Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fifty Shades of Shakespeare: Cymbeline

The trailer has been banging around online for quite awhile but now Lionsgate is getting serious; they've just put out the theatrical poster for Cymbeline online, with a planned VOD release date of March 13th. You can watch the trailer below. And if like me, you need to brush up your Shakespeare here's the storyline per IMDB:
A gritty story of a take-no-prisoners war between dirty cops and an outlaw biker gang. A drug kingpin is driven to desperate measures.
Dakota Johnson as Imogen and Penn Badgley as Posthumus in Cymbeline

Ed Harris is the drug kingpin, Cymbeline, while Ethan Hawke stars as Iachimo. Hawke and writer/director Michael Almereyda took on the same modern-day approach to Hamlet back in 2000. For awhile they were calling this one Anarchy instead of Cymbeline, but they're back to Shakespeare's title, not exactly one of his most widely known. Not exactly a great marketing twitter title either.


Perhaps now that Ethan Hawke is a bona fide Academy Award Best Actor nominee, the studio thinks he can draw a large enough audience even with a crummy title. There's that, plus the presence of now-famous Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) in the cast doesn't hurt. Johnson plays Imogen in what looks like a hot and heavy with Posthumus played by Penn Badgley. The cast includes Mila Jovovitch, Anton Yelchin, Bill Pullman, Delroy Lindo and Penn Badgley.


In addition to VOD, Cymbeline will be released in select cities. For you New Yorkers, Cymbeline is also part of th Film Society of Lincoln Center's Film Comment Select series on March 3.

Shakespeare, performed as Shakespeare wrote it, but set in modern day. My son's old high school drama teacher and director, Allan Hunt would approve. He staged The Merry Wives of Windsor in London's mod and groovy baby 1960's, The Taming of the Shrew in the Wild West and Julius Caesar in gangland Chicago. I owe it to him to watch. How about you?


Fox lures Rosamund Pike to join Christian Bale in The Deep Blue Good-By


It took awhile but it looks like not only is Christian Bale firmly onboard as Travis McGee in The Deep Blue Good-by, now so is Rosamund Pike. I think my husband owns every colorfully titled book in John D. MacDonald's 21-book series about the laconic McGee and I've read most of 'em myself. While I love Bale (can't wait to see him in Terrence Mallick's Knight of Cups, so much so, I'm sharing the non-book related trailer below) as I've told you before, I just don't see him as Trav,—Leonardo DiCaprio, who is still producing for the Fox project, was going to play McGee; I'd vote for him or McConaughey—the self-described beach bum, fond of mixing up a batch of drinks and inviting fetching young women up to the lounge of his boat, The Busted Flush. I have a hunch though, Bale will change my mind.

Will Rosamund Pike play gal pal Chookie McCall, who dances in and out of the book series? Hubby and I agree it's doubtful as the role is too minor. We think Rosamund is more likely to play Cathy Kerr, a bit of a broken woman, a complete 360 from her manipulative Gone Girl character. But just for fun let's take a look at both characters. First, here's how MacDonald describes Chook in The Deep Blue Good-By which reveals Travis' outdated machismo attitude, at once dismissive and affectionate. I hope Hollywood doesn't try to clean up his image too much but I wonder whether today's audiences have the sense of humor and understanding for the way it was, to appreciate a 1960's era dino like McGee.
 
"Chookie McCall was choreographing some fool thing. She had come over because I had the privacy and enough room. She had shoved the furniture out of the way, set up a couple of mirrors from the master stateroom, and set up her rackety little metronome. She wore a faded rust-red leotard, mended with black thread in a couple of places. She had her black hair tied into a scarf.
She was working hard. She would go over a sequence time and time again, changing it a little each time, and when she was satisfied, she would hurry over to the table, and make the proper notations on her clipboard.
Dancers work as hard as coal miners used to work. She stomped and huffed and contorted her splendid and perfectly-proportioned body. In spite of the air-conditioning she had filled the lounge with a faint sharp-sweet odor of large overheated girl. She was a pleasant distraction. In the lounge lights there was a high-lighted gleam of perspiration on the long, round legs and arms."


And now for  Cathy Kerr, the woman taken in by villain Junior Allen, a big ol' boy with a deceptively grinning facade. While Cathy has a heart of gold, Junior Allen had a heart of darkness. So let's take a look at Cathy, the 'elderly' dancer Chookie convinces Travis to talk to about a certain problem and some treasure Junior Allen has taken from her. Travis, in case you're not familiar with MacDonald's 'salvage consultant', gets 50% of whatever missing monies he finds for his clients. The thing is, Allen didn't just take what rightfully belongs to Cathy, he's a sadistic sexual psycho who also took her self-respect. That really makes McGee mad.
"She was a sandy blonde with one of those English schoolboy haircuts, where the big eyes look out at you from under a ragged thatch of bangs. She had overdressed for the occasion, the basic black and the pearl clip and the sparkly little envelope purse.
In explosive gasps Chook introduces us and we went inside. I could see that she was elderly by Chook's standards. Perhaps twenty-six or -seven. A brown eyed blonde, with the helpless mournful eyes of a basset hound. She was a little weathered around the eyes. In the lounge lights I saw that the basic black had given her a lot of good use. Her hands looked a little rough. Under the slightly bouffant skirt of the black dress were those unmistakable dancer's legs, curved and trim and sinewy."
Nothing like a damsel in distress to get McGee's motor running; this is his first book but it's a theme he returns to time and time again.

So, John D. MacDonald fans? What's your take on Bale as McGee and Rosamund Pike as Cathy Kerr? Pike, an integral part of Gone Girl's $350 million success story, has completed the shooting of the thriller Return to Sender with Nick Nolte, but she's attached to both The Bends with Joel Kinnaman and The Mountain Between Us based on the novel by Charles Martin. It looks like they're waiting for the right weather conditions to be in effect for The Mountain Between Us (about a plane crash in the mountains) so the McGee movie will come first.

And just because it look so spectacular and it stars Christian Bale and it's about a Hollywood screenwriter, and it's set here in my hood, here's the trailer for Knight of Cups from Tree of Life director Terrence Mallick. Long time to wait though, it doesn't come out until December 11th.


Friday, February 27, 2015

First Look at Eddie Redmayne as The Danish Girl


Who is that pretty girl in the mirror there? Eddie Redmayne bravely putting a face on the current hot topic of transgenderism. Redmayne, who just won the Best Actor Oscar for playing Stephen Hawkings in The Theory of Everything has moved on to portraying one of the first known people to undergo sex reassignment surgery in The Danish Girl, based on the novel by David Ebershoff. In the past there's been talk of various female actors playing Lili Elbe (born Einar Wegener), including Nicole Kidman. I think it's fitting the part ultimately went to a man.


Wegener, a Danish-born artist began cross-dressing when his wife Gerda—also an artist—asked him to model for her when her own model failed to show up. He discovered he enjoyed the soft femininity of women's clothing and dressing in drag soon became part of his life. As for Gerda, whose erotic lesbian watercolors are still readily available online, she found herself more attracted to her husband when dressed as Lili. Beginning in 1930, in Germany, Einar underwent a series of experimental surgeries to make his transformation from man to woman complete.


Ebershoff's book is actually a novel inspired by Einar Wegener's story, so I'm not clear whether the film follows suit or whether it attempts to tell the true story. That true story was told in a memoir called Man Into Woman. While the couple remained friends they eventually parted and had other relationships. Gerda remarried and Lili fell in love with a young painter. Even though she was 48 years old, Lili hoped to become a mother, and went in for one last surgery—the transplantation of a uterus. Her body rejected the organ, and tragically Lili died two days later.


The movie also stars Alicia Vikander as Wegener's wife Gerda Gottlieb, along with Amber Heard and Matthias Schoenaerts. Tom Hooper—who directed Redmayne in Les Miz—helms the picture, from a screenplay by Lucinda Coxon. Look for The Danish Girls in theaters November 27th!
Thanks @bespokeredmayne for the update.

Sources: The Coil House, The Wrap, The Daily Mail








Hollywood Wives & Mothers

I thought you movie fans might get a kick out of an old piece I wrote for my local paper. It's so old my soon-to-be 21 year old was just four years old. It's so old we used pagers to send messages. It's about being married to a guy who works in the movie biz; just in case you think it's all glamor, it's definitely not. And that part hasn't changed a bit.

Hollywood Wives & Mothers
Originally published in the Daily Breeze.

I'm not a single mother but sometimes I feel like one.
My husband works in the film business. If you're thinking screenings, A-list parties and hobnobbing with the stars, think again. Think 16 hour workdays, dinners without Dad, two minute sound bytes that have to pass for conversation and late-night, long-distance phone calls from a burned-out spouse on location.
Think about the grilled swordfish he had for supper on the set versus the Kraft dinner I split with my kid.
"The swordfish?" he says, when I ask how his meal was. "It was a little dry."
We had macaroni in the shape of Pokemon. Yummers.
Then there's the glamour of exotic locations like St. Petersburg. Russia, not Florida. He was gone for three months. That's a long time.
So long that I was reduced to watching "Pocahontas" over and over again with our son. An animated character? At least I could hear Capt. John Smith's voice, see him move. And those kisses... like I said, three months without your husband is a long time. You get a little - shall I say, edgy?
"Mommy" my son would plead. "Can't we read a story?"
"Hush" I'd say, stuffing a Hershey's bar in his hand, "we're getting to the good part."
These days my husband's home. Sort of. Yesterday he left for the set at 5 a.m. and didn't return home 'til past 9 that night. Just in time to help with Operation: Cough Medicine. Even with all the cajoling and coaxing, it's still a two person job. One to distract and one to dispense.
Though we didn't actually have to pin our son down, I did have to use my hands to keep his feet from kicking the dropper out of my husband's grasp.
Afterward, Dad read a few pages from Peter Pan before I took over in an effort to get the sleepy-byes show on the road. But it was one of those nights.
You know:
First our son examined his pj's for the pink spot -- "Where's the place Daddy spilled the medicine?"
Then he remembered he hadn't brushed his teeth yet.
"Good job for remembering" I told him, guiltily wishing he would just go to sleep, scummy teeth and cavities be darned.
Then he had to go potty.
"Sitting, mommy. Not standing."
Sigh.
Last were the prayers.
"Four corners 'round my head. No no no. Four corners 'round my bed. Four angels 'round my head. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Bless the bed that I lay on. Mommy, what's bless mean?"
I counted to ten and tried to explain.
By the time he was asleep and I went to find my husband, it was close to 11 and my husband was out. Out, as in splayed across the white comforter on our bed looking like a kid making angels in the snow. Do angels snore? Mine does.
I was disappointed. No time for just the two of us. Worse, no time to ask him to make a late-night milk run. Mercifully, I found an old jar of hazelnut-flavored Coffee-Mate with some caked up powder at the bottom and left it on the counter.
This morning I found a fresh quart of milk in the fridge. He must have popped out to 7-11 before he left for work. Without even being asked. I'll have to remember that the next time our little boy asks me, "Mommy, what's bless mean?"
I'd like to call and and tell my husband thanks for being so thoughtful. Except I can't phone him on the set. That's when I thank God for pagers.
Our system is simple. I page him and he'll call me back. We've got a code. Our number means call when you get a chance. Plugging in 411 means I've got a question. Adding 811 means make it snappy. A bona fide emergency is 911.
Unfortunately we don't have a code for "thank you", let alone "thank you for picking up milk before you left for work when you must be exhausted and are you sure this is what you want to do for the rest of your life? We miss you." Nope. No code for that one.
I use the next best thing and power punch in 7's until my fingers hurt. I don't even bother with our number. He'll know it's from me. He better. 777 means I love you. I picture his face when his pager goes off and all those sevens flood the tiny screen. I think he'll get the message.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Insurgent Final Trailer — and Veronica Roth on differences from the book


The final trailer for Insurgent, number two in the Veronica Roth Divergent series, has been released. My big take away is how cute Shailene Woodley looks in this short post-The Fault in our Stars haircut! I always thought the style she had in The Fault in Our Stars was too matronly. Gosh, how much more money would the movie have made if only she had the right hairstyle?! Didja know the movie, which cost a smallish $16 million has made over $300 million to date?


But seriously, getting beyond that, check out how many big future stars are packed into the clip. Woodley herself is set to play Lindsay Mills in Snowden, opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone's fictional look at the real life drama. Fingers crossed that Woodley as Lindsay plays a bigger role in Snowden's life than supportive girlfriend. We just watched the Citizen Four documentary last night; really eye opening. According to Snowden, Lindsay, who left the US to join Snowden in Russia, didn't know anything about his activities; he said he kept her in the dark in order to protect her.


Woodley's Fault in our Stars costar Ansel Elgort who plays her brother Caleb here—and in the final two installments, Allegiant 1 and Allegiant 2—is about to start filming November Criminals. Based on the novel by Sam Munson, November Criminals reunites Elgort with Carrie co-star, Chloe Grace Moretz.


Miles Teller (Peter) who starred with Shailene in the spectacular The Spectacular Now gave a remarkable performance in this years' break out hit Whiplash. JC Simmons just got the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as the abusive teacher in the film but Teller is equally astounding as the young musician driven to be the best he can be. A little movie with a huge and important message. He just wrapped production on a not so little movie, The Fantastic Four, in which he's Mr. Fantastic no less.


Sexy co-star Theo James (Four) is currently at work on The Secret Scripture the period film based on Sebastian Barry's novel—a serious, dramatic story, worlds away from Insurgent's dystopian fare. He stars in The Secret Scripture as Father Gaunt along with Eric Bana, Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave and Aidan Turner. A priest?! I know but no worry he's back to his hunky self in London Fields based on the Martin Amis novel—on my tbr pile—with Johnny Depp, Amber Heard and Jim Sturgess. Set for release this year, it's one of 2015's Ten Books I Can't Wait to See On Screen


And of course, Octavia Spencer (Johanna) who graciously played along with Neil Patrick Harris bomb of an Oscar magic trick (I sorta liked it) has a slew of projects coming out including The Great Gilly Hopkins based on the book by Katherine Paterson and Fathers and Daughters alongside Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Jane Fonda and Qvenzane Wallis.

That's a whole lot of actors comfortably easing into their places in the new theatrical landscape.

That's what struck me. But for those fans worried that the movie isn't faithful enough to the book—Tris is supposed to be afraid of guns but the trailer doesn't support that—author Veronica Roth has posted some words of comfort on her Tumblr.

So!
A few weeks ago I flew out to Los Angeles, a mythical place where there are flowers…on trees…in February. (What is this sorcery?!) And while I was there, I experienced another strange yet wonderful phenomenon: I saw Insurgent.
I shot this photo of the kind of flowering-in-February tree Roth was talking about a couple of days ago here in my Los Angeles neighborhood

Guys, Insurgent is great— and fun to watch. It is a tense, action-packed adventure of a movie. At certain points, my muscles were so clenched I felt like I had just done a series of push-ups. When I left, I immediately wanted to go back in and see it again. (I still do!)
I know that some of you are probably apprehensive because as the trailers have revealed, there are a few clear differences between the book and the movie. I shared that apprehension walking into the screening room, but I walked out of the movie relieved—and excited. Insurgent, the book, has a complicated plot—a lot of moving parts, a lot of ups and downs. That sort of thing can work in a book, but if it’s translated directly to the screen, it makes for a messy, confusing movie. The changes that were made streamline the story so it makes sense for this new format; in other words, they work.
And more importantly, the characters—especially Tris, whose difficult emotional journey is really the driving force of Insurgent—are definitely the ones I know and love. Watching it, I felt so lucky that we had such a strong cast, who brought so much to every moment, and a great director, who added so much richness to the world while still keeping it familiar.
I can’t wait for you guys to see it, too!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wolf Hall Wednesday: The Art of Historical Fiction


Wolf Hall Wednesday: Week #5

I really love it when writers talk about art, referring to specific paintings, their colors, their lines, what they mean to the characters. In books like Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and Tracy Chevalier's The Girl with the Pearl Earring, the paintings can almost be seen as characters themselves. Such is the case with the paintings Hilary Mantel describes in Wolf Hall, putting the work of Hans Holbein the Younger into context. Holbein spent several years in and around Henry VIII's court, painting numerous important people of the court including the king himself, Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and the star of this particular show, Thomas Cromwell.

Damian Lewis (Homeland) as King Henry VIII in Wolf Hall

In Week #2 we took a look at Holbein's portrait of Sir Thomas More and family. Last week I shared a sketch of Anne Boleyn attributed to Holbein—in which she looks nothing like Claire Foy, the actress who stars as Anne in the BBC adaptation of Mantel's book. I know that Holbein makes an appearance in the television series—played by Thomas Arnold who also appears in the War & Peace adaptation I wrote about yesterday—and I'm curious to see what they do with him. 

During this week's reading of Wolf Hall, Holbein brings his painting of Thomas Cromwell to Cromwell's home at Austin Friars. I'd love to see the painting, and Cromwell's reaction to it in the program. Played by Mark Rylance, Cromwell is quite a bit thinner than the Holbein depiction, but since the characters in Mantel's novel remark on the painting making him look heavier than he was, that works. In 2000, David Hockney and film physicist Charles Falco put forward a theory that as early as 1430 artists were "using either concave mirrors or refractive lenses to project the images of objects illuminated by sunlight onto his board/canvas. The artist then traced some portions of the projected images." Would that account for some of the rotund figures Holbein gives us?



Mantel, who paints Cromwell in a more nuanced light than history or previous writers, describes Cromwell as being at first too shy to look at Holbein's portrait. The author even has the painter reject Cromwell's plain looking and well worn bible in favor of a fancier tome; that's how decent, and down-to-earth a guy Cromwell is.
"He looks at the pictures lower edge, and allows his gaze to creep upward. A quill, scissors, papers, his seal in a little bag, and a heavy volume, bound in blackish green: the leather tooled in gold, the pages gilt-edged. Hans had asked to see his Bible, rejected it as too plain, too thumbed. He had scoured the house and found the finest volume he owned on the desk of Thomas Avery. It is the monk Pacioli's work, the book on how to keep your books, sent to him by his kind friends in Venice.
He sees his painted hand, resting on the desk before him, holding a paper in a loose fist. It is uncanny, as if he had been pulled apart, to  look at himself in sections, digit by digit. Has has made his skin smooth as the skin of a courtesan, but the motion he has captured, that folding of the fingers, is as sure as that of a slaughter-man's when he picks up the killing knife. He is wearing the cardinal's turquoise. ...
 ...He raises his eyes, to his own face. It does not much improve on the Easter egg which Jo painted. Hans had penned him in a little space, pushing a table to fasten him in."

When his household comes in to view the painting— he has a large family including nieces and nephews who live with him—none are overwhelmed. His niece Alice says Holbein has made him look 'rather stout, More than he needed to', the Spanish ambassador says one never thinks of Cromwell alone; he is always with people and always watching them. He goes on to say —
"Still. Looking at that, one would be loathe to cross you. To that extent, I think Hans has achieved his aim."
Acclaimed British actor and stage director Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall

 Which makes you wonder whether Cromwell really looked as menacing as all that, or whether it was for show. Until Cromwell finally shows the portrait to his son, Gregory, the sensitive one.

"He turns to the painting. "I fear Mark was right."
"Who is Mark?"
"A silly little boy who runs after George Boleyn. I once heard him say I looked like a murderer."
Gregory says, "Did you not know?" 
Ah! So at least Mantel agrees that Cromwell looks like the villain others make him out to be. From what I know of Cromwell's life, I fear his deeds will indeed match his looks soon enough.

Every Wednesday I post my thoughts on my weekly reading of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies before the six-part adaptation comes to America on April 12th on Masterpiece Theatre.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

James Norton and Lily James starring in War & Peace

James Norton, Happy Valley
Ugh! I feel like I need a shower; there are so many post-Oscar diatribes out there, from the lack of diversity to the lack of viewers (the lowest ratings in 6 years), from the lousy musical numbers to the  lousy speeches, apparently everything was NOT awesome. If you've got a gripe, you can find a wealth of people ranting online. I don't feel like bitching about Sean Penn, or defending Patricia Arquette's well-intended but ineloquently put words; the whole thing makes me want to curl up with a good book.


Which brings me to War and Peace. According to Deadline, principal photography is already underway on a six part adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy classic. James Norton stars as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky opposite Lily James as Natasha with Paul Dano as Paul Bezukhov in the love triangle.  You know Lily James from Downton and she's the upcoming Cinderella. But do you know James Norton?  Because in real life Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Being Flynn, Ruby Sparks, 12 Years a Slave) wouldn't stand a chance. Norton is the seriously handsome thirty year old British actor who is about to sweep the female film-watching world off its feet. He was a standout as a psycho killer in Happy Valley —available on Netflix—and played Henry Alveston in Death Comes to Pemberley. I guess I'll have to catch up on that next. Oh, and then there's Lady Chatterley's Lover, a television movie based on D.H. Lawrence's steamy novel. YAY! I have a legitimate excuse to follow James Norton's career without feeling like a dirty old lady. I must admit, he really brings out the Wife of Bath in me.




The War & Peace cast includes Jim Broadbent as Prince Nicolai Bolkonsky, Gillian Anderson,  Stephen Rea, Greta Scacchi, Jack Lowden, Tom Burke, Brian Cox, Ken Stott and Aisling Loftus. The adaptation of Tolstoy's classic was written by House Of Cards, Mr. Selfridge and Bridget Jones' screenwriter Andrew Davies who calls it “a thrilling, funny and heartbreaking story of love, war and family life".

The series is being directed by Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders, Woman in Black II); apparently they'll be shooting on location in Russia, Latvia and Lithuania.

We won't be seeing it until next year which should give us all plenty of time to catch up on Tolstoy's 1200 page masterpiece. Right? Right!

Or, lazybones, you could just watch one of the previous adaptations. Here's the funky 1950's trailer for the 1956 classic starring Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer.




Monday, February 23, 2015

OSCARS 2015: From "Moving Pictures" to moving pictures, the winners and the gifs


Maybe I expected too much of Neil Patrick Harris. I thought the whole show would be as magical as his "Moving Pictures" opening song and dance number. Joined by Anna Kendrick in search of her missing shoe — a nod to her Cinderella character from Into the Woods — and Jack Black,  NPH began the evening with a big, brash talented statement of celebration but somewhere along the way he lost his way.


Don't get me wrong, overall I enjoyed the show. It's just that he wasn't the cool, caustic but still charming and likable NPH, I expected to see. My brother who was in the house—I saw my bro and his wife Eva walking on the Red Carpet on television which is always a kick—enjoyed him, while his wife was less enthusiastic. Maybe it's a guy thing? While the bit that had him marching to the stage from his dressing room in his tightie whities ala Michael Keaton in Birdman was bold and funny, his forays into the audience to chat were flat and awkward, as if he had actually counted on his abilities to wing it, only to realize, like most of us do when unprepared, that he couldn't quite fly.


Still, an evening where Common and Legends' performance of Glory brought much of the audience, including Oprah, and Chris Pines—and me—to tears couldn't be bad.


An evening that reunited John Travolta and Idina Menzel in a touchy-feely face to face wasn't without a few more great moments, including Lady Gaga's beautiful medley from The Sound of Music.  I knew she could sing, I just didn't know she could SING! Still, I wasn't really sure why Gaga was there, and why she was singing, er, what she was singing until Julie Andrews came onstage too. Apparently it's the Sound of Music's 50 year anniversary so go buy a 50th Anniversary DVD or Blu-Ray with all the special features. Or something.


An evening where Julianne Moore won Best Actress for her honest portrayal of a woman with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease in Still Alice, my favorite female performance of the year, is an evening to remember. I'm gratified the film has brought so much attention to the disease that doesn't just rob people of their parents — my mother died from complications from Alzheimer's in her late eighties, but the disease took her long, long before then — it steals the victims of their very selfhood, is getting some real attention. Hopefully a mega increase in funding will be the result.


An evening where Patricia Arquette won the Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood as expected but used her time to deliver an impassioned speech for equal pay, with Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez cheering in a unity of sisterhood, is an evening that has something going for it.


An evening where Eddie Redmayne freaks out a tad too awkwardly enthusiastic just has to make you laugh.


And an evening where Alexandre Desplat —gif-less but not gift-less —finally, finally wins an Oscar is an evening to celebrate. The man has been nominated time and again (eight times) — well, golly, he was up for two film scores this year alone, both The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel — and finally took home gold for The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

While TGBH also snagged quite a few of the craft awards: production design, make-up, and costume design, Birdman won the big prize(s); Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro Iñárritu), Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki, who won last year for Gravity.  Michael Keaton, nominated for Birdman did not win, that prize went  to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything: both men, all the nominees truly, delivered remarkable performances.

Disappointments?
That Boyhood didn't win Best Picture. I didn't realize until it didn't win, just how much I was rooting for it. Besides its first of its kind achievement—making a film over a 12 year period? That's a novel idea!—it's a heart-achingly beautiful film about life that touched me to the core.

That the in-memoriam followed up by Jennifer Hudson's big belted tune lacked the emotion that usually accompanies our look back at the talents lost this past year. It may have been the artwork, sketches that did little to enhance our understanding of their contributions.

That George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were nowhere in sight. I missed their A-List charms.

And that Neil Patrick Harris did a mostly good, but not mind-blowing job, although his Oscar predictions locked in a clear box onstage sort of was. Still not sure how that was done.

Here's the full winners list, in order of appearance.

Best supporting actor
WINNER: JK Simmons for Whiplash
Robert Duvall for The Judge
Ethan Hawke for Boyhood
Edward Norton for Birdman
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

Achievement in costume design
WINNER: The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges
Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood
Maleficent – Anna B Sheppard
Mr Turner – Jacqueline Durran

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
WINNER: The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier
Foxcatcher – Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard
Guardians of the Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White

Best foreign-language film
WINNER: Ida – Paweł Pawlikowski
Tangerines – Zaza Urushadze
Leviathan – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Wild Tales – Damián Szifrón
Timbuktu – Abderrahmane Sissako

Best live-action short film
WINNER: The Phone Call – Mat Kirkby, James Lucas
Aya – Oded Binnun, Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham – Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp – Wei Hu, Julien Féret
Parvaneh – Talkhon Hamzavi, Stefan Eichenberger

Best documentary short subject
WINNER: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 – Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry
Joanna – Aneta Kopacz
Our Curse – Tomasz Sliwinski, Maciej Slesicki
The Reaper – Gabriel Serra
White Earth – Christian Jensen

Achievement in sound mixing
WINNER: Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley
American Sniper – John T Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin
Birdman – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga
Interstellar – Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten
Unbroken – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee

Achievement in sound editing
WINNER: American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Birdman – Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Brent Burge, Jason Canovas
Interstellar – Richard King
Unbroken – Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro

Best supporting actress
WINNER: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Laura Dern for Wild
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
Emma Stone for Birdman
Meryl Streep for Into the Woods

Achievement in visual effects
WINNER: Interstellar – Paul J Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R Fisher
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould
X-Men: Days of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer

Best animated short film
WINNER: Feast – Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed
The Bigger Picture – Daisy Jacobs, Chris Hees
The Dam Keeper – Robert Kondo, Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi
Me and My Moulton – Torill Kove
A Single Life – Joris Oprins

Best animated feature film
WINNER: Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Best production design
WINNER: The Grand Budapest Hotel: Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game: Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar: Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Into the Woods: Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
Mr Turner: Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Achievement in cinematography
WINNER: Birdman: Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Robert D Yeoman
Ida: Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr Turner: Dick Pope
Unbroken: Roger Deakins

Achievement in film editing
WINNER: Whiplash – Tom Cross
Boyhood – Sandra Adair
The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling
American Sniper – Joel Cox, Gary Roach

Best documentary feature
WINNER: Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky
Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam – Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth – Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, David Rosier
Virunga – Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara

Best original song
WINNER: Glory from Selma – Lonnie Lynn (Common), John Stephens (John Legend)
The Lego Movie – Shawn Patterson (Everything Is Awesome)
Beyond the Lights – Diane Warren (Grateful)
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me – Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond (I’m Not Gonna Miss You)
Begin Again – Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois (Lost Stars)

Best original score
WINNER: Alexandre Desplat – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game
Hans Zimmer – Interstellar
Jóhann Jóhannsson– The Theory of Everything
Gary Yershon – Mr Turner

Original screenplay
WINNER: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
E Max Frye, Dan Futterman – Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler

Adapted screenplay
WINNER: Graham Moore – The Imitation Game
Jason Hall – American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson – Inherent Vice
Anthony McCarten – The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

Best director
WINNER: Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman
Richard Linklater for Boyhood
Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

Best actor
WINNER: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything
Steve Carell for Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game
Bradley Cooper for American Sniper
Michael Keaton for Birdman

Best actress
WINNER: Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon for Wild

Best picture
WINNER: Birdman
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Neil Patrick Harris on Hosting the Oscars 2015


Welcome to one of my favorite Slacker Sundays of the year; Slacker for people like me who gets to lounge in bed, on cup number two, while the people working on tonight's Oscar show are already at Hollywood and Highland, rolling out the red carpet, taping off the most VIP of the VIP seats, and polishing the gold statuettes. Tonight's show should be fun if only because Neil Patrick Harris is hosting. Harris has successfully hosted the Tony Awards four times and the Emmy Awards twice. Like Hugh Jackman, Harris knows how to deliver a song and dance so I'm expecting to be dazzled by at least one musical number. He's also a magician; in the first of two Slacker Sunday videos, you can see some of that magic in this commercial for the Oscars.


In Slacker Sunday Video #2, Neil Patrick Harris talks about the creative process he's bringing to his hosting gig. Enjoy! 




Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oscar's coming to my house Sunday night: Where will you be watching the Academy Awards?

Can you find George Clooney standing to the right of Stacy Kiebler in their last trip to the Oscars together?

What are you doing Sunday night? Please don't say live-tweeting the Oscars! I know it's what we do in 2015, live tweet everything, share our every thought with the world but I won't be doing that. I'm not putting it down—I tried last year and it was an epic fail—I just don't have the capacity to watch and tweet. Even though I reserve the right to insist that as a woman, YES! I can do two things at once, I can multi-task—and bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, I am woman, W-O-M-A-N but maybe it's time to leave the live-tweeting to you crazy kids under 30. Not to be a whiner but arthritic hands don't tend to fly across the tiny telephone screen with any kind of accuracy. I'm always missing the best things—the JLaw stairway fall, Alec Baldwin bungling Idina Menzel's name—as I'm stuck staring at my phone, furiously trying to correct auto-correct.

I also won't be going to an Oscar party. Like most of you, I've done that too, donned silk pajamas and a satin kimono for an Oscar ladies night. Sipping champagne and munching on hors d'oeuvres. The food was fantastic, the friends too, but I prefer to do my champagne sipping in my own home where I can focus on what's happening on the little box, not the chitter chatter. I think we can agree it's not polite to tell the party hostess to shhhh when it's her house so I'm done spending Oscar night discreetly sitting on the edge of someone else's chair, eyes and ears on overdrive, trying to see and hear what's going on beyond the party patter. 

I won't be going to the Oscars as a seat filler either. I did that in the early 90's courtesy of my big bro who works at the Academy. I'd love to tell you all about it but the first rule of being a seat filler is you can't talk about being a seat filler. I'm serious; I signed some sort of silly—but binding—non-disclosure agreement. Suffice it to say being a seat-filler at the Oscars—where you sit in someone else's seat while they slip out to the john or the bar—isn't like actually going to the Oscars. It's more like being an extra—a background artist, if you will—providing your own wardrobe, no less, (which background artists often do, unless it's a period piece) and with one big difference. You're not even getting paid. Nope. Won't be doing that again.



And I won't be going to the Oscars this year either. I did that back in 2012, again, thanks to my brother who took me as his date instead of his wife. It was the year The Help was nominated for Best Picture, Viola Davis was up for Best Actress and both Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer were nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Octavia Spencer, one of the few actresses I saw leave the reporters on the red carpet to walk over and greet her fans in the stand, took home the trophy. I think it was also the last year George Clooney took Stacy Kiebler to the Oscars. Did you spot them in the picture at the top of this post? They're right in the middle.



My brother pulling the car up to the parking area;  the valets are watching the stars

Being me, I freaked out needlessly over what to wear. Oh why did I have to be me, at my age, going to the Oscars? Why couldn't I have gone when I was in my twenties, or even my thirties, when I wouldn't have minded people staring at me on the red carpet quite so much? What was I thinking? No one stared at me; it wouldn't have mattered whether I wore my dream dress of sleeveless, body-skimming, low-cut white silk; a pair of stained sweats; or the black velvet tuxedo with the matching camisole that I actually wore: when we got out of the car and walked in, right behind Jennifer Lopez, no one was looking at me. Or my fat ass. Which is about 25 pounds skinnier than it was back then, by the way. That's life, isn't it? Now that I'm back to my fighting weight, ready to go dress shopping, I'm lacking the necessary invitation; like most years, my brother is taking his wife as his date. 



Moi, Circa 2012

Which brings me back to my house where I'll be perfectly happy inviting Oscar into my living room to snuggle up on my big comfy chair, my champagne and a plateful of Nancy's mini quiche. And family who know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. I know some of you can't be bothered with all the stupid fuss they make here in Hollywood over the Academy Awards. I get what you're saying but Hollywood isn't just my home, it's a huge part of my life: my husband works in Hollywood as an Assistant Director, my son is on his way to being a writer/director, my dearest friend's husband has a big job at a major studio, her son wants to be a stunt man, another of my closest friend's husbands is a very big deal writer/director with a movie out right now; and one of film's actors coincidentally happens to be a woman I know from a writing workshop. 

That's how it is when you live in L.A.; you don't have to be someone to know someone. Believe me, I'm nobody, but here everyone knows someone who works in the business or business-related industry. From stunts to special effects to VFX. Prop rentals, camera rentals, trade magazines. Florists, greens men, on set photographers. Production assistants, teamsters, limo drivers. Casting directors, acting teachers, dialect coaches. Agents, managers, behind the scenes film crews. Set medics, snake wranglers, boom operators. Actors, directors, producers galore. 

While my own Hollywood career was fairly brief—I worked as a production assistant in producer Joel Silver's office back in the 80's, then moved over to Tales from the Crypt where I worked one season as an assistant production coordinator before moving up to production coordinator for The Favor with Elizabeth McGovern, Bill Pullman and Brad Pitt, fresh from shooting Thelma & Louise. Right after that I met my now-hubby and got pregnant working on Free Willy in Mexico City. The little onesie I hand-painted for my baby boy; a whale and the words "Made on Location" is packed away in a box of memorabilia but I can always trot out that little anecdote to embarrass him. 

So yeah, even though the Academy, with its predominately old white man membership, often gets it wrong, I'll be watching. It's the family business. It's true that minorities and women are sorely and seriously under-represented; a situation that needs to be remedied but it's a situation doesn't start and end with the Academy. We need to find ways to create more opportunities for women and minorities to tell their stories, make their movies in the first place and then not only get them distributed, but support them properly. What helps is people like you and me spending money to see movies made by women and minorities. That's the kind of award, the box office success, that really determines who gets to make the movies; with any luck they're films we all want to see.

Here's the link to this year's nominees including a printable ballot.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Best Adapted Screenplay: Who's going to take Oscar home?


He's back; that tall golden drink of water, Oscar. And he's what I'll be doing Sunday. I mean, watching. Which I like to do quietly by the way, with just the family, who know when to chatter and when to shut the hell up. I thought I'd take a look at the Best Adapted Screenplay category, since that's what this blog is all about, you know, movies based on books. Also I've forgotten who the nominees are, I thought maybe you had too. I don't suppose you'll be surprised to be reminded it's an all-male bunch of nominees? So no matter what, Oscar is going home with one of the boys. I know a lot of you don't care about the buzzy-buzz that surrounds the Oscars but for the nominees and the winners it means a big old pay raise. They care. Yes indeed.

The nominees are ...
Graham Moore for The Imitation Game by Graham Moore, Paul Thomas Anderson for Inherent Vice, Anthony McCarten for The Theory of Everything, Jason Hall for American Sniper and Damien Chazelle for Whiplash.


First of all, Whiplash shouldn't even be in this conversation. Not because it's not a brilliant piece of writing, it is. The movie really is all those superlatives blurbed on the poster above. If you haven't seen the story of a young musician being pushed to his limits and beyond by an abusive maestro, you've got to see it. It's for everyone who has a creative bone in their body, illuminating the struggle to achieve, the role mentors and teachers play, the push, the drive to spur genius; it's fantastic. But it's an Adapted screenplay in name only. Writer/director Damien Chazelle created a short based on his own script in order to secure funding for his full-length feature film, and that's why the Academy, in all their wisdom decided it belonged in the Adapted Screenplay category.  My bro works for the Academy so that's all I'll say about that.  Sigh.


I loved Inherent Vice and think Paul Thomas Anderson deserves something for making such a novel-faithful film out of the Thomas Pynchon book. When asked how he did it—especially as it was his first time out doing an adaptation—Anderson said he put the galleys (he got his hands on Inherent Vice pre-publication) on a cookbook stand and typed out all the dialogue, to see where he could go from there, cinematically. Unfortunately few saw the film, and those that did, didn't much care for it. Except for me!


American Sniper is the only nominee I haven't seen. We have a screener sitting right over there on the  shelf below the TV but I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it. I'll do that before Sunday when I think owing to its mega-popularity AND the fact that it's directed by everyone's favorite cranky old man Clint Eastwood—and make no mistake, the Academy is FULL of cranky old men (sorry, Big Bro!) it has a serious chance of winning. Ugh, even though my son assures me it doesn't glorify Chris Kyle or the war, even if right wing nut jobs stand up and cheer for it. He tells me they've totally missed the point.


The Theory of Everything scripted by Andrew McCarten largely based on Jane Wilde Hawking's Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen Hawking was one of my favorite movies of the year. Hawking's genius, his determination and his wife's devotion and emotional bravery thrilled me. McCarten won the BAFTA where the movie was up against Sniper, The Imitation Game, Gone Girl (which should have been in this award conversation but Fincher doesn't get the love he deserves, he's too popular, and Gillian Flynn is a woman so er, forget that one) and Paddington. Paddington! Also Eddie Redmayne, the movies' star, has been taking the Best Actor nods meaning there's a lot of affection for the film which could translate into votes for the screenplay.


That leaves The Imitation Game, Graham Moore's adaptation of Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. It was a very good movie but rather safe and so far, while it's been widely nominated the movie hasn't been winning. Not even the BAFTA for Best British film — which The Theory of Everything won. Benedict Cumberbatch is almost always amazing, hitting the character nail on the head; he's also beloved and since he seems to have little chance of taking home the Best Actor award, it's possible the Academy will honor him and his film in this category instead. A consolation prize.

Honestly, I read something the other day where some old Academy geezer-type member said most of his colleagues don't have time to watch the movies and they ask their housemaids what to vote for. So there's that. Sadly, I wouldn't doubt the veracity of that for a moment. 

And the winner is ... 
Who the hell knows!? That's one thing about this awards season, in some areas the winners are pretty predictable —it's a sure thing that Julianne Moore will win for Still Alice and J.K. Simmons will win for Whiplash and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood — while other categories like Best Actor and Best Picture really are up in the air.

So we'll see Sunday, when I won't be live tweeting, I'll be watching and unless it goes on forever, enjoying. With Neil Patrick Harris hosting, that's at least something I can count on. Along with the fact that whoever wins Best Adapted Screenplay, it will be a man. Another no brainer.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Girl on the Train: My take on the book by Paula Hawkins


I learned about the new best seller everybody's calling the new Gone Girl a few weeks back. After reading the freebie sample of Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train on my Nook, I really wanted to get my hands on an actual hard copy of the page turner, so I could, you know, turn the pages.  But the book was just published January 13th so it's still in hardback and at $23 has been flying off the shelves, selling like hotcakes, number one with a bullet on the New York Times Bestseller List, so I decided to download it to my Nook for just under ten bucks instead. I tore through it; it's hard not to, it's so nail-bitingly good. I wish I had the actual book though, speeding train on the cover and all, hanging around and cluttering up my bedside table to remind me, write it up, write it up, write it up.

Here I am, finally getting around to it. The thing is, it's hard to write this one up; I don't want to ruin a second of the pleasure of your reading it, your nail chewing at the discoveries story moves forward and reveals itself. I always have this trouble with mysteries; not quite knowing what to say and what to keep back.

Let's see, I can safely say it's about a 'girl' (why are we still calling women 'girls'?) who takes the train to and from London everyday, and who sees something from the train window. I can say the book was optioned by DreamWorks almost a year ago, long before its 2015 publication date, for producer Marc Platt to make into a film. I can say that he's already hired a screenwriter to work on the screenplay adaptation: Erin Cressida Wilson. I was hoping with a middle name like "Cressida" she'd be British because I think a writer with a British sensibility is less likely to say they can switch it to the Long Island Rail Road and have Rachel, the main character, taking the train to Manhattan from Long Island and back every day. Er, no thanks! Sadly, she's an American but both her parents were English teachers so hopefully she's got that built-in love and respect for the written word. Even when the written word isn't exactly Shakespeare, because while it's not literature with a capital L, it's very, very good, and as scary and unstoppable as a speeding train. 

You may have heard The Girl on the Train is a story with a marital problem or two, along with an 'unreliable' narrator. In truth, we have three narrators, Rachel, Megan and Anna. Reliable? Unreliable? That all depends on your point of view. And point of view is definitely much of the fun of this book.

First, Rachel. She is the girl in The Girl on the Train, an alcoholic divorcee who takes the train into the city everyday, mesmerized by the small strip of homes that back the train tracks as she passes. As an old realtor like me can tell you, property that backs the train tracks looks a whole lot more desirable from the train, than it does from the backyard of those homes, the train whistle sounding day in, day out. Still, Rachel romanticizes the view from the train, and can't take her eyes off one attractive looking couple who spend a fair amount of time on their deck.
"They are a perfect,golden couple. He is dark-haired and well built, strong, protective, kind. He has a great laugh. She is one of those tiny bird-women, a beauty, pale-skinned with blond hair cropped short. She has the bone structure to carry that kind of thing off, sharp cheekbones dappled with a sprinkling of freckles, a fine jaw." 
p. 11
Rachel, lonely and self-loathing, even fantasizes about the male member of the golden couple —
"I can imagine the feel of his hands, the weight of them, reassuring and protective. Sometimes I catch myself trying to remember the last time I had meaningful physical contact with another person, just a hug or a heartfelt squeeze of my hand, and my heart twitches."
Reliable/Unreliable? She's an alcoholic, hiding her drinking, constantly going off and on the wagon. She was as frustrating to me as a couple of alcoholics I've known in my own life, making futile promises they're not ready to keep. How can you take anything they seriously? Does she invent, misremember? It really is difficult to take her point of view at face value. Unreliable at best, I still found myself rooting for her, wanting to shake her, stop her from doing what I could see she was about to do.

Megan, the perfect blonde woman Rachel sees from the train is not exactly the woman Rachel imagines her to be.  Not beneath the surface. The Megan we meet, one year earlier, is much less satisfied with the life she's living than Rachel imagines. In fact they're not all that different. Megan indulges in fantasy and wishful thinking too, pretending she's living in a pretty house in the Cinque Terre—which must also rattle as the train whistles past—and not here in this suburban strip of homes. She's married yes, but she's adrift, unemployed, unsatisfied—she is, in fact, seeing a shrink.
"My days feel empty now I don't have the gallery to go to any longer. I really miss it. I miss talking to the artists. I even miss dealing with all those tedious yummy mummies who used to drop by, Starbucks in hand, to gawk at the pictures, telling their friends that little Jessie did better pictures than that in nursery school."
p. 23

Lastly there is Anna who we hear a lot about from both Rachel and Megan, but don't hear anything from until we're a third of the way through the novel. Anna used to be a real estate agent (me too!) but now she's a seemingly happily married stay-at-home mother to an adorable baby girl. She lives in the same strip of homes back the tracks.
"On days like today, with the sun shining, when you walk down our little street—tree-lined and tidy, not quite a cu-de-sac, but with the same sense of community—it could be perfect. Its pavements are busy with mothers just like me, with dogs on leads and toddlers on scooters. It could be ideal. It could be, if you weren't able to hear the screeching brakes of the trains."
p. 100

Three women, all about the same age—late twenties, early thirties—living (trapped?) in suburbia. Three intersecting stories and it all begins with Rachel.  When Rachel sees what she sees from the train window, we follow her muddied thinking, her cloudy vision to find out the truth. I couldn't stop reading, it was like a magnet just kept me attached to the page, pulling me along and along. I'm not going to tell you any more. It really is too good of a read.

I'm already thinking about the casting.
Rachel, the drinker, once a dark haired beauty is called 'fat', bloated from drink and her depressive personality. I doubt she's fat in any truly obese way, but she sees herself that way. She's probably 10 or possibly 20 pounds overweight, out of control and unhappy. Someone like Martine McCutcheon who played Natalie in Love Actually, except not as ebullient and comfortable in her own skin!


Megan and Anna are both pretty, petite blondes. Carey Mulligan, Joanne Froggat, Emilia Clarke come to mind.


Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) seen here as Lexie in The Secret BBC television series

Carey Mulligan in Drive

As for the men
Rachel tells us that Megan's husband is
"handsome in a British film star kind of way, not a Depp or a Pitt, but a Firth, or a Jason Isaacs."

Thanks for doing the work for us Rachel! Is Colin Firth too old?  NEVER! But if you disagree, then who would you put in his place?


And Megan tells us Anna's husband 'flashes his Tom Cruise smile.' So why not Tom Cruise? Did you see him opposite Emily Blunt in The Edge of Tomorrow? He was fantastic, as was the film! Too old? Again I say, who would you pick? Chris Hemsworth? Chris Pines?

Then there's Megan's yummy shrink —
"His name is Dr. Kamal Abdic. I guess he must be midthirties, although he looks very young with his incredible dark honey skin."
No question about this one. That sounds like Sendhil Ramamurthy from the television series Beauty and the Beast to me!


Have you read the book yet? Who would you cast as The Girl on the Train?
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