Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Bell Jar: An interview with Sylvia Plath pre-publication

Sylvia Plath from her Mademoiselle Photo Shoot

I finished Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar the other day and find I’m newly fascinated by everything about the short life of the acclaimed poet and writer. The novel, famously inspired by Plath’s summer as an intern at Mademoiselle magazine in NYC and her own institutionalization is getting it’s second adaptation at the hands of Kirsten Dunst in the director’s chair with Dakota Fanning as Esther Greenwood. The material was first adapted in 1979 with a very 70’s cast that included Marilyn Hassett as Esther, Jameson Parker as Buddy with Julie Harris as her mother.

Plath, with husband Ted Hughes

Poor Sylvia Plath. She was just 31 when she committed suicide at the London home she shared with Ted Hughes and their two children. Putting those two babies in their bedroom with the windows wide open, Plath taped up the gaps around their bedroom door before turning the gas on, putting her head in the oven and taking her own life. It’s hard to reconcile those deliberate actions with what feels like such an act of desperation. But as we know, she had been hearing the call to kill herself from her teen years. 



As I said, I’m newly obsessed with Plath which led me to this 1962 radio interview with Plath and an unidentified British interviewer. While she talks about wanting to write a novel—and was likely working on the novel at the time—she was there to talk about her poetry, the work for which she’d been getting prizes all her life. Her novel would be published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas in January, 1963 to lackluster reviews. Plath, her marriage to Ted Hughes in tatters, killed herself a month later.






Mad Girls Love Song was included at the back of my copy of The Bell Jar.

Mad Girl's Love Song
"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"

Book: The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

What did you think of the interview? I was struck by the tone of her voice, the deepness and maturity of a woman who sounds much older than thirty, that accent from another time that almost reads as British. And of course, the clear point of view of an accomplished and recognized poet with no signs of what was to come, except perhaps, for her own interest in the subject of mental illness.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Robert Downey Jr.to star in Dr. Dolittle ReDo: Let's watch the trailer for the 1967 version


You were expecting something about Beauty & the Beast perhaps? The truth is I’m both crowd-phobic and lazy so I’ve avoided the theater for the movie’s opening period where the film is drawing hordes. Beauty & the Beast has made over $170 million already, setting some kind of record. The overall feeling is that it is FABULOUS!  I plan on seeing a matinee sometime this week and adding my voice to the gazillions already out there.


But speaking of movie musicals ... I’m old enough to have seen the original Dr. Dolittle movie musical in the movie theater. It came out in 1967 and somehow the song If I Could Talk to the Animals found its way into my fourteen year old heart, sitting alongside Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds from the Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The tune—despite Rex Harrison’s talk/singing style won the Best Song Oscar that year. For me, it didn’t hurt that while the film starred Rex Harrison as the good doctor, it also featured a floppy-haired Beatlesque Anthony Newley and a love triangle.




With that warm fuzzy memory in mind, I was delighted to learn that Robert Downey Junior is going to reprieve the role. The new Dr. Dolittle will be based on the original book The Voyage of Dr. Dolittle written by Hugh Lofting in 1920. Will it be a musical? With the current popularity of the genre, it could be. 

About the book

Doctor Dolittle heads for the high seas in perhaps the most amazing adventure ever experienced by man or animal. Told by nine-and-a-half-year-old Tommy Stubbins, crewman and future naturalist, the voyages of Doctor Dolittle and his company lead them to Spidermonkey Island. Along with his faithful friends, Polynesia the parrot and Chee-Chee the monkey, Doctor Dolittle survives a perilous shipwreck and lands on the mysterious floating island. There he meets the wondrous Great Glass See Snail who holds the key to the greatest mystery of all.

It may be just because I can picture Robert Downey Jr. in the period costume—thanks to his role in the Sherlock films—but I’m ready to buy in to the American actor as the good doctor.
How about you? Are you in?

Monday, March 20, 2017

T2: Trainspotting starring Ewan McGregor and all the boys are back in town — the trailer en fran├žais


Dreaming of France this week? Moi aussi as my husband and I are planning on spending a week in Paris and several days in the south of France when we head to Europe in May. Watching this trailer for T2:Trainspotting in French (I guess there's no French equivalent for trainspotting), sans subtitles, makes me realize how much I need to practice my own limited knowledge of the language before our trip. I didn’t understand a thing except the occasional “choisi Facebook.’’
At my current level of knowledge when I ask for directions I’ll be lucky if I don’t get directed straight out of the country. Can I make up the lack in a little over a month? Nope, but I’m sure there are a few apps to help us out. 
It would be a bit easier if the French trailer for T2 (based on the novel Porno) included English subtitles but c’est la vie, eh? English or French, it’s pretty wild. Along with Ewan McGregor as Renton, all the boys are back in town: Ewen Bremner as Spud, Johnny Lee Miller as Sick Boy and Robert Carlyle as Begbie.




Here’s a short trailer in English as a point of reference, but I couldn’t find matching footage so I’m not sure how helpful it is. I suggested seeing it to my husband but he’s not interested, the violence, especially the way the poor baby was treated in the first one, totally turned him off. I told him this one is getting good reviews and the guys have aged—which hopefully means mellowed a bit—but he’s adamant. How about you? Are you planning on seeing T2: Trainspotting in English, French or any language? And can you recommend a decent, affordable translation app for a couple of budget travelers? Merci!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Watch the trailer for The Secret Scripture starring Rooney Mara


Ignore the date on the poster. Release date in UK & Irland is 5/19

Something is afoot! We’ve been watching the progress of the adaptation of The Secret Scripture for ages.  Based on the book by Sebastian Barry, the film starring Rooney Mara, Theo James, Aidan Turner, Jack Reynor, Eric Bana and Vanessa Redgrave has finally released a trailer. We learned back in 2015 that the movie was held up in a studio’s bancruptcy proceedings, then it finally made a debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016 to mixed reviews. With a trailer hitting the net, we could be seeing the film in American theaters sometime soon. 



I read the book back in 2014, at which point we heard Jessica Chastain was going to star as Rose, a woman involved in a love triangle with a pair of brothers (Jack Reynor & Aidan Turner). Rooney Mara replaced Chastain who unfortunately left the project to make The Zookeeper’s Wife   Vanessa Redgrave plays the 100 year old Rose and I would have loved to see Chastain in the role with her flaming red hair in accordance with my memory of Redgrave’s once auburn locks. 



Shunned in her Irish village for what a local priest (Theo James) judges as condemnable personal behavior, Rose is ultimately confined to an insane asylum for life where we see the older Rose telling her story to psychiatrist Dr. Grene (Eric Bana.) It’s a labyrinthine tale, fascinating and complex, set in period of conflict between England and the IRA during the early 1920’s. 



In the UK and Ireland The Secret Scripture is already set to open on May 19th, no word on exact;u when we’ll see the movie in the U.S. but it’s on my must see list.

How about you? Did you read the book? You still have plenty of time ...

My take on the book The Secret Scripture








Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dead Man Walking starring Susan Sarandon: #SaturdayMatinee


What with The Feud: Bette and Joan and her controversial political stance, it’s hard to avoid Susan Sarandon these days. For men like my husband and a lot of you guys out there, why would you want to? At 70ish the actor is still turning heads partly because she exudes sensuality and partly because her brain is as impressive as her physical assets. 


For today’s Saturday Matinee let’s go back in time and take a look at Sarandon’s Best Actress Oscar winning performance in Dead Man Walking. Directed by husband Tim Robbins, Sarandon played Sister Helen Prejean, the nun who wrote a book about her experience as spiritual advisor to a convicted killer.


About the book

In 1982, Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual advisor to Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers who was sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. In the months before Sonnier’s death, the Roman Catholic nun came to know a man who was as terrified as he had once been terrifying. She also came to know the families of the victims and the men whose job it was to execute—men who often harbored doubts about the rightness of what they were doing.
        Out of that dreadful intimacy comes a profoundly moving spiritual journey through our system of capital punishment. Here Sister Helen confronts both the plight of the condemned and the rage of the bereaved, the fears of a society shattered by violence and the Christian imperative of love. On its original publication in 1993, Dead Man Walking emerged as an unprecedented look at the human consequences of the death penalty. 

About the movie


Both Robbins and Sean Penn who played the killer were nominated as was the movie’s song but only Sarandon—in a role that notably leaves her undeniable physical beauty by the wayside— took Oscar home.

In the words of the late Roger Ebert

Sister Helen, as played here by Sarandon and written and directed by Tim Robbins (from the memoir by the real Helen Prejean), is one of the few truly spiritual characters I have seen in the movies. Movies about "religion" are often only that - movies about secular organizations that deal in spirituality. It is so rare to find a movie character who truly does try to live according to the teachings of Jesus (or anyone else, for that matter) that it's a little disorienting: This character will behave according to what she thinks is right, not according to the needs of a plot, the requirements of a formula, or the pieties of those for whom religion, good grooming, polite manners and prosperity are all more or less the same thing.

Dead Man Walking is available to stream for $2.99 on Amazon, iTunes and Vudu. The film also happens to be running on Encore Suspense on Sunday 3/19. 

I can’t find a trailer online but I did dig up an Oprah ‘Master Class’ session about Dead Man Walking. Let’s watch.



I have to say guys, she’s really something, isn’t she?
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