Monday, September 25, 2017

A Discovery of Witches: Meet Teresa Palmer & Matthew Goode [video]

Look what Deborah Harkness posted on her Facebook page! 
I couldn't resist! 

A Discovery of Witches: Meet Matthew Clairmont, Vampire

To be honest, I wouldn’t be reading A Discovery of Witches if I hadn’t turned into a bit of an aging fan girl over Matthew Goode. I’m just not the paranormal romance type. But knowing that Goode is playing the 1500 year old vampire also named Matthew, I can read Deborah Harkness 579 paged novel and easily picture the British actor instead of the creature Harkness was describing.

From the book—
This one was tall—well over six feet ... And he definitely was not slight. Broad shoulders narrowed into slender hips, which flowed into lean muscular legs. His hands were strikingly long and agile, a mark of physiological delicacy that made your eyes drift back to them to figure out how they could belong to such a large man.
As my eyes swept over him, his own were fixed on me. From across the room, they seemed black as night, staring up under thick, equally black eyebrows, one of them lifted in a curve that suggested a question mark. His face was indeed striking—all distinct planes and surfaces, with high angled cheekbones meeting brows that shielded and shadowed his eyes. Above his chin was one of the few places where there was room for softness—his wide mouth, which like his long hands, didn't seem to make sense.

I don’t know who you picture when you read that but I don’t picture Matthew Goode who at six foot two is tall but not quite the ‘well over six feet’ ‘large man’ Harkness evokes. Goode may not fit the part perfectly, yet he is perfect. 

The television series which will star Goode as the extraordinary vampire and Teresa Palmer as Dr. Diana Bishop, the equally extraordinary American witch and historian, is currently shooting in Oxford where much of the story takes place.

I nabbed this series of shots from the instagram account of Elisangela Damasceno who shared the images of Goode and some of the production staff scouting the college and the Bodleian library.

Are you one of the many devotees of Harkness’ book? Published in 2011 the book is notable for being a romance novel imbued with intelligent prose. A historian and professor at USC, Harkness engages us not only with searing looks but also a mix of historical acumen and her own in-depth knowledge of the occult. Granted my eyes glaze over as the discussion turns to DNA sequences and Mitochondrial DNA. Fingers crossed they gloss over that in the television show.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Happy 70th Birthday Kevin Kline: let’s watch Sophie’s Choice again! #SaturdayMatinee

I highlighted Sophie’s Choice as our Saturday Matinee awhile back but seeing tomorrow is Kevin Kline’s birthday, let’s take another look. 

Thinking of Sophie’s Choice, it’s hard to grasp it was Kevin Kline’s first feature film. He had been working as a stage actor, a member of John Housman’s acting company, performing Shakespeare around the country. He’d had a couple of television roles in the late 70’s but it wasn’t until he played Nathan in Sophie’s Choice that he really broke out. The Golden Globes nominated him for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture. He was thirty five years old. Late to get started in the movies. 

After that came The Big Chill, Dave, Silverado, French Kiss, A Midsummer Nights Dream, In & Out. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for one of his most memorable roles, Otto in A Fish Called Wanda. Looking back, you can see all those characters encapsulated in his multi-layered performance as Nathan, at once charming and hilarious, passionate and domineering, manic and larger than life. 

I wonder if it’s that larger than life quality, which works so well on stage, that’s prevented him from being a major, major movie star like Meryl Streep. Instead, he’s had a great, long-lasting solid career and rather than drama, we most often saw his shiniest self in comedies. Last year we saw him as Maurice, Belle’s father in the movie musical Beauty & the Beast

Happy Birthday to Kevin Kline, born October 24th, 1947 in St. Louis, Mo. To celebrate we’re watching Kevin Kline in a dramatic turn as Nathan in Sophie’s Choice, available on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, Vudu and GooglePlay. As always, check Netflix.

Do you have a favorite Kevin Kline performance? 
Tell me about it!

Friday, September 22, 2017

This sure ain't Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit!

And you thought Peter Rabbit stealing a few carrots from Mr. McGregor was trouble! Purists may find this outlandish and silly trailer for what is surely an outlandish and silly re-imagining of Peter Rabbit a bit much. But I find it refreshing. I was expecting some lovely, hushed voice remake but this, this is balls to the walls fresh. Ridiculously so. The kids are gonna love it. Peter Rabbit stars James Corden as Peter, Domhnall Gleeson as Mr. McGregor with Rose Byrne andMargot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Daisy Ridley lending their voices as well.

Here’s the low down on the movie, due out February 9, 2018.
Peter Rabbit, the mischievous and adventurous hero who has captivated generations of readers, now takes on the starring role of his own irreverent, contemporary comedy with attitude. In the film, Peter’s feud with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates to greater heights than ever before as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door (Rose Byrne).”

Of course, it’s easy for me to laugh. I no longer have little kidlets at home I have to take to the movies.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Winnie the Who? Goodbye Christopher Robin starring Domhnall Gleeson & Margot Robbie has its premiere

Goodbye Christopher Robin has had its splashy premiere and the reviews are in. 

If you’re the really bookish type, especially a lover of Brit lit, will you be able to resist the film about author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his relationship with his son Christopher Robin, the little boy that inspired the Winnie the Pooh literary empire anyway? Scroll down below the video for more. 

But first, a short 3 minute interview with Domhnall Gleeson from the premiere in which Gleeson admits that Winnie the Pooh was not part of his childhood, not the A.A. Milne books, not the Disney version, nothing!

Oh my! I remember making my son a Winnie the Pooh cake for his third birthday, he spent hours playing with his Winnie the Pooh play set. A childhood without Winnie the Pooh?! I can’t help but wonder what books Domhnall Gleeson did read—or have read to him—when he was a child?

The film opens September 29th in the UK and Ireland, here in the US Goodbye Christopher Robin opens on October 13th.

Sherin Linden at The Hollywood Reporter—they call it ‘compelling if not always subtle’—says 
where the movie truly stumbles is in its cozily cathartic wrap-up, sorting out unresolved guilt and blame in such picture-perfect fashion that Christopher Robin Milne and his famous father would likely cringe.

 Peter Debruge at Variety  
the film seems fixated on the irony that the boy every kid in Britain wanted to be was quite unhappy in his own skin, which as handled, isn’t just eye-opening, but tear-duct-cleansing as well.’ Debruge who calls Margot Robbie as Milne’s wife ‘distractingly beautiful, disappointingly bland’ does advise us to pack our handkerchiefs.

Debruge also advises would-be movie goers to brush up on our reading of A.A. Milne’s work especially his poem Vespers, in order to pick up on the inside references. 

Here’s the poem.


Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,Droops on the little hands little gold head.Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!Christopher Robin is saying his prayers. 
God bless Mummy. I know that's right.Wasn't it fun in the bath to-night?The cold's so cold, and the hot's so hot.Oh! God bless Daddy - I quite forgot.
If I open my fingers a little bit more,I can see Nanny's dressing-gown on the door.It's a beautiful blue, but it hasn't a hood.Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good. 
Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,And pull the hood right over my head,And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,And nobody knows that I'm there at all. 
Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.And what was the other I had to say?I said "Bless Daddy," so what can it be?Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.
Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,Droops on the little hands little gold head.Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!Christopher Robin is saying his prayers. 
The Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) directed film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly MacDonald and Will Tilston as Christopher Robin.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wonderstruck: The first trailer gives us an emotional glimpse of the movie

While Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is technically a childrens’ book, that didn’t stop an unusually large number of you from being interested when  I wrote about the upcoming adaptation back in April. Probably because Wonderstruck, like Selznick’s The Adventures of Hugo Cabret is filled with complex and intriguing black and white illustrations, the kind of images you want to linger over, captivated, no matter your age. Now we’ve got the first trailer for the movie. 

The film, scripted by the author, is directed by Todd Haynes (Carol, I’m Not There) and stars a couple of young people you likely haven’t heard of—I haven’t—with the star power of Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams to pique your grown up interest—and get the film financed.

Here’s the logline:
The story of a young boy in the Midwest is told simultaneously with a tale about a young girl in New York from fifty years ago as they both seek the same mysterious connection.

That doesn’t capture the pathos of the young boy and girl—who are both deaf—and the interconnected worlds we see in the trailer. Watch. You’ll see Michelle Williams as the boy’s mother and an almost unrecognizable Julianne Moore playing dual roles in this glimpse of a very emotional story. Oakes Fegley and Millicent Simmonds are the kids, Ben and Rose, at the heart of the story, with Jaden Michael as Ben’s buddy, Jamie.

Here's the rundown on the book from the publisher
A boy named Ben longs for the father he has never known. A girl named Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room, and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.
Ben's story, set in 1977, is told entirely with words, while Rose's story, set fifty years earlier, is told entirely with pictures. The two stories weave back and forth before ultimately coming together. 

Amazon has also included version that features an introduction especially for the deaf community. 

Wonderstruck is set for release on October 20th. 
What do you think?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blade Runner 2049: Ryan Gosling & Harrison Ford on Acting & more

Blade Runner 2049—the long awaited sequel to Blade Runner based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick—comes out October 5th and 6th all over the world. Cue the hype machine, which as you know, when Ryan Gosling is involved, is fine with me.

First up, an awkward and adorable tete a tete with Ryan and Harrison Ford from Wired. Stay tuned for the photos following the video. I guess it's time for me to make a Blade Runner Pinterest board!

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Big Little Night for Women & Books at the Emmy's

Both The Handmaids Tale and Big Little Lies won big at the Emmy’s! The Handmaid’s Tale taking the top prize for Outstanding Drama Series with Big Little Lies winning Outstanding Limited Series! Here’s how I responded last night as the small screen adaptations got their due.

Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, executive producers of Big Little Lies had much to celebrate. Shame they both couldn’t win for their acting but Kidman’s performance was understandably lauded for its dark, dramatic and important nature.

Pssst Shailene! Some of us have time to do both!

Here's the full list of winners

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturday Matinee: In honor of Lauren Bacall's Birthday

Today’s Saturday Matinee pays tribute to the legendary Lauren Bacall on what would be her 93rd birthday. We’re watching The Big Sleep starring Bacall and the love of her life the equally iconic Humphrey Bogart. The movie is the novel by Raymond Chandler. The acclaimed author William Faulkner wrote the script and the film great Howard Hawk directed. With all those legends you’d think the movie would have garnered a few awards back in the day, eh?

But take a look at this excerpt from a review that ran in the Times in 1946: 
Through it all, Humphrey Bogart stalks his cold and laconic way as the resolute private detective who has a mind and a body made of steel. And Lauren Bacall (Mrs. Bogart) plays the older of the daughters languidly. (Miss Bacall is a dangerous looking female, but she still hasn't learned to act.) A dozen or so other actors play various tramps and tough guys acidly, and the whole thing comes off a poisonous picture lasting a few minutes shy of two hours.
 Yikes! Well, you know the question those old Blackglama ads ask about legends?

Maybe the answer is time.

At the end of the day, who cares what the critics say? Awards or not, The Big Sleep endures not because of what the NY Times called ‘‘so much involved and devious plotting that the mind becomes utterly confused’’ we love it because it’s the sizzling chemistry of Bogey and Bacall together. Maybe one day in the future cinema lovers will celebrate Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in By the Sea. Then again, probably not.

 Now, check out this vintage trailer. I love it, not only for the heat of their chemistry but because the trailer itself opens in a library. What becomes a movie based on a book more?!

 You can stream The Big Sleep on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes. Check Netflix for current listings.

Can't get enough Lauren Bacall? Here you go ...

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Limehouse Golem: My take on the book by Peter Ackroyd

Now that I’ve finished reading and ‘reviewing’ the book behind the movie The Limehouse Golem, I wanted to make sure I shared my take on the book with followers of British Isles Friday hosted by Joy Weese Moll. If you love London, this gives you a look at the dark, grimy underside of life; I haven’t looked at the movie reviews but I think dark world will translate beautifully to the screen.

I met the characters of Dan Leno & The Limehouse Golem a few days ago and introduced them to those of you who haven’t met them previously. You may have read the book under its’ previous title The Trial Of Elizabeth Cree and it really is Elizabeth’s story. Peter Ackroyd is the renowned author of dozens of books—both fiction and non-fiction—poetry and even television shows. He keeps his writerly lens focused on the city of London and its people and is known for using historical elements contrasted with contemporary views. That aspect, the journalistic vs the fictional had me googling quite often in The Limehouse Golem to determine what was true and what came from Ackroyd’s mind. Thank goodness for the internet, it’s easy to do that, your device of choice next to your book. (Or in my case, since I read it on my Nook, all I had to do was click on the name or event and my Nook would take me to the relevant pages online. I really do love my Nook, even though it’s badly outdated and sure to die one of these days.)

Here’s the story, per the publisher

Without a doubt, Peter Ackroyd's breakout book. It has all the erudition and literary brilliance we expect of Ackroyd, yet it is as vivid, scary, and spellbinding as the best of Edgar Allan Poe. The year is 1880, the setting London's poor and dangerous Limehouse district, home to immigrants and criminals. A series of brutal murders has occurred, and, as Ackroyd leads us down London's dark streets, the sense of time and place becomes overwhelmingly immediate and real. We experience the sights and sounds of the English music halls, smell the smells of London slums, hear the hooves of horses on the cobblestone streets, and attend the trial of Elizabeth Cree, a woman accused of poisoning her husband but who may be the one person who knows the truth about the murders. The wonderfully rhythmic shifting of focus from trial to back alleys, where we come upon George Gissing, author of New Grub Street, and even Karl Marx, gives the story a tremendous depth and resonance beyond its page-turning thriller plot. Peter Ackroyd has once again confirmed his place as one of the great writers of our time.
The story is told from various points of view, that of Lambeth Lizzie Marsh an impoverished girl who gets caught up in the world of the music halls and John Cree, a newspaperman who reviews the shows, the strongest, most intriguing voices.

Real life Victorian author George Gissing—who like the imaginary Cree spends a lot of time at the British Museum Reading Room—is also fascinating when we see his relationship with a rumored prostitute who drives him to thievery. Less so when we have to read Ackroyd’s detailed account of George Gissing’s fascination with the real Thomas DeQuincey’s ‘‘On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts (1827)’’ That was a little tough going for me, quoting as it does, quite liberally from an essay Gissing didn’t actually write. 

Elizabeth, though, is the driving force of the book and her story is gripping. From the beginning where she tells us in her own words of her hatred for her overly religious mother—there are bible pages pasted up all over their walls—and her rise up through the world of theater until she marries the respectable John Cree, we can’t take our eyes off her or the world she lives in. Dan Leno, a huge part of Lizzie’s world is the major music hall comedian and star, another real character Ackroyd plucks from history and brings back to life for his fascinating book. 

As is often the case, I read this novel aware there was a movie in the works. That film, The Limehouse Golem, is in theaters now. While it can’t possibly deliver all the scholarly aspects of the book, it’s a tribute to the strength of Ackroyd’s writing—striking, stirring and cinematic—that I can already visualize the scenes.  The movie stars Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke as Elizabeth and Douglas Booth as Dan Leno.

The Limehouse Golem is in theaters now and for anglophiles should provide a deliciously dark and absorbing look at Victorian London. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

First trailer for Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence: Based on Edgar Award Winning Novel

It’s so hard not being a Jennifer Lawrence fan right now as her name is, once again, on everyone’s lips. There’s Mother, the Darren Aronovsky movie coming out this weekend, and now the just-released first trailer for Red Sparrrow, based on the espionage thriller by ex CIA operative Jason Matthews.
Ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited to 'Sparrow School' a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. But her first mission, targeting a CIA agent, threatens to unravel the security of both nations.

Lawrence plays the ‘sparrow’ trained against her will to be a seductress working as a Russian spy. I believe in the US we call them honey pots. As the world of Russian espionage is very much on most American minds at least, this sounds intriguing, even to me, the non J-Law fan. The cast includes Joel Edgerton as the CIA agent she seduces—in the novel, this is his first tour—with Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds, Charlotte Rampling and Mary Louise Parker (the latter two both women I love). Francis Lawrence who helmed three of the Hunger Games movies, directs.

As far as the book goes, it’s the first in a trilogy, followed by Palace of Treason and The Kremlin’s Candidate, so if the movie is a hit, expect sequels. Cleverly, the Edgar award winning author, includes a reference to a specific food in each chapter, with a recipe for it. So it’s a spy story for foodies. 
Take a look at the first trailer and let me know what you think.

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