, that just-this-side of blitzed madness and self-deluded blindness that makes them crazy lovable. Edina's daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) remained almost unchanged from her television character with her stolid if judgmental, good sense in stark contrast to her self-obsessed mum.

Two ... The funny-sad state of women in the world

As an older woman, all too familiar in our youth obsessed culture with the sometimes desperate need to look skinnier, younger, sexier, I found myself busting up at the duo's antics. Seeing Jennifer Saunders—who wrote the screenplay—totter around on ridiculously trendy shoes as Edina, and watching Joanna Lumley's Patsy inject her own face with Botox or cows blood or whatever the hell it was, had me laughing in recognition. Not that I'm injecting my own face with anything, mind you, but man there are days I just look in the mirror and go who the hell is that woman? That is, when I can see in the mirror! I seem to grow a bit more blind with every year, so I can totally relate to Edina's make-up mishaps.

Three ... Glamour gone wild

The whole glitzy world of models and jet setters brought to life by a slew of celeb cameos: Jon Hamm, Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie, Graham Norton, Dame Edna, Perez Hilton, Jerry Hall, Joan Collins, Lulu, Stella McCartney, Jean Paul Gautier, former spice girl—Baby Spice—Emma Bunton, super models Suki Waterhouse and Alexa Chung, and some other well known faces in the British Isles all played themselves. The key celeb playing herself is Kate Moss, accidentally pushed over the railing of a swishy affair into the Thames, by Edina.

Four ... Saffron's performance of At Seventeen

After Patsy & Edina snatch away Saffron's beautiful fifteen year old daughter, sensing Lola's youth will give them cover, Saffron stumbles into a club filled with transvestites, where Saffron is initially ignored. She wins over the audience with her rendition of Janis Ian's At Seventeen. It's ridiculous that she breaks into song presumably to get the crowd's attention but for those of us familiar with the song from the mid-1970's, it was a beautiful and timely message inserted into the comedic scenery, especially when you think about all the people in the LGBT community, formerly living in the dark, feeling lost and alone, now more and more able to come out into the light. 

Five ... The 'Some Like It Hot' Switcheroo

There is a element to the storyline so silly that you'll notice Patsy sporting a mustache in the trailer. A nice homage to Some Like it Hot and the final scene in that classic film when Jack Lemmon, masquerading as a female musician, admits to the wealthy Osgood Fielding the third that he can't marry him because he's not really a woman, he's a man.
"Well," Osgood says "nobody's perfect."

The movie may not be perfect either: Jane Horrock's Bubbles character with her outlandish costumes was a needless irritation, her role in the unraveling, unrealistic. While some of the comedy may have been stretched too thin for some in my audience, most of us laughed our arses off. 

Absolutely Fabulous: the movie opens Friday, July 22.
Written by Jennifer Saunders, directed by Mandie Fletcher—yay, a rare female director—starring Saunders and Joanna Lumley, the #AbFabMovie also stars Rebel Wilson, Chris Colfer and Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness as Saffron's daughter, Lola.

This post is made possible by support from Fox Searchlight Pictures. All opinions are my own.


The Girl on the Train. Emily Blunt is all shook up in latest trailer

"Because I'm afraid of myself."

Emily Blunt is torn in two in the latest trailer for The Girl on the Train. While I loved this book, I have friends who thought it was just a poorly written bit of fluff.  Sounds like the making of a good movie to me! It's clear the filmmakers have made some key changes to Paula Hawkin's original story. 

The film comes out October 7, and in addition to Emily Blunt stars Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Rebecca Ferguson and Haley Bennett.

Are you a fan?

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