Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lin-Manuel Miranda to make music in The Kingkiller Chronicles

This is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s time. The creator of the smash hit musical Hamilton—inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton by the way—Miranda has a Pulitzer Prize, two Grammys, an Emmy, a MacArthur Genius Award, and three Tony awards to his name. Before Hamilton there was another successful Broadway play In the Heights. 

Now Lionsgate is handing Miranda the keys to the kingdom as it were, charging him with the adaptation of Pat Rothfuss Kingkiller Chronicle books. Miranda, who you may have heard composed the music for the current Disney hit Moana, will take on the role of creative producer and musical mastermind of both feature film and TV series adaptations of The Kingkiller Chronicle along with author Pat Rothfuss. Apparently there is music, and Manuel is the man to make it.

Pat Rothfuss’ ‘Kingkiller’ books are among the most read and re-read in our home. It’s a world you want to spend lifetimes in, as his many fans will attest. Pat also writes about the act of making music more beautifully than any novelist I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to play a part in bringing this world to life onscreen.”  Lin-Manuel Miranda

The books, centered on an orphan magician, sound like they live in much darker territory than the more universally famous Harry Potter, but judging from the novel blurb, Kvothe, like Lin-Manuel Miranda may soon be the  name on everyone’s lips. 



The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles Series #1)
by Patrick Rothfuss
This is the riveting first-person narrative of Kvothe, a young man who grows to be one of the most notorious magicians his world has ever seen. From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard.


The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles Series #2)
by Patrick Rothfuss 
“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.” 
My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.
So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view—a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man’s Fear, Book Two of The Kingkiller Chronicle, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Variety reports that ‘‘Miranda has an option to be involved in future stage productions as well. He will serve as producer of the franchise and is expected to compose the original music and write the songs.’’ The film is based on the first book, the series sounds more open-ended and presumably there are more books on the way. Miranda, who apparently got to know Rothfuss on twitter, is a fan.

Fantasy is not big on my reading list but I know many of you are big fans of the genre. Thoughts on this one?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Hollywood Reporter Actress Roundtable: Amy Adams

The Hollywood Reporter is teasing its pre-Oscar Hollywood Roundtables. For those of us who read and loved Arrival this short snippet featuring Amy Adams from the Actress Roundtables is just a lovely look at what drew her to the role. “It’s about a mother telling her daughter the story of her life.’’ That’s the aspect of the film—its’ heart—that appealed to me the most when I read the short story but, as Adams says, you don’t often think of male directors relating their vision in that way. That kind of emotional approach makes Denis Villeneuve’s current project—Blade Runner 2—even more intriguing to me.


This year’s roundtable includes women starring in a couple of the movies based on books we’re following: Taraji P. Henson for Hidden Figures and Isabelle Huppert for Elle as well as Natalie Portman (Jackie), Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Naomie Harris (Moonlight) and Emma Stone (LaLa Land) — which is probably the movie I’m most eager to see, despite the bookish focus of my own site.


PS. What the hell is happening with that dress?! Is that a leotard under a silky spaghetti strap dress? I don’t get it.
And yes, I’d bring up the same superficial concern 
if it was a man.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hidden Figures: Meet Medal of Freedom winner Katherine Johnson played by Taraji P. Henson


I shared the first trailer for Hidden Figures back in August, after that it was out of sight, out of mind. Now with the new year approaching I’ll be putting it on the must see list. Not because it’s a great movie—which it may be—or because I read the book—I didn’t—but because Hidden Figures reveals the roles some extraordinary real world black women played in the race to the moon.

These are math science brainiacs who because of their color were kept in segregated workspaces from their white counterparts. Secretaries and clerical positions aside, women of any color weren’t exactly welcome in many businesses, and black women had it especially tough.



Take a look at this featurette introducing NASA’s Katherine Johnson, the main real world character in ‘Hidden Figures’ played by Taraji P. Henson. President Obama awarded Johnson the Medal of Freedom award in 2015, the highest award a civilian can receive.

Based on the book documenting the important contributions made by Katherine Johnson and her colleagues—Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly—the movie also stars Octavia Spencer and Janelle Morae and comes out January 6th. The soundtrack comes via Pharrell Williams and veteran composer Hans Zimmer.




Watch the Hidden Figures trailer

I’ll be honest, to my mind Henson is a little too glam to play Johnson— she does try to downplay it but the woman can’t help being voluptuous. I would have loved to see Loving’s Ruth Negga take on the role. Am I right or am I right?



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Isabelle Huppert in Elle: The Landmark Theater Q&A Podcast



Directed by Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Show GirlsElle stars Isabelle Huppert as a fifty-something business woman, attacked and raped in her own home.



‘‘Michèle (who) seems indestructible. Head of a leading video game company, she brings the same ruthless attitude to her love life as to business. Being attacked in her home by an unknown assailant changes Michèle’s life forever. When she resolutely tracks the man down, they are both drawn into a curious and thrilling game—a game that may, at any moment, spiral out of control.’’


Elle, based on the French novel “Oh’’ by Philippe Djian, is currently in theaters now. For today’s Slacker Sunday post, instead of a video, I’ve got a podcast featuring a fascinating conversation with Isabelle Huppert at the Landmark, one of LA’s favorite places to see independent, not exactly mainstream movies. 

Below that a smattering of opening lines from the reviews the film is getting. I've been working on my own project lately, barely having time to write my daily posts so I've got a big backlog of movies based on books I need to get to. This is one of them.

I'll be sharing this with Paulita Kincer's Dreaming of France meme





Beautifully made with exquisite taste and eye for detail, “Elle” is pretty, but it can’t be described as a pleasure to watch. 
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post

A masterpiece of suave perversity, the movie leads its audience through a meticulously constructed maze of ambiguity, scrambling our assumptions and expectations at every turn. 
A. O. Scott
The NYTimes

Isabelle Huppert delivers a standout performance as a woman turning the tables on her attacker in the controversial director’s electrifying and provocative comeback. 
Xan Brooks
The Guardian

Audiences arriving for a lurid slab of arthouse exploitation will be taken off-guard by the complex, compassionate, often corrosively funny examination of unconventional desires that awaits them. 
Guy Lodge
Variety


Watch the trailer for Elle

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Silence starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson: Add it to the Must See List


Here it is, the first trailer for Martin Scorsese's long-awaited passion project Silence. Scorsese, a deeply spiritual man, has wanted to make the film based on the book by Shūsaku Endō’s novel since the early 1990’s

The trailer is intense—as life was for missionaries seeking to bring Christianity to non-Christian countries. The hubris of Christians—or call it faith—who believe their way is the one way, calling on communities of other beliefs to reject their own way of practicing their religion.


The film follows Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver as a pair of young 17th-century Jesuit priests “who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) and spread the gospel of Christianity.”

I was struck by the promising potential of the performances by both Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, both of whom are good actors but seem here to be pushed by Scorsese into new territory. The seriousness of the tone, the dazzling look of the film, the subject matter, a period piece about priests all bring The Mission to my mind. 

Silence also stars Tadanobu Asano, Yosuke Kubozuka, Ciarán Hinds, Shinya Tsukamoto and Issey Ogata. The screenplay is by Jay Cocks who was Oscar-nominated for both The Gangs of New York and The Age of Innocence. 

While the film is being released on December 23rd for an Academy Award qualifying run, the film officially opens in January, 2017.

Of course this trailer arrives the day after I published my list






Will you be adding Silence to your must see list?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top 10 Movies Based on Books / 2017


In order of appearance, not preference ... here’s the top 10 books I’m excited about seeing on screen in 2017. Putting this together I realized why I don’t do a lot of lists. I don’t have a clue how to narrow down all the intriguing projects coming our way into a nice manageable number. 


What’s not on the list 


I’d love to include The Secret Scripture starring Rooney Mara, Aidan Turner, Theo James, Vanessa Redgrave, Eric Bana and Jack Reynor but it doesn’t seem to have distribution yet. 

If  Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchett was ready, it would be on on the list. As would Scorsese’s The Devil in the White City starring Leo. While both projects are in the pipeline, neither have started shooting as far as I can tell. 

And while Silence, Scorsese’s adaptation of Shûsaku Endô’s novel is due out in January and boasts a solid cast—Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver—I’m sort of meh on the subject matter. So it didn’t make my cut but it may very well make yours.  

Beauty & the Beast should be on the list because I’m not embarrassed to admit I’m a sucker for a musical but having watched the trailer and seen Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts the teapot in the trailer, I’m not so sure! What I am sure about is that I’ve forgotten movies that will come to me as soon as I hit the publish button. I’ll smack my forehead and call myself an idiot. Or feel free to do the name calling for me. Seriously, let me know what you think.


That being said ...

Here for now, my top ten list of movies based on books:




January 13: Live by Night
It's Ben Affleck's fourth time in the director's chair, this time he also cowrites & stars as Joe Coughlin, the son of a policeman who succeeds in a life of organized crime. Set in the 1920’s era of prohibition, the film was shot by renowned Robert Richardson, with music by Harry Gregson Williams (The Martian). Affleck's has solid cast includes Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper & Brendan Gleeson. Watch the Live By Night trailer.




February 24:  Tulip Fever (moved from 2016)
Set in 17th Holland, an artist falls for a young married woman he’s hired to paint. Stars Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell and Cara Delivigne. Directed by Justin Chadwick from a script by the acclaimed Tom Stoppard. Here’s my take on the book, Tulip Fever, by Deborah Moggach. Spoiler Alert: I didn't much care for the book but the movie looks great. Watch the Tulip Fever trailer.







March 31:The Zookeepers Wife
Set in 1939 war-torn Poland, Jessica Chastain stars as Antonina Żabiński, who helped her husband Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh) run the Warswaw Zoo. As the country is invaded by Nazis & Jews are ripped from their homes, Antonina convinces her husband to use the zoo to hide escaped Jews. Their mission becomes more dangerous under the suspicious eye of the Reich’s  chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl). Watch the trailer.




 April 21; The Lost City of Z 
The Lost City of Z stars Charlie Hunnam as British explorer Percy Fawcett who set off into the Amazon jungle searching for the Lost City & never returned. Based on the book by David Grann, the cast includes Robert Pattinson as Fawcett’s fellow explorer Henry Costin with Sienna Miller as his wife Nina. Tom Holland, getting lots of attention as the new Spiderman, plays his brother Jack with the adorable young Daniel Huttlestone as his son. Watch The Lost City of Z trailer.





April 28: The Circle 
Tom Hanks stars in the Dave Eggers adaptation, directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now). Emma Watson replaced Alicia Vikander in the role of the woman who lands a job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, where she becomes involved with a mysterious man. The film al8so stars John Boyega (Star Wars) Bill Paxton and Patton Oswalt. Loved the book. Here's my take on Dave Egger's The Circle. Watch the trailer for The Circle.





October 6: Blade Runner 2
The main reason this made my list is my fanship for Ryan Gosling who takes the lead in this sequel to the first Blade Runner film based on Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  The second reason is my respect for the director Denis Villeneuve who gave us the luminous Arrival. You've probably heard that Harrison Ford is back as Rick Deckard. No one knows much beyond that as the film is based on an original idea by Hampton Fancher who cowrote the first screen adaptation.




October 20: The Mountain Between Us
Anyone want to see a romantic drama teaming Kate Winslet with Idris Elba. Besides me-me-me?! The Mountain Between Us based on the book by Charles Martin about a pair who survive a plane crash in the mountains where they are forced to trust each other and find safety while badly injured. It sounds a little Nicolas Sparksy to me but knowing both actors I have complete confidence it will be deeply moving not sickly sweet.





TBD: Rebel in the Rye
The story of J.D. Salinger just as he was on the verge of writing the classic Catcher in the Rye. Nicholas Hoult is starring as Salinger with Zooey Deutch as Eugene O'Neill's daughter Oona who had a scandalous relationship with the author. More scandalous still she went on to marry Charlie Chaplin when he was 36 years her senior. Maybe we should be writing books and making movies about her too? The movie, based on J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski, also stars Kevin Spacey and Sarah Paulson, check the Rebel in the Rye post post for more details.





TBD: On Chesil Beach
One of my favorite books by Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach tore me up.Starring Saoirse Ronan as the virginal violinist Florence and newcomer Billy Howe as her bridegroom Edward this won't be an easy one to bring to the screen. It’s directed by Dominic Cooke, an acclaimed theater director with next to nothing in terms of tv & film credits. The credit he does have (The Hollow Crown) was received really well. Check out this On Chesil Beach post for more info.




10


TBD: Untitled A.A. Milne project
This is one of those semi-cheat inclusions. Not exactly based on any one book, it is about such an iconic figure in the literary world I can’t resist including. Sometimes referred to as Goodbye Christopher Robin, the film is inspired by the relationship between Milne and his young son, Christopher, the little boy made famous in the Winnie the Pooh stories. Domhnall Gleeson stars as Milne with Margot Robbie as his wife. The real Christopher Robin felt his childhood was robbed by his father's work while for his part A.A. Milne felt the rest of his own work was completely overshadowed by Winnie the Pooh’s success. What is a beloved part of most of our childhood is seen from a very different perspective.



And a bonus: A television series, so technically NOT a movie based on a book...




February: Big Little Lies
Things take a dark turn for a group of moms whose perfect lives begin to unravel. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman produce and also star along with Shailene Woodley in this black comedy originally set in Australia. Headed to HBOas a series. Jean Marc-Vallee who directed Witherspoon in Wild, directs with writing credit for the adaptation based on Liane Moriarty’s book going to David E. Kelly. I absolutely loved this book; it got me started on a Liane Moriarty jag, followed by a contemporary Australian writers jag. So excited for this series which also stars Alexander Skarsgaard, Adam Scott and Laura Dern. Here's the Big Little Lies trailer.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dreaming of France: Ils Vivent La Nuit directed by & starring Ben Affleck


Here’s another one 2017's top ten films based on a book. FYI, I’ll be putting that list out sometime this week.

Starring, co-written (along with author Dennis LeHane) and directed by Ben Affleck, Live by Night comes to screens in the US, Canada and the UK and a host of other European countries on January 13th*, France sees it on January 18th.

Below is the French trailer for what they call Ils Vivent La Nuit. I’m curious to know from the French speakers out there if this is an exact translation or an approximation.



In addition to Affleck, the cast includes Zoe Saldana (Bradley Coopers old girlfriend) who looks like she kicks some major ass!, Elle Fanning (Dakota’s sister), Scott Eastwood (Clint’s son), Brendan Gleeson (Domhnall’s dad), Sienna Miller (Jude’s ex) and Chris Cooper who worked on the Affleck-directed The Town

And now that you know who everyone is, if this trailer is any indication, they all speak French fluently! 

Here’s the dubbed bande-annonce for my friends linking up with Paulita’s Dreaming of France meme

Want a translation? View the English version below.




No matter the language, it looks good to me. Et vous?
*after an Academy Award qualifying run in December.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Happy Birthday to Jodie Foster: One of our First Female Action Heroes #SaturdayMatinee



I knew Jodie Foster got her start in show biz at a very young age—she was the little girl in the Coppertone commercials, the one where the dog tugs down her bathing suit bottom with his teeth to reveal her tan. I didn’t realize she was also in a lot of the television shows we loved back in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, everything from Ironsides to Adam 12, Courtship of Eddie’s Father to My Three Sons.



Marking her 54th birthday today, November 19, Foster has over 75 acting credits to her name—Taxi Driver, Nell, The Accused, Panic Room, Contact to name a few. The most iconic though has to be Silence of the Lambs. Clarice Starling with the cheap brown shoes mustering her courage opposite Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lector, barely able to contain her terror, pushing herself past her own fear searching the labyrinth of rooms in Buffalo Bill’s basement, saving the girl and the day. 


Foster is one of our first female heroes, succeeding very much in the male mold of action heroes, challenging and confronting her own fears, pushing past her own limitations, being brave in the face of physical defeat. It’s a psychological battle, yes, but it’s more than that. She is bringing down a real killer, a madman. She might be petite, ‘a little lady’ she is not. She stands clear at the other end of the I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar spectrum. You have to love her for that.

It’s an Oscar winning performance and while Ms. Foster also won Best Actress for The Accused and was nominated for both Nell and for Taxi Driver (when she was just fourteen years old) Silence of the Lambs is likely the first thing that comes to mind when you hear her name. 

Happy Birthday Jodie Foster! Let’s celebrate by watching Silence of the Lambs with some popcorn and a glass of Chianti.

Based on the classic thriller by Thomas Harris, Silence of the Lambs also won Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme) Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins) and Best Screenplay Adaptation for Ted Talley. The film is available to stream on Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay, Vudu, and iTunes.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Where is The Secret Scripture starring Rooney Mara & Aidan Turner showing? I NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE! [trailer]


We have the trailer now but the big secret is where the hell is the actual movie! I have waited for this film, based on Sebastian Barry’s epic book, for so long. Back as far as June 2013 when Jessica Chastain was set to play Rose along with Vanessa Redgrave! Rooney replaced her, the film was made. And for so long, it was tied up in bancruptcy proceedings!

But now, here it is, the trailer for The Secret Scripture starring Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave, Eric Bana, Aidan Turner, Theo James and Jack Reynor. Indicating some sort of releae I imagine but I still can’t tell when or how the film is actually being released. Imdb says 2016 but apart from screening at TIFF in September and the London Film Festival in October, there hasn’t been a general release and 2016 is coming to an end after all. I know reviews were mixed but, I’m sorry, with this cast I insist on seeing it anyway!



Mara and Redgrave both play Rose McNulty, as the younger and older woman confined to a deteriorating mental health hospital. Eric Bana is the psychiatrist brought in to determine Rose's fitness to be moved after all these years and in so doing, hears the dramatic story of her life in 1940’s Ireland.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

One of the Top Ten Movies Based on Books Coming in 2017: The Zookeeper's Wife


Based on the true story that inspired Diane Ackerman’s 2006 novel, The Zookeeper's Wife is set for release March 31, 2017. 
The film is one of a dozen movies directed by a woman I’d been hoping to see this year, in a way I’m grateful it’s not on this year’s schedule. It means I (and you if you’re a fellow procrastinator) still have oodles of time to read the book. 


Set in war-torn Poland in 1939, Jessica Chastain stars as Antonina Żabiński, who helped her husband Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh) run the Warswaw Zoo.


As the country is invaded by the Nazis and Jews are being ripped from their homes, Antonina convinces her husband to use the zoo to hide escaped Jews. Their mission becomes increasingly more dangerous under the suspicious eye of the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl) . 

Watch!




Niki Caro, the New Zealand filmmaker best known for Whale Rider—and rumored to count Captain Marvel among her upcoming projects—directs. Angela Workman who adapted Lisa See’s beautiful Snow Flower & the Secret Fan wrote the script.

From the little bit this trailer reveals, I’m looking forward to it more than ever. 


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Do you need a lift? This featurette for The Little Prince will take you away.


I keep searching for lightness during what feel like dark days. Discovering this featurette for The Little Prince brought a needed touch of lightness into my world today; I’m hoping it will do the same for you. Watch as a the talented artists behind the making of The Little Prince create strikingly beautiful visuals. 

You’ll no doubt recognize Jeff Bridges as the voice of the aviator, Rachel McAdams as the mother, while the rose is voiced by Marion Cotillard. The little girl reading the book is Mackenzie Foy, Murph in Interstellar. James Franco, Benicio del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort, Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti and Albert Brooks are among the voice talent in the movie. Could be fun to watch it just to play the “Who is that?’’game most of us, consciously or not, play while watching animated flicks.


Inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic,
The Little Prince is streaming on Netflix now. 



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What is the McMafia? A new series coming to AMC starring James Norton


I woke up thinking about Donald Trump’s request that his adult children have total top-secret security clearance. I need some really good news to wipe away the dread I’m feeling deep in my bones. James Norton to the rescue.

Norton, one of my favorite Brits—I admit, I have a lot of faves—is starring in a BBC/AMC co-production of McMafia which will be coming to our television screens. The AMC series is inspired by Misha Glenny’s best selling nonfiction book. 




“James Norton is Alex Godman the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history, who has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca. But when his family’s past murderously returns to threaten them, Alex is drawn into the criminal world and forced to confront his values to protect those he loves.’’
Set in the world of international organized crime, the series is written by Hossein Amini (Drive) and all eight episodes will be directed by James Watkins (The Woman in Black). 
McMafia charts Alex’s journey through a terrifying labyrinth of international criminals, money launderers, corrupt politicians and ruthless intelligence agencies. He soon finds himself embroiled in an underworld that stretches from London to Moscow, Dubai to Mumbai, Africa to the Americas, a battleground where Mexican cocaine cartels compete with Pakistani drug lords, Balkan smugglers and the Russian Mafia itself. What starts out as a story of survival and revenge becomes an epic tale of a man’s struggle against the lures of corruption in the modern world and in himself.’’

Production has begun in London so Brit friends, keep your eyes out for James and the rest of the cast.

The cast via Deadline—

David Strathairn (The Bourne Ultimatum) as Semiyon Kleiman, a well-connected Israeli businessman with a twinkle in his eye that betrays deeper secrets. 



Juliet Rylance (The Knick) portrays Rebecca Harper, Alex’s strong-willed and morally upright British girlfriend.


Aleksey Serebryakov (The Method) will play Dimitri, Alex’s father and the exiled head of the Russian mafia. 



Maria Shukshina (Yolki 3) has been cast as Oksana, Alex’s socialite mother, and Faye Marsay (Game of Thrones) rounds out the cast in the role of Katya, Alex’s sister.



“Misha Glenny’s book reminds us that underneath the headlines of today what we used to think of as organized crime is something completely different. It’s a global operation, with tentacles in every corner of our world. The creative team behind McMafia has brilliantly used the essence of this source material to write a compelling and relevant piece of television.”

The writing team, led by Amini and Watkins, includes David Farr (The Night Manager), Peter Harness (Doctor Who), and Laurence Coriat (Wonderland).

The only remaining question remains WHEN? The president-elect takes office on January 20th and I have a feeling I’m going to need some big league distraction to save my sanity.



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