Monday, April 24, 2017

Feud: Bette & Joan: The finale is not for sissies

Quoting Bette Davis “Old age ain’t no place for sissies” Antonia Blythe writing in Deadline notes the age factor is especially true for women in Hollywood. 

I’m a self-described crier but last night’s Feud: Bette and Joan finale really got my waterworks running. It’s hard, no matter what your line of work or life experience, not to empathize with the two legendary stars aging before our eyes. As an older woman, that’s especially true. Blythe describes the series as following ‘‘the two Hollywood legends as they ‘age out’ of their acting careers and battle each other for supremacy.’’

Women, especially women of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s generation have always had a hard time in Hollywood, where looks were everything. When Joan Crawford’s dentist warns her that the bone loss caused by her missing back teeth is wreaking havoc with her health (Joan Crawford reportedly really did have a dental procedure called the buckle, in which the back teeth are removed to make the cheekbones more prominent) and that at her age she should be more concerned with her health than her looks, Crawford replies “I’ll stop worrying about how I look when they dip me in formaldehyde.” 

I get it Joan. Nobody wants to see an old woman’s wrinkles, sagging skin and jowls. As a boomer who turns the momentous 64 this year, I’m guilty of that same kind of thinking, avoiding cameras when possible. But wait, that kind of nonsense is over, isn’t it? Aren’t we all evolved and operating on a higher plane? Doesn’t a woman’s inner beauty count more than surface looks? Don’t her accomplishments, her experience, her wisdom outweigh all those superficial concerns? According to the producers, not so much. All you have to do is see how Hillary Clinton was tarred and feathered, her age, her looks, her potential health issues all fodder for critics in the last election.
“We shot the first four episodes thinking that Hillary Clinton was going to win, so those first four episodes were, ‘Haven’t we come so far!’ Then half-way through the shooting, the other scenario happened. It was a bracing slap of, ‘You know what? Nothing has really changed.’ It’s so hard to bring about that change that we all feel is necessary with how women are treated in our society. We worked harder at those things because it’s such a large story even today.”
I feel you Bette and Joan! And I’m so grateful that Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon leaned into playing the iconic stars, and telling their story.

“She was a great mystery,” Lange said about Crawfor. “I think part of is that she created Joan Crawford, and this was a character that she played, that was created as a collaboration between her and MGM, and she embraced it. She played it for the next 50 years. But what fascinated me about her wasn’t playing the role of Joan Crawford, as much as what was underneath. What was always just underneath the skin and behind the eyes, and that was Lucille LeSueur, who was this poor, abandoned, unloved, abused, poverty-stricken kid from San Antonio.”

“So many drag queens had already done it so much better, so I was up against that,” Susan Sarandon said of Bette Davis. “Of course I really admire her as an actor and she had been kind of chasing me for years in one form or another to do her, and I never found the right thing. This seemed to be the scariest right thing.”

I started watching Feud because I thought it would be great fun to see these two rivals come up against each other in the the making of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane — based on a book. I was expecting a hilarious cat fight—which we got to a degree in the earlier episodes—I wasn’t expecting to be so deeply moved by their plight. A battle for relevance beyond their surface shimmer, a fight to be recognized as the living breathing, intelligent, complicated, nuanced individuals they are beneath the makeup and mascara. A war women everywhere still wage.

Maybe you missed Feud: Bette and Joan? No worry, you can catch all the episodes at FX on demand. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Before Matt Damon was The Talented Mr. Ripley, there was Alain Delon

My husband and I are headed to Europe in just over a week. After a week in London, we're heading to Paris, Venice, Rome, the Italian coast and the south of France. Many of the locations visited by The Talented Mr. Ripley in Patricia Highsmith's book. Seems like a perfect time for a Plein Soleil redux.

Sparked by the news that there's another Patricia Highsmith book-to-movie in the works, a remake of Strangers on a Train, I decided to watch The Talented Mr. Ripley again. That's when I discovered that long before Matt Damon was the talented Tom Ripley in 1999, Alain Delon played Tom Ripley in the first adaptation of Highsmith's novel, the sexy French thriller Plein Soleil in 1960. It was Delon's breakout role, the part that made the impossibly gorgeous Frenchman a star. Plein Soleil (Full Sun or Blazing Sun) was released with English subtitles as Purple Noon. 

I decided to watch both films back to back; a delicious treat! Rather than talk about how the two versions differ — which they do in ways both small and large — may I just say Vive la Différence! and suggest you watch René Clément's Plein Soleil/Purple Noon for yourself. It's available on Amazon, GooglePlay and HuluPlus. Be warned: you may never look at The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Damon, the sexy and charismatic Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Philip Seymour Hoffman in quite the same way again. Matt Damon will always be magnifique but Alain Delon is, how do you say? — Ooh la la!  I've got trailers below.

Dreaming of France? See what other Francophiles are posting at An Accidental Blog

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Michael Caine walked ‘straight into stardom' in 1965’s The Ipcress File

Since I'm hitting London in a week or so, today's post is a repeat featuring one of my favorite Brits. Let me know if you find the film streaming anywhere; I can't find it on any of the streaming service.

Everything old is new again

Robert Redford’s A Walk in the Woods did well at the box office. Richard Gere is getting some well deserved attention from Time Out of Mind. Lately I feel like I’m writing about actors who had their heyday in my own youth and are still ticking along. Michael Caine is back with another film. It’s called Youth and it looks like it’s about anything but. Youth—which isn’t based on a book and therefore ineligible for me to write about in this space as determined by the rules and regulations set forth when this book-to-movie blog was created (oops, that was me!)—looks, well, awesome!

But let’s not talk about that. I don’t want to have to fire myself from this non-paying position. Who else is going to work for free? (I also accept your comments; so please leave one.) On the other hand, don’t tell anyone but I might embed the trailer at the bottom of this post. Shhh.

“He walks straight into stardom as Harry Palmer” 

Caine, at 82, has worked for well over half a century in film—he got his start on British television in the early 1960’s—before breaking out in the movies. He made a bit of a name for himself in Zulu in 1964 and by 1966, with the release of Alfie, Michael Caine was a star. In between came The Ipcress File in 1965, in which Caine played a British sergeant with a bit of a criminal past forced to play spy. His mission, should he accept it, is to rescue a top British scientist. 

The movie won BAFTA’s Best Film as well as awards for its art direction and cinematography and is considered one of the best espionage films ever made. Based on the book by Len Deighton, The Ipcress File is today’s Saturday Matinee.

Known for its odd angles, cool sixties vibe, snappy dialogue, The Ipcress File is available to watch right now online at and; it looks like you’ll have to order the disc from Amazon. Double check Netflix; it’s formerly been available but isn’t at the time of this writing.

Vintage ‘The Ipcress File’ Trailer

Oh, and here’s that top-secret trailer for Youth costarring Harvey Keitel. 
Remember, mum’s the word.

UPDATE: When I tweeted this post out, I got a very cool tweet in response from @EdwardHMO a media executive, Len Deighton authority and the designer of a truly nifty MovieGraphic for BFI :

Friday, April 21, 2017

I Love Dick: A tool of the Matriarchal Revolution

Ladies, we are having a moment. After years of living with faux equality—we thought that just because we could have sex with the same freedom men did, meant that we were judged equally, that we were paid equally—we seem to have woken up, and we’ve woken up with a passion. Thanks to computer hacks where we learned that even highly paid female stars are not paid as much as men, thanks to the pussy grabbing behavior of dinosaurs, epitomized by men like Cosby and Trump and O’Reilly, who believe powerful men can get away with anything, we’ve seen the light. We’re not going to let the guys continue with their bad boy behavior because we’re afraid of the repercussions. We’re taking our lives back into our own hands. In short, feminism is back in fashion. 

Hence, we have feminist programs like The Handmaid’s Tale coming to Amazon April 26th. Female empowered dramas like Big Little Lies on HBO that held the country hostage every Sunday night. The still running FuedBetty and Joan on FX, that reveals Hollywood’s obsession with age and beauty, an obsession that continues to drive the way we as women perceive ourselves.

Next up: I Love Dick. The new series is coming to Amazon via Transparent creator Jill Soloway who calls it “a tool of the Matriarchal Revolution.” 
I Love Dick is about the feminist movement, and it’s about the female gaze, and it’s about toppling the patriarchy, and saying ‘suck it’ to all men who would ask women not to have their loudest voice.’’
“Some people think of this book as the invention of the female gaze in literature,” Soloway said of feminist author Chris Kraus’ novel, on which the show is based.

About the series

In the show, Kathryn Hahn stars as a version of Kraus, a New York filmmaker who travels to Marfa, Texas with her academic husband (Griffin Dunne) for an artist’s residency, then finds herself sucked right into world of local art instructor, the charismatic cowboy Dick (Kevin Bacon).

About the book

When Chris Kraus, a 39 year old experimental filmmaker, falls in love with Dick __, a cultural critic, she writes him 200 letters. But because she is married and embarrassed and afraid to lose her husband, she invites him to collaborate. And her husband, the theorist and critic Sylvere Lotringer, complies. Strategically confessional, I Love Dick is a real-life chronicle of Kraus' desperate attempt to get adolescent romance right for the first time.
Want to watch the trailer? Of course you do!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

New trailer for 'The Beguiled' starring Nicole Kidman: We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!

Yesterday Focus Features released a brand new trailer for The Beguiled starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning and Kirsten Dunst. We played trailer VS trailer a few weeks back, comparing the trailer for this 2017 remake VS the 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. 

But this newest trailer comes with a whole new intensity. If you liked the way the women came together in a big way in Big Little Lies,  you’ll love how the women work as a unit in this film. Because ladies, we are invincible, especially when we fight as a unit. The film seems perfectly timed to open in a period where women are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore, especially when it comes to bad boy behavior. Yes, I’m talking to you Bill O’Reilly. I wonder how big the movie’s hashtag #VengefulBitches will trend? There’s already talk of t-shirts!

Like the 1971 version, The Beguiled is based on the book, The Painted Devil, by Thomas Cullinan. This time around, it’s directed by a woman, the acclaimed Sofia Coppola, best known for helming Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides. Watch for it to open on June 23. 

About the movie

“The Beguiled is an atmospheric thriller from acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola. The story unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier. As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.’ ~ Focus Features

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