Friday, November 30, 2012

Opening: Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly opens today here in the U.S.  The movie based on George V. Higgins  Coogan's Trade stars Brad Pitt as Jackie, a New Orleans hit man.
Betsy Sharkey in the LA Times  says Brad Pitt "is smooth but he movie isn't"
"In all the gritty confusion of the film, Pitt's Jackie is the constant voice of reason. While his last big at-bat, "Moneyball," was a far better movie, there is an effortlessness here in the way Pitt turns small scenes into defining moments. Somehow he just keeps getting better at it (we're choosing to ignore those ghastly Chanel ads since "Saturday Night Live" has handled that skewering so perfectly)."

 That sounds promising! Will you go see it? Did you read it first?

But does it kill?

Will Great Expectations live up to Expectations?

Dear Irish friends
Here in the U.S. we're not expecting Great Expectations, the millionth screen adaptation based on Dicken's classic novel,  until sometime in 2013 - hopefully early - but for in Ireland today is opening day. Will your Irish eyes be smiling at director Mike Newell's screen adaptation? It depends on what review you read!



The Irish Examiner is less than enthusiastic with this headline
"Newell 's 'Great Expectations' not as impressive as previous adaptations"

On the other hand, the Hollywood Reporter, based on seeing the film at the Toronto Film Festival is more postive. 

"Vivid characterizations from Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter are the highlights of Mike Newell's traditional retelling of the classic Dickens novel."
Oh dear, oh dear! What to do? I know ... see the movie for yourself and let me know what you think.  Surely you can't ignore a chance to Bonham-Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes and Jeremy Irvine all on the same screen. I know that the PBS version had its fans but I'm looking forward to seeing Bonham-Carter's younger but decaying Miss Havisham and Fiennes as Magwich.

If you see it please do let me know what you think of the film.

Happy Viewing!
Sim


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Have you heard Samantha Barks as Eponine sing On My Own?





Still stuck on my Les Miserables obsession, the classic book and upcoming movie musical I know many (MOST?) of you are as excited about as I am.  


As you probably have heard, Taylor Swift, Leah Michelle and even Scarlett Johansson (too old) were on the short list, along with Samantha Barks, to play Eponine. And it looked like a very certain thing that Hoopeer was going with Taylor Swift. I'm so relieved he didn't and went with Samantha Barks instead. She was brilliant. 
She's not well known enough here in the States to have her own poster - I imagine the marketing in the UK is quite different! UK readers please let me know!

Barks was at the screening of Les Miserables I attended last Saturday and took part in the Q&A with director Tom Hooper and Eddie  Redmayne (Marius) and Amanda Seyfried (Cosette).  At 22, she oozed friendly energy - the kind of person who greets you on first meeting as though she knows you already.  Sitting next to her, Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) in her mid 20's and modelling since she was eleven years old, came off as the more nervous and insecure. 

Hooper told us one of the wonderful things about Les Miserables is that there is something for everyone - children can relate to and thrill to Gavroche's bravery. Parents look at the loss and think of their own children. Young men and women fall in love. There is great tragedy. The fight for justice. Freedom. And love. Samantha Barks shared  how she looked out to the audience during one performance and saw what was clearly 


" a girl, her mum, and her nana. And they were all three sitting looking up, mouths open, clearly enjoyin' what they were seeing but you knew each one was seeing something different. Each one was seeing it through her eyes."

That may be it, why Les Miserables seems to speak to us, to move us so profoundly. The story, the powerful music speak to each of us, no matter our role in life.

Samantha Barks first caught her big break when she finished in the top three of I’d Do Anything, a realty show produced by Les Miserables producer, Cameron Mackintosh, to find the actress who would play Nancy in the play Oliver!  That was four years ago when she was a mere 18. At 22 she's not going to be stopped.  The picture below from the Daily Mail is pretty neat. That's Cameron Mackintosh taking to the stage in a Manchester theater where Barks was playing Nancy in Oliver. The Les Miserables producer took that moment to announce to Barks and the world that Hooper had chosen her!


Shock: Barks finds out on stage in Manchester on Tuesday night from Cameron Mackintosh
Taking to the stage at the end of Oliver! on Tuesday night, Mackinotsh told the audience: 'For the last few months in Hollywood, Broadway and London, we've been searching for Eponine and you in Manchester are going to be the first people to find who it is... 
'And now our director Tom Hooper has chosen her for the movie.' 
A shocked Barks threw her hands to her face as her Oliver! castmates and the audience erupted into cheers. Credit: Daily Mail



If you aren't sure why Barks was cast as Eponine, check out this youtube video of Barks singing in the 25th Anniversaray of Les Miz on stage.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday : The Words of Les Miserables



I decided to delve into the pages of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo for this week's Wondrous Words Wednesday meme hosted by Kathy at BermudaOnion.net.  It's the weekly meme where we share words from our reading that are new to us.
(It's almost 12:30 and Kathy hasn't posted yet so keep checking back; the link above will take you to her site in any case)
I haven't read the novel yet and I doubt I will. It's just so long! Although I did read a reader's review on my nook and it was so glowing, I know I should read it.  If you've read Hugo's classic, let me know what you think.  I do know it's not a book you need to read to enjoy the musical or the movie musical I can't help blogging about that's coming out Christmas Day. In fact I would venture to say the musical is a highlight reel of the book which is why it's so ironic that the publishers are doing a movie-tie in cover.  In case you'd rather read it gratis, Les Miserables is available for free at The Guttenberg Project

Here's my words for Kathy's meme:
Asperity  Hugo's sentence is too long to reproduce here but basically 'the bishop levied the fees upon the wealthy with all the greater asperity' because he was using those additional fees to help the poor.

I got the impression that the bishop was pretty rigid in his collections - punctual payment only.
According to Dictionary.com
harshness or sharpness of tone, temper, or manner; severity;acrimony: The cause of her anger did not warrant such asperity.
2.
hardship; difficulty; rigor: the asperities of polar weather.
3.
roughness of surface; unevenness.
4.
something rough or harsh.
Yes, that about sums it up!


Galloon  "A wealthy retired merchant ...  had amassed two millions in the manufacture of coarse cloth, serges and woolen galloons." Woolen Galloons!? This I gotta see . 

Galloon trim.




This is Galloon lace.                                 
Hmmm. That lace isn't wool. And the tassle doesn't feel right either although both items existed during the period. 

I turned to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Online  Gallery. Galloon

Aha! Obviously all three are forms of trim but the third one is, according to the Met, a woolen galloon c 17th - 18th century.

Guess I ought to double check with the dictionary.

Galloon:
a narrow band of cord, embroidery, silver or gold braid, etc, used onclothes and furniture
[C17: from French galon,  from Old French galonner  to trim withbraid, of unknown origin]
                                           

Aha! Galloon IS trim.  Now that makes sense. What new words did you learn this week? Visit Kathy and play along.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: The World Without You



For those of you tired of me swooning over Les Miserables, I'm taking a break from gushing over the mesmerizing Les Miz movie to take part in Diane's "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro" meme. Today I'm posting the opening paragraph paragraph of  The World Without You by Joshua Henkin.
"Here," she says, "I'll get you a sweater." She's barely done speaking before she's taking the stairs two at a time, her espadrilles clomping against the peeling wood, transporting her down the long hallway. It's July and twilight comes late, so even now, at nine o'clock, the last of the sun still colors the sky, but inside the house the corridors are dark and she's neglected to illuminate the antique standing lamp at the top of the stairs as if to reflect an inner austerity. It's their country house, but like their apartment in the city the hallway runs through it, an endless spine, which she traverses now, past the Kathe Kollwitz etchings and the street map of Paris and the photographs of her and David's grandparents staring down at them on opposite sides of the wall from another continent and century."

Intriguing opening isn't it? I love "the espadrilles clomping against the peeling wood". I can really see the hallway and even though it's dark, I'm looking forward to walking down it and getting to know this espadrille-wearing woman and her husband David.

The Kathe Kollwitz etchings reference got me googling. Which is a wonderful thing isn't it; to have a question and voila, Google answers it?  If I was hoping that Kollwitz etychings were a bright spot in that otherwise gloomy hallway, I was wrong.  Kollwitz was an important German artist known for her work highlighting social issues,  poverty and the war. I had never heard of Kollwitz and now I want to learn more about her. That's one of my favorite parts about reading ... there's always something new to learn!

I haven't heard if there's been any interest in getting this put on screen but I'll let you know if I do.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dreaming of France: More on Les Miz Screening and Q&A with Eddie Redmayne


Since seeing a screening of Les Miserables on Saturday I can't think of anything but the movie and the music. I've been bursting into semi-song at the drop of a hat - I say 'semi' because I'm not one of those people who know all the lyrics (I want to learn them all now!) - and even if I did know them all, I can't carry a tune. Still that doesn't stop me from belting out a couple of uneven bars here and there. Poor composer Claude Michel Schonberg - who I'm listening to singing en Francais on Youtube as I write this - would be tres triste if he heard me butcher "Can You Hear the People Sing?" Not to mention the French language.
My francophile friend Paulita at An Accidental Blog will be more forgiving, I'm sure, at her Monday meme Dreaming of France. where we share a passion for all things France!


But I digress ...
While I didn't break out into  'Little People' , Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche was adorable and absolutely endearing and grabbed at my heart with his gap toothed grin. It's not evident in this movie or the stage musical but in Hugo's novel, Gavroche is one of Denardier's sons. How ironic is it that young Daniel Huttlestone's Gavroche speaks in broad Cockney while Sascha Baron Cohen affects one of the few French accents in the film?



It's said that Hugo based Gavroche on the young boy in Eugene Delacroix's painting, "Liberty Leading the People" shown above.




Eddie Redmayne as Marius

Eddie Redmayne took me by surprise. I wasn't a fan going in - I've bitched about his casting as Marius because I thought he was awful - mostly due to miscasting, I admit - in My Week with Marilyn. And I kinda hate his freckles. When I first saw him in this film I thought 'uck' but he won me over.




Pictured from Left to Right; ET Moderator, Tom Hooper, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks
Aero Theatre, Santa Monica, CA   11/24/2012 *
At the Q&A after the screening,  Eddie Redmayne (Marius), there with the director Tom Hooper, Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) and Samatha Barks (Eponime), said Gavroche was his favorite character. He first saw Les Miz when he was a nine year old boy so naturally he identifed with the brave little street urchin and freedom fighter. Redmayne confided that he wished that he could play Gavroche and was seriously jealous of Daniel Huttlestone, the young actor who stole my heart. Redmayne said he told Hooper if he were a little boy at the barricades, he would think it would be totally cool to have tunnels underneath.

SPOILER ALERT: Hooper took his advice.  Watch for the moment Gavroche peeks out from the tunnel below the barricade.

Hooper called Redmayne the 'unofficial assistant director' in charge of the kids!  I think it's that essential sweetness that seeps through that makes his performance as Marius so convincing as the young man growing more and more in love. That's what won me over!

More Les Miserables to come ...

* We had our favorite seats for the screening - smack dab in the middle of the theatre. It would have been nice to have been closer for the Q&A but MLH did his best to capture it with his cell phone camera.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Les Miserables: You Take My Breath Away

I didn't say anything before because I didn't know if we'd get in but ... I just saw Les Miserables!

Tom Hooper was showing his highly-anticipated film today at several industry screenings here in L.A. today;  MLH and I went to a noon screening held at the Aero theatre in Santa Monica. The film took my breath away and I was by no means alone. The entire audience erupted into applause three times during the movie, not just after - I can't think of a movie musical that has ever elicited that kind of response. Certainly not from a Hollywood insider crowd which honestly, does often seem  more inclined to be critical and blase; or at least wary about showing outward signs of enthusiam.

When the director, Tom Hooper, entered the theatre for the Q& A after the movie, he was greeted not just with the respect due him from an insider crowd well-versed in the difficulties of his achievement but also the thunderous applause of that same audience having been utterly swept off its' feet in a standing ovation. That same audience moved to cheers and yes, tears.

I'm still in a whirl about what I've seen so I won't attempt 'my take' on the film yet. I will tell you what I told Mr. Hooper when I ran into him in the lobby. I'd raced to the restroom after the Q&A (Can you imagine? A two and a half hour movie plus a 45 minute Q&A? Without a break because I couldn't bear the thought of missing one magical moment. A woman my age? Please, there's my review right there!)  There was quite a line at the loo and by the time I got back to the theatre lobby it was empty except for a few stragglers. I didn't see MLH but I did see Tom Hooper standing just a few feet from me. He was waiting to go in and introduce the film to the 4pm crowd then he would be going back across town to the Academy for Television Arts and Sciences in the valley - where he'd introduced a 1pm screening prior to doing our Q&A, for yet another Q&A. I should have left the poor man alone. But he was alone and I couldn't resist. I walked over and told him thank you for giving the world such a beautiful Christmas gift. That anyone who has ever loved Les Miz can now have this to treasure whenever they please. I also told him I was worried I was going to sob right out loud during the movie and embarass my husband, but when I looked over, MLH was sobbing too. Hooper, tall and lanky, in a suit but without a tie, was very kind and actually gave me a hug.

Hooper said I might be getting ahead of myself when I suggested he'd be getting another Oscar but honestly, I can't think of anything I've seen this year that stands a chance against this one. Granted I haven't seen Life of Pi but I would be floored if two films could reach the heights Les Miz reached, in one year. It's just too majestic a movie. Too sweeping an accomplishment. (It's small of me, I know, to doubt the existence of two simultaneous miracles). Even  LINCOLN, a film I loved and the closest thing Les Miserables will have to a rival, simply can't soar like this film and this cast does.

In fact, MLH who has never seen Les Miz (I know!) admits to being 'profoundly moved'. My action loving guy had to excuse himself from the theatre before the lights came up for the Q&A, tears streaming down his face.  He ran into Eddie Redmayne (Marius) who was waiting to go in and take part in the Q&A. MLH, known for occasional bouts of gregariousness grabbed Redmayne and said  'Look what you've done to me!'  or words to that effect.

Honestly, I'm done in for today but promise more Les Miserables to come. (Click the link to read another Les Miz post)


Bottom line.

WE LOVED IT

Can you guess which three songs had the audience applauding?

Christmas has come to town.



MLH, Russell and I went to see Skyfall at the Grove the other day. When we came out, day had turned to night and Christmas had come to the Grove! It's a little overdone but that's the Grove!

It's a popular destination shopping mall a few blocks from where we live in L.A. Looking like a faux European city, (what do you expect from a town that thrives on make believe?) it's a fun place to shop, eat and people watch. Especially since it's attached to the Original Farmer's Market, one of Hollywood's biggest attractions. 

Amazingly, just like at your mall, Santa moves in to the Grove just before Thanksgiving.  We thought that was worth a look see on our way home. Our eyes were blinded by the light  - from coming out into the darkness unexpectedly I suppose - but we finally found him, in his workshop, magically transported to Southern California.

There, at the center of the frame, you can see Santa's Workshop, right above my head. Safely inside was Santa with a line of kids waiting to tell him what they want for Christmas. Hopefully, the elves have already finished making all the toys because when we were there all they were doing was standing around taking pictures. C'mon people, Christmas is coming!
 
Sadly, we noticed, there were no reindeer. No reindeer! How the heck is Santa going to make his way from his west coast headquarters without his reindeer? Thank goodness we found them! The reindeer were just hanging out in yet another L.A. shopping area - Century City.


Look at them just standing around like they don't have a care in the world! 

Check out the wardrobes too! 
Good thing they'll be leaving on December 24th, it looks like these reindeer have been in Hollywood too long!


 
I didn't get a chance to see them all and I didn't catch their names. I should go back and look for Rudolph. Except this young lady freaks me out! She doesn't exactly inspire me to join in the Reindeer Games.
 
 
The reindeer are part of The Reindeer Project, an art project benefiting arts programs for underserved kids.  
 
 

Friday, November 23, 2012

What are you doing for Black Friday?

 
 Out shopping for crazy Black Friday deals? Not for me thanks, no way. I prefer to avoid the day after Thanksgiving shopping crowds and chill. Take in a movie? There's so many great movies out right now and I still haven't seen The Silver Linings Playbook or The Life of Pi and now, today, in limited release, comes another one on my must see list.  Hitchcock.
The film is based on the book,  Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello,  which I blogged about here.
 
 
 
 
On the other hands, trying to find a place to park at the Arc Light - the only theater it's playing near here - will be impossible on opening day especially when that opening day happens to be the day after Thanksgiving!
 
 
 
 
I guess I'll just check out this trailer again. I'm still trying to decide what I think about Anthony Hopkins' makeup. The film, directed by Sacha Gervasi - making his debut behind the camera, by the way;  previously he wrote the Terminal --, has an interesting cast including Helen Mirren as Hitchock's wife and right arm, Alma:, Scarlett Johannson as Janet Leigh,  James D'Arcy perfectly cast as Anthony Perkins (I think, I hope!), Jessica Biel as Vera Miles and the versatile Toni Collette listed only as Peggy.
 
So that's my plan. Stay home. Curl up with a good book. Or a DVD.
How about you all? How do you plan on spending the day?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

First the turkey, then the Pi

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for MLH and Russell, Mr. Charlie, the rest of my fab family, friends, my blogging buddies, good books to curl up with, and the fact that for the next few months we will be treated to week after week of exciting new screen adaptations of some of the world's best loved books.

Timed for the Thanksgiving holiday period, the movie version of The Life of Pi by Yann Martel is now out at theatres across the country.

Check out this featurette with director Ang Lee and James Cameron weighing in on the 3D aspects of the film.
 
Watch it and tell me how you feel about The Life of Pi. 


 

 

Will you leave the pie to see Pi?

 

Wondrous Word Wednesday : A Stinking Pikey!

I only have one word for  Wondrous Word Wednesday, the fun weekly meme hosted by Diane at BermudaOnion.net.

Pikey comes from the novel Broken by Daniel Clay. The novel, inspired by Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has been made into a film starring Cillian Murphy and Tim Roth. And I'm pretty jazzed because Mr. Clay has offered to write a guest post on my blog about the experience of having his novel adapted into a film!!

I've only just begun the book but am hooked already. Here's the bookdescription from HarperCollins.

Until that fateful afternoon, Skunk Cunningham had been a normal little girl, playing on the curb in front of her house. Rick Buck­ley had been a normal geeky teen­ager, hosing off his brand-new car. Bob Oswald had been a normal sociopathic single father of five slutty daughters, charging furiously down the side­walk. Then Bob was beating Rick to a bloody pulp, right there in the Buckleys' driveway, and life on Drummond Square was never the same again.

Inspired by Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird, Clay's brilliantly observed and darkly funny novel follows the sudden unraveling of a sub­urban community after a single act of thoughtless cruelty.

PIKEY 

"- all the other kids he'd met in Hedge End so far had called him a stinking pikey, and left him to play on his own."

Okay so  pikey isn't a compliment.

According to the Collins English Dictionary
1. a gypsy or vagrant
2. a member of the underclass

That completely makes sense as Dillon, the 15 year old boy speaking here has just told the group that he's a gypsy. Dictionary.com adds that it's derived from piker, turnpike.  Again, referencing the gypsy nomadic lifestyle.

That's the only new word for me, Clay's novel takes place in a society where the simple language of the streets makes sense. I really can't wait to read the rest of the book - I've just read the sample and am waiting for the hard copy - and then, the movie! Plus a visit from Mr. Clay.  I'll keep you posted  in the meantime thanks for stopping by and check out the trailer with French subtitles for Broken below.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
 
                                    
This is the time of year the studio sends out thousands of "For Your Consideration" invitations to industry screenings in Los Angeles and New York as well as a smattering in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas etc. For example, LINCOLN, which has screened at multiple venues in the usual places also screened in Washington, D.C.  The idea is for voters to see all the films the studios deem award worthy. And to generate buzz. Always the buzz.
 
These screenings aren't just held for Academy members expected to vote on Best Picture and the like. Since the various guilds bestow their own awards, their members also need to see as many films as possible in order to cast a meaningful vote, whether that's for Best Costume Design from the Academy, or Best Screenplay from the Writers Guild.  Or in MLH's case,  to vote on the films nominated by the Directors Guild of America for its Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film, an award which almost always correctly predicts the winner of the Oscar for Best Director.  Those voters need to see the contenders and the industry tries hard to make that happen.

I still get excited when I see that studio logo in the corner of the #10 envelope. Focus Features. Universal. Warner Bros. Lionsgate. DreamWorks. Fox Searchlight. The Weistein Company. Honestly, I'm half-hoping it's a forgotten paycheck intended for Mark (MLH - My Loving Husband) except those come from payroll services.

The usual routine is you call and RSVP. The screenings for popular films fill up in a snap; sometimes the recorded RSVP phone line will warn 'Arrive early. Your RSVP does not guarantee seating'
Hmm. Terrific. Nothing like showing up and not getting in. If the director or God forbid, the actors, are going to be there for a Q&A, you better get there a couple of hours early. And cross your fingers. Not something MLH and I are keen to do unless it's a movie I really really want to see. MLH is much more patient - and isn't a fan of lines - and therefore doesn't mind waiting for the film to hit the theatres, or even DVD. I like to see them sooner!
Sooooo imagine our pleasure when we learned that the studios are going to start sending screeners to members of the DGA.  We just received our first two for The Perks of Being a Wallflower (based on the book which I've blogged about here) and The Impossible (a film starring Naomi Watts that I've not heard of), both from Summit. MLH is a bit bummed because we haven't seen Argo and was hoping for a screener. We'll have to see if we get any others - we moved and I have a feeling MLH might not have put in our change of address right from the get go so we might be missing a whole mess of movies!
On the back of the screener you can see the names which might merit a nomination in a specific category. Often this is wishful thinking or even just empty talk to, once again, generate buzz. Adam Avitabile, the Visual Effects Supervisor on The Perks of Being a Wallflower may do a great job but he doesn't stand a chance against more effects heavy movies. You'll notice the screeners are pretty basic, but while they come without graphics they do come with a heavy heavy warning. Because of the rampant piracy endangering the film industry, each screener is individually coded with an invisible watermark that identifies the screener as your individual copy - an funny biz can be traced back to you.  We are not allowed "to copy, loan, rent, sell or publicly perform it;give it away or upload it to the internet." In a very Mission Impossible move we are to destroy the screener after viewing. How? The instructions say to cut the screener in two with a pair of scissors.
Please enjoy! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

LINCOLN: Required Viewing

Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, Daniel Day-Lewis,
Steven Spielberg and Doris Kearns Goodwin
I read somewhere that Steven Spielberg wanted to make a movie about Lincoln BEFORE Doris Kearns Goodwin even wrote the best selling Team of Rivals.  Kearns Goodwin notes she met Spielberg years ago, that he was obsessed with Lincoln and when he learned she was planning on writing a book about the man, asked her to keep him posted on her progress as he was interested in acquiring the screen rights. I saw her on a talk show recently, confiding her main concern about the film was that we see Lincoln's sense of humor.

Thankfully we do. I saw the film yesterday and couldn't help smiling at the succession of anecdotes the iconic president tells, occasionally to the disgust of his detractors. Beyond that, I found this film, detailing the behind the scenes efforts of the passage of the 13th amendment incredibly moving. From the Saving Private Ryan realism of the Civil War battles to the rip-roaring battles on the floor of the house I was swept away with the passion and the politics of this pursuit. Oh, the epithets they hurled at each other!

Should you see Lincoln? The whole country should see Lincoln. The movie is the work of a master at the height of his career and should be Required Viewing of all American high school students with an open invitation to the rest of the world to see what the fuss is about.

There are numerous reviews (read 'em here) hailing the movie as Oscar worthy and Daniel Day-Lewis as a shoe in for a Best Actor nominaton, and at this precise moment in time, I imagine he will win it. Film buffs and movie critics alike will be talking about Lincoln, about Day-Lewis humanizing of the iconic president, about Tony Kushner's script, about a whole slew of amazing performances including under-rated but always first rate actor David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck) as William H. Seward, the likeable Sally Fields gone off the rails as First Lady Mary Todd on the edge (wouldn't you be?) and David Spader fleshing out his resume as the sleazy leader of the band of operatives charged with procuring the needed votes.


Thaddeus Stevens
For me though, walking out of the movie theatre still drying my eyes I couldn't stop thinking about Thaddeus Stevens and Tommy Lee Jone's powerful portrayal. Stevens was a radical Republican (modern day Democrat) believing that African Americans should not only be equal in the eyes of the law, but that they were in fact equal - an extreme position for the times. He put aside that position in order to pass the 13th amendment.  I admit to forgetting half my high school history and was thunderstruck at just how important a role Stevens played. Surely Lincoln could never have passed the bill without Stevens lifelong passionate dedication to the cause of equality? That Stevens seemingly compromised his principles in order to move the struggle forward was painful, but beautiful to see.

Tommy Lee Jones as Stevens
Tommy Lee Jones, stone faced, gravelly voiced, dragging a heavy leg (Stevens had a club foot), head topped by period wig, weighs in with force and has the gravitas to pull it off. I think it's the very best work of his career. Deserving of the Best Supporting Actor WIN that I believe he's going to have on Oscar night.
My son Russell and my husband, Mark, were lucky enough to see this movie at the Director's Guild where Steven Spielberg did a Q & A after the film. Spielberg said he didn't cast this film based on looks. Regardless of the director's parameters, one look at the real life Thaddeus Stevens and Tommy Lee Jones, as well as William H. Seward and David Strathairn  (on the left), and intended or not, the resemblances are uncanny!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Silver Linings Playbook: My Take on the Book behind the movie

The Silver Linings Play Book

By Matthew Quick

From the publisher:
Meet Pat Peoples. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure him a happy ending—the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility.)
The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being haunted by Kenny G!
As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”

My take on the book:

Despite a few things I hesitate to label as problems, I'll just call them glitches, I was taken with this book right from the first page. Actually from the first chapter title which is " An Infinite Amount of Days Until My Inevitable Reunion with Nikki "  What would you expect from a book in which the first sexy strains of Kenny G. can send the main character spiralling out of control?
The glitches? A couple of phrasing choices ---  everyone inexplicably calls the mental health facility that Pat has been in, "the bad place"  AND Pat labels his separation with Nikki as "apart time"  as in "When apart time is over ..." which I found extremely irritating as Pat is not a child, he is a 35 year old man. The phrases make him sound like a child (which he is emotionally at this point) but he's still an intelligent if misguided man who has suffered severe trauma and has buried the parts of his memory that would access the cause of that trauma, but the rest of his vocabulary is appropriate. I just don't get it.
The big glitch which I decided to disregard while reading is that after Pat comes home, his best friends' wife, Veronica (Julia Stiles), invites him to dinner, along with her sister, Tiffany, who is an extremely devastated and unstable widow. Quick paints Veronica as controlling and not a huge Pat fan so it's bizarre to think she would willingly set up her troubled sister with her husbands dangerously troubled best friend. Especially because she is Tiffany's "designated support buddy and therefore has weekly phone conversations with Tiffany's therapist". Is that the kind of man - mentally unstable - that a therapist would recommend Tiffany get involved with? I don't buy it. BUT putting that aside, buying it anyway, Pat and Tiffany begin a strange friendship which involves a lot of running, and training for a dance competition.
His main goal is to get his wife back. We don't know why but there are mutual restraining orders in place. Obviously some heavy stuff went down for the restraining orders to be initiated as well as putting Pat away for a time period that he thinks has been a few months. Over the course of the book we get a more accurate look at just how long he has been away.
We also get good looks at the people in his life; his unconditionally loving mother who seems to devote herself to her son rather than deal with her beyond grouchy spouse (played by Robert Deniro in the film). Danny (Chris Tucker), his "black friend" from "the bad place". His therapist who likes to be called by his first name, Cliff. His brother. And most importantly Tiffany and Nikki. While there are some unbelievable aspects to the story and some hilariously out there characters, the heart of the tale is poignant and powerful.
I'm looking forward to seeing Bradley Cooper as Pat but am a bit worried that he will be able to capture Pat's inner turmoil. His vulnerability. I have no doubt he will be able to capture his anger; that's clear from the trailer. We are in his head all through the book so I'm curious to see how the writer and director handled that without reverting to an endless voice over.
Tiffany is a bit older than Pat in the book but as played by Jennifer Lawrence that's not the case. Since there's nothing about her character that dictates she needs to be older, it seems like it was an arbitrary writer's call so I'm sure the young Jennifer Lawrence will be fine.
The movie tie-in paperback edition of the book comes out October 16th when it will retail for $15. I just read it on my Nook for $9.99. The film comes out November 21st. It was a quick enjoyable 230 odd pages. Predictable? Sure. But pleasantly so.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Book, The Movie: What the Dog Ate by Jackie Bouchard

I am so pleased to present another edition of My Book, The Movie; a Guest Blog Post where I invite authors to imagine Hollywood came calling and wanted to turn their book into a film. 
Yesterday, I posted my review on What the Dog Ate,  a terrific book, by Jackie Bouchard. Today I'm really happy to share Jackie's thoughts on her dream cast.  I'd love to hear what Jackie's readers think about her choices - can you say Bradley Cooper - yum!
 To purchase a copy or more info about Jackie visit
 www.jackiebouchard.com  and check out her FB page .


My Book, The Movie: What the Dog Ate by Jackie Bouchard
"I was so excited to hear about Sim’s blog (what a great topic for a blog!), and was even more excited when she asked me to write a guest post revealing my dream cast for What the Dog Ate.
I can’t imagine there’s an author out there who didn’t, at some point along the slow journey toward a finished book, imagine which actors would best embody his/her characters. It’s such a fun fantasy. However, for What the Dog Ate, I imagine it will remain a fantasy, since the main character, Maggie, is north of 40, and Hollywood doesn’t seem very keen on movies with 40-something heroines. But, hey, maybe Lifetime will come calling… A girl can dream.

So, while I’m dreaming, here’s my dream cast:

For Maggie, a 5’9”, 41-year-old redhead, I have always pictured Debra Messing. She’s lovely and funny and seems like a nice person, and she’d be fabulous at pulling off Maggie’s vulnerability. And, at 5’8”, she’s practically even the perfect height!

(I noticed while looking up her picture and height that Ms. Messing is 44, so, hey, Hollywood – call me! We need to get going on this project!)




It looks as though she’s a dog lover as well, which is definitely important when playing the part of a woman who puts her life back together with the help of her chocolate Lab.

She’ll be getting a lot of kisses on set . . . mainly from her canine co-star.








For Maggie’s best friend, Helen, I’ve pictured Holly Hunter from day one, but with a silky, blonde bob haircut. Helen is in her early fifties and in killer shape, just like Ms. Hunter.

I never mention in the book that Helen just might have a Southern accent like Ms. Hunter, but in my head, I always heard Helen’s lines being said with a slight twang.





For the gentlemen in Maggie’s life, let’s start with Brian. This was the hardest role to cast! Brian is thirty, but looks much older due to his thinning hair. It seems as though it’s next to impossible to find an actor that looks older than they really are. In fact, when I tried—out of desperation—to run a Google search on “actors who look older than they are,” Google assumed (rightly?) that I was an idiot and returned a list of “actors who look younger than they are.” Thanks for helping out, Google.
The only actor I could think of who sometimes looks his age, is Joel McHale (from Community) because his hair is thinning a bit.




But… he’s skinnier and funnier than I picture Brian being, so instead, I think I’ll go with Ryan McPartlin, Dr. Devon “Captain Awesome” Woodcomb of Chuck fame. I think he could pull off playing a thirty-year-old (he’s 37) and if necessary, they could age him a little with some premature gray streaks. Besides, who wouldn’t want to share the set with this handsome man?! I know I’d like to. (I get to be on set while they’re filming right? I mean, this is my fantasy after all.) And just so Joel doesn’t feel left out, I’ll put him in the role of Maggie’s brother, Kevin.




That leaves Russell. While I was writing the part of Russell, I pictured a younger, fitter Russell Crowe—which is where I came up with his name. I hate to say it Mr. Crowe, but you are ten years too old and ten pounds too paunchy to be Russell anymore. (Please forgive me. At least I didn’t say twenty pounds . . .)

So, now, my perfect Russell would be (drum roll please, because this man needs a drum roll . . .): Bradley Cooper. Just the right mix of funny and sexy to pull off Russell!
(Can we get a casting couch in here, please!?)





Now, if we could just lock in Betty White for Maggie’s Gram, I’d think I died and went to heaven!

If you’ve read What the Dog Ate, what do you think? Did you picture someone completely different in any of the roles? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thank you so much to Sim for letting me indulge in this fantasy on her blog! "





Thanks Jackie! It was fun having you. 






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