Thursday, April 30, 2015

Key Largo: Bogey and Bacall star in this 1948 #ThrowbackThursday Film Noir Classic

Yesterday we went to Key Largo; today, like the characters in the film Key Largo, we're holed up in our hotel, waiting for the storm to pass. Most of the Key Largo movie takes place inside the hotel, which often means inside a sound stage. In Key Largo even the famous tropical storm was shot inside a sound stage at Warner Brothers. Actually most stormy weather scenes are shot in water tanks inside sound stages. It's the only way the filmmakers can have any control over the weather. Things look fairly calm in this scene below.

If you can believe what you read on Wikipedia—and of course you can, always—Lauren McCall and Bogey never made it to Key Largo for the shooting of the movie, their fourth and final film together. But take it from me, you don't need to read it on Wikipedia, my hubs and I did. We hit Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, choosing to take a glass bottom boat instead of a snorkeling trip out to Molasses Reef. Molasses Reef, so named because once upon a pirate-y time a ship carrying molasses was sunk at the site, all traces gone forever. Unlike the plastic water bottles some idiots discarded in the water where they will live FOREVER! 

Getting past the plastic, the reef was so gorgeous and amazing a site—so many pretty fishies in the deep blue sea—that we're thinking about tracking down a corrective mask for me (you can't wear a mask over glasses, and I'm here without contact lenses) so we can go snorkeling out at Pennekamp and see the Christ of the Abyss statue. Or we may take the day trip out from Key West to the Dry Tortugas, cuz I really, really wanna see a tortuga! And it's supposed to be the best snorkeling in North America.

We were planning on driving down to Key West from Islamorada today when the rain hit. It's about a two hour drive to the south, including a stretch of it over the seven mile bridge, a thin strip of bridge over troubled waters, so instead we're bunkering down as I write this, watching the weather from our hotel room's screened-in lanai, waiting for the rain storm to pass. Things can get a bit tense when you're all cooped up together with no escape. Let's hope no one around here gets too testy.

That brings me back to this week's #ThrowbackThursday movie classic. Key Largo doesn't fit my usual criteria for adaptations; it's not based on a book, rather, Key Largo is loosely based on the play written by Maxwell Anderson. While these days we consider the movie directed by the legendary John Huston, a noir classic, the film didn't garner a lot of awards when it was released in 1948. 

The only Oscar went to Claire Trevor for Best Supporting Actress. Director John Huston cowrote the screenplay with Richard Brooks who both wrote AND directed some amazing films of his own before his death in 1992 including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, Lord Jim, The Professionals and Looking for Mr. Goodbar. He also wrote some stinkers like Fever Pitch with Ryan O'Neal. While Key Largo wasn't a stinker, and has definitely achieved the 'classic' status, the film was nominated by the Writers Guild for Best Adapted Screenplay, but failed to win. 

These days we don't care about any of that. We want to see Bogey and Bacall together, we want to bear witness to their chemical reaction. 

We want to see Bogey go head to head with Edward G. Robinson.

We want to see Lionel Barrymore of the famed Barrymore acting clan, better known to 21st century audiences as Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life

Barrymore's sister Ethel won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role opposite Cary Grant in None but the Lonely Heart in 1948. His better known brother was the acclaimed film and stage star John Barrymore who just happens to have been Drew Barrymore's grandfather. She never knew him; John Barrymore passed away from cirrhosis of the liver at age 60 in 1942, long before she was born. 

We want to see the actors that the Warner Brother's trailer hails as "the screen's most electrifying personalities." And we want to see them directed by the legendary John Huston, in beautiful moody black and white. Speaking of things that will live forever—remember those discarded plastic water bottles?—Key Largo will.

Key Largo is available to stream on Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wolf Hall Wednesday: Look into my eyes ... just like Brad Pitt.

Another Wolf Hall Wednesday; I'm prewriting this post because when Wolf Hall Episode #4 airs this Sunday, I'll be in Isla Morada down in the Florida Keys. I hope instead of watching Wolf Hall I'll be watching the moonlight shine down on the Atlantic. Or is it the Gulf of Mexico, or at the magical dividing line between the two?

Episode 4 will continue, I think, the heightened drama of the third episode, a spirited change from the rather staid first and second episode. Here's the preview PBS provided; I'm counting on you to let me know just what you thought of the episode!

I'm also posting a conversation with Mark Rylance (Thomas Cromwell), the series' director, Peter Kominsky and BBC Newsnight's Kirsty Wark, direct from the Tower of London. As the video notes there are spoilers, like, um, Anne Boleyn loses her head. 

If you've been keeping up with my Wolf hall Wednesday posts you know I've found Mark Rylance's very contained performance frustrating at times. He keeps you guessing with his lack of obvious expression, so I got a kick out of Rylance confiding that he was influenced by Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, how little Pitt did, and how impactful it was. I have to say, the more I get to know Rylance as an actor, and as I've become increasingly engaged in the show, I see the eyes do have it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Books, Books, Books, More and More Books Coming to the Big Screen

Thanks to friend and fellow blogger Louise at A Strong Belief in Wicker! Louise knows I'm obsessed with the book to movie process — what began as an interest has taken over my life — and sent me a link to a long list of books bound for the screen. I'm proud to say I knew most of them already, you'll find many of them on my Books to Read Before You See the Movie/2015 BUT I'm more than excited to learn about the following books en route to the movie screen. They're not all quite ready for prime time but keep your eyes on the coming attractions; if they don't make it to the movie theater this year, watch for them in 2016.

First up:

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: June 12th

Two awkward high schoolers, Greg and Earl, befriend a terminally ill girl, Rachel.

Olivia Cooke stars as Rachel, with Thomas Mann as Greg and RJ Cyler as Earl. Connie Britton and Nick Offerman play Greg's parents.

The Driftless Area: April 18th

Presumably this has opened already? Maybe in small theaters? I've not heard hide nor hair of it. 

A bartender, Pierre, played by Anton Yelchin, comes back to his hometown after his parents die, and finds himself in a dangerous situation involving a mysterious woman (Stella, played by Zooey Deschanel) and a violent criminal. 

The World Made Straight:  January 9th

Here's another one that must have come and gone. No one, no one talked about this at all. Have you seen this movie poster?

It might be because the movie based on Ron Rash's Serena bombed. You can find both of them on video.

A young man, Travis (Jeremy Irvine), gets wrapped up in the drug dealings of his town after stumbling upon a marijuana farm in 1970s North Carolina. Noah Wyle and Minka Kelly co-star.

Victor Frankenstein:  October 2

I should be more excited bout Frankenstein but hohum, just not.
Told from Igor's perspective, we see the troubled young assistant's dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man - and the legend - we know today.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as Igor, the hunchback assistant to Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy).

Into the Forest: TBD

This one hasn't been cemented in with a release date but it's been shot and is in post production so it's coming!

In the not too distant future, two young women, sisters, who live in a remote ancient forest discover the world around them is on the brink of an apocalypse. Informed only by rumor, they fight intruders, disease, loneliness & starvation.

Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood play the sisters, with Max Minghella co-starring.

A Book of Common Prayer: Stuck in development hell?

An American woman travels to Central America to reunite with her fugitive daughter. The country is on the brink of a violent revolution, and she is anything but prepared for what she sees.
Christina Hendricks has signed on to headline the film with Allison Janney also attached. Campbell Scott is set to direct. Apart from that the project is currently listed as being in development. I don't see how it could still happen this year, but it might. I'll certainly be on the look out for it because, Joan Didian, Christina Hendricks, Allison Janney? Oh yeah!

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax: TBD

This one is in post-production too, not sure what they're waiting for. A psychologist who begins working with a young boy who has suffered a near-fatal fall finds himself drawn into a mystery that tests the boundaries of fantasy and reality.

This sci-fi thriller stars Aaron Paul as Peter with Jamie Dornan as Dr. Pascal. Sarah Gadon also stars.

So that's it, the latest books I'll add to the list of books to read BEFORE they hit the movie screen ... when I return from vacation. Which ones have you read and how excited are you that they're making their way—slowly, but surely—to the big screen?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Gemma Bovery has me Dreaming of France

We saw the French trailer for Gemma Bovery back in September 2014. It looked fantastique and we had the English subtitles to help out those of us sans French. Now, finally, we have the US trailer for Gemma Bovery, a reimagining, if you will, of Flaubert's Madame Bovary. I'm pleased to see it's still a lush mix of French and English, and looks pretty darn delicious. The French countryside, the seductive sound of the French language, the French aptitude for seduction, all comes together in this fun, sexy hybrid based on the comic by Posy Simmonds, and directed by Anne Fontaine. Gemma Bovery opens here in the US on April 29th in limited release, so you'll have to check your local theaters for possible showtimes.

Check in with fellow francophiles at Dreaming of France, the weekly meme where bloggers share their love of France.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Carey Mulligan sings to her suitors in Far from the Madding Crowd

Happy Slacker Sunday. Today I'm taking the easy way out and sharing Vanity Fair's exclusive video of Carey Mulligan singing in Far From the Madding Crowd. Their editorial comment? The only thing more fabulous than Bathsheba Everdene's name is her singing voice. Word.

Far From the Madding Crowd starring Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge opens May 1st.
Are you ready?

More Ms. Mulligan

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Matinee: The Paperboy starring Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman

Since I'm flying off into the sunset today, or at least to South Florida, to spend some time in the Keys, Fort Lauderdale, the Everglades and maybe see a gator or two—that's the name of a cocktail, I hope—I thought I'd try to find a movie set in Florida for today's Saturday matinee.

And what did I find, The Paperboy, a steamy film noir set in swampy South Florida. The Paperboy, based on the book by Pete Dexter, boasts an A-List cast, and an Oscar-winning director. I wrote about the movie back in 2012 when it opened to mixed but mostly lousy reviews. At the time, thinking it looked both trashy and over the top sexy, I was planning on seeing it anyway, but in the end I decided not to fork over the cold hard cash, and like the rest of the world, I forgot all about it. But now that it's available to stream, checking out the official description and thinking about the cast, I'd  say it's worth a long, hot, muggy afternoon, wouldn't you?

Here's the 'official' description (but keep in mind what I told you last time)
A sexually and racially charged film noir from Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels (Precious), The Paperboy takes audiences deep into the backwaters of steamy 1960s South Florida, as investigative reporter Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo) chase a sensational, career-making story. With the help of Ward's younger brother Jack (Zac Efron) and sultry death-row groupie Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), the pair tries to prove violent swamp-dweller Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) was framed for the murder of a corrupt local sheriff. Based on the provocative bestselling novel by Pete Dexter (Mulholland Falls, Rush), The Paperboy peels back a sleepy small town's decades-old fa├žade of Southern gentility to reveal a quagmire of evil as dark as a Florida bayou.

And give the trailer a look

Join me for a mid afternoon movie?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Johnny Depp channels Whitey Bulger in Black Mass trailer

Johnny Depp is freaking everybody out again, but in a good way this time. He's unrecognizable in this first trailer for Black Mass, the true crime story based on the childhood friendship between Whitey Bulger, the head of the Irish mob in the 1970's, and John Connely who grew up to be head of the FBI. For once Johnny achieves self-erasure not merely by donning wig, mustaches and adopting bizarre body language, but apparently by channeling the infamous mobster. 


Joel Edgerton costars as Connolly with a supporting cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Sienna Miller, Cory Stoll, Dakota Johnson and Juno Temple. Based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, Black Mass is  due out September 17th by which time I will have figured out what Cumberbatch is doing in a supporting role; it must be a seriously good film with seriously well-written supporting parts by screenwriters Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth. Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) directed.

The early buzz is this could be the Johnny Depp movie we've been waiting for. Oh, I hope so! Check it out —

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Where the Boys Are: Throwback Thursday

 This ought to separate the men from the boys ... and the girls from the er, older ladies. I was too young to see Where the Boys Are, the quintessential spring break movie, when it came out in 1960 (nope, I'm not talking the eighties version with Lisa Hartman), but I saw it on the boob tube several times during a seminal time in my adolescence. Even if you've never heard of the movie, much less the novel by Glendon Swarthout—the same Glendon Swarthout who wrote The Homesman by the way... 

I betcha you've heard the song by Connie Francis. No? Well have a listen on Youtube along with the opening credits and then come on back and watch the vintage trailer. 

Both Swarthout's book and the film were huge hits, basically putting Fort Lauderdale on the map. You can stream Where the Boys Are on Amazon, Vudu and GooglePlay.

Including Where the Boys Are and The Homesman, Swarthout  wrote 17 books before he died in 1992. Most of them were westerns, several of which were adapted for the screen, including The Shootist and Bless the Beasts and the Children.  Lots of you have read my post about the Costume Design from The Homesman

I'd totally forgotten that Where the Boys Are is set in Fort Lauderdale, spring break capitol of the USA! Good thing Spring Break is over because hubby and I are flying in to Fort Lauderdale en route to the Keys this weekend! We plan on stopping by the corner of Las Olas Blvd and North Fort Lauderdale Beach Drive where the above scene was shot; hopefully it won't be full of college kids. 

We also want to hit the Wreck Bar, a kitschy 'dive bar' located inside the Yankee Clipper Hotel at the south end of Ft. Lauderdale Beach. According to the Rum Connection, the Wreck Bar is one of the last remaining bars to feature mermaid shows —apparently that was a 'thing' in the 50's, and hasn't changed all that much since its appearance in Where the Boys Are. In the film some of the kids fall into the pool and, you guessed it, hilarity ensues. While the movie is billed as a comedy, and set in a time when women went to college mostly to find a man, there's a darker side to it as well. I won't spoil it for you but it's a side of male/female relationships that still exists.

Here's that vintage trailer I promised you. Enjoy.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wolf Hall Wednesday: Episode 3 — Ladies Night

"Are you happy?" Cromwell asks the pregnant Anne Boleyn.
"Yes. Because of this. I was always desired but now I'm valued, do you see? And that's different."

After finding episodes one and two a teensy bit of a slog — the kind of program you hope they show in history classes but maybe not your first choice for television after a long weekend* —this week's third episode of Wolf Hall was quite a change. It was almost like someone drew back a heavy velvet drape and let a little sunshine in. 

This is going to sound sexist, but I blame the women. It really was ladies night and the ladies shone. While I've been kvetching that Mark Rylance's Thomas Cromwell has been rather one-note in terms of his expression, the women brought him to life, stirred him up, broke through his poker face. He was pleased, disappointed, confused, amused, aroused, angry and heartbroken and it was all there on his face.

Saskia Reeves is wonderful as Johane, the sister of his dead wife Liz that Cromwell has been sleeping with. A married woman, unsatisfied by her husband, serious and mature, she didn't jump into Cromwell's bed on a whim; it was loneliness and need and grief over her sister's death that brought them together. In the 16th century version of "We can't do this anymore" she breaks it off. It's just as well. When their conversation is interrupted, she leaves and Cromwell tries to stop her. "Liz!" he calls to her departing back. His wife's name. Oh, the look on Johanne's face! If it wasn't over before, it is now.

In more royal quarters Claire Foy shows us an Anne Boleyn much more nuanced than her reputation. We see her struggling to show off her archery skills, throwing a mini-tantrum, and blaming the bow when she errs, a sight that brings out the bitch in her sister Mary (Charity Wakefield). Ditched by the king for her sister, Mary is furious and frustrated by her position. Imagine, you think you've hooked the biggest fish in the sea, the king no less, then your sexy sister steals him from you. An outrage. But worse, it's the 16th century. You can't just move away, you have no job, no skills besides embroidery and flattery, so you have to stick around and see it all, his sickly slavish devotion to your sister, while you have no choice but to wait on her hand and foot. A torture worse than being sent to the Tower! Okay, judging by the torture scene that opens the episode, maybe not, but I'd be a manipulative conniving bitch too. 

Foy and Wakefield in their scenes with Rylance, really stir up Cromwell's passions. They get him talking and set his mind spinning, his whole face lights up in their onscreen moments together. In one scene we're shocked to see Cromwell reach out and run his finger over the exposed milky white skin Anne shows above the low-cut dress of the period, her chest heaving at his touch, only to pull back and see it's just a fantasy. So intriguing and well-timed though, so that when Anne does touch his hand, we can almost feel the spark as he feels it, as he escorts her, hand in hand, to where the king awaits. 

And in a scene that Mantel never gives us in her books, Cromwell and Mary Boleyn, come together in the beginning of a kiss, but alas are interrupted. It's not the Tudors, but a little bit of sex never hurt. Like the real men of Mad Men could tell you, sex sells. This week they added a bit of it to Wolf Hall, not a lot but enough to make sure I'll be coming back for week four. 

Speaking of week four, we also get a hint that the next episode will bring us more of Jane Seymour, the little one that Anne Boleyn calls the milk-sop and teases Cromwell for bringing a gift wrapped in blue silk. And he actually blushes! Kate Phillips plays the mild-mannered Jane Seymour, who weaves the silk into her sleeves. No spoiler to say we'll soon see more of her. Yes, I went there. Sue me.


*I'm watching Game of Thrones at 9pm, Mad Men at 10pm, screening Wolf Hall via Roku Monday or Tuesday. How about you? What does your Sunday night look like?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Cast & Characters: Meet the Boys of Bravo

Our Titular Boy: NewcomerJoe Alwynn is Billy Lynn

Meet the boys of Bravo, the so called heroes in Ben Fountain's cruelly funny and poignant novel and the upcoming Ang Lee film, of a three and a half minute firefight in Iraq caught on video and replayed on Fox adnauseum. Now the prez has sent them on a round the country Victory Tour, culminating with an endless Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboys football game, complete with halftime show featuring Destiny's Child and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. At the end of the day Bravo hopes that Hollywood producer Albert Ratner will bring them a whopping $100,000 per person movie deal; while Billy hopes for something even further out of reach. Except for Billy, who let's us into his head via passages like the one below, the boys of Bravo are a crude, lewd bunch; I think you're going to love them.
"It's the randomness that makes your head this way, living the Russian roulette lifestyle every minute of the day. Mortars falling out of the sky. Random. Rockets, lob bombs, IEDs, all random. Once on OP Billy was pulling night watch and felt a sick little pop just off the bridge of his nose, which was, he realized as he tumbled backward, the snap of a bullet breaking the sound barrier as it passed. Inches. Not even that. Fractions, atoms and it was all this random, whether you stopped at a piss tube this minute or the next, or skipped seconds at chow, or were curled to the left in your bunk instead of the right, or where you lined up in a column, that was a big one."  p.51

Garrett Hedlund is Sgt. David Dime

"Now he laughs for real, cackling with the wicked innocence of the bright and easily bored. Staff Sergeant David Dime is a 24 year old college dropout from North Carolina who subscribes to the Wall street Journal, the New York Times, Maxim, Wired, Harpers, Fortune and DicE Magazine, all of which he reads in addition to 3 or 4 books a week, mostly used text books on history and politics that his insanely hot sister sends from Chapel Hill."  p. 18

Vin Diesel is Shroom

"Shroom, Shroom, the Mighty Shroom of Doom who foretold his own death on the battlefield. When their deployment was done and he got his leave he was going on a ayahuasca trek to Peru, "going to see the Big Lizard" as he put it "unless the hajjis send me first. Unless. Guess what? And on that day Shroom knew. Wasn't that the meaning of their last handshake?"  pg. 41

Barney Harris (The Hollow Crown) is Kenneth Sykes                                       

Sykes will never be anything but Sucks. 
"Will Beyonce show me her tits while sitting on my face,"Sykes offers then starts singing in a screechy black girl falsetto "I need a soldjah, soldjah, need me a soldjah, soldjah boy."  p.10

Beau Knapp is Robert Earl Koch 

Koch as in Coke, Coke is Crack, and Crack kills.
"Dude, that lady back there," Crack says when they're moving again. "the blonde with the little kids? When her husband was taking our picture, she was totally grinding her ass up against my rod."
"No lie. Like instant wood man, she was like shoving her ass right in there. Five more seconds and I would have come. I shit you not." 

 Allen Daniel is Major Mac

Not truly a member of Bravo squad, Major Mac is a military Public Affairs escort:
"Major Mac rarely speaks, hardly ever eats or drinks and has never been seen to relieve himself prompting speculation among the Bravos that their PA escort might be a new kind of human being, one that consumes and voids through the pores of his skin. Thanks to mysterious back channels Sergeant Dime discovered that on the major's very first day at the war, he was blown up not just once but twice, resulting in profound but as yet to be determined hearing loss.For now he's parked in public affairs while the army figures out what to do with him."

Specialist Lodis a.k.a. "Cum load, Pant load or just plain Load” is played by Astro, the unforgettable kid who teamed up with Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones. He’s surely aged a bit since he made that movie in 2014.

Arturo Castro plays Specialist Marchellino Montoya or Mango 

Staff Sergeant Kellum Holliday known as Day is played by 
Ismael Cruz Cordova, an actor your kids might know as Mando from Sesame Street and you might recognize from Ray Donovan.

I can’t find Specialist Brian Herbert known as A-bort anywhere on the cast list. They could have dropped the character, created a new one or simply changed the name but I can’t find it anywhere.


MORE Billy Lynn's Long HalfTime Walk

Following in Billy Lynn's Footsteps: First pictures from the set
Kristen Stewart & Garrett Hedlund Reunion: Locations

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