Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy 66th Birthday Richard Gere: Our Days of Heaven ... A story told in Richard Gere movies

Another hunky hottie who got his start in the 1970’s gets a little older today. Richard Gere turns 66, today August 31. But you know what? Hes still hot. 

Happy Birthday to An Officer and a Gentleman most of us women would still be happy to spend our Nights in Rodanthe with. Just to hear him call me Pretty Woman would leave me quite Breathless, I assure you. I wouldnt go Looking for Mr. Goodbar if he was around, Id never be Unfaithful and I sure as hell wouldnt be a Runaway Bride. Are you kidding me? 

No, Id travel Miles from Home to spend Autumn in New York with him. Hell, Id even go in summer, when its hot as Hades! Imagine sprawling on a blanket in Central Park with Richard Gere and listening to a Rhapsody in August! Gershwin, Rachmaninoff. It wouldn't matter who. It would be paradise, unreal, unearthly, something like Time Out of Mind.

Later we could go to The Cotton Club and if he asked Shall We Dance I’d say yes, yes, yes ... even though I’ve got a Primal Fear of humiliating myself on the dance floor. 

Of course that disappears after a drink or two—not enough to go Beyond the Limit and get pulled over at an Intersection for a DUI by Brooklyn’s Finest, just enough to relax, maybe even get into a little fantasy play. He could call me Amelia and I’d call him Mr. Jones, my American Gigolo. 

We could even pull some elaborate prank just for the thrill of it, maybe a Hoax on the guys working down in Arbitrage, with him pretending to be my Benefactor, some guy named Henry and Me, I’d pretend to be the owner of a rare manuscript called The Mothman Prophecies including the mythic Hachi: A Dog’s Tale in which a wise dog foretells the best investment opportunities. 

Like The Flock of fools they are, they’d fall for it, at least for awhile anyway. When they wised up and realized Hachi wasn’t actually any ordinary dog, he was The Jackal, they’d send out The Hunting Party on The Double looking for us but guess what? I’m Not There! I wouldn’t want to stay in town during The Bee Season anywayway too many smarty pant kids in town, spelling impossible words like Bloodbrothers. I mean is that really just one word or is it two?

And Richard? He’s already back in Hollywood meeting with Dr. T and the Women who run his fan clubcanceling his appointment for Botox and assuring all the women who adore him that he’ll never change, never dye his silver locks, even if they want him to make a sequel to Sommersby. Which let’s face it, they don’t. 

We have an arrangement to meet this coming winter at a certain Red Corner and then we’ll fly off to Chicago. The cold won’t bother me none either, cuz he has the Power to heat up the night. I’d even stay in a seedy Second Best Marigold Hotel with him, if he only asked cuz baby when it comes to, shall we say Internal Affairs, he shows No Mercy. And the time we spent together, from The First Knight on, would surely be Days of Heaven

In the Final Analysis, they havent all been the greatest movies in the world, there’ve been some clunkers mixed in with the classics—I’m hoping your upcoming Oppenheimer Strategies is one of the latter—but you dear Richard, have certainly been one of our most watchable stars. Thanks for all the magic moments.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Happy 100th Birthday Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman 
Born August 29, 1915
Died August 29, 1982

I could eat Johnny Depp up in ‘Chocolat': It’s our Saturday Matinee #book2movies

What was eating Johnny Depp?

Is Johnny Depp back? Ive been pondering the question a lot lately as spots for the upcoming Whitey Bulger biopic inundate my TV. I guess the second part of the question has to be, back from what?

Back from the scarf store

Back from wherever he stashed his scarves and a slew of confounding career choices. You can find dozens, probably many dozens, of articles on line on the subject: Where Johnny Went Wrong, What Happened to Johnny Depp, Johnny Depps Downward Spiral. They all say the same thing: he used to be so cool, he of the Edward Scissorhands—sharp cheekbones and cheeky, hip attire; when did he turn into such a laughable caricature of himself? Tim Burton gets a lot of the blame, Pirates of the Caribbean gets its share. 

Wigging out

Whatever the cause, Black Mass, the bio-pic might be the cure. At fifty two, its a more mature Depp than weve ever seen, made more mature with the help of old age makeup and wigs. Can you imagine Johnnys glee as he sat in the hair and makeup chair and realized that he got to play with fake hair AND play a serious part! An actors idea of heaven.

Couldn’t you just eat him up?

Okay, enough about the new Johnny, and the bad Johnny, for today’s Saturday Matinee let’s watch the sexy, cool, boho Johnny we knew and loved in Chocolat. 

Based on the book by Joanne Harris, Johnny Depp plays Roux, a passerby of sorts (he docks his houseboat nearby) who drops in on the tiny French village where Juliet Binoche (Vianne Rocher), the mysterious new girl in town, upsets the uptight locals by opening a tantalizing Chocolaterie during Lent. The chocolates are supposedly full of magical elixirs with healing properties.

Winning the Taste Test

Directed by Lasse Holstrom—the guy must be a foodie, he also directed 2014s foodies fave The Hundred Foot JourneyChocolat was nominated for Best Picture, Best Screen Adaptation and Best Musical Score. Juliette Binoche was nominated for a Best Actress while Judi Dench got a nom for playing Viannes chocoholic landlady. It didnt win a thing but it did give us one of Johnny Depps tastiest roles.

The impressive cast of Chocolat also includes Alfred Molina, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugh O’Conor, Lena Olin, Peter Stormare and John Wood, all of whom, along with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp, received a cast nomination from SAG. 

What do you think of today’s #SaturdayMatinee?  Delicious? If not, what’s your favorite Johnny Depp role?

Chocolat is available to stream in the usual places: Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay and Vudu. You’ll have to check Netflix.

Here’s what I thought of Johnny Depp’s  The Rum Diary disaster.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Black Mass: An Unholy Alliance of the Talents of Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon & More

Is Johnny Depp back?

The first trailer for Black Mass had me rooting for what looks like the return of the real Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger. Now that the September 18th release of the movie is just a couple of weeks away, weve been seeing a trio of 30 second spots playing out on TV, highlighting the sick, nasty nature of the notorious gangster.

The Unholy Alliance

For those of us not up on the details of this fine specimen of human garbage—although there’s still time to read Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill—we’ve also got An Unholy Alliance, a 4 minute featurette that gives us an inside look at the key characters and what made Whitey tick. 
 It’s a business opportunity. Get the FBI to fight our wars against our enemies. While they protect us, we do whatever we want to.” 

Take a look ... 

An Unholy Alliance featurette

 Black Mass trailer
TV Spot #1
TV Spot #2
TV Spot #3

Here in L.A. it’s going to cost me somewhere between $13 and $15 to see Black Mass in theaters. Are you going to fork out the cash to see Depp & company? What’s your local ticket price? 

Pair of Posters Foretell the Coming of the Scottish Play: Marion Cotillard & Michael Fassbender in Macbeth

Putting a new spin on Shakespeare

We’ve been following the journey of this latest iteration of Macbeth since we first learned Marion Cottilard was going to play Lady Macbeth with a French accent. We were a little bewitched, bothered and bewildered to tell you the truth. Then we read some early reviews from Cannes and saw the trailer and were blown away. 

Two Posters but where’s the US release date?

We’re still waiting for a definite release date here in the US—so far all we know is sometime in December—while our mates in the British Isles will get the pic October 2, the rest of the world shortly thereafter. For now we do have these two stunning new posters. I’ll repost the trailer for your Friday viewing enjoyment and can’t wait to hear what my friends across the Atlantic have to say about the film.

Are you an Anglophile?

You might remember that Scotland tried to break away from Great Britain earlier this year but for now Scotland is, in fact, still part of the United Kingdom and indeed, the British Isles. That makes these two new posters for ‘the Scottish play’ right on point for British Isles Friday hosted by Joy Weese Moll.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

First Poster for ‘The Danish Girl’ starring Eddie Redmayne & Alicia Vikander

Eddie Redmayne is The Danish Girl

Who else can’t wait for The Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander? How do you like this first official poster for the film slated to open November 27th here in the US? We had our first look at Eddie as Lili Elba—one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery in the 1930’s—back in February. Redmayne looked quite as lovely in that first shot, as he does here, which is to say quite as lovely as costar Alicia Vikander. Vikander plays Lili’s wife, Gerda, an artist who asked her husband to pose as a woman when her model stood her up. 

A Les Miserables reunion

Directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) the cast of The Danish Girl includes Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, Sebastian Koch, Emerald Fennell and Adrian Schiller.

No trailer yet, I’ll keep you posted.

Camelot starring the Inexhaustible Vanessa Redgrave #TBT

Some actors fade away, some just keep clicking along

The Secret Scripture—one of the movies I’m most looking forward to this year—stars a handful of fine young actors: Rooney Mara, Theo James, Aidan Turner, Jack Treynor, Omar Sharif Jr. and the not quite as young, Eric Bana. It also stars the legendary Vanessa Redgrave. Redgrave is 78 years old and just keeps on rolling along; working, working, constantly working. In her fifty year career as an actor, she’s appeared in over 130 films and television shows. In fact theres been a hardly a year when she hasnt worked. That doesnt count her stage work. 


Thats what she is. Today, Im looking back at one of my favorite Vanessa Redgrave roles, throwing it back to the 1967 when she starred as Guinevere in Camelot

Who will rescue Guinevere?

Based on both the stage play and the novel The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Camelot was an altogether dazzling film, filled with magic, sets that looked straight out of a fairy tale, costumes fit for a queen. A lush and vibrant musical score. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences thought so too, the film won Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Musical Score.

The ultimate love triangle.

And what a story for the ages. A tragic queen who deeply loves her King Arthur but is in love with Lancelot. Its painful to watch Vanessa Redgrave’s Guinevere regretfully betray Arthur, played with distinguished pathos and beautiful resignation by Richard Harris. The actress never looked more beautiful.

Never could I leave you.

Perhaps that’s because she and co-star Franco Nero really were falling in love, not just as their characters Guinevere and Lancelot but in their private lives as well. Redgrave left her husband, Tony Richardson, and had a child with Nero, but they weren’t really fully together until four decades later when they finally joined hands in a marriage-like commit-ment in 2006. Just look at them! Gorgeous in Camelot in 1967 and still gorgeous in this still from Letters to Juliet from 2010.

The original trailer sucks!

You could watch the trailer which I’ve included below but frankly it stinks. I usually complain that today’s trailers tell us too much, give everything away but this one tells us nothing. It reminds us that the music is from the acclaimed Lerner & Lowe but does little more than share a brassy rendition of the main Camelot theme song which is a shame when you think about how many fantastic songs are in the film. 

My sister and I memorized most of them when our dad brought us the score to the Broadway musical: How to Handle a Woman, The Lusty Month of May, Take Me to The Fair and the lush If Ever I Would Leave You which accompanied the love montage showing Vanessa Redgrave in all her glory, through all the seasons. 

Richard Harris singing Camelot is my kind of magic

The trailer gives us nothing, zero of that. There’s little inkling of the drama to come. Better to watch the following clip featuring Richard Harris as Arthur singing Camelot. The king is in disguise as a commoner when he first meets Guinevere. If you’ve never seen it, or haven’t seen it for awhile, I think you’re going to love it. And when you’re ready, the movie is available to stream on Amazon, GooglePlay, Vudu and YouTube.

Camelot/Musical Clip


Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Casting 'The Girl on the Train’: And Haley Bennett makes Three

The girl that The Girl on the Train watches

We have our Megan! Haley Bennett will be joining Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson in the screen adaptation of The Girl on the Train. Bennett has been cast to play Megan, the woman Rachel watches from the train, fantasizing about her perfect life. She’s beautiful, ever so slightly younger—a handful of years—than co-stars Emily Blunt as Rachel and Rebecca Ferguson as Anna and theres something about her eyes that makes her look a bit sly; perfect for the character of Megan. 

Bale & Bennett in upcoming Terence Malick film 

The up and coming actor has a busy future working with some impressive actors and directors. Well be seeing her in the Untitled Terrence Malick project with Christian Bale as well as the Untitled Warren Beatty project. Well also be seeing her in the upcoming remake of The Magnificent Seven. You may have seen her in The Equalizer with Denzel Washington, The Hole, or Lost in the White City. 

And she can sing

Honestly the only thing I’ve ever seen her in is Music & Lyrics, her film debut back in 2007. She played a gorgeous, somewhat spoiled pop singer waiting for Hugh Grant to write her a new song; he’s got the music but he’s stuck on the lyrics and relies on help from Drew Barrymore, the woman who waters his plants, to help him write them. You probably know what happens between Drew & Hugh.

I knew her when ... 

Er, not really. But as we're old friends with the film’s director Marc Lawrence and his family,  my husband, son and I all went to the premiere of Music & Lyrics at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I’ve only been to a handful of premieres in my life, but if you’re only going to go to a few premieres, one taking place at the famed Grauman’s on Hollywood Boulevard isn’t a bad one to scratch off your bucket list. It hit all the bells and whistles complete with red carpet,  those tell-tale beams of lights strobing the sky, and of course, the thrill of being on the VIP guest list while crowds gather across the street wishing they could get in too. Nothing like feeling like an insider to pump up your own flagging self-worth for an hour or two. After the movie, we went to the aptly named ‘after party’ held at some club high atop the Hollywood & Highland complex next door, arriving just in time to see the quickly disappearing back of Hugh Grant. If Haley Bennett was there, I don’t remember. Take away: great food, too many people, and not enough time to spend visiting with our friends who were mobbed most of the night. Grumble, grumble, grumble. 

Next stop. The men.

Now for the men in The Girl on the Train. I shared my thoughts on casting the guys here. Some of the names people are talking about are Tom Hardy, Ben Whishaw, Aidan Turner (yes, please), Cillian Murphy and Andrew Scott (Victor Frankenstein) Who would you cast? Hmmm. How about Christian Bale?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: My take on the book behind the Robert Redford film

Read any good hikes lately?

Reading Billy Brysons account of hiking the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods, knowing that Robert Redford is playing Brysons part in the screen version was an odd experience. For one, had Redford not made the movie, I probably wouldnt have bothered to read Bryson's book. I previously read—and enjoyed—Cheryl Strayed's Wild, about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and I would likely have decided I knew all I needed to know about hiking some grueling mountain trail without reading the old mans version. 

I’ll walk with you, Bobby!

Second, Redford and Nick Nolte are almost twice as old as Bryson and his friend Steven Katz were when they attempted the hike. The idea of men of almost eighty—especially someone with Nick Nolte's lumbering physique— attempting the AT is ludicrous. 

I guess that’s where the humor comes in. Id read that one of the reasons that Redford was attracted to the book was that it was so funny. Hmmm. As much as I liked the book, and certainly there were some humorous situations, most of them concentrated at the beginning and revolving around Bryson's preparation for the hike—the purchase of the gear, the packing of the backpack, and Bryson's fears—but overall I found it more fascinating than funny. 

 Bears on the AT Image Source

Bears hike the Appalachian Trail too!

Bryson intersperses his tale of tackling the trail with all kinds of eye-opening, mind-blowing facts and anecdotes. Like the story of what happens to a little boy when a bear comes snuffling by his tent looking for food, or the group found floating peacefully dead in the water when hypothermia set in. Its a wonder anyone sets out for a walk in the woods at all!

I guess most of us dont. A sad fact from the book ...
 On average the total working of an American these days—that's walking of all types: from car to office, from office to car, around the supermarket and shopping malls—adds up to 1.4 miles a week, barely 350 yards a day.  p. 136
I don’t know where that little factoid came from—Bryson doesn’t say— but if that’s true, it’s an eye-opening statistic. No wonder we have such an obesity problem in this country!

“Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” Steven Wright

As a nature lover—I do love nature, but that doesn’t mean I want to sleep in it—I found Bryson’s accounts, all written in his very accessible, anecdotal style, of the environmental damage we’ve done to our country really disturbing. Most of the destruction has been done heedlessly as we’ve rushed on toward progress, paying little mind to the land stripped and destroyed in our wake. If there’s one thing Bryson’s book did for me, and I hope both the book and the film does for others, is to remind us that our forests, our rivers, lakes, mountains, and even our deserts, with all the living beings they’re home to, really are precious resources. Resources we need for sustenance of body and, of almost equal import, of soul. 

 In America, alas, beauty has become something you drive to, and nature an either/or proposition—either you ruthlessly subjugate it, as at Tock’s Dam and a million other places, or you deify it, treat it as something holy and remote, a thing apart, as along the Appalachian Trail.’ 

So who’s ready to go hiking?

Looking at the trailer (below) for the movie based on Bryson’s book, I can see the movie is not the book. They’ve made changes, added things that didn’t happen in Bryson’s account of his Walk in the Woods. I’ve read that Redford is using the movie to explore friendship and aging. And as I said, Redford and Nolte are too old to play their parts. That being said I saw an article indicating the movie is likely to boost interest in the Appalachian Trail, and that increased attention is bound to be a good thing, generating awareness, and who knows, maybe even action. 

Rediscovering America

Running 2200 miles from Maine to Georgia, the AT can be a harrowing experience or just A Walk in the Woods, depending on where, when and how long you stay on the trail.  Bryson’s subtitle for his book is Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. That says it all. It’s a rediscovery we need to make before the trail, like the almost extinct American Chestnut tree, disappears completely.

A Walk in the Woods starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson opens September 2. Did you read the book? Are you up for the film?
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