Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson: My take on the book (GRRRR!)


God, I hate these people! I cant believe I bothered reading an entire book about them. A pair of horrible, self-centered performance artists who use their kids as props for their all-important—and incredibly boring to read about—performance art pieces. A pair of siblings so screwed up and riddled with self-doubt that even as adults they continue to maintain a pathetic push-pull response to their parents that made me sad at first, then drove me mad.

Heres the lowdown on the book from the authors website:
Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief.
Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist’s work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. Just ask Buster and Annie Fang. For as along as they can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents’ madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents’ strange world.
When the lives they’ve built come crashing down, brother and sister have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that Caleb and Camille are planning one last performance—their magnum opus—whether the kids agree to participate or not. Soon, ambition breeds conflict, bringing the Fangs to face the difficult decision about what’s ultimately more important: their family or their art.
Filled with Kevin Wilson’s endless creativity, vibrant prose, sharp humor, and keen sense of the complex performances that unfold in the relationships of people who love one another, The Family Fang is a masterfully executed tale that is as bizarre as it is touching.
The book came out in 2009 to all kinds of love. I finally picked it up because I knew the long-in-the-works film by Jason Bateman, costarring Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett was making its debut at the Toronto Internation Film Festival and might be getting distribution soon. I’m not familiar with Plunkett, but I usually love Bateman, Kidman and Walken, so I was intrigued. Now I’m wondering why they bothered. 
Because if I feel like I wasted my time reading about them—and I do—imagine how they must feel having labored through an entire 3 month production schedule with these prize pieces of work? Look, I get dysfunctional families. I come from one. For all I know, one day my son will say he came from one too. But this takes dysfunctional to a whole new level. If it’s supposed to be black comedy, I didn’t get it. I thought the characters would be quirky, comic. Instead they were tiresome, tedious. 
Mostly I got as tired as the grown up kids, Annie and Buster    (their parents refer to them as A and B) do of their own lives, tethered to their parents’ dreams. When the parents,  Caleb and Camille, disappear, instead of shouting Hallelujah! the two go back and forth, and back and forth, about what to do. Finally they go on a search for Mr and Mrs Fang, each with different motives. Interspersed are chapters devoted to the so-called art pieces their parents perpetrated on an unsuspecting public with the often unscripted help of A and B. Each of these pieces ends with the crowd looking and feeling confused while the parents, Caleb and Camille, are overjoyed with the execution of a beautiful, subversive, guerrilla work of art. While I dutifully read page after page, as roped in by the promise of brilliance as Annie and Buster, I put the book down far too easily. I had hope for the siblings, they had some interesting top notes but in the end they failed to speak to me, to move me, and I ended the book realizing it was those confused audiences that I related to most fully. 

The aspect of the book I found of real interest was the reference to the real artist, Chris Burden, a Topanga-based artist who passed away earlier this year. His Urban Lights graces the front of LACMA, while the museum boasts several other pieces within its walls. Burden is well known for pushing the boundaries of art, being at the beginning of the performance art movement, with his most controversial piece taking place in 1971 when he had himself shot in the arm as part of a gallery piece in Santa Ana. For more info on Burden, whose Urban Lights, draws Los Angelenos out of their cars, start with this Los Angeles Times obituary.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Extraordinary images from The Revenant plus New Trailer

 The trailer for The Revenant took my breath away. Now Jack Fisk, production designer for The Revenant has shared some show-stopping images with Yahoo news. I couldn’t resist sharing them with you, along with what Fisk told Yahoo’s Meriah Doty about them.
UPDATE: SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE NEW TRAILER

Hugh Glass and Tribeswoman
“In ‘The Revenant,’ Leonardo DiCaprio plays 1800s frontiersman Hugh Glass (pictured here with a Pawnee Indian woman played by Grace Dove). The film, directed by Oscar winner Alejandro González Iñárritu, is based on Michael Punke’s 2003 novel of the same name. According to production designer Jack Fisk, a character that does not appear in the book was added to the film: Glass’s son.


DiCaprio, a vegetarian, was so in character he ate real meat in a scene depicting Glass surviving off a wild bison’s liver. “He had to eat the liver,” says Fisk. “I think he threw up afterward… he was so into it. It made me really appreciate the extent to which hell go to make things right. 

The Hunt 
This photo depicts Glass being hunted down by other outdoorsmen. Almost all lighting sources used for filming were natural, explains Fisk. “And this takes place before the kerosine lantern was invented.” Most filming took place between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. “We’d be scrambling at the end of the day to film the last few hours of daylight.”  

Buffalo Skulls
Part of a dream sequence, this scene depicts Glass (DiCaprio) observing a pile of roughly 10,000 buffalo skulls. Iñárritu was more concerned with Glass’s inner thoughts and added scenes that aren’t in the original book. “He didn’t worry about religiously doing the story,” says Fisk of the director.”  


Tough Conditions
Fisk recalled a time when a nearby river froze right before the cast and crew’s eyes. “The set flooded with ice water as Alejandro was trying to get his scene,” he said. “It was the equivalent of shooting in a hurricane.”
The Revenant also stars Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter and Lucas Haas and is set to open for a limited Academy Award qualifying run on December 25th. Beautiful but maybe a bit too brutal for Christmas Day? The Revenant opens everywhere in January.







Monday, September 28, 2015

Dreaming of France? 5 Ways to Feel like You’re in France


Are you here looking for my regular contribution to Dreaming of France? While Ive been in the habit of sharing  book-to-movie news with a French twist on a somewhat weekly basis, lately Ive found myself pulled to deliver more personal posts. And since for now, France is more a dream than a reality, Ive pulled together 5 Ways to help you feel like you’re in France, even if you dont have the francs for the airfare. Youll find it over on Sim Carter: Past, Perfect/Imperfect
If you must have book-to-movie news with a French flavor, Ive also gathered up a quartet of early reviews for Robert Zemeckis The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Phillipe Petit, the Frenchman who famously walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers. 

New York, New York: Critics Talk 'The Walk'

Autumn in New York. The Walk is one of three book-to-movies set in New York screening at this years New York Film Festival. Its all part of that award season buzz the studios work so very hard to achieve. Theres Carol and Brooklyn, both featuring main characters who work in New York department stores, and then theres The Walk, about the Frenchman who famously walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers while they were still under construction in 1974. Many of us were bonkers for the thrilling James Marsh documentary on Phillipe Petit, Man on Wire. The Walk has a lot to live up to.
The Walk features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit. How does he do?

a) “a charming and awesome turn from Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role.”   Pete Hammond, Deadline


b) Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns in a “self-regarding performance” in which, “the character is borderline obnoxious, right up until he acquires some vulnerability by virtue of the void stretching out beneath him.” He also has a “cheesy French accent.”   David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

c) “The first half of the movie treads the boundary between mildly irritating and completely unbearable. Mr. Petit, an elfin Frenchman with a terrible haircut, is played by manic-pixie song-and-dance man Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an irrepressible imp, greeting the audience in accented English from a perch on the Statue of Liberty’s torch. ... He is, as I’ve mentioned, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This makes him, objectively speaking, the most annoying person on earth.”   A.O. Scott, New York Times 

d) “Whatever one thinks of Gordon-Levitt’s weird wig and contacts, the physical aspects of his performance do impress as he adopts the lithe, catlike moves of a professional funambulist — and the attitude of a flip French artiste. Say what you will about the accent, but Zemeckis and co-writer Christopher Browne have captured Petit’s voice — the real, honest-to-God way he expresses himself — and by channeling that, the actor successfully wins us over from the outset, hanging out in the Statue of Liberty’s torch.”   Peter Debruge, Variety)

So that’s good news/bad news for JGL! You know what they all agree on? The Walk is all about the walk. The final half of  the movie, with its spectacular special effects in 3-D will have us looking down over the city of New York and feeling woozy and wowed at the same time. And as Americans, seeing the towers, and knowing their fate and the thousands that died with them on September 11th, somewhat bereft as well.
Watching the newest 5 minute trailer, I think we could have figured that out for ourselves. The Walk directed by Robert Zemeckis and also starring Charlotte LeBon and , opens in select cities on September 30th with a wider rollout on October 9th. 
How about you? Are you ready to take The Walk?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Finding Neverland: Behind The Scenes #JohnnyDepp #FreddieHighmore #KateWinslet


Did any of you join me for yesterday’s Saturday Matinee? I’d forgotten exactly how magical and exquisitely heartbreaking Finding Neverland was. My husband, in and out of the room, would glance over Are you crying again!? Yes. Yes I am. Screenwriter David Magee and playwright Allan Knee gave us so much to cry about.


Peter’s (Freddie High) resentment of this man who seems to want to take over his deceased fathers role and the way Barrie gradually won him over simply by seeing him and honoring and respecting Peter’s wish to be a writer too.


The head in the clouds, half-in-this world, half-in-the-other, way that Barrie approached life. Frustrating to those in the real world who had to live with him but it was moving to see how easily he could access his own Neverland.

Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older and before you know it, they’re grown.”

The understanding of our wish to stay in some version of childhood and childlike innocence where death and sadness have no place. We can fell imaginary pirates, play cowboys and indians, be pierced through with bullets or arrows but all survive to play another day, to live without having to live with grief. 
Sylvias death. After a coughing fit that sends night tables and lamps flying she has to miss seeing the debut of Barrie’s new play, Peter Pan, inspired by her boys. The play, as we all know, is a tremendous success. When Barrie brings the play to her, staging it in her living room, it’s an act of love so complete only the final curtain can top it. When the doors to the back garden open and Sylvia, her sons, her domineering mother (Julie Christie) and Barrie all walk out to the fairyland the garden has morphed into, we know what’s coming. Even husband, watching on again, off again, knows. “Is she dying?”  


I barely have time to sputter yes as the garden transforms yet again, this time into a cemetery. Barrie, the boys and her mother, all in black funereal wear.
Moving, magical, one of the best pictures of 2004 and for all time and one I wish I’d re-watched sooner. Today’s Slacker Sunday Video takes you behind the scenes with a look at the effects that gave the movie that magic touch. And please, no complaints about spoilers, eh? The movie is a dozen years old.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Domhnall Gleeson to Star in the Gothic, Ghostly “The Little Stranger"


A big shout out to my twitter friend @poet_teresa, horror and Domhnall Gleeson fan, for bringing this one to my attention. Gleeson is set to star in The Little Stranger, based on Sarah Waters bestselling 2009 gothic ghost story.
You don’t know Gleeson yet? You will soon. Once best known for playing Ron Weasley’s older brother in the Harry Potter movies, Gleeson is the son of the highly respected Irish actor Brendan Gleeson and has been building an impressive resume of his own over the past few years. I called him out as Levin in Anna Karenina opposite Alicia Vikander who he worked with again, but in a starring role, in this year’s brilliant Ex Machina. Besides Frank, you might have seen and loved him in About Time with Rachel McAdams and he has some very impressive projects coming up including Brooklyn opposite Saoirse Ronan, The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, Stars Wars and Mena with Tom Cruise. 
In The Little Stranger, Gleeson is reteaming with Frank director Lenny Abrahamson—recently in the news for the film Room starring Brie Larson based on the book by Emma Donoghue. Lucinda Coxon, who also wrote the adaptation of the upcoming The Danish Girlwrote the script. Production doesnt start until next summer so expect to see it late in 2016 at the earliest, but most likely in the spring of 2017. Plenty o’ time to read it before you see it, eh? 

Teresa tells me that the Man Booker Prize-nominated novel is touted as a Nightmarish Downton Abbey :  
One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.
Domhnall Gleeson would play Faraday, the country physician. Have you read the book?  Teresa cant wait to see it on screen; how about you? What do you think of the casting?And who would cast as the members of the Ayres family? Ah, the autumn! Perfect time for a good ghost story, what? 

P.S. Got news about a book heading to the screen? Please be like my friend Teresa and give me a shout! I try to follow the trades religiously but I dont have a prayer of catching all the book-to-movie news so I appreciate your help.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rooney Mara’s The Secret Scripture movie held captive in bankruptcy purgatory



Urrgh! I’ve just seen that The Secret Scripture movie starring all sorts of fantastic people—Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave, Theo James, Eric Bana, Aidan Turner and Jack Reynor—is tied up with Relativity’s complicated bankruptcy case. Which means it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the adaptation of Sebastian Barry’s novel this year at all. The film, along with half a dozen other movies, is in limbo until the completion of the bankruptcy auction/sale process.

I’m so disappointed! I read Barry’s novel last year, and while I shared in my take on the book  that I didn’t exactly love it—I felt my lack of knowledge of Irish history was a real deterrent to full understanding and enjoyment—I was looking forward to seeing the more dramatic elements of the story on film. 


Broken down to its’ simple human elements, it’s the tale of a beautiful young Irish woman, Roseanne (Rooney Mara), the daughter of a rat catcher, who marries a man, is befriended by one of his brothers (Aidan Turner) has an affair with another (Jack Reynor) and then punished for it by a small-minded world and a cruel and unforgiving priest (Theo James) with what amounts to shunning then imprisonment in a psychiatric hospital. The story is told by the woman herself (Vanessa Redgrave) at 100, to Dr. Grene (Eric Bana). The Secret Scripture gets its’ title from Roseanne’s testimony and the diary she keeps hidden under the floorboards in the institution.


Image by Sabina O’Brian


Epic, right? Plus being that I’m a sucker for period films—
especially period films set in England and Ireland—and was excited to see this cast working together and to see how director Jim Sheridan untangled the story cinematically, so this is a real downer for me.  


Have you read The Secret Scripture? Are you hoping, as I am, that a financial angel steps in to buy the company and set things right? 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Truth. First trailer belongs to Cate Blanchett

The first trailer for Truth has just been released. The movie starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford is based on the memoir Truth And Duty: The Press, The President, And The Privilege Of Power by 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes.  Detailing the unraveling of a news segment about President George W. Bush’s alleged draft dodging during the Vietnam War, the segment cost Mapes her job and toppled Dan Rather from his anchor position at CBS News when the authenticity of the sources where questioned. Its likely to be a controversial entry to awards season depending on how your politics filters your version of reality. Judging from the trailer, the film looks like it belongs more to Mapes and Blanchett than the legendary Rather and Redford. Well see for sure when Truth opens on October 16. 



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jared Leto & Chris Evans: MIS-Casting the men rumored to be joining The Girl on the Train

I am not a happy camper. The Girl on the Train will be catching the Long Island Railway into New York NOT the train into London after all. The British book is becoming increasingly American as it heads towards film production. While Emily Blunt told the BBC that she’ll be keeping her British accent, the film will be set in NYC. It’s not a location change I approve of at all; the sights, sounds and sensibilities are just not the same. One of the things we love about going to the movies is going to places we don’t go to all the time. I was so looking forward to going to England. I know, I know. We go to England all the time. We went in The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game to name just a couple of recent film trips, but honestly, here in the states, we can’t seem to get out of New York. Living on the west coast, I get a little tired of the emphasis on the big apple, like nothing happens anywhere else. 

And whilst (I’m in a British state of mind) its not official, it looks like Jared Leto and Chris Evans will be getting on board in the key male roles. And we were hoping for Tom Hardy, Ben Whishaw, Aidan Turner (yes, please) or Cillian Murphy! 

Leto will be joining The Girl on the Train as Megan’s husband. He’d be paired up with Haley Bennet as Scott Hipwell, the prime suspect in the thriller. When Rachel fantasizes about him in Paula Hawkin’s book, she says he’s  
handsome in a British film star kind of way, not a Depp or a Pitt, but a Firth, or a Jason Isaacs.
I like Jared Leto—he was spectacular in The Dallas Buyers Club—but he’s no Colin Firth. Leto is forty three but has been Botoxed into open-eyed ageless wonder. Colin Firth would never do that. 


But what really upsets me is the news that Chris Evans, Captain America of all people, is in talks to play Tom. Tom with the Tom Cruise smile. Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband, the one so charming-schmarming that he’s married to the beautiful Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) and having an affair with the golden-girl Megan. 

I suppose there are those amongst you who find Chris Evans perfectly cast in the part but he’s not my cup of tea at all. Or should I say coffee? That’s it really. I’m so irked by the change in locale from Britain to the states that I wouldn’t like Chris Evans even if I liked Chris Evans. Which I don’t. 

Thanks director Tate Taylor who gave us The Help and producer Marc Platt who’ll be bringing Wicked to the big screen. Way to ruin a book!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First trailer for The Big Short starring Bale, Carrell, Gosling & Pitt

Look what just dropped! The first trailer to The Big Short starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling & Brad Pitt. The collapse of the financial system was just awful. The country is still recovering. People lost their homes, their life savings. It was horrible. Horrendous. The only thing more horrible just might be the hairstyles the normally handsome actors sport. And I for one, am bummed out. I was hoping for good-looking; what weve got is what appears to be a wildly comic send-up on the financial genius who took the system down with their greed and they all look like a bunch of doofuses. Doofi?


I first wrote about the movie back in April, the piece includes images of the real life sleaze balls each actor plays, and I have to say, they nailed it! Bale has Michael Burry’s ‘super cut haircut’ and Gosling looks goofy as the dark-haired Greg Lippman, the guy who saw it all coming. Director Adam McKay, the funny man behind Anchorman and Step Brothers has worked fast and furious with the film set to come out this winter. We’ll get a limited release Dec 11th, with a wider rollout sometime after that. 


I’ll have to watch this trailer a few times, get the crazy hairdo’s out of my head before making judgement. What about you?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Michel Fassbender in Steve Jobs: The Steve Jobs trailer en français

You know who I bet is looking forward to seeing Michael Fassbender as American tech icon Steve Jobs as much as Americans are? Le French! 
Why else make a French-dubbed trailer for Steve Jobs which hits our US shores October 23rd? The movie is making its debut in the UK at the London Film Fest on October 8, opening in Turkey on October 30, in Germany, Russia and the Czech Republic on November 12th, the Netherlands on December 4th, Spain on January 1, 2016, Hungary on January 14th, Italy on the 21st, Vietnam on the 22nd — wait, where the heck is France’s release date? I don’t see it anywhere! That French trailer? It was made for the French Canadian market! The movie opens in Canada on October 8th. As for France? Je ne sais pas. For now, to all my friends Dreaming of France, this French Canadian trailer will have to do. 



Does Michael Fassbender speaking French have you Dreaming of France? Visit An Accidental Blog and hook up with fellow francophiles.


TIFF: ‘Room’ Star Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay Q+A


Sunday Slacker time. I wanted to share a couple of Q+Awith the cast of Room at TIFF. First up a short 3 minute THR clip which illustrates how closely and how beautifully Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay bonded and worked together, I’m going to say, like mother and son. That’s followed by a 12 minute segment which really underlines the fact that as dark as the subject matter is, the film celebrates that there is HOPE even in HOPElessness. Lenny Abrahamson, the visionary director of Frank—putting Michael Fassbender inside a big Jack-in-the-Box hamburger-like head for most of a movie takes some sort of vision—directed, and author Emma Donoghue scripted. Donoghue’s feeling about the film adapted from her own book?  “I don’t want to be disloyal to fiction but there are places only cinema can take you.” 



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Terms of Endearment: STREAMING on NETFLIX!


As long as we’re stuck waiting in the virtual line for Steve Jobs tickets, I’m using today’s Saturday Matinee as an excuse to remind you about Terms of Endearment, one of the Steve Jobs movies’ cast member’s earliest film roles. Thanks to Jobs —and Wosniak, and Gates, et al—it’s easy peasy to play film historian and dig through the archives. I’ve got my MacBookAir, and my iPhone, all I need now is an E-reader. Aha! That’s you. 

If you’ve seen the Steve Jobs trailer, you know Jeff Daniels plays an Apple heavyweight in the Aaron Sorkin scripted film. Daniels is the real world tech titan John Scully who was CEO at Apple from 1983 to 1993; Scully left the company after butting heads with Steve Jobs over the licensing of Apple software. 

I can imagine Sorkin, who worked with Daniels on The Newsroom recommending him to Danny Boyle. It may be hard for some to separate Daniels from his Dumb & Dumber persona but his fans know he’s able to go dramatic on a large scale.

Daniels got his start in film way back in the early 1980’s and in 1983 he played Debra Winger’s philandering husband, Flap Horton, in the achingly painful and amazingly funny Terms of Endearment. It was a supporting role and while he didn’t make a huge flap, the movie itself was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won five of them: Best Picture, Best Actress (Shirley MacLaine), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Director (James Brooks) and Best Writing of a Screenplay Based on Material from another Medium. Director James Brooks wrote the award winning adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s best selling book. 

While Debra Winger and John Lithgow were nominated, Jeff Daniels was not. Still, my hunch is he was pretty flap-happy to be associated with such an amazing film. And while star Michael Fassbender has a sure shot at being nominated as Best Actor for Steve Jobs, Daniels is likely thrilled to be a supporting actor in such a hot property. I’ve got no idea how big or small, interesting or not, a supporting part he actually plays. 

For now, let’s take a fond look back at Terms of Endearment. The 1980’s classic is available to stream on Amazon, VUDU, Google-Play and YouTube, and currently NETFLIX!

Friday, September 18, 2015

New trailer for the Steve Jobs movie. Who’s planning on camping out for tickets like it’s an Apple product roll-out?


I think there are a lot of film fans waiting for the Steve Jobs movie the way a lot of people wait for Apples next big thing. iMac, iPad, iPhone, iWatch. Whats next? iLife? An app embedded into our wrists thats part personal id, part fitbit? A body minder, measuring our caloric, fat and sodium intake, our heart rate and the number of steps we walk, that we can also use to schedule our Amazon product drops from our local drone delivery center and make purchases from the grocery story. Our wrists will probably light up and beep if we buy too much ice cream or unapproved snacks. 

Okay, lets hope that dystopian future product is just a figment of our imagination. Not a figment of anyone’s imagination is the movie based on the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. The Danny Boyle-directed movie stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels and Seth Rogan and comes out in just about a month. October 23. Anyone up for camping out at the movie theater so you can be the first one to buy a Steve Jobs movie ticket? While you mull that over, heres the newest trailer.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Psycho: Alfred Hitchcock takes you on a Tour in this Vintage #ThrowBackThursday Trailer


Here's one of those 'back in the eighties I used to—' posts. So let's get to it, back in the 80's I used to ride past the Psycho house all the time. I was a Universal Studios tour guide and I can tell you, in all the hundreds of times I pointed out the decrepit house on the hill looming over the Bates Motel on the backlot, the original structures from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960's thriller, not once did I mention that the film was based on a book, a 'chiller' by Robert Bloch. I didn't know. Back in those pre-internet days, information wasn't as easy to come by. I would have had to make real effort to find out that factoid; these days I just plug Psycho into my browser and well, you know, there is more than enough material to keep a reader/writer going for decades. Or at least an afternoon.


Back then, I could have used that info on those long, hot summer days when the tour trams were often delayed behind lines of other trams stuffed with tourists, forcing us to stall for time. One of our tour guide stall stories was how Alfred Hitchcock got thousands of letters about the shower scene, including one from a disgruntled father, complaining that Psycho had freaked his daughter out so much, she refused to take a shower. Hitchcock's response? 
Dear Sir, I suggest she take baths instead.


These days the trams have built in screens and all the spoiled brats tour guides have to do is punch a button; back in my day (she creaked) we had to talk for the entire two hours. Ah, you kids, you don't know how lucky you are! Back in my day (she creaked) if we wanted to see an old movie, we had to wait for it to come on television, but you, you get to stream it for a few bucks on Vudu, GooglePlay, iTunes or Amazon.


Janet Leigh turned in one hell of a performance, winning the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. She even garnered an Oscar nomination, as did Hitchcock, his cinematographer and production design team, quite a feat considering the Academy rarely honors that type of horror film even with nominations, the last I find being The Exorcist in 1973. Have I forgotten one? Let me know.



Better than any tour I could take you on, is this vintage 1960 extended 'trailer' in which Hitchcock walks you through the Psycho house and the Bates Motel. It's not really a trailer, it's a weird and wonderful and spoilery promo piece, just over 6 minutes long. Enjoy!



•••••••••••••••••••

You might want to read Meltdown Moments; a companion piece of sorts, 
inspired by Dennis Quaid's meltdown, 
about watching the actor Bud Cort shoot a scene from The Bates Motel circa 1987.

London Fields has the Red Carpet yanked out from under it : TIFF


I’ve been following London Fields voyage from page to screen, now I’ve finally got an intriguing looking clip [below] and there’s bad news about the adaptation of Martin Amis’ novel coming out of TIFF.  The film starring Amber Heard as Nicola Six— “a black hole of sex and self-loathing intent on orchestrating her own extinction” and Theo James, Jim Sturgess and Billy Bob Thornton as the three men in her life, one of whom will kill her—has had its Red Carpet screening cancelled. The film, which was ironically, just picked up by Lionsgate/ Grindstone was supposed to have its big premiere tomorrow but TIFF has cancelled it due to the controversy swirling around the film






What controversy? Director Matthew Cullen filed a million dollar suit against producer Chris Hanley for fraud and deceit. Apparently the final cut of the movie isnt Cullens as per contract. Its not unusual to have a creative riff where the producers and director are at odds but according to Deadline, this isnt just a creative difference, this is an accusation that the producers tampered with the script beyond recognition, adding revisions utterly out of place in Amis story, the story that the director and actors were hired to tell. 

“In this case, the defendant producers have tampered with Plaintiffs’ work as director of the film...None of the revisionary elements that Defendants have interjected into the film appear anywhere in the script,” the 17-page filing from Cullen and his Motion Theory company claims. “Nor do they have any place in the film, at least not the one that Plaintiffs were asked to direct. Among other things, these elements include incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers edited against pornography, as well as juxtaposing the holiest city in Islam against mind-control. No cast or crew member signed up for this, nor did Plaintiffs. But Defendants insist upon doing this, and more, in the names of Plaintiffs and others, notwithstanding their objections to the theft of their identities and the false, distorted and perverted associations that Defendants are imposing upon them.”

I’ve seen a couple of reviews that call out the film for being a horrible travesty of Martin Amis’ novel. Would it have been terrible had Cullen, a protege of Guillermo del Toro’s made the movie he envisioned anyway or is it all down to  the producer putting his paws in, messing up the creative recipe, ending up with something so awful that Cullen doesn’t even want his name on it? 

How awful is it? Read Todd McCarthys ghastly, really awful, take on the movie in The Hollywood Reporter. He says it’s the ‘most staggering gulf in quality between a book and a screen adaptation in recent memory.’ And Andrew Barker at Variety calls it ‘a misbegotten mess.’ OUCH!

Which is a shame as the book was highly acclaimed when it came out in 1989.

Heres a taste from the first page and a clip from the film below, echoing these words:
This is a true story but I cant believe its really happening.
Its a murder story, too. I cant believe my luck. 
And a love story (I think), of all strange things. So late in the century, so late in the goddamned day. 
This is the story of a murder. It hasn’t happened yet. But it will. (It had better.) I know the murderer, I know the murderee. I know the time, I know the place. I know the motive (her motive) and I know the means. I know who will be the foil, the fool, the poor foal, also utterly destroyed. And I couldn’t stop them, I don’t think, even if I wanted to. The girl will die. It’s what she always wanted. You can’t stop people, once they start. You can’t stop people, once they start creating.”

Who knows if London Fields will ever see the light of day, but if it does I can imagine audiences flocking to see it just because we love a good train wreck. Pretty disappointing for fans of Martin Amis’ work though. 

Good thing TIFF cancelled the Red Carpet screening. I can’t imagine any of the stars showing up.





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