Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Nicole Kidman will star as Faith Frank in The Female Persuasion. Now, who will play Greer?

Now. Who will play Greer?

Last week we heard that Nicole Kidman was planning to adapt Meg Wolitzer’s newest best-selling book The Female Persuasion via her own production company. 

Now we have the facts. Nicole is attached. And she’ll play the lead role of Faith Frank, a strong and glamorous figure in the woman’s movement. In Wolitzer’s novel, Faith is sixty-three while Nicole just celebrated her 50th but she’ll either pull it off with makeup trickery as I noted in my previous post she does well vis a vis The Years, or they’ll pretend there’s no difference between a woman of fifty and a woman of sixty and that ain’t true (been there, done that) or they’ll make her character beautifully ageless like Nicole. 

Nicole Kidman image via Vanity Fair

Now, who to play Greer, the shy and awkward twenty-something college student? While EW’s Leah Greenblatt calls her a ‘small brown mouse of a girl’ she also writes in her review of the book that both characters are “fully formed [women] who speak to each other and have faceted ambitions and inner lives.” Always a good thing in women’s fiction and becoming increasing realized in films where women were once relegated to the role of the girlfriend.

I haven’t read the brand new The Female Persuasion yet; I may have to move it up on my TBR list so I can get a good idea for Greer—that small brown mouse of a girl. Any thoughts from those of you who’ve already read the book? Is there any chance she’ll look to her Big Little Lies costar Shailene Woodley? Talk to me ... I’m all ears.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Carey Mulligan & Jake Gyllenhaal star in Wildlife #basedonabook by Richard Ford #book2movie

Carey Mulligan stars in Wildlife

Paul Dano—we loved him as Beach Boy Brian Wilson and as Pierre in War and Peacehas gone behind the camera with his film Wildlife. His directorial debut is based on Richard Ford’s novel and stars Carey Mulligan, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ed Oxenbould and Bill Camp. 

Jake Gyllenhaal plays husband Joe Brinson in the family drama

The family drama had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and is set to screen at Cannes. We first heard about Dano and Zoe Kazan’s collaboration—they wrote the adaptation of Ford’s novel together—back in 2016 when we learned neither of the actor/writer/directors has an on-camera part. 

Let’s look at the book
The setting is Great Falls, Montana, where the Rockies end and where, in 1960, the promise of good times seems as limitless as the sweep of the prairies beyond. This is where the Brinson family hopes to find a better life. Instead, sixteen-year-old Joe Brinson watches his parents discover the limits of their marriage and, at the same time, the unexpected depths of dignity and courage that remain even when love dies.

The release date isn’t set but it looks to be sometime this fall. In time for award season?  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Julie Christie as Lara—"the violent, sensual, sensitive girl" in Dr. Zhivago #saturdaymatinee #book2movie

Julie Christie as Lara in Dr. Zhivago

I was twelve when Julie Christie, born on this day in 1940, starred in Dr. Zhivago. Based on the book by Boris Pasternak, the movie was both breathtakingly beautiful and brutal. As a pubescent young girl, just beginning to understand and explore sexuality, the rape of Christie’s Lara by Rod Steiger’s Komarovsky was deeply disturbing. I’ve written a bit about that over on if you have an interest.

Despite my traumatized response, the film was nominated for ten Oscars, winning five of those Academy Awards for Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Maurice Jarre’s score and the screenplay by Robert Bolt—who also won an Oscar for his screenplay for A Man for All Seasons

In short, a quality film lauded for production values that go to making a good film, great. While David Lean was nominated for directing, neither he or any of the actors—not Rod Steiger, not Omar Sharif and not Julie Christie received Oscar love. 

In fact only Tom Courtenay got a nom for Best Supporting Actor—Courtenay, by the way, can be seen as Eban in the upcoming Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. The Golden Globes corrected some of that, dubbing it Best Picture, giving the Globe to Lean along with a Best Actor trophy to Omar Sharif. 

Still nada for Ms. Christie while Geraldine Chaplin took home a newcomer award.

No matter, the sweeping drama, lush, romantic and full of pathos, remains as epic as ever. And Julie Christie, who won the Oscar the following year for Darling, remains a legend. 

Today’s Saturday Matinee, based on the book by Boris Pasternak, can be streamed on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu and iTunes for about three American dollars.

Let’s have a look at the vintage trailer and note it boasts winning six Oscars. It only won five.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon: On location in Monterey for Big Little Lies

Meryl Streep as Celeste's mother-in-law on Big Little Lies, Season 2

In my last post, I shared the Big Little Lies crew prepping Lovers Point Park, building a gazebo and a pergola, getting the seaside park in shape for shooting. Now we’ve got Nicole, Reese and Meryl Streep on the set, in character, having coffee overlooking the Pacific.

In character & On camera: Reese Witherspoon & Nicole Kidman

Mary (Meryl Streep) appears emotional as Celeste & Madeline have a heart to heart

I’ve been on my share of film sets but I’m always struck by how close the camera often gets to the cast. It amazes me that the actors can block out the boom operator and the camera almost in their faces. In this shot we have a camera operator with a handheld camera being guided from behind by a grip, making sure the operator shooting the scene doesn't make a mis-step and topple off that newly built deck. 

Reese Witherspoon & Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies, Season2

Here’s the scene from another angle.The crew did a great job building it, didn’t they? They managed to create a lovely little cafe. I love that rustic bent wood chair with the colorful pillows.

Behind the scenes 

I can't tell if this is offscreen or on since both Reese and Meryl are wearing the big puffy jackets to keep warm between takes. Perhaps they're rehearsing.

KSBW TV shared some footage of the set with the actors moving around. Take a gander at the video at this link via the KSBW TV station that caught the crew on camera.

Too early to get excited about Big Little Lies since it’s not coming back to HBO until 2019?

Source: The Daily Mail

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Big Little Lies Season 2: On Location in the Monterey Peninsula #book2movie

 Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon & Shailene Woodley walk the Monterey Wharf

(photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO)

Move over John Steinbeck. Once upon a time no trip to California’s gorgeous Monterey Peninsula would be complete without paying homage to Cannery Row. But now, thanks to Big Little Lies starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz, tourists will be flocking to Monterey to see the sights and locations of Big Little Lies too.

The Big Little Lies Bridge (aka Bixby Creek Bridge) 

I know I’m hoping the Bixby Creek Bridge—my photo from a  road trip back in 2016—is back for Season Two, along with all those fabulous women. Remember Reese driving across the bridge in the opening credits along with that amazing song Cold Little Heart by Michael Kiwanuka. Remember?

Along with the famous Monterey Wharf (top of page) you can add the town’s coastal Lovers Point Park to your on location vacation. According to local TV station KSBW, HBO’s Big Little Lies crew is busy getting the park gussied up for the show with a gazebo and a pergola. 

On Location in Pacific Grove: Lovers Point Park, Monterey

 The construction looks like it may be an attractive feature the city decides to keep. We'll have to visit Monterey to see for ourselves. Anyone live close by? I'd love to hear details about the filming.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Nicole Kidman Doesn't Need Persuading: Adapting The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

I didn’t need to be persuaded to join forces with two extraordinary women on adapting this brilliant and timely novel!! Check out today’s NYT review!! Nic xx

That was the post Nicole Kidman shared on both her Instagram account and Facebook page yesterday. A huge hint if not an official statement that Meg Wolitzer’s latest book—just released on April 3— is on Kidman’s cinematic to do list. 

Before we check out the NYT review, written by Lena Dunham (below), let’s see how Random House sums up the book:
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings, an electric novel not just about who we want to be with, but who we want to be.
To be admired by someone we admire – we all yearn for this: the private, electrifying pleasure of being singled out by someone of esteem. But sometimes it can also mean entry to a new kind of life, a bigger world.
Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer- madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place- feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.

OOF! That sounds like a must read and especially interesting to women my age, women over sixty who came of age at a very different time, as well as today’s young women who often seem to have no idea that many of the freedoms they enjoy today are the result of long hard battles. 

Nicole Kidman in Top of the Lake

But where would Nicole fit into that landscape? She’s neither the shy, young college student or the sixty-something feminist. Perhaps she’s simply—ha!—producing? Or perhaps she plans to do some of that Kidman magic and age gracefully into the role of Faith? 

 Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The Hours

She has physically transformed herself before and I can see her pulling this off too. Unless she’s thinking of her friend Meryl? It will be fun to watch and see where this one goes.
 I’m adding Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion to my #book2movie reading list which right now includes Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which is getting the Reese Witherspoon treatment,  Tom Perotta’s Mrs. Fletcher, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar, The Dry by Jane Harper to name a few!

What’s next on your reading pile? I’m all ears.

And, now as promised, here’s the NYT review Kidman suggested we check out. I nabbed it in its entirety so you don’t have to move a muscle. 

It will be tempting for most critics to approach “The Female Persuasion” through the lens of the current political climate — perhaps nigh impossible for them not to. Meg Wolitzer’s 12th novel begins with a campus assault that leads to a protest that leads to an intergenerational feminist debate that takes a turn for the toxic. It’s as if a healthy portion of the Twittersphere were aggregated, swallowed and spit back out as the plot of a literary novel. 
And who will blame these critics? The novel’s protagonist, Greer Kadetsky — who starts the book as a faceless college freshman “absorbed in her own unhappiness, practically curating it” — is the living embodiment of today’s growing number of young white women whose own processes of politicization are equally inspiring and problematic. Her budding friendship with a self-actualized queer girl named Zee Eisenstat, as well as an utterly clinical and horrific groping at a frat party, set Greer — all the while consumed with her boyfriend, who is miles away at Princeton — on the activist path. 
And it is this path that leads her straight to Faith Frank, a notorious figure in the women’s empowerment movement who reads as part Gloria Steinem, part Eve Ensler, part Dame Helen Mirren. Faith’s confidence, passion and good humanitarian deeds (which she allows Greer to join in as part of her undertaking) come to define the next half-decade of Greer’s life, as her bond with Zee and her seemingly idyllic romance with said boyfriend, Cory, fracture and eventually combust. 
The novel’s timeliness cannot be overstated, but it also invites a bigger question: What do we as readers, as a society, want from our fiction? Is it enough for it just to speak to the zeitgeist? Or are we also committed to words working their magic and characters growing hotter to the touch with each passing page? Of Greer’s interest in language, Wolitzer — a noted bard of middle-class malaise — writes, “All written words danced in a chain for her.” And the same could be said of the author herself, who writes in warm, specific prose that neither calls attention to itself nor ignores the mandate of the best books: to tell us things we know in ways we never thought to know them. 
Of all the political threads that permeate “The Female Persuasion,” the one that interests me most is the challenge of intergenerational feminism. This reviewer must confess to having met Wolitzer, through our mutual mentor Nora Ephron, whose humanity and specificity can often be felt in Wolitzer’s work — here, particularly in the woeful characters who populate the student lounge at the fictional Ryland University, like the girl who needs help deciding whether diarrhea constitutes a medical emergency. (It is no wonder the first feature film Ephron directed, “This Is My Life,” was based on a Wolitzer novel.) This connection is a reminder of what can be nurturing, inclusive and essential about the interweaving of ideas between women of varying ages, of how feminism expands rather than shrinks, while also sometimes forgetting to make room for what doesn’t resemble itself. 
But as Greer and Faith’s relationship takes on a new dimension, the skeptical sneer of the elder meets the righteous judgment of the younger. I am thinking, in particular, of a scene where Greer confronts Faith with a shocking professional revelation as Faith is having her hair colored at a high-end salon, her head covered in foils, “hooked up not with electrodes but with a conduit to youth and beauty.” It doesn’t feel like an accident that the book’s mentor is named Faith, as that is what she demands of her followers, blind and without reservation — and it’s a testament to Wolitzer’s skill that this does not come off as ham-handed. By the time Greer understands the compromises Faith has had to make to build her woman-saving empire, she’s so deeply invested that she can hardly afford to walk away. Like one who is afraid to admit her religion is a fraud, she is faced with having to keep the faith. 
When this book is not examining the uniqueness of Greer and Faith’s dynamic, it is speaking to the larger issue of ambition: who has it, what curtails it and what it means to reframe it. Greer and Zee share activist leanings, but Greer’s nice-girl image of herself is tested when Zee too wants access to Faith’s world. Cory’s promising post-Ivy League life is upended and then made small by tragedy. And then there’s Faith, whose demand that the world give her the chance to be one of its conquering heroes is the definition of a certain kind of ambition — graceful, guileless and vaguely sinister. The book itself is an ambitious 456 pages, tight but inclusive, and deserves to be placed on shelves alongside such ornate modern novels beginning in college as “A Little Life,” “The Secret History” and “The Marriage Plot.” 

The conversation I’d been hearing around the book before I even received my galley was about its resonance within our current political climate, one that is so focused on issues of women’s consent, control and intersectionality. It’s all there to parse, and parsed it will be. But when all is said and done, Wolitzer is an infinitely capable creator of human identities that are as real as the type on this page, and her love of her characters shines more brightly than any agenda. People — loving them, knowing them, letting them shatter and rebuild us again — are Wolitzer’s politics, and that’s something to vote for.

Monday, April 9, 2018

First Clip for Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society starring Lily James: Image Gallery #book2movie [clip]

 Lily James & the Cast of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

I wonder if I’m the only reader of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society who harbored a small wish that Juliet and her publisher Sidney Stark would end up together? They had such good on-the-page chemistry together. Of course, that lovely crackling friendship is destined to remain just that as the reader learns—and Juliet has known all along—that Sidney is gay. Or homosexual as they used to say.

Matthew Goode as Sidney Stark with Lily as Juliet Ashton

Still, that same crackling chemistry is on display in this first clip from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The pair clearly get along like beloved big brother and sister. I’d love to see Matthew Goode and Lily James do something together someday.

Glenn Powell plays Mark Reynolds

The flashy Mark Reynolds, an American publisher, arrogant & entitled but still charming, initially sweeps Juliet off her feet. I imagined Aaron Eckhart in the role when I dream-cast Guernsey back in 2012. I still think Eckhart would have made a great Reynolds.

Lily James and Michiel Huisman on the beach at Guernsey

Of course it’s Dawsey, quiet, and solid with his deeply caring manner and intensity that wins Juliet over. Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones) fits that bill nicely. That’s Michiel, not Michael.

Juliet (Lily James) arrives on the island

I'm sure the book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows increased tourism on the island. I can only imagine the influx of visitors the film will spur. Better book now!

Has anyone tried Potato Peel Pie? Sounds awful.

The film recreated the interior of Foyle’s bookstore flagship location on Charing Cross Road

Juliet giving one of the literary talks she dreaded at the famous Foyle’s bookshop. The store remains but like the rest of us, it’s changed with the years. Still a fab bookstore, worth visiting.

I expect, like Juliet, we'll fall in love with all the characters we meet on Guernsey.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society also stars Downton Abbey alums Jessica Brown Findlay as Elizabeth & Penelope Wilton as Amelia Maugery with Katherine Parkinson (In the Club) as Isola Pribby and Tom Courtenay as Eben. I’m a little concerned that I don’t see a credit for Elizabeth’s daughter Kit. Have they rewritten the important child out of the script? 

Studiocanal co-financed the film which rolls out in Australia on April 19, the UK on April 20, New Zealand on April 25, France in June and Germany in August and sometime—SOMETIME!—on Netflix for those of us in the USA.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep watching the trailers and sharing what I can about the film and the book and history behind the story. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Fahrenheit 451 starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner #SaturdayMatinee #book2movie

Yesterday we had our first look at the upcoming Fahrenheit 451 starring Michael B. Jordan as Guy Montag, the fireman. Based on the Ray Bradbury classic, Fahrenheit 451 was first adapted in 1966 with François Truffaut directing. 

The Viennese actor Oskar Werner, best known to English speaking audiences for Jules et Jim, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Ship of Fools, played Montag in that version with Julie Christie taking on the dual roles of Guy’s wife Linda as well as the revolutionary mistress we see in the clip below. What’s that number on your uniform, she wants to know. Why 451? That’s the temperature at which books burn he tells her. 

Fahrenheit 451 directed by François Truffaut

Which brings us to an interesting question posed by Louise at A Belief in Wicker yesterday:
“While the trailer looks interesting, I’m not sure that the concept works now that we have ebooks and audiobooks- how do they burn those?’’
An excellent question because it’s obviously not the cloth or leather binding, the paper pages of a book that’s dangerous, it’s the knowledge within those pages. 

I can see how fire could melt my nook, even my personal computer, destroying the books I have stored there. But these days books, knowledge is everywhere. The aptly named web spreads its tentacles far and wide so that while some regimes have elected to deny their people access, turning off the internet, there will always be some corner of the world where books and their dangerous ideas remain. I’m curious to see how the filmmakers address that question.

Truffaut’s take on Bradbury’s book was his first foray into directing an English language film and taking a quick look, it appears many of the critics, then and now, found it dull and pretentious. But not all of them agree. Check out this fascinating video review from Richard Brody of the New Yorker. Please excuse the mandatory ad, that’s the magazine’s  prerequisite to see the material.

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And here’s the vintage trailer.

If you’re still curious to see it—I am, even more so having seen Brody’s review —Fahrenheit 451 is available to stream on Amazon and Vudu for just under ten bucks.

Friday, April 6, 2018

First Official Trailer for Fahrenheit 451 starring Michael B. Jordan #book2movie [trailer]

Michael B. Jordan & Michael Shannon star in Fahrenheit 451

My heart is actually beating just a little bit faster after watching Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon in the first trailer for HBO’s upcoming Fahrenheit 451 based on Ray Bradbury’s iconic dystopian novel. 

In a terrifying care-free future, a young man, Guy Montag, whose job as a fireman is to burn all books, questions his actions after meeting a young girl...and begins to rebel against society.
Jordan, who last burned up the screen as Killmonger in Black Pantherplays Montag, while Shannon is Captain Beatty.

“I want to know why we burn,” Montag says to which Beatty responds, “We were not born equal. We must be made equal by the fire… and then we can be happy.”

Knowledge is a dangerous thing. 

I haven’t read the book since, um, high school! 
I have time to reread the novel? Should I?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Elle Fanning Stars in How to Talk to Girls at Parties: Listen to Neil Gaiman read his short story #book2movie

The trailer for How to Talk to Girls at Parties just hit the internet and it’s—how to put this—out of this world (you can watch it below) but you know what I always say: Read it Before you See it.

If you want to read it I shared Neil Gaiman’s short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties last year along with the movie’s logline: 
An alien touring the galaxy breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants of the most dangerous place in the universe: the London suburb of Croydon

What the punk?!

That alien who breaks away is Zan, played by Elle Fanning in the film, in which Nicole Kidman stars as Queen Boadicea, the leader of Zan’s faction. 

Better yet. Don’t read it! Let the acclaimed author Neil Gaiman read it to you.

Nicole Kidman is Queen Boadicea in How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties is set for release on May 18th —I hope I remember to add it to this year’s list of movies based on books—and also stars Ruth Wilson and Alex Sharp. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, the wild mind who brought you Hedwig & the Angry Inch, in How to Talk to Girls at Parties the co-writer/director takes a deep dive into the punk rock scene.

Are you a Neil Gaiman fan? Does this adaptation look like a promising rendition of the short story? I’m all ears.
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