Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Handmaid's Tale starring Elizabeth Moss: What's Season 2 all about? #book2movies [trailer]

Elizabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale/Season 2

In anticipation of The Handmaid’s Tale 2nd season coming back to Hulu on Wednesday, April 25th, the streaming service recently hosted a screening and Q&A.  The new season veers into places Margaret Atwood’s novel never took us, while the characters and their stories seem very much in line with Atwood’s vision.

About the new season:

 “The Emmy-winning drama series returns with a second season shaped by Offred’s pregnancy and her ongoing fight to free her future child from the dystopian horrors of Gilead. ‘Gilead is within you’ is a favorite saying of Aunt Lydia. In Season Two, Offred and all our characters will fight against — or succumb to — this dark truth.”
While Elizabeth Moss wasn’t in attendance, I gleaned some intriguing comments via Vanity Fair and a couple of the actors who were.

One-eyed Janine, played by Madeline Brewer, is banished to the Colonies for a life of hard labor in The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2.

 “The first season was a lot about Janine taking herself out of reality and out of her present situation, and in the second season she’s just grateful to be on Earth,” explained Brewer. “There’s a little bit more of her finding her own personality within the guidelines of Gilead. There’s so much more to her than meets the eye!”~ Madeline Brewer

Moira (Samira Wiley) is comparatively happy living as a refugee in Canada.

“Moira is trying to figure out who she is now that she’s escaped Gilead. She now has all these wonderful things; she’s no longer getting raped every day, has access to health care. But on the other side, she’s in a foreign land and nothing is familiar. So she’s trying to figure out how to live as this different person.”~Samira Wiley

Series writer Bruce Miller told the audience that motherhood is one of the driving forces of the season.

“When we start the season, it is confirmed that Offred is pregnant, and the people around [her] find out. But now she is thinking about how to protect her child, Hannah, and also thinking about the future of her unborn child. It’s like a volatile chess game; all her moves are about that unborn child, and what the future will be for that child and her daughter.”

I am soooo ready! How about you? Have you watched the trailers? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

This isn't your grandmother's Book Club: Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen & Mary Steenburgen READ

Okay. This movie is NOT based on a book but ... with a title like Book Club about a group of older women who read Fifty Shades of Grey ... how can I resist making sure you know about it? Thanks to my bookaholic friend and neighbor Lucy for giving me the heads up.

The logline

Four lifelong friends have their lives forever changed after reading 50 Shades of Grey in their monthly book club.

 And look who those four women are ...  

Jane Fonda 

 Diane Keaton

Candice Bergen

Mary Steenburgen

The movie looks like a laugh—four women in various stages of that time in your life when you say Not so fast, world, I’m not done yet! Fonda, the sexy playful one. Bergen, the smart serious one who seems to be more comfortable keeping that side of herself buried. Keaton, who appears to be playing a similar character to Erica in Something’s Gotta Give. And Mary Steenburgen, the married one who decides it wouldn't hurt to stir things up. 

The cast includes Don Johnson as Fonda’s fling, Andy Garcia paired up with Keaton, Richard Dreyfuss coupled up with Bergen (at least in this trailer) with Craig T. Nelson in the role of Steenburgen’s hapless husband.

Alicia Silverstone, Ed Begley Jr. & Wallace Shawn round out the cast. The film comes out on May 18th.   Check out the trailer.

Can you believe how young Fonda looks? It begins with  her incredible bone structure, a chin, a neck, that I would kill for. A lifetime developing the discipline to say no to all the foods most of us can’t resist, and a rigorous exercise program. Beyond that it’s all smoke and mirrors, hair dye, makeup, and let’s be real, some pricey cosmetic surgery, but she looks amazing.

To be honest, just knowing she is 80, kind of creeps me out! Is it anti-feminist of me to wish she didn’t feel the need to try so hard to look young? It’s not just the part, the photo above is from this year’s Emmy Award show. Do we have to aspire to youth our entire lives? For the average older woman the routine nips and tucks, the barrage of Botox, Juvederm, Kybella, hairpieces, hairdressers and skilled makeup artists on call are financially out of reach. We have about as much chance of achieving Fonda’s youthful looks as we do of having another child. At what point is it okay to allow ourselves to age gracefully? When will we embrace our grey hairs and our silver locks for representing the lives we’ve lived, the wisdom and joy we’ve accumulated with the years the way, to my mind, the more naturally lovely Diane Keaton does?

Or am I just jealous?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

James Corden gets Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon & Mindy Kaling to Spoof A Wrinkle in Time

Hmmm. Well, here’s something a little different. James Corden took over the Pacific theater at the Grove here in LA for a live action re-enactment of the movie A Wrinkle in Time. It’s a supposedly funny bit done for his TV show utilizing Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and young star Storm Reid who invade the theater for this bit of schtick. 

The Grove is the closest theater to me, a ten minute walk, it’s where I see most movies. It’s where I saw A Wrinkle in Time and I’m wondering how it would have felt to be sitting in the audience when James Corden breaks through and takes over the showing. They must have known, right? The audience must have agreed to be in on this little bit of late night television madness?

Give it a watch and let me know if the silliness equals success.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fried Green Tomatoes starring Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary Louise Parker & Jessica Tandy: #SaturdayMatinee

It had been ages since I watched Fried Green Tomatoes. Even after watching the trailer, I’m so old I couldn’t remember the half of it! That’s why I had to watch it again.

(Pssst. I’m not that old but I am turning 65 this year! Old enough for Medicare for heaven’s sake, I’m feelin’ it, you know?)

The movie, based on the book by Fannie Flagg, came out in January of 1992. My father was dying in a hospital in Sherman Oaks from liver disease that month so I wasn’t spending much time going to the movies; in a surprising bit of synchronicity, Carol Sobieski who co-wrote the Academy Award nominated screenplay with Flagg, died from liver cancer just before the film came out.

Beautiful, British born Jessica Tandy was nominated for best supporting actress. She was a ripe old eighty at the time with a half century of film work behind her including her Oscar winning turn in Driving Miss Daisy and Cocoon, with Nobody’s Fool still to come. She lost out to Mercedes Ruehl in The Fisher King. I’m sure she didn’t give a fig. 

 “Face it girls, I’m older and I have more insurance.’’

Of course the movie also belongs to marvelous Kathy Bates and who doesn’t remember that classic scene where she gets the last word on those younger women in the parking lot. 

But the beautiful relationship between Mary-Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson—were they friends or lovers?—is central to the plot. The way I see it, not unlike Armie Archer’s character in Call Me By Your Name, Mary Stuart Masterson’s character (Idgie), such a strong, independent free spirit, is one that whether man or woman, you couldn’t help falling in love with. You either wanted to be Idgie, or you fell in love with her. That’s about it. I don’t see how you could dislike her or maintain your neutrality. 

And Ruth, like the rest of us,  certainly fell for her. Fried Green Tomatoes, this week’s Saturday Matinee, also stars Cicely Tyson and Chris O’Donnell in a heartbreaking and short appearance. 

That bee scene in Fried Green Tomatoes still freaks me out. How’d they do that?

The film is available to watch free OnDemand for HBO subscribers, and to stream on Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, YouTube and GooglePlay for about three bucks. Check your Netflix account, like a lot of great films, it comes and goes. 

Watch the Fried Green Tomatoes trailer 

And because it is my birthday in a couple of months, a look at the 'best birthday ever' scene from the film.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Benedict Cumberbatch Talks to Himself in this Clip from Patrick Melrose #book2movies

If you can’t get enough Benedict Cumberbatch (Joy Weese Moll, I’m talking to you!) besides seeing him in The Child in Time coming to PBS on April 1, you can also see him on Showtime as Patrick Melrose the following month on May 12th. 

Written for TV by David Nicholls (One Day, Far from the Madding Crowd) the series is based on the semi-autobiographical novels by Edward St. Aubyn with each of the five episodes, devoted to one of the five novels. 

About the books

‘‘The Melrose Novels are a masterwork for the twenty-first century, written by one of the great prose stylists in England." ―Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones

For more than twenty years, acclaimed author Edward St. Aubyn has chronicled the life of Patrick Melrose, painting an extraordinary portrait of the beleaguered and self-loathing world of privilege.

By turns harrowing and hilarious, these beautifully written novels dissect the English upper class as we follow Patrick Melrose's story from child abuse to heroin addiction and recovery. Never Mind, the first novel, unfolds over a day and an evening at the family's chateaux in the south of France, where the sadistic and terrifying figure of David Melrose dominates the lives of his five-year-old son, Patrick, and his rich and unhappy American mother, Eleanor. From abuse to addiction, the second novel, Bad News opens as the twenty-two-year-old Patrick sets off to collect his father's ashes from New York, where he will spend a drug-crazed twenty-four hours. And back in England, the third novel, Some Hope, offers a sober and clean Patrick the possibility of recovery. The fourth novel, the Booker-shortlisted Mother's Milk, returns to the family chateau, where Patrick, now married and a father himself, struggles with child rearing, adultery, his mother's desire for assisted suicide, and the loss of the family home to a New Age foundation.
Edward St. Aubyn offers a window into a world of utter decadence, amorality, greed, snobbery, and cruelty―welcome to the declining British aristocracy
Get a load of this clip featuring some of Melrose’s inner demons. I can not wait to see more. Suddenly grateful to be a Showtime subscriber! 

Directed by Edward Berger, the cast of Patrick Melrose includes Blythe Danner,Holliday Grainger, Anna Madeley,  Allison Williams, Pip Torrens, Jessica Raine, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Indira Varma and Celia Imrie.

Fellow Anglophiles stop by British Isles Friday hosted by Joy Weese Moll

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ready Player One: Steven Spielberg Takes You Back to the Future #book2movies [review]

When I leaving the theater last week—I’d been to see A Wrinkle in Time before writing up my take on the movie—a couple of employees, guys in their early twenties, walked by carrying their brooms and long-handled dustpans.  

‘‘Are you excited about Ready Player One?’’ one asked the other. 
“Oh man, yes! I can’t wait.’’
“Me too. I think it’s going to be like back when we were kids, you know? Like we’ll be right back there.’’

They continued, on their way to clean up the theater, grinning happily like a couple of kids. 
Judging from Indiewire’s review of the movie due out March 29, those two young men will get their way.

“This is a typical boy’s movie that will strike younger audiences as being out of sync with the current moment’’

 I’ve pulled some paragraphs from the piece and included the link to the entire review below. 
Never, ever underestimate Steven Spielberg. That’s the biggest takeaway from “Ready Player One,” an immersive sci-fi spectacle about a future overrun by virtual reality gaming, and the world’s most famous commercial director has transformed it into a mesmerizing blockbuster steeped in callbacks to the best of them. It runs too long and drags a bunch in its final third, but make no mistake: This is Spielberg’s biggest crowdpleaser in years, a CGI ride that wields the technology with an eye for payoff. It’s also his most stylized movie since “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” though a lot more fun, with a cavalcade of visuals leaving the impression that he watched a bunch of Luc Besson movies and decided he could outdo them all. The result is an astonishing sci-fi spectacle and a relentless nostalgia trip at once.
“You think I’m just a corporate asshole,” Nolan says, and Spielberg may as well be saying the same thing to a skeptical audience: On paper, “Ready Player One” certainly looks like another ill-conceived Hollywood product, but this 71-year-old Hollywood veteran is determined to make something better than that. The movie’s greatest sequence is a prolonged homage to Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” too rich with details to spoil here, but needless to say, this is not a brainless blockbuster so much as an attempt to elevate the blockbuster form in its own language.
Eventually, “Ready Player One” becomes the very thing its characters admire, a preponderance of commercial entertainment smashed together into singular blockbuster chaos. Spielberg’s roving digital camera (for the first time, this celluloid fetishist has reason to abandon ship) is aided by effective motion-capture performances and ever-changing landscapes. None of that changes the retrograde gender politics: This is a typical boy’s movie that will strike younger audiences as being out of sync with the current moment (just imagine what might happen if Waithe and Sheridan traded places), but then, so’s the nostalgia-laden Oasis.
“Ready Player One” is one of the more clever excuses to run wild with special effects. Of course, that outcome makes sense from a filmmaker whose entire legacy has been steeped in showmanship. As it cycles through dozens of references to past achievements, “Ready Player One” amounts to a frenetic attempt at remaking the past 30-odd years of popular culture by one of its greatest architects. Without seeing the movie, it’s hard to imagine anyone could turn it into a satisfying product; by the end, it’s clear that only Steven Spielberg can.

Here’s the trailer 

Read the entire review at IndieWire.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

You Should Have Known will be Nicole Kidman's Undoing #book2movies

Don’t fret, Nicole Kidman fans, The Undoing is what they’re calling her upcoming series based on the book You Should Have Known. David E. Kelly who scripted the award winning Big Little Lies is writing the small screen adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s best seller for HBO. 

“David has created another propulsive series with a fascinating, complicated female role at its center.”  Nicole Kidman

David, with a little help from the novelist! Haven’t read the book yet? Things are just beginning to heat up with the adaptation so there’s plenty of time to catch up and read the book. I’ll keep you posted with an air date as soon as I hear it. 

About the Book

‘Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended. Dismayed by the ways in which women delude themselves, Grace is also the author of a book You Should Have Known, in which she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.’

What do you think of Nicole Kidman as New York therapist and author of a woman’s self-help book?  I’m all ears.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society starring Lily James: When, Where, How? #book2movies

I dunno. At one point in The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society’s long journey to the screen, the title was shortened—sensibly in my opinion—to Guernsey. But judging from the poster we’re sticking with the original title of one of our favorite books.

The movie comes out April 19th in Australia, followed by the UK on the 20th and New Zealand on the 25th with a smattering of early and midsummer dates after that. I’m a bit confused because while Deadline reports that the theatrical rollout—meaning in theaters— includes the rest of the world where the film has sold out, they also say Netflix has just snapped up the rights noting ‘the online titan will release in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Italy, Eastern Europe and SouthEast Asia.’ 

So I dunno. I’ll be thrilled to watch this over and over on Netflix but I definitely want to see it on the big screen first! Anyone who hears news of a theatrical release date here in the US, please advise. STAT!

Watch the trailer:

Glen Powell, Matthew Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton co-star in the film, which was adapted by a trio of writers with some real ‘chops’: Don Roos (This is Us), Thomas Bezucha (The Family Stone) and Kevin Hood (Becoming Jane). With the director of Love Actually—Mike Newell—helming the adaptation I’m expecting big, big things. Don’t disappoint us Mike. This material is far too precious!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Child in Time by Ian McEwan: My take on the book #book2movies

The opening pages of The Child in Time are written in Ian McEwan’s often lean style, setting out an ordinary world, a daddy taking his small child, a three year old girl named Kate to the grocery store. The ordinariness of his language—never flowery, always deeply evocative—fits with the ordinariness of the day when a simple errand turns horrifyingly into the worst day, what will become a recurring nightmare, of his life. The child Kate, is stolen, leaving her parents, Stephen an accidental writer of children’s books and Julie, a classical musician, bereft and broken.

I read the novel, as I often do, because I knew a television show was coming. As good a guide as any, in my opinion, in answer to the age old book lover’s question, what should I read next?

Having seen the ads for the series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kelly MacDonald, I knew gut wrenching tears were coming as Stephen & Julie go quite mad with grief. Knowing what to expect ahead of time, I could steel myself so that the theme—the loss of a child—wouldn’t be too bleak, especially for a parent, to bear. 

What surprised me about the book, written in 1987, was the semi-dystopia McEwan created—beggars are licensed, given out badges, allowed to beg here but not there—amidst a world which otherwise, despite a worsening of climate change, feels mostly like our own. Despite my love for McEwan, I still don't quite know that he pulled it off, whatever statement it was, he was trying to make. The story of the stolen child, the damaged marriage, the troubled friend,  didn’t seem to require or benefit from being set in a somewhat frightening futuristic time period. 

I like McEwan for his insights into the human mind and heart, the way we double talk and sabotage ourselves, the way loss leaves such a deep imprint. I’m not sure how much of that will be present in the The Child in Time coming to Masterpiece Theater on April 1. They advertise it as a “heart-breaking exploration of love, loss and the power of things unseen.’’ 

The intention, at least, seems clear.

Would I recommend the book? Not really but the novel won the Whitbread prize and Christopher Hitchens called it McEwan’s masterpiece, so what do I know.

Let’s watch the trailer, although to be honest, The Child in Time hasn’t exactly knocked the TV critics socks off. But it’s Cumberbatch so I imagine I’ll be watching it anyway.

Have you read the book? What did you think? 
Will you be watching the show?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Ewan McGregor is Christopher Robin: The first trailer #book2movies

Sitting in the theater this weekend, watching the previews before Wrinkle in Time began, the teaser trailer for Christopher Robin—NOT to be confused with Goodbye Christopher Robintook me by surprise. Who, I thought, is that unhappy looking man? The man, momentarily unrecognizable to me, was Ewan McGregor—who happens to be frozen in time in my mind at age 30 when he played Christian in Moulon Rouge. But time does march on, and as the poster for Christopher Robin says, sooner or later, your past catches up to you. And when it does, that fresh, bouncy face will likely show the worries of the years.

About the movie

While not based on a book, the film is inspired by the A.A. Milne classic, and features Christopher Robin all grown up as, ‘A working-class family man who encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life.’

From the looks of Ewan McGregor in the image above, he needs all the help he can get. Is this a film for children? Or is it geared to aging boomers like me who grew up loving Pooh bear—and Tigger and Eeyore and Kanga too—who can relate to a world so full of pressure that it can drive the happiness right out of you if you don’t fight to keep the monsters at bay? 

I love that Pooh looks like a real live teddy bear—like his boy all grown up, a bit bedraggled and the worse for wear—come to life, along with the animated characters who are voiced by a talented cast including Chris O’Dowd as Tigger, Brad Garrett as Eeyore,  Toby Jones as Owl, and most importantly Jim Cummings as Winnie-the-Pooh. Cummings, you see, has played that silly old bear dozens of time since the death of the original Winnie was voiced by Sterling Holloway.

Jim Cummings is the voice of Winnie-the-Pooh

Here’s what director Marc Forster said about his casting.
“He lived this character for over 30 years, so for him, this is, sort of, part of his being at this point. It was important to me [to have] this nostalgic element of the voice and the feel. It was very important.’’

The Hundred Acre Woods in the film Christopher Robin

The director also strived to make the Hundred Acre Woods come alive with the magic we remember. Here’s how Forster said he brought it to life.
“It was important for me that the Hundred Acre Wood is a place that feels real because that's how it was: real. We shot very close to Milne estate, out where his original house was in Suffolk... it just feels like that's where Christopher Robin played. It's not some fantastical place, it should feel like the real place.’’

Christopher Robin comes out in the late summer around the world. August 1 in France, August 3rd in the US, August 17th in the UK and September 20 in Australia and New Zealand. Check here to find the release date in your country. 

Is it just me or are we feeling very nostalgic this year? Besides going back to the Hundred Acre Woods with Christopher Robin, we saw Peter Rabbit come back to Mr. McGregor’s garden, we’re seeing A Wrinkle in Time come to the screen for a new generation and we’re welcoming The Return of Mary Poppins this Christmas.

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