Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Behind the Scenes of The Alienist with Actress Dakota Fanning


I’m hooked. I’ve watched episode one of The Alienist starring Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning twice now and plan on sticking around for all ten. So far the series is different from the book which is told from the perspective of John Moore, a New York based reporter played by Luke Evans. As I mentioned in my review, in the TV series, at least in episode one, Moore is simply an illustrator who criminal psychologist Dr. Kreizler (Bruhl) needs to depict the crime scenes that the police won’t give him access to. Perhaps Moore begins writing about the crimes in future episodes. 

You can read a few more details about The Alienist, based on the book by Caleb Carr, on this previous The Alienist review post. Or go directly to this very short behind the scenes featurette highlighting Fanning as Sara Howard, the first female to join NYPD, albeit as a secretary. She’s spunky, smart and ready to get involved, not just with solving the crime but possibly with Moore. 

The 10 episode series focuses on the solving of one crime, chances are if ratings are good they can cook up some additional crimes. 




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Author Kevin Kwan goes to Google to read from his novel Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan


Crazy Rich Asians based on the book by Kevin Kwan is on our list of #book2movie titles coming out this year. The film is set for release this summer on August  17th and stars Constance Wu and Harry Golding. You can see the actors who play lovebirds Rachel and Nick chat about the movie below. 

Henry Golding & Constance Wu star in Crazy Rich Asians


But before you tune them in, I thought you might like to come along with me to the Google ‘campus’ where Kevin Kwan reads from his novel and talks about the book, and its sequel, China Rich Girlfriend.

Boy, it sure is getting easier and easier for us introverts to stay home!

Anyway, here we go ... 





Did you read the book? I’ve read the first couple of chapters which felt a bit too frantic, maybe too modern, for me. I like all the inside stuff though, the Asian slang and point of view. I’ll give it another couple of chapters to kick in, especially as I had an uncle who left England for Malaysia back in the 1960's. He ended up marrying a Chinese girl and staying in Singapore for the rest of his life.

How about you? Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Do you think Hollywood can capture the essence of Kwan’s book?

I’m all ears.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Alienist starring Luke Evans, Daniel Bruhl & Dakota Fanning. Review of the TV Series Based on Caleb Carr's Novel

Daniel Bruhl in The Alienist @Chapter1-Take1.com

Daniel Bruhl is Dr. Laszlo Kreizler in The Alienist based on book by Caleb Carr

Have you read the NY Times bestseller The Alienist by Caleb King. It was wildly popular when it was published in 1994 and it’s now a limited series on TNT & TBS. 

Set in New York at the end of the 19th century, here’s how the show is described on imdb.com
Crime reporter, John Moore, meets with psychologist, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, to investigate a serial killer in New York during the late 19th century.
Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning in The Alienist @Chapter1-Take1.com

Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans & Dakota Fanning star in The Alienist


Hmmm. That’s confusing. In the first episode of the show itself—Moore (Luke Evans) says he’s not a journalist, he’s an illustrator who Dr. Kreizler—the actual Alienist, played by Daniel Bruhl—convinces to help him solve the grisly murder of a young male prostitute via his sketches. Dakota Fanning is onboard as a thoroughly modern young woman, the first woman in the New York Police department. From the previews for upcoming episodes I gather there's a bit of a romance brewing between the two. 

Here’s what the publishers say about the book—which I haven’t heard of! When I saw the publication date, I knew why. My one and only son would have been just about one at the time. I didn’t have time for any book that didn’t tell me how to handle being an older mom at forty and what to expect that first year. Books? Not so many. Anyway, this one sounds good so I know a lot of you have read it. 
When The Alienist was first published in 1994, it was a major phenomenon, spending six months on the New York Times bestseller list, receiving critical acclaim, and selling millions of copies. This modern classic continues to be a touchstone of historical suspense fiction for readers everywhere.

The year is 1896. The city is New York. Newspaper reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned by his friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler—a psychologist, or “alienist”—to view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy abandoned on the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge. From there the two embark on a revolutionary effort in criminology: creating a psychological profile of the perpetrator based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who will kill again before their hunt is over.

Fast-paced and riveting, infused with historical detail, The Alienist conjures up Gilded Age New York, with its tenements and mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. It is an age in which questioning society’s belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and fatal consequences.

I actually commented to my husband that I didn’t understand how an illustrator would get so involved with the solving of crimes! I’ll have to watch The Alienist again to see what I missed. And then, to be honest, I'll be watching the rest of the series. I like the spunky & resourceful Sara Howard played by Fanning and both of the male leads. The idea of this group coming up with the notion of a serial killer is intriguing and I love the time period, the dark, gloomy alleys, the lush costumer design. It all works.

Here’s the trailer (which also explains why the psychologist is called an alienist)

The Alienist Trailer



Give the show a gander and see how you think The Alienist stacks up. On its own merit or vs the book if you’ve read it. 

I’m all ears.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Colette starring Keira Knightley: Review by Peter Debruge

Keira Knightley for Variety by Nadav Kander

“As much as the 1960s were a period of male sexual liberation and definitely a period where we got the pill and there was a sense of freedom, I think that women’s sexual liberation is still a process. What’s interesting is she was experiencing that and writing about that at the end of the 19th century.’’
Keira Knightley on Colette

Director Wash Westmoreland & Keira Knightley on the set of Colette


Still no trailer, but I have a hunch we're going to be hearing a lot about Colette, which just made its debut at Sundance. The film stars Keira Knightley as the French author whose  husband took credit for her work. Colette is expected to come out sometime this year but we get our first sense of it via this review by Peter Debruge of Variety. It makes me want to see the movie which also stars Dominic West, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, Eleanor Tomlinson, Robert Pugh & Ray Panthaki all the more. I’ve found a few images of the real Colette & Willy; to be honest while ideals of beauty are ever changing, they are not exactly Knightley & West.

Knightley at Sundance premiere 

As much as we romanticize Belle Époque Paris, the City of Light was not so enlightened when it came to women’s rights at the turn of the 20th century. Their fortunes nearly always depended on marriage, or else being “kept” by wealthy men; they were forbidden from wearing pants and could be arrested for being seen in public dressed in men’s clothes; and as pseudonymous literary sensation “George Sand” demonstrated, they were discouraged from writing and publishing, under their own names at least.


And yet, that was the Paris into which Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was whisked upon marrying Henry Gauthier-Villars, AKA “Willy,” a popular author and critic who pushed her to write, then took credit for her wildly successful “Claudine” stories. Less stuffy literary biopic than ever-relevant female-empowerment saga, “Colette” ranks as one of the great rolse for which Keira Knightley will be remembered. While hardly the first English-language feature to go behind the famous French byline (Danny Huston directed the much-derided “Becoming Colette” a quarter-century earlier), it succeeds in tying her story to the zeitgeist, while delving deeper into the love affairs she pursued with other women.

Colette and Willy, 1902 

As cups of tea go, specifically insofar as anticipating whether or not they might be to your taste, the recent film “Colette” most resembles is “The Danish Girl.” Both qualify as well-meaning melodramatic treatments of once-controversial figures whose causes are considerably enhanced by hindsight, and further embellished by eye-catching sets and costumes. (“Colette” is Westmoreland’s best looking film by far — and his first without his late husband, Richard Glatzer — radiantly lit by DP Giles Nuttgens, whose camera seems to float through all those turn-of-the-century Parisian locations light as champagne bubbles.) Plus, both are damn good stories, provided you don’t know all that much about the subjects going in.

 Colette & Willy "Writing" 

Movies dedicated to the lives of writers are typically content to court the well-read, older audiences, but director Wash Westmoreland clearly hopes that Colette’s story will appeal to and inspire young women, in much the same way her most popular character, Claudine, did at the time. Though the genre so often runs the risk of tedium, that’s not the case here, thanks in large part to its leading lady: Despite the fact she’s frequently cast in period pieces, Knightley possesses an enticingly modern quality in both her stride and the brazen, independent-minded way she engages with men on-screen — especially her husband (played with the bombastic charm of a true roué by Dominic West, every bit Knightley’s equal, even if his character is far beneath hers).
Where women of the time might duck their eyes, Knightley meets the camera’s gaze head-on. She seems unafraid to challenge the status quo, which of course, was the very quality that has made Colette’s story so enticing over the years: Here was an outsider to Parisian polite society (raised in Saint-Sauveur, the provincial town where the film begins) who never embraced the etiquette of the salons, choosing instead to seek out her own company, however scandalous it might look — not that Colette or her husband seemed to mind some good scandal.
Certainly, Willy was determined to tart up Colette’s early manuscripts, quipping, “We need more spice, less literature” — which surely explains why her Svengali-like husband is shown delivering his first critique of Colette’s work while relieving himself in the apartment chamber pot. Westmoreland clearly delights in incorporating such historical details, from the invention of electric lights to heated debate over the Eiffel Tower — now perceived as Paris’ most charming landmark, but un scandal to classicists who felt the iron structure ruined the city’s skyline.

Like Christoph Waltz’s character in Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes” — another artist who passed his wife’s work off as his own — Willy makes an easy villain, though the social climate at the time was as much to blame in “Colette.” Granted, he could be cruel, treating her more like a slave than a partner, as in a scene where he locks Colette in a room and forces her to write, but both West and Westmoreland seem determined to capture the complexity of their relationship, especially where their love life was concerned. (This element gains an added level of poignancy when one considers that “Colette” was written by gay-married partners, whose collaborative spirit corrects for the imbalance in the division of labor and credit between Willy and Colette.)

Backed in part by “Carol” producer Christine Vachon and Killer Films, “Colette” doesn’t shy away from its protagonist’s same-sex attractions; neither does it play her various love affairs for cheap exploitation. There are two women Colette finds she simply can’t resist: American-in-Paris Georgie Raoul-Duval (Eleanor Tomlinson) and cross-dressing noblewoman Mathilde de Morny, or Missy (Denise Gough), with whom she shared Paris’ first documented same-sex kiss on stage.
To Colette’s credit (in the film at least), she seeks her husband’s permission before pursuing either mistress — a courtesy Willy doesn’t necessarily extend in return, even going behind her back to bed Georgie as well. Theirs was clearly a complicated marriage, as scandalous today as it would have been at the time. And yet, Colette is shown to cherish honesty above all else in her marriage, nearly leaving Willy each time she catches him in a lie — as when the slipper cad claims to be broke, but is revealed to be sponsoring une femme entretenue (a lover whose rent and allowance are provided for) on the side.
It doesn’t help that the chief strain on their relationship appears to have been financial, as Willy spent money faster than he could earn it, depending on a “factory” of writers to keep him afloat. The way his system worked, Willy would commission work from an extensive team of authors, then slap his name on it. Thus, all could benefit by what celebrity Willy had managed to cultivate in public. (It hardly seems fair, but isn’t so different from the way a prolific composer like Hans Zimmer operates today, employing a stable of young musicians and passing their contributions off as his own.) 
Speaking of music, one of the film’s strongest assets is its score, the first written expressly for the screen by British opera composer Thomas Adès, and the source of so much of what audiences perceive as Colette’s sparkling intellect. The entire movie seems brighter by dint of Adès’ nimble piano and alert string work, propelling us forward through so many elegantly photographed, Merchant-Ivory like scenes in which stuffy snobs stand around in expensive waistcoats. In his capacity as a theater critic, Willy warns early of the dangers of bad theater, which he likens to painful dentistry. It’s as if Westmoreland is issuing his own challenge, effectively dodging the pitfalls of period-set parlor dramas by demonstrating how Colette’s strides toward equality were among the first in the ongoing march for women. As the French put it, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” At least “Colette” stands for change.’ 
Review by Peter Debruge/Variety

So much to talk about! What do you think? 



Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time: My Take on the book plus a Behind the Scenes Featurette


I haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time since the sixties, the decade the Madeleine L’Engle classic was released, 1962 to be precise. Having re-read it now, I have a feeling I might not have actually read it then. I would have been nine or ten at the time and while I would certainly relate to Meg’s feeling of being an outsider, stupid, and ugly in my super-sized glasses—glasses so thick and high in their magnification they made me look and feel like a bug—I would not have been a fan of all that painful tessering Meg had to do. Come to think of it, maybe I did read it. I do remember writing a short story for a school assignment about a girl who slips down beneath a pool of water into another world, another dimension, one full of swaying, psychedelic colors. Not that they used the word psychedelic that early in the sixties. Once there, it was difficult for the girl to get back home. Derivative? Definitely.



It’s interesting how the book is promoted as science fiction though, when it’s most clearly about faith. In fact there are some lines that are quite heavy handed in the religion department. For a book which embraces as much science this one does, the author also endeavors to explain a fundamental question of the existence of God. If he exists, how can he let bad things happen without intervening? Mrs. Whatsit makes the point that human lives are like a sonnet with its rigid structure.
But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn’t he? pg 219
 and later on the same page
You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.

And, of course, the overarching theme of the book is the power of love to overcome evil. In fact, only the power of love, can do that. As much as I bristle at the inherent Christianity, there is no denying the impact of the lesson of love and compassion for the young readers (nine and up) the book is intended for.

Meg, Charles and Calvin in Camazotz
“The houses in the outskirts were all exactly the same.’’

Reading A Wrinkle in Time at my ripe old age, I find I love the children, Meg and her lovely little brother Charles (before he changes), their friend Calvinthe three Mrs: Mrs. Who with her endless quotes —Mindy Kaling in the movie—Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) with her crazy looking pile of scarves and hats layered over her comforting, maternal presence and Mrs. Which (Oprah) with her imperious, all-knowing manner. Although to be honest, I found Mrs. Which’s dialogue with its repeated letters tedious. Vis a vis her first line in the book:
‘‘Alll rrightt girrllss. Thiss iss nno ttime forr bbickkerring.’’
Newcomers Storm Reid and Deric McCabe play Meg and her bright little brother Charles Wallace, with Levi Miller as Calvin. In the book, the parents bookend the kid’s adventure, not a lot more than supporting players. We’ll have to see if Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Mr. and Mrs. Murry have more to do in the movie.

Take a look at this behind the scenes featurette. 

The costumes are much more fantasy sci-fi based than I pictured them in my imagination, but that’s probably more my lack than the movie’s. Have director Ava Duvernay & her cast nailed the characters?


A Wrinkle in Time opens March 9 in the US. 


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Helen Mirren & Donald Sutherland ride off into their sunset years together in The Leisure Seeker

I first shared the news that The Leisure Seeker was coming last May. Now the film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland set to open March 9 has a trailer so thought you'd enjoy seeing the pair up to their hijinks. That's what all old movie people have, right?

The way the movie folks put it themselves?
A runaway couple go on an unforgettable journey in the faithful old RV they call The Leisure Seeker.






Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Colette: Keira Knightley brings the famous French author to Sundance


The focus here is usually movies based on specific books: novels you’ve loved, gripping bios or nonfiction adventures you can’t wait to see onscreen. But when I hear a movie is being made about a writer’s life, whether it’s based on a specific book or not, I can’t resist taking a closer look.

Colette, starring Keira Knightley as the famous French novelist, makes its debut January 20th at Sundance. At this point there are no release dates but we’ll see what kind of action the film fest kicks up. The focus of the movie is the writer’s relationship with her husband, a powerful literary and theatrical critic of the day who took credit for much of the writer’s work. 



Dominic West, seen here in Testament of Youth

According to Deadline, Colette’s husband Willy, played by Dominic West “introduces Colette to hedonistic Paris, and with her creative appetite unlocked she begins to write novels; however, Willy only allows her to do so in his name. The phenomenal success of her Claudine novel series makes Willy a famous writer, yet the lack of recognition for her work sparks the breakdown of their marriage.’’ No kidding!

A timeless story which took place over a century ago but which is all too relevant today. I. Can. Not. Wait!

The screenplay was written by life partners Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glazer who cowrote and directed Still Alice. Tragically Glazer died in March of 2015, Rebecca Lenkiewicz came in afterwards to do rewrites.



Sidonie Colette (1873-1954)

Westmoreland directs the mostly British cast which also includes Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson and Game of Thrones’ Robert Pugh.

I’m on the lookout for more images from the film and a trailer. Give me a shout out if you spot them first.

One of our favorite Colette works is the fabulous Gigi



If you want to brush up on your Colette knowledge, you may want to give Judith Thurman’s Secrets of the Flesh, A Life of Colette a gander. I’m betting the screenwriters did.




Monday, January 15, 2018

Electric Dreams: Inspired by Philip K. Dick's Science Fiction, Powered by the Stars


Are you watching the new Electric Dreams anthology series? Just released on Amazon, each episode is based on a Philip K. piece of science fiction. The title is a nod to Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? brought to the screen as Blade Runner.

We’ve watched three episodes, and unlike Black Mirror, in which the stories are unified by the places technology has taken us, these episodes don’t seem to have an overall theme. Tied only by the thread of ‘dreams’ each show is free to be something entirely different from each other. Although my husband and I did note the three episodes we saw all featured some fairly sexy sizzle. Don’t know if that’s an overarching theme going forward or not.

Some of the sizzle is star power. 



Janelle Monáe plays a robot in Autofac, an episode about a dystopian post-apocalyptic world where automation carries on regardless of need, while Anna Paquin and Terence Howard appeared in Real Life which looked directly at dreams.




Bryan Cranston, executive producer of the show, also starred in Human Is, my favorite of the three episodes we saw as it centers on the tense relationship between a man and woman in a well established marriage. The fact that it features Cranston’s wife going off to some futuristic club for some old fashioned three way sex was a bit of an unexpected (and unnecessary*) jolt but it didn’t bother me enough not to enjoy the payoff of the episode. *We get it, she’s unhappy.





Other episodes feature Timothy Spall in The Commuter with Tuppence Middleton. Impossible Planet stars Jack Reynor and Geraldine Chaplin. Steve Buscemi, Greg Kinnear, Holiday Grainger. Plenty of familiar faces.  There are ten episodes in all, instead of bingeing, we’ll parcel them out bit by bit. 

I’m looking forward to Kill All Others, for two reasons. One, because it’s directed by Dee Rees, who did such an amazing job with Mudbound. And two, it not only stars Vera Farmiga, the episode also features Mudbound star Jason Mitchell. 

The way Electric Dreams has been set up, we’ll have no idea what to expect, what places we’ll go, who will take us there. Not a bad way to spend an hour.

I’d love to know what true blue Philip K. Dick’s fans think? 


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday Matinee: Like Water for Chocolate



Christmas Rolls
 1 can of sardines
1/2 chorizo sausage
1 onion
oregano
1 can of chiles serranos
10 hard rolls

PREPARATION: Take care to chop the onion fine. To keep from crying when you chop it (which is so annoying!), I suggest you place a little bit on your head. The trouble with crying over an onion is that once the chopping gets you started and the tears begin to well up, the next thing you know you just can't stop. I don't know whether that's ever happened to you, but I have to confess it's happened to me, many times. Mama used to say it was because I was especially sensitive to onions, like my great-aunt, Tita. 
Tita was so sensitive to onions, any time they were being chopped, they say she would just cry and cry, when she was still in my greatgrandmother's belly her sobs were so loudthat even Nancha, the cook, who was halfdeaf, could hear them easily. Once her wailing got so violent that it brought on an early labor. And before my greatgrandmother could let out a word or even a whimper, Tita made her entrance into this world, prematurely, right there on the kitchen table amid the smells of simmering noodle soup, thyme, bay leaves, and cilantro, steamed milk, garlic, and, of course, onion.
Tita had no need for the usual slap on the bottom, because she was already crying as she emerged, maybe that was because she knew then that it would be her lot in life to be denied marriage. The way Nancha told it, Tita was literally washed into this world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor. That afternoon, when the uproar had subsided and the water had been dried up by the sun, Nancha swept up the residue the tears had left on the red stone floor.
There was enough salt to fill a ten-pound sack-it was used for cooking and lasted a long time. Thanks to her unusual birth, Tita felt a deep love for the kitchen, where she spent most of her life from the day she was born. 
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

I’m not much for cooking—my hubby is the chef in our house—but I can definitely related to Tita’s extreme reaction to onions. I’ve never heard of putting a piece of onion on your head to keep your tears away; I usually chew a piece of bread which barely works. I’ll have to try that. Or leave it to my hubs which is my custom.


Anyway, so begins Esquivel’s tender tragedy, translated into English by Carol & Thomas Christensen after Esquivel had made the Spanish language movie based on her own bestselling book, Como Agua Para Chocolate. Each chapter of the novel, lauded for its magical realism, begins with a recipe for a Mexican dish which connects to the action of the narrative. 



Our heroine, Tita, is the youngest girl in her family who is not allowed to marry Pedro, the handsome young man she falls deeply in love with, because according to family tradition, she must remain at home to look after her mother until she dies. (It sounds like Tita’s mother, Mama Elena has a death wish!) 
A gifted cook, Tita devotes her passion to food.



Here’s how the publisher sums up the book:

Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico blends poignant romance and bittersweet wit.

This classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef, using cooking to express herself and sharing recipes with readers along the way.

I’m loving this somewhat outlandish story and the award winning film based on this novel. There are so many surprising images—the water rushing off the table after Tita’s birth, the passion enflamed by her cooking, her sister Gertrudis riding off naked with the revolutionary soldier—that come right off Esquivel’s pages, as passionate and steamy as the dishes from Tita’s kitchen. Not surprising, I suppose, Esquivel wrote the screenplay too.



I will say the subtitles are a little large and clunky but I know some people complain they can't read subtitles. That’s not a problem here.

There are no familiar names (to me) in the cast but it is beautifully made, benefitting from the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. Lubezki who shot the film in 1993 has come over the years to be known for his masterful work, having been nominated for eight Oscars, winning three in the last three years (The Revenant and Birdman, both for Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Gravity for Alfonso Cuarón). Nominated for Best Foreign Film by both the Golden Globes and BAFTA, the film is a fable, often called a fairy tale of Mexican feminism, it seems to me it's a fable worth watching. 



You can watch Like Water for Chocolate on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play and YouTube. I'm streaming it on Netflix.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Leonardo DiCaprio as Leonardo Da Vinci: That's a biopic I'd love to see


Reading a review of Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci by Emily at As the Crowe Reads and Flies, I was reminded that Paramount picked up the biography this past summer as a star vehicle for that other famous Leonardo. Paramount paid a pretty penny for it too, reportedly in the 7 figures. 

Leonardo as Leonardo sounds a little like kismet. According to Deadline, ‘‘legend has it that Leonardo DiCaprio was so named because his pregnant mother was looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting in a museum in Italy when the future star kicked for the first time.’’ 




While I’d love to see DiCaprio as Da Vinci, I’ve checked Leo’s imdb and for now the actor seems all tied up with The Black Hand (based on the book by  Stephen Talty) and Killers of the Flower Moon (based on the book by David Grann) both in preproduction, along with the announced Roosevelt. I’ll keep you posted if I hear about some movement afoot.


Self portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci

The book may have to suffice for now but if art makes your little heart flutter as wildly as the furrow in DiCaprio’s brow does (resist the Botox, Leo!), that’s not so bad.




Emily’s Review 


From what Emily says, the book should fill the gap nicely.
My Simon & Schuster rep gifted me with the audio book for my birthday late last fall, which was ideal now that I have a long enough commute to make listening to audio books worthwhile. It’s read by actor Alfred Molina, who does a great job, and the audio version comes with a separate CD full of PDFs of the art described in the book (presumably the digital audio also comes with downloadable images).  However, I was only two discs into the 17-disc set before I realized that I would also want the physical book, and I was fortunate that Simon & Schuster obliged by by sending me one of those, too. The book is beautiful, printed on heavy paper with full color plates.
I’ve never read Isaacson before, so I don’t know if this is a signature style or a one-off, but rather than employing a chronologically linear narrative, he employs a style that I’d call vignette-like.  This means that occasionally the narrative circles back to an earlier period of history, but with a subject who is as far removed from our time as Leonardo is, this makes sense to me.
Did I have much of an impression about Leonardo before tackling this book?  Not a big one. I took a survey of western heritage class in college that gave an overview of his art and I think it was a class in high school where I learned more about his bent for science and engineering, but other than a general impression that the term “Renaissance Man” might have been first used with him in mind, I couldn’t tell you a lot about the guy. My only personal experience was on a college choir trip to Milan, where we were able to view his fresco of The Last Supper in small groups.
You can read the rest of Emily's review at As the Crowe Flies (and Reads)
Thanks for letting me share your review Emily!

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