Saturday, July 22, 2017

Clint Eastwood & Meryl Streep Ooze Chemistry in The Bridges Of Madison County: Let's Go Behind the Scenes

There's no way Clint Eastwood approved this heavily retouched promotional photo for The Bridges of Madison County. Clint looked much older in the actual film, the wrinkles folding down onto his neck. And yet still sexy. Go figure!

My husband walked in while I was watching this week's Saturday Matinee, 1995's The Bridges of Madison County. It was a coolish, foggy day so I only felt faintly guilty that I actually was watching a movie in the middle of the afternoon. A movie I didn't clear ahead of time. Didn't bother asking anyone, do you mind if I—? I don't know what came over me. I figured if I was interrupted, the Amazon rental is good for 30 days, I could always go back to it later. But I also knew he was doing a little prep work for some reshoots he's doing next week, chances were pretty good I'd be able to watch the whole thing.

And then he walked in, stood watching the screen for a few moments. Already hooked, I felt a little guilty about hoping he was still tied up with his work project. I really wanted to finish the movie.
"What are you watching?"
"A Clint Eastwood movie."
"That is not a Clint Eastwood movie."
"Yeah, it is. Directed it and stars in it."
"A Clint Eastwood movie if he was making 'em for Lifetime!"
 I had to laugh.
"It's that Bridges movie isn't it?"
"Yep. Bridges of Madison County. With Meryl Streep." 
I could hear his eyes roll.
"Like I said. Not a Clint Eastwood movie."
He came over, gave me a kiss on the top of my head. "Enjoy" he said and left the room. I put a pillow on the coffee table and put my feet up. Before he went back to his iPad, I could hear him in the kitchen, pouring himself a glass of iced tea.

There's a fair amount of iced tea drinking in The Bridges of Madison County. Iced tea and cold beer and hot weather which is always sexy. And dancing. I was right when I said Clint still had it at 65. 

In this scene Francesca, lying in the tub, is thinking of Robert who has just had a shower. Staring at the dripping shower head she realizes the water would have poured right over his skin. She reaches out with her hand as though by feeling the water, she can feel him. She says she finds this thought very erotic, that she finds everything about Robert erotic. As do we Meryl, as do we. 

Meryl herself, is stunning. I love the way she moves her arms, the way the back of her hand flutters to her face, her mouth. Her resistance to her own thoughts, her weakening, giving in. She's brilliant, but then she always is. Nominated for best actress, she lost to Susan Sarandon for Dead Man Walking

It's definitely a love story for grown-ups; an old-fashioned romance about a couple of older people, people who've lived a little, or a lot, and had their share of disappointments and dreams that didn't quite come true. People who know where this will go too. Meryl was forty-five, the same age her character Francesca was supposed to be but the studio thought she was too old. They wanted to go with a younger woman. Schmucks. Our man Clint said no way, insisting she get the part. Thank God, because I can't imagine anyone else playing her. The resulting movie is unapologetically romantic, dripping with chemistry, and an ending to make you weep. 

Seeing that I've already gone on too long, I'll wind it up with my hope that the romantics among you had a chance to get reacquainted with The Bridges of Madison County. You can stream it on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu and Google Play. It's not currently available to stream on Netflix but you can get the DVD in the mail. 

If you enjoy it, I think you'll also love this behind the scenes video featuring Clint, Meryl, Clint's longtime cinematographer Jack N. Green and his editor, Joel Cox, along with screenwriter Richard LaGravenese talking about the making of the movie. 


Friday, July 21, 2017

Leonardo DiCaprio & Martin Scorsese to take David Grann's "Killers of the Flower Moon" to the screen.

Great news for my fellow book2movie buffs: director Martin Scorsese and muse, Leonardo DiCaprio, are developing a screen adaptation of David Grann's most recent book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.  

Oscar-winning screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is penning the script. It will take awhile, Scorsese, in preproduction on the Irishman, wants to finish that film first.

Here's the lowdown on Killers of the Flower Moon from the people at Penguin/Random House/Doubleday
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
      Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances. 
      In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the “Phantom Terror,” roamed—many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection.  Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. 
      In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.

Plenty of time to read the true crime story before it hits theaters which reminds me, weren't Leo and Scorsese going to adapt The Devil in the White City? Whatever happened to that? We started talking about that one back in 2015!

Grann, a staff writer at The New Yorker is also the best selling author of The Lost City of Z. The screen adaptation from James Gray is available to stream on Amazon now. His article The Old Man and the Gun is currently in postproduction right now but we'll be watching for it come 2018. The film stars Robert Redford, Elizabeth Moss and Casey Affleck, the kind of star power I can't resist.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins: My Take on the Book

Updated: July 19
Welcome to my frustrating life! My original review, which I posted this morning and shared on google+, twitter and facebook, mysteriously reverted to an earlier incomplete version later in the day. I've tried to recreate the post but I'm sure it's not the same as the earlier published version. But I'm frustrated and exhausted, so I'm leaving it as is for now. Thanks for your understanding.

About halfway through reading Into the Water by Paula Hawkins I was so confused about who was who, I went back to the beginning of the book & leafed through the pages, writing down all the character's names along with a brief description of who they were. Even then, the novel—about women who jump, fall, are pushed to their death; or even, in the old days, dunked as witches, into the drowning pool—was pretty convoluted. 

The novel opens with Julia (Jules) talking to her dead sister Nel Abbot, the latest victim of the drowning pool, a still and quiet section of a river near her home . A writer/ photographer, Nel's death comes while she is in the midst of working on her passion project, a book about the river and the women it takes. As for Nel, we don't know whether she tripped and fell, jumped or was pushed. The two sisters haven't spoken in years but Nel, a single mother, leaves behind a teenage daughter and Jules comes to attend her sister's funeral and to help take care of her niece in the aftermath of the event.

Expecting a fast-paced mystery along the lines of Hawkin's best selling The Girl on the Train, I wasn't just confused, I was disappointed. While Girl on the Train speeds along, Into the Water meanders slowly, like a sluggish stream, filled with muck and debris, taking forever to get to the point. 

Along the way we discover and are expected to believe the reason Jules hasn't talked to her sister dates to an incident from their teenage years. It's a revelation that defies belief, but we're expected to buy it. I didn't and I don't think you will either. 

There are other things like that, clues and misdirections, so many cloudy characters, flashbacks but for you avid mystery readers, I doubt they will fool you. They didn't fool me, and while the last page is the very best page of the book, I have to say, not only is it the ending I expected, but I couldn't help think it didn't make the rest of the 385 pages worth reading.

Who dunnit? You'll see.

Dreamworks optioned the film rights to the book just prior to the publication this past May—I'm sure they saw a copy—with Marc Platt set to produce. Platt, who produced The Girl on the Train, has given us some terrific films (LaLaLand, Legally Blonde, Into the Woods) and I have no doubt with the right screenwriter on board, he'll do the same with Into the Water.

Have you read Into the Water? Do you agree? Or am I all wet?

Winter may be here but the Snowman doesn't arrive until October! We'll wait right here. [Trailer]

Michael Fassbender stars as Harry Hole in The Snowman based on Jo Nesbo's best seller. Coming in October with Rebecca Ferguson, Val Kilmer, Chloe Sevigny, JK. Simmons, Toby Jones, Charlotte Gainsborough, James Darcy and author Jo Nesbo himself, in a cameo. We'll wait. In the meantime here's the new trailer.

Have you read Jo Nesbo's thriller?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

20 Movies in Celebration of the Genius of Jane Austen #JaneAusten200

This is it. Tuesday, July 18th marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death. Or as some call it, her immortality. Two hundred years and her novels—Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818—are just as popular as they ever were. Her novels have rarely been out of print, with new adaptations and re-imaginings constantly in the works. Yet when she died in 1817, she died without fame or fortune from her work, her genius for biting social commentary not widely recognized. This year Austen fans around the world have been celebrating the author with all sort of special events and in September Austen's face will appear on England's new £10 note. I wonder what she'd make of that!

From Pride & Prejudice and Zombies to Austenland, from Death Comes to Pemberley to an episode of Wagon Train in 1959 and even the children's show Wishbone—about a dog, no less— in the 1990's, Jane Austen is credited with over 73 productions on Her reach extends far and wide, a source of inspiration for writers and a treasure for film and television fans.

The creme de la creme for me remains the 1995 production of Pride & Prejudice starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy with Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. The six hour mini-series is my #SaturdayMatinee, available to stream anytime on Hulu, Amazon and YouTube. Do I need to tell you how faithful to the book, how witty and wonderful it is?

But there are so many different Austen adaptations and inspirations to watch. Netflix DVD has 20 titles in their library, many of which are available to stream on Netflix too.

I know, I know, there are others. The Cate Morland Chronicles is the most recent, a British television series about a young grad student, based on Northanger Abbey. I read that back in the 70's but sorry, I don't remember a bloody word! Beyond the novels are the novellas like Lady Susan which was made into Love & Friendship in 2016 with Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. 

Elliot Cowan & Jemima Cooper in Lost in Austen 

I've just discovered Lost in Austen a comic work inspired by Austen's work. With four episodes to watch on Hulu, I'm giving it a go. The 2008 miniseries has a cast that includes Hugh Bonneville as Elizabeth's father, Mr. Claude Bennet, immersing the modern day Amanda Price (Jemima Cooper) in the world of Pride & Prejudice just as we meet their new neighbor Mr. Bingley. From Hammersmith, her presence throws a bit of a hammer into the works. I believe you will find it most amusing! 

In Lost in Austen, the Pride & Prejudice obsessed Amanda Price says even Colin Firth isn't Colin Firth.
She makes Mr. Darcy (Eliot Cowan) take a dip to see how he measures up to her fantasy. Does he?

And you? What's your favorite Austen adaptation?  

20 Adaptations on Netflix

  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
  • Pride & PrejudicePride & Prejudice
  • Masterpiece Classic: Pride and PrejudiceMasterpiece Classic: Pride and Prejudice
  • Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice
  • Death Comes to PemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley
  • Mansfield ParkMansfield Park
  • Masterpiece Classic: Jane AustenMasterpiece Classic: Jane Austen's Persuasion
  • Masterpiece Classic: Northanger AbbeyMasterpiece Classic: Northanger Abbey
  • Becoming JaneBecoming Jane
  • PersuasionPersuasion
  • EmmaEmma
  • Sense and SensibilitySense and Sensibility
  • PersuasionPersuasion
  • Masterpiece Classic: Mansfield ParkMasterpiece Classic: Mansfield Park
  • Mansfield ParkMansfield Park
  • The Jane Austen Book ClubThe Jane Austen Book Club
  • Lost in AustenLost in Austen
  • AustenlandAustenland
  • CluelessClueless
  • Masterpiece Classic: Miss Austen RegretsMasterpiece Classic: Miss Austen Regrets

Monday, July 17, 2017

Blade Runner 2049 starring Ryan Gosling & Harrison Ford: Official trailer

Way to start the week. I woke up to the new trailer for Blade Runner 2049 along with my coffee this morning. Thanks Warner Bros, I needed that!
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. K's discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford headline with Robin Wright, Jared Leto (in a deliciously villainous role) and Ana de Armas as Joi (love interest?). 

And then there's that hovering car, aka the Spinner.

Take a peek. 

I'm a massive Ryan Gosling fan so of course, I love it.
 But what do you think?

Blade Runner 2049 comes to screens on October 6.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Disney introduced the first poster for Mary Poppins Returns. In the most delightful way.

I was devoted to my Mary Poppins doll when I was a kid. Much easier to dress than that bimbo Barbie! I'm looking forward to this star-studded reboot from Disney who described the story this way:
In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael's three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

Mary Poppins Returns stars Emily Blunt as Poppins with Ben Whishaw, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters, Lin-Manuel Miranda and even lovely old Dick Van Dyke from the original.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

First Trailer for 'A Wrinkle in Time': A phenomenon

Disney released the first trailer for A Wrinkle in Time today and everyone is calling it fantastic and magical because that's exactly how it looks. Directed by Ava Duvernay, the adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's beloved classic was scripted by Jennifer Lee who empowered a lot of little girls with Frozen

Storm Reid as Meg Murry in A Wrinkle in Time

This time out, she'll expand that message of empowerment with Meg Murry played by Storm Reid, a young actress who'll likely help little girls of color get the message too. 

I Love These Women!

The cast includes Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, and Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who with Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine as Meg’s mother and father. Meg's brainy brother Charles is played by new face Deric McCabe. Zach Galifanakis is the Happy Medium. 

The trailer is set to the Sweet Dreams, a hit by the Eurythmics in 1983. Cheesy? Not for me.

Take a look, see what you think of the visionary cinematic take so far. A Wrinkle in Time doesn't open until March 2018. But by all means, let's begin the buzz!

What do you think? Would Madeleine L'Engle approve?

Friday, July 14, 2017

There was a little girl named Emmy ... let's hear it for female driven stories!

I always say it's not about the prize, it's about the process but still, it's nice to be nominated, huh?

Here are this year's Emmy nominees in the only categories I really care about. Although a shout out to Ava Duvernay's documentary 13th is definitely in order. And you can link up to the full list at the bottom of this post.

Congrats to our bookish faves Big Little Lies with 16 nominations, The Handmaid's Tale with 13 nominations and Feud with 18. Let's hear it for the ladies!

Drama Series

“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
“Westworld” (HBO)

Comedy Series

“Atlanta” (FX)
“Black-ish” (ABC)
“Master of None” (Netflix)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
“Veep” (HBO)

Drama Actress

Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”)
Claire Foy (“The Crown”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”)
Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)

Drama Actor

Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”)
Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”)
Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)
Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”)

Comedy Actor

Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)
Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”)

Comedy Actress

Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”)
Tracee Ellis-Ross (“black-ish”)
Jane Fonda (“Grace and Frankie”)
Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”)
Allison Janney (“Mom”)
Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”)

Limited Series

“Big Little Lies” (HBO)
“Fargo” (FX)
“Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX)
“The Night Of” (HBO)
“Genius” (National Geographic)

Limited Series Actor

Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock: The Lying Detective”)
Robert De Niro (“The Wizard of Lies”)
Ewan McGregor (“Fargo”)
Geoffrey Rush (“Genius”)
John Turturro (“The Night Of”)

Limited Series Actress

Carrie Coon (“Fargo”)
Felicity Huffman (“American Crime”)
Nicole Kidman (“Big Little Lies”)
Jessica Lange (“Feud”)
Susan Sarandon (“Feud”)
Reese Witherspoon (“Big Little Lies”)

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

John Lithgow (“The Crown”)
Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul”)
Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”)
Michael Kelly (“House of Cards”)
David Harbour (“Stranger Things”)
Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”)
Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”)

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”)
Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”)
Chrissy Metz (“This Is Us”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin (“Saturday Night Live”)
Louie Anderson (“Baskets”)
Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”)
Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)
Tony Hale (“Veep”)
Matt Walsh (“Veep”)

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”)
Vanessa Bayer (“Saturday Night Live”)
Leslie Jones (“Saturday Night Live”)
Anna Chlumsky (“Veep”)
Judith Light (“Transparent”)
Kathryn Hahn (“Transparent”)

Television Movie

“Black Mirror: San Junipero” (Netflix)
“Dolly Parton’s Christmas Of Many Colors: Circle Of Love” (NBC)
“The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks” (HBO)
“Sherlock: The Lying Detective (Masterpiece)” (PBS)
“The Wizard Of Lies” (HBO)

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Bill Camp (“The Night Of”)
Alfred Molina (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
Alexander Skarsgård (“Big Little Lies”)
David Thewlis (“Fargo”)
Stanley Tucci (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
Michael K. Williams (“The Night Of”)

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Judy Davis (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
Laura Dern (“Big Little Lies”)
Jackie Hoffman (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
Regina King (“American Crime”)
Michelle Pfeiffer (“The Wizard of Lies”)
Shailene Woodley (“Big Little Lies”)

Directing for a Comedy Series

Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Jamie Babbit (“Silicon Valley”)
Mike Judge (“Silicon Valley”)
Morgan Sackett (“Veep”)
David Mandel (“Veep”)
Dale Stern (“Veep”)

Directing for a Drama Series

Vince Gilligan (“Better Call Saul”)
Stephen Daldry (“The Crown”)
Reed Morano (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Kate Dennis (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Lesli Linka Glatter (“Homeland”)
The Duffer Brothers (“Stranger Things”)
Jonathan Nolan (“Westworld”)

Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special

Jean-Marc Vallee (“Big Little Lies”)
Noah Hawley (“Fargo”)
Ryan Murphy (“Feud: Bette & Joan”)
Ron Howard (“Genius”)
James Marsh (“The Night Of”)
Steve Zaillian (“The Night Of”)

Writing for a Comedy Series

Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Stephen Glover (“Atlanta”)
Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe (“Master of None”)
Alec Berg (“Silicon Valley”)
Billy Kimball (“Veep”)
David Mandel (“Veep”)

Writing for a Drama Series

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields (“The Americans”)
Gordon Smith (“Better Call Saul”)
Peter Morgan (“The Crown”)
Bruce Miller (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
The Duffer Brothers (“Stranger Things”)
Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (“Westworld”)

Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama

David E. Kelley (“Big Little Lies”)
Charlie Brooker (“Black Mirror: San Junipero”)
Noah Hawley (“Fargo”)
Ryan Murphy (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
Jaffe Cohen, Michael Zam and Ryan Murphy (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
Richard Price and Steven Zaillian (“The Night Of”)

Period/ Fantasy Costumes for a Series, Limited Series, or Movie

Michele Clapton, Alex Fordham, Emma O’Loughlin & Kate O’Farrell (“The Crown”)
Lou Eyrich, Hannah Jacobs & Katie Saunders (“Feud: Bette and Joan”)
Sonu Mishra, Martina Hejlová & Petia Krckova (“Genius”)
Ane Crabtree & Sheena Wichary (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Trish Summerville, Lynda Foote & Jo Kissack Folsom (“Westworld”)

Contemporary Costumes for a Series, Limited Series or Movie

Alix Friedberg, Risa Garcia & Patricia McLaughlin (“Big Little Lies”)
Paolo Nieddu, Jennifer Salim & Mary Lane (“Empire”)
Allyson B. Fanger, Heather Pain & Lori DeLapp (“Grace and Frankie”)
Hala Bahmet, Marina Ray & Elinor Bardach (“This Is Us”)
Marie Schley, Hannah Schneider & Leslie Herman (“Transparent”)

You'll find the complete list at Variety ... just follow this handy link.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: My take on the book before it goes to the movies [Casting Update!]

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. 
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. 
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

UPDATE 7/13/2017: 
We learned Cate Blanchett was playing Bernadette back in 2015 and a few months ago we got the word about Kristen Wiig playing Bernadette's intrusive neighbour Audrey. Billy Crudup. Lawrence Fishburne. Judy Greer. I Really Can Not Wait.  With the casting news that Troian Bellisario is on as someone named Becky, "the first person Bernadette encounters in the Anarctica"? all we need now is our Bee! You didn't read the book? Here's why I love it.

I got so excited reading the 2012 best seller, Where'd You Go, Bernadette that I couldn't help telling my husband all about Maria Semple's fabulous fictional heroine, Bernadette, the former architect who won the super prestigious MacArthur Genius award back in the 90's. Bernadette now lives with her husband and 15 year old daughter Bee in Seattle in a former school for unwed mothers she'd intended to remodel but instead had left to go to ruin. She never - or rarely - leaves the house, hates the other parents at her daughter's progressive private school and has all her errands run by an assistant based in India. Which frankly I found really really appealing! Having someone else take care of everything you don't want to deal with, and you don't even really have to deal with them? Heaven! Her husband is a genius too who works for MicroSoft. We know he's a genius because he's given to padding around the office in his stocking feet and he's delivered the fourth most popular TEDTalk ever. 

Disney Corporate Headquarters/Burbank      
Photo credit: DrWhoAnon

I was so enamored of the book I couldn't help telling him the whole sad/funny story, how one of her jobs was working for Michael Graves, the real architect who designed the Disney building down the road from us in Burbank, where Bernadette was charged with designing the mens' room. Another architectural job was being part of the quality control team assigned to assess the beautiful pale travertine marble used to clad the Getty Center. Again the fictional Bernadette worked for the real architect, Richard Meier. I remember being enthralled by the entire construction process back when the museum was first built on a stunning hillside overlooking the 405 in Los Angeles. I also told him how one of her first designs was repurposing a eyeglass factory in Venice and how after weeks of just staring at the boxes of left behind lenses and frames she finally had them knitted together to form walls, screens really. And, of course, the tale of her most famous design, the 20 Mile House which I won't go into just in case you haven't read this wild and wonderful novel yet. That story is just too good to spoil.

The Getty Center/ Los Angeles         
Photo credit: DogMamon

Part of the appeal of Semple's work is that fanciful blending of the real and imaginary; the Forrest Gump approach if you will. There's something so magical and subversive about putting fictional characters in the real world where they interact with important or historical figures; I can't put my finger on what it is that makes it so compelling, I just know it's a kick. The whole book is a kick really, told through a series of pilfered emails and letters and transcribed voice mails that the daughter Bee puts together in book form. 

Part of the appeal is the fresh, crisp writing and the hilarious and snarky outlook Semple gives to her characters; the hilarious insight into modern culture, the immersion into the world of MicroSoft, Bernadette's hatred of the gnats aka the parent body at Bee's school and Seattle's many Canadians in residence had me snickering as did the overly enthusiastic fundraising voice of Ollie O., the school's new principal, and the unforgettable Soo Lin and Audrey. Semple creates such original yet immediately recognizable characters built upon the types most of us know all too well from our own social networks.  

As the title suggests, Bernadette goes missing, but she does so in both real and symbolic ways. At the heart of the book is the beautiful little Bee who loves and appreciates her quirky mother and a not so subtle message; Bernadette is a good wife and fantastic mother BUT she's also an artist who has to create otherwise she'll become 'a menace to society.' When I started telling my son all about the novel too, I realized I better just write up my thoughts to share with you, the kind readers of this blog, one of my little endeavors that keeps me from completely freaking out, retreating from reality and maybe, just maybe, becoming a menace to society too. Just so you know.

Bernadette let life kick her ass and lost her own way along the way; happily Maria Semple  gives us a grand adventure where hopes and dreams can be rerouted. I went absolutely wild for this unusual, funny, and inspiring book and as luck would have it, the novel is bound for moviedom. Remember we talked about that back at the beginning of 2013, with Annapurna's Megan Ellison producing? While Semple could write the screenplay herself - her credits include Arrested Development and Mad About You - at this writing those modern marvels of adaptation, Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter (The Fault in Our Stars, The Spectacular Now, Paper Towns and the original script, 500 Days of Summer) are supposedly writing the screenplay. I REALLY hope this comes to pass, I really can't wait to see the remarkable 20 Mile House brought to life by a genius production designer in her own right.

Can't wait to see Bernadette there! 


UPDATED: 3/7/2015 (originally published 10/14/2014)

I hope this comes to pass! The screenplay is complete and Boyhood director Richard Linklater is in talks to direct. He would be an amazing choice! If you've seen Boyhood, you know that while it's about a boy, it's also about mothers and about fathers and about life. He really knows people, and their mangled efforts at relationships. While Boyhood has catapulted Linklater into the national consciousness, he's been working at his craft since the late 1980's. Note to self: Be sure to check out Before Sunrise and Before Sunset before re-watching Before Midnight again.

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