Sunday, March 31, 2013

HAPPY EASTER : Top Ten Easter Movies


Completely swept away by The Robe as a child, I learned recently this popular 1953 film was based on a book. Besides, of course, The Bible without which it couldn't be written at all, the film was based on the best selling novel The Robe, written by  Lloyd C. Douglas. The historical novel about the crucifixion of Christ was published in 1942 and quickly became the number one book on the New York Times Best Seller List. It remained in the number one spot for almost a year.

The Robe tells the moving story of Marcellus, one of the tribunes charged with crucifying Christ, who wins Christ's robe in a dice game; his prize transforms him.  The film stars Victor Mature, Jean Simmons and Richard Burton who was nominated for Best Actor. The film was also nominated for Best Picture as well receiving nominations for Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design. It won for the latter two. As a child I was mesmerized by The Robe, I suspect it wouldn't hold a ten year old's interest these days. It still ranks on a lot of lists of Ten Best Easter Movies including mine. It's available for instant download on Amazon Prime, Neflix and Hulu. No affiliation, I'm a Barnes and Noble gal:)

The Robe Trailer:

                                                             
                                                               

HAPPY EASTER!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Locations shots from The Company You Keep movie

Canada stands in for the USA in The Company You Keep 

Yesterday I posted my take on Neil Gordon's The Company You Keep, the book behind the Robert Redford movie opening April 5th. The movie, directed by and starring Redford, was filmed in Canada, with Vancouver standing in for Manhattan and the University of British Columbia playing the University of Michigan campus...if the movie is true to the book.

I found these shots over at yvrshoots.com, a pretty nifty site where photo-journalist Susan Gittins blogs about film and television shows filming in the Vancouver area. You can see more TCYK images here, which she shot way back in November 2011! Today she has shots of Rainn Wilson and Dennis Haysbert filming the pilot Backstorm for CBS. 
The University of British Columbia stands in for the University of Michigan in this scene with Britt Marling (Rebecca, an investigator's daughter) and Shia LaBeouf (Ben, a young reporter)

Filming at the GORGEOUS Hotel Georgia - the hotel's sign must be off-camera but notice the lights are out?
Redford ushers his daughter (Jackie Evancho) into the hotel.
 In my post yesterday I wondered how
 Redford's screen adaptation of The Company You Keep would handle all the flashbacks to the past that Neil Gordon lingers over in his novel.  I couldn't imagine how he would show these aging activists and dissenters in their wild and woolly youth. 

There were no credits for a young Jim Grant(Redford's character) on IMDB.com but it wasn't possible that Redford was planning on playing his 20 year old self. I figured the only alternative was that Redford planned to focus on the manhunt and on the characters as they were at the end of the line, looking back. 

I found this long fifteen minute Q&A from the Venice Film Festival where Redford talks about why he focused on the manhunt and how he ended up casting the likes of Julie Christie and Nick Nolte,  as well as the politics - and his feelings about those politics - of the film. He is so serious. Shia LaBeouf does a really good job of sitting next to Redford politely, trying to look like an engaged listener. They've edited the Q&A so it's all Redford's stuff but there's another 3 minute clip devoted to Shia, who talks about his journalist's role as being that of the hunter.

The Company You Keep directed by Robert Redford is my featured trailer. Watch it here.

 Q&A with Robert Redford at the Venice Film Festival in September 2012. (15 minutes)





Q&A with Shia LaBeouf, Venice Film Festival (3 minutes)



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

World War Z: New trailer features Brad Pitt and family

Paramount just released a new World War Z trailer. Like GATSBY, World War Z was supposed to come out last December but instead the movie was pushed back for reshoots including a change in the ending. The premise of the book is that the events unfold years AFTER  the zombie wars, in the movie the wars are obviously in full swing during the action.                The Story: "United Nations employee Gerry Lane (PITT) traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity itself."

I never thought I'd say this but watching this just-released trailer for World War Z; the movie based on Max Bennet's book looks pretty good. The buzz is that it's a disaster but for me, seeing Brad Pitt as dad to two daughters pushed my buttons. It was meant to; obviously he'll have to save his family and the world from a zombie attack; that's fine with me. I have no doubt Brad is just the man to do it. Just the very handsome man to do it. 

Zombie? 
There's plenty of action in the trailer - a truck hurtling through the air in a busy Manhattan  intersection, airplanes overhead - yes, a bit of a cliche - crowds of zombies - seen only from a distance and looking a tad too CGI here -  but it's Pitt the father that interests me. Part of the beauty of his amazing performance in Moneyball was how he connected with his young daughter played by Kerris Dorsey.  I don't know why it should be surprising that beautiful Brad would come across so strongly as Dad, he clearly revels in the role in his real life, and judging from this trailer, it looks like he's nailed Dad with a capital D again. Not a big deal but it seems clear that the ease that he slips into this role on film is due in part to how well he wears the role in his private life. There's a lovely moment in the beginning of the trailer - just before all goes haywire - where he and his wife (Mirielle Enos) are playing a guessing game with their daughters as they're stuck in traffic. The soft, teasing way Pitt asks "Is it on the great plains of Africa?" which he clearly knows it isn't, and the daughter's giggling 'silly-daddy' response reveals a strength and fullness to the relationship that pulled me in. World War Z is clearly a life and death battle to save the world but it's the fight to save Pitt's family that will count most when it comes to emotional punch. 

Back to the disaster behind the scenes; the production was reportedly so packed with drama that according to Vulture, Brad Pitt and the director, Marc Forster were no longer on speaking terms at the productions' end and which is why both Damon Lindelhoff and Drew Goddard were brought in to fix the ending. The film comes out June 21 - it's Paramount's big summer blockbuster (they hope).  Catch the trailer ... what do you think?



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

GATSBY: Everything you wanted to know about the movie



That's my goal anyway - 
to give those of you who are just as gonzo for GATSBY as I am all the goodies I can gather, in one place: production stills, posters, trailers, behind the scenes looks at making the movie and all the bookish movie news a bookish movie news junkie could want.

Since I'm looking forward to this one as much, if not more, than Les Miserables which I was utterly obsessed with, I expect to be posting ad nauseum over the coming weeks, so I've decided to dedicate a separate page to the movie where I'll gather my ga ga for Gatsby posts in one place. They'll still be posted here first.


To that end, I'm really taken with the poster on the left that they're using in Japan.  The soft gold and creamy color palette is both elegant and moody.
On the right, is Carey Mulligan looking luminous in that strapless pink gown. Would I be premature to predict an Academy nomination for costume designer Catherine Martin.  She's been nominated for her work on Luhrman's Australia, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, winning for the latter. Martin and Lurhman clearly make a great team and it looks like she's up to her usual high standards with some really gorgeous work for GATSBY.  Wow- I just learned that she's the production designer too - that's one formidable lady!
Visit my GATSBY page.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Young Girls of Rochefort trailer: 1967 French movie musical

It's Monday. 
But I bet this fun and frothy trailer from the 1967 French film 
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort will make you smile anyway! 





The film was written and directed by Jacques Remy; Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) composed the score.

Catherine Deneuve, her real-life twin sister, Francois Dorleac,  Gene Kelly,  West Side Story's George Chakiris and dancer Grover Dale - Dale was a guest teacher on So You Think You Can Dance in 2010- star.



Judging from the American and French posters for the film, Gene Kelly was not quite the star in France that he was in the US.  If you enjoy les things Francais, check out Dreaming of France; a French appreciation meme hosted every Monday at An Accidental Blog.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rebecca Redux: Rebooting Daphne Du Maurier's Classic

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

These famous opening lines lead the reader into one of the world's most popular gothic suspense novels, Rebecca. Written by Daphne DuMaurier in 1938, the book took the world by storm. Alfred Hitchcock made the novel into the Academy Award winning Best Picture of 1940. I saw the film in all its' black and white glory recently; the ominous undercurrent, the tremor of fear discernable in Joan Fontaine's voice, so overwhelmed by the powerful presence of Rebecca's memory; the dreadful Mrs. Danvers and that creepy reveal of the first Mrs. De Winter's perfectly preserved bedroom; it all holds up. Laurence Olivier was nominated as the haunted widower, Maximillian De Winter, as was Fontaine and Dame Judith Anderson for her give-you-goosebumps portrayal of Danvers. While Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director, he would have to be satisfied with its Best Picture status.

Watch the trailer for Rebecca, Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, below.


Now, Dreamworks has decided to tackle a remake and has hired writer/director Nikolaj Arcel to helm it. Arcel co-wrote the script for the original Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo;  it's possible he'll give the script, written by Steven Wright, a quick polish. Arcel directed last year's A Royal Affair, a nominee for best foreign language film. He's also got an adaptation of The Power of the Dog in the works. It's another drug war-based story from Savages author, Don Winslow.

As much as I love the original, I welcome Arcel's attempt to retell Rebecca if only because so few of today's movie goers have had an opportunity to see - or ever will see - the 1940's classic. It's available on blu-ray, and I'm thrilled that's available - but it's not the big screen cinematic viewing the film, the original at least, deserves. Casting questions are already running through my head; whom among our working body of female actors could give Fontaine a run for her money? Hard to believe but Fontaine, born in 1917, was only 23 at the time! Fontaine, like many of the stars of yesteryear exuded an elegance and an air of mystery that many of our younger stars just don't have.
This is going to be a huge, prime role for one lucky young woman ... the question is who? My first inclination, as always as of late, is Jessica Chastain but the woman can't do everything so, who else? Take a peek at the trailer and see who you think fit the bill. Do you need the maturity of leads in their 30's - like Chastain, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt - to pull off the 2nd Mrs. De Winter?


Need a Rebecca refresher course? Here's the lowdown from Barnes & Noble:
"It's no wonder that the woman who becomes the second Mrs. de Winter (whose first name we never learn) eagerly accepts Maxim de Winter's offer of matrimony. She's young, orphaned, and employed as companion to a mean-spirited fading beauty. The handsome widower simply sweeps her off her feet. In a matter of days, the new bride accompanies her seemingly devoted husband to Manderley, his isolated home on the Cornish coast. From the first, the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, frightens the new bride with her chilling devotion to the dead first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca. And, all to soon, the second Mrs. de Winter realizes that Maxim married her for her youth and warmth, hoping to use her as a shield against Rebecca's malignant presence -- a lingering evil that threatens to destroy them both from beyond the grave."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cannes poster stars Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward


The Festival de Cannes is gearing up for the merry month of May. This year's just released poster is stunning with Hollywood royalty Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman locking lips. Forget Liz and Dick; when will someone tell this great love story on film? 
Visit the Cannes site to see how the photo comes together ... I can only say it's groovy, baby. 

From the Festival de Cannes site:

The original photo
To grace the poster for its 66th edition, the Festival de Cannes has chosen a couple who embody the spirit of cinema like no other: Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, photographed during the shooting of the aptly named A New Kind of Love, by Melville Shavelson (1963). 
For the Festival it is a chance both to pay tribute to the memory of Paul Newman, who passed away in 2008, and to mark its undying admiration for Joanne Woodward, his wife and most favoured co-star.
They were honoured at the Festival de Cannes in 1958 – the year of their marriage – with the selection In Competition of Martin Ritt’s The Long Hot Summer, the first film in which they appeared together. The links between their story and that of the Festival continued with a series of films directed by Newman, who cast Woodward in unforgettable roles in The Effect of the Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Competition – 1973) and The Glass Menagerie (Competition – 1987).


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reese Witherspoon back in bookish movie news: The Engagements


Reese Witherspoon is back in bookish movie news with the acquisition of The Engagements. The novel from best-selling writer J. Courtney Sullivan hits bookstores this June; Witherspoon will produce along with Bruna Papandrea via their Pacific Standard company. The ladies clearly have literary leanings - hallelujua! -  Witherspoon is also producing the Gone Girl movie based on Gillian Flynn's creepy thriller (but says she won't take the starring Amy role in it.)
IF Witherspoon plays an on-camera role in The Engagements, any guesses what part she'd take?  Check out the story description ...


The story: 

From the New York Times best-selling author of Commencement and Maine comes a gorgeous, sprawling novel about marriage—about those who marry in a white heat of passion, those who marry for partnership and comfort, and those who live together, love each other, and have absolutely no intention of ruining it all with a wedding.

Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years—forty years since he slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place. Delphine has seen both sides of love—the ecstatic, glorious highs of seduction, and the bitter, spiteful fury that descends when it’s over. James, a paramedic who works the night shift, knows his wife’s family thinks she could have done better; while Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding—beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings—and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own. 

As these lives and marriages unfold in surprising ways, we meet Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter in 1947. Frances is working on the De Beers campaign and she needs a signature line, so, one night before bed, she scribbles a phrase on a scrap of paper: “A Diamond Is Forever.” And that line changes everything.

A rich, layered, exhilarating novel spanning nearly a hundred years, The Engagements captures four wholly unique marriages, while tracing the story of diamonds in America, and the way—for better or for worse—these glittering stones have come to symbolize our deepest hopes for everlasting love.


I like the idea of looking at four different marriages, and the scope - "spanning nearly a hundred years " promises a saga feel.  And as a onetime copywriter, I'm curious to see how Frances Gerety, (Witherspoon?) the ad copywriter who comes up with the "A Diamond is Forever" line fits in.  Will the country's interest in advertising, fueled by Mad Men, carry over. And if I may pop the big question is; is this a novel or a De Beers diamond commercial?

Have you already read and reviewed The Engagements? Feel free to post a link to your review of The Engagements  in the comments section.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Giveaway Contest Winners

Congratulations to Anne Coates and Janira Santiago, the two winners of autographed copies of Daniel Clay's acclaimed Broken Thanks to everyone who entered! And thanks to Daniel for sharing his riveting book, for being so generous with his time and energy and taking part in my Q&A, and for gifting these two lucky winners with his novel.

The winners will also be notified by email.

Admission: Movie based on the book by Jean Hanff Korelitz




My admission? Judging from reviews it's possible that Tina Fey isn't 
perfect. Even though she rocks it on 30 Rock, and along with Amy Poehler, reigned supreme at the Golden Globes, if you believe the critics, she can't save Admission, the movie based on Jean Hanff Korelitz book which comes out Friday. 
The Story:
From Library Journal
Nothing comes before Portia Nathan's job as an admissions officer at Princeton University. When Mark, her domestic partner of 16 years, moves in with his pregnant lover, Portia buries herself in the ever-growing stacks of admission applications; she's in deep denial, ignoring her answering machine, her personal mail, and even her hygiene. Months before Mark left her, Portia had a sudden dalliance with John, a teacher at the experimental Quest school she visited on a recruiting trip. When John comes to tour Princeton with some of his students, their arrival brings Portia back to reality as one student, a quirky, brilliant autodidact who badly wants to go to Princeton, tugs at her heartstrings. Korelitz's fourth novel (after The White Rose) vividly brings to life the incredible stress borne by admissions workers. Readers will experience the challenge of the admissions process at an Ivy League school, where every applicant tends toward the extraordinary. This engaging and surprisingly suspenseful novel is highly recommended for all public libraries.
—Keddy Ann Outlaw

The Movie Log Line: "A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption."

Tina Fey is Portia, the admissions officer, Paul Rudd is John, the love interest. It sounds like a movie romance made in comedy heaven to me but the critics say nay. I don't know though; these two are so popular will it matter at the box office? And they may be wrong. Check out the trailer below and see what you think. That's Lily Tomlin playing Fey's mother! Cute enough imho.

Check out the rest of this years Movies Based on Books 2013.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars movie; Shailene Woodley Cast as Hazel

UPDATE: 3/19/2013  It's official. Shailene Woodley has been cast as Hazel in TFIOS, director Josh Boone tweeted today. 
Here's the news straight from EW, my original post follows:

Shailene Woodley has been offered the role of Hazel Grace Lancaster in the adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.
“During our exhaustive search to find Hazel Grace Lancaster, I saw some stunning auditions by today’s finest young actresses,” director Josh Boone tells EW in an exclusive statement. “Over 250 girls read for the part, but it wasn’t until Shailene stepped in front of the camera that I truly saw Hazel for the first time.  It was like lightning striking.  I can’t wait for the rest of the world to see what I have.”
The best selling The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (and an EW Best Fiction of 2012 pick) tells the story of Gus and Hazel, two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group and fall in love. (From the EW review: “Their ensuing love story is as real as it is doomed, and the gut-busting laughs that come early in the novel make the luminous final pages all the more heartbreaking.”)

Producer Wyck Godfrey (who knows a little something about adapting popular YA novels to the big screen as he worked on all the Twilight movies) says, ”When choosing the writers, director and now our first actor for Fault we’ve gone with the people that have had the strongest, most emotional and insightful connection to the material. Shailene’s love of the book and dedication to the character was evident in not only her pursuit of the role but her delivery of the essence of Hazel in her audition. I have no doubt that she will deliver a Hazel that will floor both fans of the book and those who have yet to be introduced to the transcendent story of The Fault in Our Stars.” 
“I am absolutely thrilled that Shailene will be playing Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars,” John Green says. “It means a lot to me that she is a fan of the book, and I know from our conversations that she has a profound understanding of Hazel. Watching her audition, I felt like Hazel Grace Lancaster was talking to me. It was eerie–and very exciting.”

It looks like The Fault In Our Stars movie is revving up into high gear. The Hollywood Reporter says the script, from the writers of 500 Days of Summer and the adaptation of The Spectacular Now, is ready and that the director, Josh Boone has been hired.  The only thing Boone seems to have done previously is Stuck in Love which he wrote and directed. According to THR, Stuck in Love comes out on April 19 but I can't verify that on imdb. Either way I'd watch out for it. It must be something special considering the producers are willing to give him this hefty a project. Hefty not just in subject matter, but hefty in terms of the box office expectations for indie films because of the huge built in audience that the producers hope the wildy popular YA book brings with it. You can take a look at the trailer for Stuck in Love (which I also see posted under the title Writers???) below.

Shailene Woodley
Known for The Descendants

Hailee Steinfeld
Known for True Grit
Shailene Woodley (22) and Hailee Steinfeld (18) are reportedly both being considered for the lead role of Hazel, the 16 year old narrator - I know better than to call her a cancer victim - of John Green's novel. I'm only a few pages into the book so I can't really comment though at first blush the younger actress would seem a more fitting choice just on that purely physical level. I wonder if the writers, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, are pitching Woodley since she's starring in their adaptation of The Spectacular Now? Both actresses have some great films coming out. You'll see Steinfeld in a new Romeo and Juliet, the upcoming adaptation of Alice Munro's Hateship, Loveship along with Kristin Wiig, plus she's Petra in Ender's Game. Woodley is currently filming The Amazing SpiderMan 2 (she's Mary Jane Watson), she plays Aimee in The Spectacular Now
plus she's Beatrice/Tris in Divergent.  Quite a pair of busy young women!

Who would you cast as Hazel? 
Woodley, Steinfeld or someone else?


Stuck in Love trailer 


What Maisie Knew by Henry James : Teaser Tuesday

Since a contemporary retelling of What Maisie Knew is coming out on film sometime this year, hopefully in May, I started reading Henry James' novel online via the free Gutenberg Project. It's on my list of Books to Read Before You See the Movie so I have no excuse.  I have to say I'm not loving reading it on the computer... the scrolling is tedious and it's way too tiring on the eyes. Oh woe is me, I sure don't want to shell out the big bucks for the movie tie-in edition!  

As I'm reading, I'm struck by how modern the basic premise is - a little girl is shuttled back and forth between her selfish, utterly irresponsible, divorced parents, spending six months with each.  While it was written back in 1897, there's something strikingly contemporary about the parental manipulations; using her as a foil, plying her for news of what daddy or mommy has been up to, each trying to gain the upper hand. 

Take a look at this passage where Maisie has just returned to her mother, Ida's from a stay with her father, Beale Farange. 

"And did your beastly papa, my precious angel, send any message to your own loving mamma?" Then it was that she found the words spoken by her beastly papa to be, after all, in her little bewildered ears, from which, at her mother's appeal, they passed, in her clear shrill voice, straight to her little innocent lips. "He said I was to tell you, from him," she faithfully reported, "that you're a nasty horrid pig!  "                   
The above teaser from What Maisie Knew is part of ShouldBeReadings Teaser Tuesday meme and Bibliophile by the Sea's First Paragraph Tuesday.

I can't include the entire opening paragraph but here's the opening line - "The litigation seemed interminable and had in fact been complicated; but by the decision on the appeal the judgement of the divorce-court was confirmed as to the assignment of the child."  


Having read that impossibly dull beginning you can understand why I can't post the entire paragraph. Normally it might have been enough to put me off except I'm looking forward to reading the original and to see the film and how they've revamped the story. I'm also looking forward to seeing Julianne Moore as Maisie's mother - an aging rocker they're calling Susanna (because how many Ida's do you know?), Steve Coogan as Beale, and Alexander Skarsgard as Lincoln, who looks like he may be a manny! Ah, as I read more deeply in the book, Lincoln is mostly likely Sir Claude - the man that Ida Beale marries. He is supposed to be handsome and loving and indeed, Skarsgard is that. The character's relationship with Maisie (Onata Aprile) - at least what I can glean from the trailer - looks warm; he seems to be one of the few to really care about the little girl.


Maisie also has two governesses, one for each household.  And we have another modern problem:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Could daddy possibly be having an affair with his own child's nanny? Hmmm, didn't Sienna Miller kick Jude Law out because he was having an affair with his child's nanny? Icky then. Icky now! 


Monday, March 18, 2013

Labor Day movie based on Joyce Maynard's book coming


I just added Labor Day to the  Books to Read Before You See the Movie page.  Based on Joyce Maynard's novel of the same name, the movie went into production last June in Massachusetts. The film was shot in locations around the state, folks in Acton were so excited to have the movie crew in town, they created a video. Visit Acton Patch and check out their page and the video.


The Book - "With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, lonely, friendless thirteen-year-old Henry spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming with only his emotionally fragile, long-divorced mother for company. But everything changes on the Thursday before the holiday weekend when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank asks Henry for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons, about the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting those we care about above ourselves—and that real love is worth waiting for.
From acclaimed author Joyce Maynard comes a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence, and devastating treachery as seen through the eyes of a young teenager—and the man he later becomes."



The Movie: Kate Winslet is Adele, Josh Brolin is the wounded man, Henry is played by two young actors of 13, and 16 and then by Tobey Maguire as the adult Henry. James Van Der Beek is onboard to play a detective investigating the case.

Jason Reitman is directing; I love what he did with Walter Kim's Up in the Air- Reitman not only directed, he co-wrote the screenplay with Sheldon Turner - this one sounds equally intriguing. 

No wonder the Kate's character Adle is depressed - just look at that depressing outfit! I have never seen the glorious Kate Winslet looking so dowdy! You know what that means - serious acting - and probably a transformation.

I'm now adding Labor Day to my TBR pile! How about you; have you read it yet?


Dreaming of France: Bon Anniversaire Luc Besson

Born March 18, 1959,
Luc Besson, the French writer/director/ producer and birthday boy has one of the films on my list of Books to Read Before You See the Movie 2013. Malavita is based on  Tonino Benaquista's novel.


From Barnes and Noble: "The Blakes are newcomers to a small town in Normandy. Fred is a historian researching the Allied landings, Maggie enjoys charity work, and their kids are looking forward to meeting other teenagers at the local lycée. Or so it seems.
In fact, Fred is really Giovanni Manzoni, an ex-goodfella turned stool pigeon who’s been relocated from New Jersey to France by the FBI’s witness protection program. He’s got a two-million-dollar bounty on his head, but he and his family can’t help attracting attention (imagine the Sopranos in Normandy). And when imprisoned mobster Don Mimino gets wind of their location, it’s Mafia mayhem à la Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper, or like The Godfather as if written by Carl Hiaasen. Because while you can take the man out of the Mafia, you can’t take the Mafia out of the man."
Robert De Niro is the mafioso, Giovanni Manzoni,  Michelle Pfeiffer plays his wife and I believe Tommy Lee Jones is the agent in charge. Sounds magnifique to me!  Imagine those three in one film together - Malavita is slated to open October 18th.

Posted as part of the Dreaming of France meme at An Accidental Blog.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gone Girl Casting News : Reese Witherspoon is Gone!

According to Deadline Hollywood things are heating up again in the journey from Gone Girl the book, written by Gillian Flynn, to Gone Girl the movie, directed by David Fincher. The big news is that Reese herself, will no longer star as Amy Dunne, the wife who goes missing. I'm sure Flynn is disappointed as she's a huge fan of Reese Witherspoon's - (I shared an interview here).  Flynn has written the first draft of the screenplay already and I can't help but wonder if she'd made tweaks with Reese in mind. In any case, Witherspoon isn't out of the picture completely; her company, Pacific Standard will still produce.

The really interesting thing though is who will play Amy now? Fincher probably has Rooney Mara on his personal short list but she's technically too young. Could definitely pull off the (spoiler alert)
psycho stuff though. Jessica Chastain would be high on my personal short list; she's the right age and having seen her in range of diverse roles from the outsider desperate to fit in in The Help, the model of natural grace in The Tree of Life, the Mossad agent in The Debt and an American agent in Zero Dark Thirty, I know she's right for the part. I didn't see Chastain in Mama but it's almost like she's right for any part, within age and gender range. Chastain possesses a special mind body meld with her characters, allowing her real self to disappear within as these other women take over. It's the same kind of complete surrender that makes Mery Streep one of world's finest actresses. That and an abundance of empathy.


Now that Reese Witherspoon is out of the picture, who do you see as Amy?

NOW WE KNOW ROSAMUND PIKE IS AMY. READ THE REST OF THE GONE GIRL MOVIE NEWS

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Lion is In by Delia Ephron: My Quick Take on the Book

From the moment I saw the cover of Delia Ephron's The Lion is In - this photo-realistic shot of three women (one in a wedding veil) and a lion in a convertible, driving off into the sunset, I've wanted to read the book. But as regular readers of Chapter1-Take1 know, I'm so focused on the books that have been adapted for film that I barely have time to read beyond my own self-imposed boundaries. I know, I know. That's why when I got lucky and scored the book at the library, I decided boundaries be damned; I had to read it now. Or be shoved to the back of the book's lengthy reserve line at the library!
I'm glad I broke with routine; remember Ann Romney famously shouting "I love you women!" at the Republican convention?  I have to say "I love you women" to the ladies in Ms. Ephron's book!

I'm not including a synopsis because a) when I read reviews myself I tend to skim over these lest it ruin the story for me or b) because I'm too lazy to write it. Pick one. Or both. Anyway here are my thoughts, my quick take on the The Lion is In.

Considering the fact that Delia Ephron has written or co-written her fair share of scripts - You've Got Mail, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Michael, and Bewitched along with the adaptation of her own novel Hanging Up - I've got a hunch this book with its trio of remarkable women will make it to the multi-plex too. Along for the ride will be Marcel, the extraordinary lion, central to the title and the story - the reference to 'the doctor is in' is a nod to the animal's calming, curative and powerful impact on the womens' lives and psyches.

The basic premise is two best friends on the run - initially we're not sure what they're running from - who encounter a fiftyish, mousy woman also needing to escape, and the three of them end up hiding out in a small North Carolinian town, working in a bar called The Lion. Of course hiding out - from the law, from everyone else's expectations, from yourself and even from love - can't last forever.

The inside dust-jacket flap sums up the ladies best:
"Tracee is a runaway bride and kleptomaniac. Lana's an audacious beauty and a recovering alcoholic. Rita is a holy-roller minster's wife, desperate to escape her marriage and discover whether she actually has a mind of her own.

Ms. Ephron has written the novel in a series of mostly-short chapters that read like movie scenes and keep driving the story forward. Visually there are so many images I can't get out of my head; the crisp, clear writing gives the sometimes crazy scenarios heft and credibility.
While Ephron does let us see what's going on inside her characters's heads, she doesn't dwell, knowing in her savvy screenwriter's head to show rather than tell.  We get to know these women, and the men in their lives, through a series of absurd but strangely believable situations; a bar with a lion in it? Where is it?  Because I'd like to go there and watch Marcel the lion while he watches Rita dance to Bombaleo! I'd like to be sitting in that AA meeting where Lana filches the coffee money. And Traci cavorting in that frothy wedding dress.
These are just glimpses of scenes that would create the best kind of cinematic comedy; hilarious yes, but, as Ms. Ephron crafts it,  loaded with wit, warmth and the heart of a lion.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jai Courtney joins Shailene Woodley in Divergent Screen Adaptation?


Jai Courtney added to
Divergent cast.
UPDATE: March 14, 2013. Jai Courtney, the twenty something Austrailian who was last seen as the son of the lead in both A Good Day to Die Hard and Jack Reacher was just cast in Divergent the movie based on Veronica Roth's Best selling YA novel, according to my trusted source, Deadline. They aren't saying yet but my suspicion is that Courtney will play Peter from Dauntless, the Brave. He's too beefy to my liking by far but I have no doubt he will make many a young boat float, including Tris'?
Here's my original post; Remember Shailene IS Tris. That's confirmed.
If you are a fan of Veronica Roth's Young Adult dystopian novel, DIVERGENT  what do you think of  Shailene Woodley as Beatrice (Tris) Prior?  The breakout young actress from The Descendants is in talks to play the part. By the way, Woodley is doing so well, she's also in talks to play the Mary Jane role in the Amazing Spider-Man sequel. The movie will be directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionists, The Lucky Ones) . The producers are hoping the material will generate some of the success that The Hunger Games enjoyed since the characters' ages are similar and both take place in dismal dystopian settings. And of course, the books are huge sellers and have a huge fanbase.

Actress Shailene Woodley

Author Veronica Roth
I haven't read the book - it's the first of a trilogy - so I don't know whether she fits the part. I do know that Roth and Woodley bear more than a passing resemblance to each other. Pretty, fresh faced, young or at least youthful, brunettes.  I wonder if Roth has weighed in with her choice? Anyone know?
Here's the publisher's description of the book:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
.
Are you a Divergent fan?
Who do you think would make the perfect Tris?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Movies Based on Books: 2013 (at long last!)

I've been a lazy blogger, neglecting to post this year's list of books to read BEFORE you see the movie. If you checked out my page: Books to Read BEFORE you see the movie 2013 there were a measly couple of entries. BUT I've been busy playing catch up and am three quarters of the way through updating the list so take a look here to see what's up next.

While release dates are subject to change without notice I'll continue to update the list when I get new info. As always, some of these films are in limited release and may not make it to a theater near you. They will, however, all be available on DVD, BluRay, video on demand, HuluPlus, NetFlix etc etc one day.

The list is definitely a work in progress and I may have failed to turn up a few, but so far I'm excited to see The Great Gatsby, What Maisie Knew and The Spectacular Now. How about you?

Friday, March 8, 2013

OZ:The Great and Powerful: Is the production design the real star of the show?

OZ trees straight out of the land of Disney's Snow White


I hope there is more to love about OZ: The Great and Powerful than its' production design but the movie has been released to mixed reviews. As for me, I'm not sure that I can stay away. I want to see the story and the performances for myself plus my interest has been seriously piqued by Robert Stromberg's dazzling work here.  I found these pictures at CoCreate where they have a gallery of images of Stromberg's Land of Oz. This is Stromberg's third time out as production designer, he won the Academy Award for both previous efforts: Avatar (with Rick Carter) and Alice in Wonderland! He has an extensive resume in both the visual effects and matte painting departments with credits like Pirates of the Caribbean (you can see the influence of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in OZ's treasure chamber, below), Boardwalk EmpirePan's Labrynth and a ton more.


According to CoCreate, 1920's Art Deco architect Hugh Ferriss was a key influence on Stromberg's Emerald City. "I like the way Ferriss played with cityscapes -- something about the stacking of buildings, dark against light." The Art Deco styling was also a natural match for the construction of the Emerald City in the story "Emerald City was built by Glinda’s father, then hijacked by these evil witches, so there’s a tension to the air. That’s why Emerald City looks like this masculine monolith with hard angles."


"When I was a kid going through Pirates of Caribbean at Disneyland, staring at those piles of gold was just fascinating to me. That was our starting point: the piles of gold from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride."  Robert Stromberg, OZ production designer

I'm in, but how about you? Will stunning production design get you to see OZ: The Great and Powerful or something else? Or nothing at all?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing: The first OFFICIAL trailer for the upcoming movie was just released

Oh WOW! Take a look at this first real trailer for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare without Kenneth Branagh or Laurence Olivier? Perish the thought EXCEPT this looks kind of fantastic. And I'm liking Whedon's decision to shoot it in black and white... I just hope the actors pull it off. Shakespeare in modern dress and situations is always dicey.



The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September and is slated for release on June 7th. It's got people talking because it was made on a teensy budge - supposedly Whedon gathered his acting friends at his own abode and just shot!
The cast includes Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick, with Nathan Fillion as Dogberry, Reed Diamond as Don Pedro, and Clark Gregg as Leonato.

So are you excited to see this Shakespearian drama updated for our times? How about Joss Whedon's house?

PS Enter to win an Autographed copy of Broken by Daniel Clay here


OZ: The Great and Powerful; Meanderings about the movie

With the release of Disney's OZ: The Great and Powerful looming closer - it opens Friday - I'm curious-er and curious-er  about how this newest rendition, a prequel of sorts, will hold up to the MGM classic. A classic that I have never ever seen at a movie theater on a really large screen. Like many of you,  I first watched The Wizard of Oz on TV in my family's living room; when the movie left the dreary black and white palette of Dorothy's Kansas, blooming into a lavish technicolor dream, I was transported too. That magic moment was one I waited for year after year, eager to travel 'somewhere over the rainbow' but relieved beyond words when the film ended and despite my adventure, I was safely at home. I can almost see myself curled up on the couch murmuring There's no place like home. There's no place like home. Safe and sound. Just like Dorothy.

I know that I'm not alone. We all grew up with Dorothy. Check out this poster which links to an exhibition celebration OZ themed art currently running here in L.A. It just happens to be this year but
the exhibition could have taken place anytime, Oz has such a powerful place in our hearts and minds.

Perfectly timed gallery exhibit in Los Angeles (hmmm, that's an interesting coincident)
While that imaginary adventure culminating with the sweetest homecoming ever, has stayed with us over the years, other iterations have worked their way into our hearts and minds too. The stage musical Wicked, based on Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West , itself an offspring of Baum's work, has been so wildly successful that it has spawned its' own film currently in development. Thankfully the same producer, Marc Platt, who brought the musical to the stage, is producing the film version. And then there was the  revamped musical The Wiz done in 1978 with Michael Jackson as the scarecrow, and Diana Ross as Dorothy.

That may be a problem with this newest film.  In OZ: The Great and Powerful; there is no Dorothy there. Yes it's true that Dorothy isn't in Wicked either, but her presence is felt. In this pre-Dorothy land of OZ, the origins story is more about the actual 'wizard' and the witches and how Diggs, a smooth talking scam artist who works as a magician in a circus came to be the man behind the curtain.

Sam Raimi, the director who is best known for the Evil Dead trilogies and SpiderMan, told EW that he was hesitant to take on the project.
"The original is my favorite film of all time," he says. " I didn't want it sullied. I didn't want to be involved in a production that might trade off the goodwill of that film, so I didn't even want to read the script at first. Luckily I did. And then I realized that it wasn't at all what I thought." 

Zach Braff as this rather adorable flying monkey
He's also the magician's assistant.
But will it be what we thought? OZ:TG&P as an origin story is informed by Frank L. Baum's series of novels but according to Raimi, the film will also "nod lovingly" at the 1939 classic.

Like that classic tale, it looks like OZ:TG&P begins in black and white but changes to color when Oscar(James Franco) lands in OZ, a kingdom waiting for a wizard to save them.    Theodora (Mila Kunis) is a sweet and innocent witch who wants only peace for the Land of OZ. She sincerely believes that a prophesied 'wizard' will come to OZ to make it a safe place again. Theodora is watched over by her big sister, Evanora, played by Rachel Weisz.  Evanora is everything Theodora isn't. Powerful, political, Evanora has wangled herself the position of  royal advisor and protector of the Emerald City. The third witch is Glinda; the Good Witch. That's Michelle Williams. The question the filmmakers want you to ask about this trio of superior actresses is which one of the three is the Wicked Witch. Well we know it won't be Michelle Williams, don't we?

Something I'll be watching for, besides who goes green, is the reason for the dual parts a few of the characters play. Zach Braff voices the Flying Monkey, Finley, but he's also credited as Frank? Is that a possible winking reference to Frank Morgan who played the Wizard in the original or perhaps to Frank L. Baum since we're nodding lovingly and all? The young actress who voices China Girl - (Joey King who was Emma Stone's little sister in Crazy, Stupid Love) - is also credited as a kid in a wheelchair. And most mysterious: Michelle Williams who is Glinda is also "Annie".  I loved the conceit of the original with the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow mirrors of their human counterparts, Hikory, Zeke and Hunk and the Wicked Witch being the spitting image of the nasty Toto-hating Miss Gulch; and I'm interested in seeing how that device is used here. Ah, there's no place like home.
OZ: The Great and Powerful seems like such a spectacle that I won't be able to stay away - and while I think I know which witch is which, it sounds like it could be a fun time at the theater seeing how that storyline plays out.


The latest TV spot features Franco as Oscar Diggs, Zach Braff as the voice of Finlay, the flying monkey and Joey King as the voice of China Doll.


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