Saturday, August 18, 2018

Happy Birthday Robert Redford: Aging Gracefully on Screen

If you read me with any frequency you may know I have a long-standing crush on Robert Redford. He is, in fact, the only actor I've ever written a fan letter to. That was back in the 70's. Humor me, then, for wishing the iconic star a Happy 82nd Birthday. 82! How the hell did that hunky young hottie turn into an 82-year-old man? Especially when I still feel like I'm that 20 years old girl writing him a fan letter! 

Here's how ...  in pictures that roughly trace Robert Redford's fifty-five-plus year career, we can see Redford mature and age with each film or television part. I haven't included all 78 of the roles that make up his CV, some years he made more than one film, some years, he made none. Some are classics, like Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and All the Presidents Men. Some are crap like The Electric Horseman and The Clearing. The number below each image indicates Redford's age at the time of release—beginning with his first onscreen role, at age 23 ... [warning: this is gonna be a long post!] Watch him grow old along with me? It happens to us all, sooner or later.

Jimmy Coleman
Maverick "Iron Hand" 1960

Baldwin Lane
The Naked City "Tombstone for a Derelict" 1961

Harold Beldon
Twilight Zone "Nothing in the Dark" 1962

David Chesterman
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour "A Tangled Web" 1963

Matthew Cordell
The Virginian "The Evil that Men Do" 1963

Captain Hank Wilson
Situation Hopeless but Not Serious 1965

Wade Lewis
Inside Daisy Clover 1966 

Owen Legate
This Property is Condemned 1966

Paul Bratter Barefoot in the Park 1967

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969

Halsy Knox
Little Fauss and Big Halsy 1970

Bill McKay
The Candidate 1972

The Way We Were 1973

Johnny Hooker
The Sting 1973

Jay Gatsby
The Great Gatsby 1974

Joseph Turner
Three Days of the Condor 1975

Bob Woodward
All the President's Men 1976

Major Cook
A Bridge Too Far  1977

The Electric Horseman  1979

Henry Brubaker
Brubaker  1980

Ray Hobbs
The Natural  1984

Out of Africa  1985

Tom Logan
Legal Eagles  1986

Jack Weil
Havana  1991

Marty Bishop
Sneakers  1992

John Gage
Indecent Proposal  1993

Warren Justice
Up Close and Personal  1996

Tom Booker
The Horse Whisperer  1998

Norman Muir
Spy Game  2001

Wayne Hayes
The Clearing  2004

Einar Gilkyson
An Unfinished Life  2005

Professor Stephen Malley
Lions for Lambs  2007

Jim Grant
The Company You Keep  2012

Our Man
All is Lost  2013

Alexander Pierce
Captain America: The Winter Soldier  2014

Bill Bryson
A Walk in the Woods  2015

Dan Rather
Truth  2015

Our Souls at Night 2017

Forrest Tucker
The Old Man with the Gun 2018
Redford announces this is his last onscreen role.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Happy Birthday Robert De Niro! My brief brush with stardom

Robert De Niro

You know you're old when all your crushes have turned into old men! I’ve been a Robert De Niro fan forever, so on the occasion of his 75th birthday, I wanted to share my brief brush up against the man on the set of Tales from the Crypt. It was 1989, and ...

I put down the phone, hoping no one could see my hand was literally shaking. Bob's assistant, Elena, was calling from New York, wanting to see if I could organize some lunch for her boss. Her boss Bob. Bob as in Bob De Niro. Oh, that Bob. The actor was going to be in LA and planned on squeezing in a quick meeting with Rowdy Herrington, the director shooting the next episode of Tales from the Crypt. As the APOC at Tales, it fell to me to take on the task. 

An APOC—Assistant Production Office Coordinator to the uninitiated—is nothing more than an overworked secretary to about 150 people. Twelve hour days minimum. No overtime. My job meant inputting every single one of those names, phone numbers, and addresses into the Crew List database and keeping it updated. I generated the cast list which included the names of the talent, and the phone numbers for their agents, but never their own phone numbers or addresses. God forbid some prop guy showed up at an actor's door, script in hand, pleading for them to read it. The producers and the A.D.s were the only ones with access to those personal details and they weren't telling. Otherwise, all contact had to be made through the actor's agent and manager. Email addresses? In 1989 we didn't have any stinking email addresses. Cell phone numbers? Please.

The Tales production facilities were located in an old pasta factory on a particularly ugly corner in Culver City. When I couldn't wrangle a p.a. to do it for me—some of the p.a.'s had a mysterious habit of disappearing between errands to hang out on set, my weak delegating skills to blame, I'm sure—I distributed all those crew lists, memo's from any of the plethora of producers, invoices, copies of production reports, phone messages and script changes into large manilla envelopes stapled to the wall alongside my desk. The front of the envelopes cut down to create pouches, the names of the departments—ART—CAMERA—HAIR & MAKE-UP—WARDROBE—printed in big bold block letters in black marker. 

I made hotel and plane reservations for cast and crew coming in from out of town. I purchased office supplies. I faxed camera department orders. I sent pa's off to deliver updated scripts to actors. I took the production reports handwritten in pencil by the AD's on set and typed them up neatly. I made xerox copies of the actor's sides and I fielded phone calls from all kinds of grips and production assistants looking for their next gig. I ordered second meal when we weren't going to wrap before the 12 hour day was over. I asked transpo—nobody ordered the Teamsters to do anything—to go on beer runs for the crew when each episode wrapped at the end of the week. I sent production assistants to the grocery store to keep our kitchen stocked with everybody's special requests. No Yahoo drinks in the fridge? What if producer Joel Silver stopped by? Curses!

And I ordered lunch for Bob De Niro.

Read the rest of the story at

Thursday, August 16, 2018

RESPECT in The Diary of Bridget Jones: RIP Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin has passed away but her music and memory will always remain. The icon’s sounds moved from vinyl to CDs and online streaming services but here at Chapter1-Take1, we remember how her music often made the score. This bit from The Diary of Bridget Jones is one of our favorite looks at how music helps tell the story and how her music, in particular, is embedded in every aspect of our culture.

Just a few bars from RESPECT, a song the whole world knows by heart, serves as a punctuation point in this scene featuring Bridget (Rene Zelwegger) and her misogynistic boss (Hugh Grant). Talk about a #MeToo #TimesUp message!  Bridget, fed up with her treatment from the clueless Daniel finally finds the strength and self-respect to walk out the door. To the cheers and applause of her coworkers. 

The song which began with Otis Redding came to be synonymous with what Bridget—and millions of other women—was seeking. RESPECT. 

Rest in Peace 
Aretha Franklin

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Juliet, Naked: My take on the book by Nick Hornby #review

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Connect with me on Instagram @ChapterOneTakeOne

I enjoyed reading Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked although neglecting to write up my thoughts immediately after finishing the book, I gave up on writing a proper review. The movie opens this Friday on August 17th so let me give it a whirl.

The screen adaptation of Juliet, Naked stars Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O'Dowd

Duncan is an obsessed music fan, not of the current sounds being blasted on the airwaves mind you, but the sounds of yesteryear. In particular, he is devoted to a now-reclusive rocker by the name of Tucker Crowe (an unfortunate name as I have to rid my mind of Tucker Carlson before I can go on. Knowing the character is played by Ethan Hawke in the film helps.) Duncan indulges his devotion by running a website that has his fellow devotees weighing in on the man and the music 24/7. His long-suffering girlfriend—Tucker is all the man thinks about: On a trip from the UK to the US the couple even took a road trip to see the sights of Tucker—puts up with/humors his obsession. To a point. 
When someone drops a long lost Crowe album—an acoustic version of his mega-hit Juliet—on Duncan, he loses his mind, babbling online about its brilliance.
In contrast, Annie posts a comment that's both critical and insightful. It gets Tucker’s attention and unbeknownst to Duncan, the two—his girlfriend and his hero—begin communicating online. Their connection is strong enough that Tucker eventually comes to the UK to see Annie—as Duncan watches, dumbounded.

What I liked about the book

Nick Hornby’s usual brand of cutting humor. 
Duncan is a foolish, aging idiot so self-absorbed with his music he doesn’t appreciate how much Juliet is living his life, rather than hers. And how she may just be pushed to her limit. It’s a bit like the Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi  lyric—‘‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.’’ 

His empathy and clear-eyed look at men. While Hornby strikes a dark, comic tone he feels his character’s pain. 

It’s time to grow up, Duncan. But we feel for him as well. It’s all too easy to get stuck like Duncan. 

As for Tucker Crowe, our flawed rocker, many of us have a soft spot for a bad boy and Tucker is that. He’s been a bad partner, a bad father. But love, don’t you know, if you open yourself to it, and allow yourself to live it generously will keep you both grounded and give you wings. 

Annie. The girl. Not a girl at all really, but a woman who—as we used to say—has stayed too long at the fair. Hornby has an exquisite sense of our interior struggles, how hard it is for all of us as humans to find connection and like this triangle, stay in place, too scared to venture beyond the confines of that connection. We stay where it feels safe, even when safety fences us in, zaps all the life out of our lives, blinding us to possibilities where we might be our best selves.

Funny, touching, it’s the kind of grown-up love story that floats my boat. 

All signs are pointing to success for the screen adaptation starring Rose Byrne as Annie,  Chris O'Dowd as Duncan, and Ethan Hawke as Tucker. BUT READ THE BOOK FIRST!*

*If you haven’t already. Have you? What’d you think? I’m all ears.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ordeal by Innocence: My take on the series #BookVSMovie

Ordeal by Innocence starring (L to R) Crystal Clarke, Matthew Goode, Bill Nighy, Anna Chancellor and Ella Purnell 

(Not Shown ) Morven Christie, Eleanor Tomlinson, Anthony Boyle, Alice Evan, Christian Cooke and Luke Treadway

I’m annoyed with myself because while I read Agatha Christie’s whodunnit Ordeal by Innocence I don’t seem to have written a review about it. Now the book has been adapted—very loosely adapted—for the small screen in a three-part series and my muddled memory may miss a few things.

I know I enjoyed the book, as I did the limited series. It was only three episodes, my husband was out of town so I binged them all in one night. 

As I watched I began to remember the book and realized that the series was quite different. 

About the book

Published in 1958, the book was one of the author’s personal favorites. It begins with the murder of wealthy philanthropist Rachel Argyll at her family estate, Sunny Point. Despite vehemently protesting his innocence, her adopted son Jack is arrested for the crime. Eighteen months later, Dr Arthur Calgary appears claiming to hold the alibi that can prove Jack’s innocence. But Jack died in prison before the case could come to trial, and the Argyll family is reluctant to dig up the secrets of the past. However, the shattering implications of Calgary’s story are too big to avoid: If Jack was not the killer, then it must have been somebody else at Sunny Point.

In the book, Dr. Calgary is intelligent, respected, of sound mind. His intentions are honorable, to help the family come to terms with the fact that their son and brother Jack did not kill their mother, which means one of them did. In the series, he’s dismissed at every turn, the family is disinterested in his point of view and in fact, is finally hauled off to an insane asylum. That’s the only real spoiler I'll include here.

As far as the cast of characters goes, the actors are all top-notch performers extremely familiar to those of us who like our Brit telly, especially those mysteries. What is slightly less familiar to readers of the book is how extreme, and to a certain extent, unlikeable those characters were portrayed as being.

Philip Durrant (Matthew Goode) with his wife Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson)

Take Philip Durrant (Matthew Goode), the paraplegic husband of Mary (Eleanor Tomlinson), the eldest of Mrs. Argyle’s five adopted children. In the novel, the paraplegic Durrant is bright and intuitive and with time on his hands, intent on helping to solve the crime. To that end he gets together with Dr. Calgary, pumping him for information. In the televised version, Matthew Goode plays him as extremely embittered and angry—his response to the pain of a broken back. In one scene he and Dr. Calgary dine out together at a restaurant and he actually takes out a kidney-shaped bottle urinates into it in his lap. At the table! He then puts the container on the table so the waiter can remove it. He tells the shocked doctor that he tips the waiter extra for the service. Such a nasty, vulgar and angry man. In the novel, he is captivated by the lovely young Hester. In the series, he forces Hester (Ella Purnell) to kiss him on the cheek which he then turns into a full-on assault with his tongue. The problem is, I don’t like Matthew Goode as a nasty type. I buy it, he’s brilliant, but it’s not who I want him to be. He fares far better with me when we see some of his own inherent lightness, warmth, and sense of humor. 

The most important change from the book is who actually dunnit. Writer Sarah Phelps apparently had no compunction in changing not only whodunnit but why! Her response to critics seems to be something along the lines of, if you want Agatha Christie, read the book. 

That major change, mind you, is believable. It’s just not how Christie wrote it and one wonders why Phelps didn’t just go ahead and write her own original script instead of pilfering the great Agatha Christie’s plot and turning it inside out. But of course, Christie is bankable. And remains one of the most bankable writers out there. 

What I liked

I actually did enjoy the show despite my reservation about Durant’s character as portrayed by Goode—one of my faves. Any and all of the assembly could be guilty—except for Durrant—and I admit I enjoyed the unfurling of the plot, and how the red herrings worked out. Also intriguing, a subplot featuring a relationship between two of the adopted children, one of them a person of color (Crystal Clarke) to make things extra interesting. Is it incest when the brother and sister have family ties but aren’t blood relatives? 

The production design, set decoration, and costume design were outstanding. While I think of Agatha Christie in sepia tones, this production, set in the late 1950s was in full, fabulous modern color. Deep teal walls. The sour yellow of Mrs. Argyle’s dress. And lots and lots of blue throughout. 

No rating stars but 3 out of 4 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...