> Chapter1-Take1: 2011

Worth a look back: The Birth of Benjamin Button (& the music behind the movie)

I must have had Brad Pitt in this year's Oscar contender Moneyball on my mind. Somehow or other I ended up renting the bonus materials for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I probably thought my son, a young filmmaker would be interested. IF you loved the movie based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story AND you like going behind the scenes and seeing how films are made, you have got to see the bonus materials for the movie. I rented them through Netflix  - completely separate from the film, it's a 2 and a half hour documentary, entitled The Birth of Benjamin Button that had me glued to the couch. It  takes you through every aspect of the movie from the initial idea to adapt F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story in 1988 to it's premiere in December of 2008. A twenty year process that covers script problems, extensive, elaborate, magical CGI work, exquisite musical score by Alexandre Desplat and so much more. It was really mind-boggling and breath taking and nothing like those cheesey E Hollywood celebrity things. It was, as my son who watched it with me said, 'extremely educational'. And absolutely amazing.

If you can't manage the entire piece, do check out the session with Desplat who has been very much in film news these days. The composer for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close , Ides of March, Tree of Life. last year's winning film The Kings Speech, Carnage, two Harry Potter movies and many more is clearly so passionate and an absolute genius. He's been nominated several times for Academy Awards, and is eligible again this year with Extremely, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part One, and Ides of March

John LeCarre weighs in on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

A lovely thing happened last night. My son came home after having seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  He absolutely loved the film, the story, the characters, the look of it, the pace, the whole she-bang. The lovely thing about that is that he hadn't read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or any LeCarre at all and now he's just dying to. When I told him he had a new book out (well, newish, it came out last April) he was very excited. "He's still alive!" Frankly, I was surprised too. Not sure why! 

An adaptation of Our Kind of Traitor starring Ewan McGregor is due out in the fall of 2015

I'm thrilled that this excellent film will have people running to their bookstores for other John LeCarre novels! And what's really lovely is that he has a wonderful website where you really get a sense not just of his work, but of the man too. And for readers - like my son and I - who are curious about his other Smiley books, he's got them conveniently listed so it's easy to see what to read next.
Of the movie, Le Carre says
"Once in a lifetime, if a novelist is very lucky, he gets a movie made of one of his books that has its own life and truth. This is the achievement of Tomas Alfredson and his team....This is a movie that entertains superbly and thrillingly at its own pace and rhythm — a hypnotic movie that takes you over completely. I don’t believe that any audience, once introduced to it, will be able to take its eyes off the screen."
You can read more at John LeCarre's website
He's also posted most of an interview Matt Singer did with Tomas Alfredson, the Swedish director of the film, for IFC. It's so illuminating, I've decided to post it in full here.  An exciting bit of news that comes out of it is that it's possible Alfredson will go on to make the other 2 books in the "Karla trilogy", Smiley's People and The Honourable Schoolboy! (He mistakenly calls it Honorary Schoolboy) THAT news sends shivers up my spine!

"Tomas Alfredson first got noticed in the United States with his film “Let the Right One In,” a brilliant and boldly original take on the vampire genre (the film was remade, not quite as brilliantly or boldly originally, as “Let Me In” ). He’s followed that breakthrough up with a bold take on another genre, the spy film, in his adaptation of John le Carré’s classic novel, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” But all this genre reinvention doesn’t mean Alfredson’s a “genre filmmaker.” For all he knows, Alfredson says, his next movie might be a romantic comedy.
“I never think of what label they end up having in the video store,” Alfredson told me about his taste in projects. “If it’s action or drama or comedy or whatever, it’s the same for me, the same kind of work. I wouldn’t be against a romantic comedy as long as it interests me. It doesn’t matter really.”What matters right now is “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” a labyrinthian espionage tale set in England’s Secret Intelligence Service (nicknamed “The Circus”) in the 1970s. At its center is an enigmatic man named George Smiley (Gary Oldman). As the film begins, Smiley and the Circus’ top man, Control (John Hurt), are forced into early retirement, casualties of a botched operation in Hungary. When Control dies sometime later, Smiley is recruited to resume his old boss’ final mission: uncovering the identity of a mole in the upper ranks of The Circus. There are four main suspects, each with their own code name: Tinker (Toby Jones), Tailor (Colin Firth), Soldier (Ciarán Hinds), and Poorman (David Dencik). Smiley must figure out which one’s the mole before they can do any further damage. But when you’re hunting former friends and co-workers, who do you trust?For Alfredson, making a film that tries to answer those sorts of questions was much more personally intriguing than reinventing a genre. During our conversation, we talked more about what draws him to projects in general and to “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” in particular. We also discussed the film’s poker-faced star and what Alfredson would choose as his own le Carré-style nickname. It’s a good one.
 I love spy films. Do you have any favorite spy films?
I’m not as educated as you in those matters but I think “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” is a very beautiful and well-done film.
Can you tell me first what attracted you to the material?
I was approached about two years ago. Of course, I had a relationship to the material for a long time because I read many of John le Carré’s books and, like almost everyone in Sweden, I had seen the “Tinker Tailor” TV miniseries from the ’70s. I thought it was a very moving piece about loyalty and friendship and the human cost that the soldiers of the Cold War had to pay.
In the press notes for the film, you’re quoted as saying you “understand” George Smiley’s soul in some way. What about his soul did you connect with?
The loneliness, the idea that whatever you say and whatever you do, people will misinterpret you, and what’s on your outside doesn’t reflect what’s on your inside. I might have a little dash of George in me there, because he doesn’t really reflect what’s inside of him. As an artist or musician or painter, one of the strongest forces that you have is feeling misinterpreted by the outside world. It forces you to find a different way of expressing yourself through what you do.
“Let the Right One In” was another film about loneliness.
There’s other comparisons you can draw between “Let the Right One In” and “Tinker Tailor.” They both strike me as films about what people will or will not do for love. Are those themes you’re particularly drawn to?
They could be themes or feelings I react very strongly to, but when you choose material, it’s not that intellectual. If you react in a visceral way when reading a script, if you see a lot of images; if you laugh, cry, or shiver, then it’s probably something you should do.
I was a huge “Let the Right One In” fan. What’s the transition been like from smaller Swedish films to this much bigger English language production? Was it a big adjustment?
The hardest thing to adjust to is the language. I thought my English was pretty good but when I started working, I realized it’s not. You don’t have all the nuances or the details you’re used to having within reach when it’s a language you really know. So that was really frustrating. You get so slow; you have to reach out for each and every word every time you want to say something precisely. And directing, you want to be very precise. So that was a big step, not working in my own language.
The sets are bigger and the responsibility is bigger. Everything is bigger than I’m used to, but at the same time it’s just the same stuff in a larger scale. As someone once said, a drummer is always a drummer and a bass player is always a bass player. It’s the same with movie people.
I loved the look of the film, and I know you worked with Hoyte Van Hoytema, your “Let the Right One In” cinematographer, on “Tinker Tailor.” What directions did you give him and your team about how you wanted the film to look?
We tried to find ways of expressing paranoia through images and to make the audience feel like there is always a third person in the room; that the camera is a voyeur, an uninvited stranger looking at things. Another keyword we used to say was if we could create images with the scent of damp tweed, that would be a good guideline for what we were looking for.
I didn’t time it, but it feel like a lot of scenes go by before Smiley says his first line of dialogue. It’s got to be at least fifteen minutes.

Yeah, it’s about fifteen minutes.
So was it a challenge making a movie about a protagonist who is so reticent, especially in the early scenes?
Well if you look at the expressions of George throughout the movie, it’s like turning on a lava lamp. It takes two hours for him to even slightly raise his voice in the final scene.
I think if someone is secretive and doesn’t express himself too much that is interesting. You want to create the feeling in the audience where they want to try to look around the corner, to get into his mind or soul. It’s a strange equation, but the less he gives the more you get interested. That’s the anti-force of Smiley.
How did you work to develop that “anti-force” with Gary?
I said to him I wanted to do a very subtle Smiley and that we had to play with very subtle ways of expressing his feelings. A younger actor couldn’t or wouldn’t dare to do as little as Gary does. It takes a lot of courage and experience to come to that decision to stand still and do almost nothing. He’s in total control of his instrument, masterfully using his abilities as an actor. George and the camera have a secret connection. The camera is George’s mirror or something.
The flashback to the Christmas party that we see pieces of throughout the film wasn’t in le Carré’s original novel. Why did you add it?
I wanted to see all the people we meet in the film when they were actually friends, and show that they could be together and do something other than what they usually do. I asked John le Carré if they would have had a Christmas party, and he said “Yes, we had pretty wild ones, with people throwing bottles out the windows and police turning up.” I thought that would be a great platform to show the characters interacting in a more private way.
Given that you’re working with a large novel, one that had previously been adapted into an entire miniseries, was condensing the source material to fit the runtime of a feature difficult?
It was. Since the book is like a maze, and it jumps back and forth in time, we had to distribute it in a different way. Luckily, Mr. le Carré was very open to us doing that. He said, “Play around with it and if you come up with new ideas I will support you.” The hardest part was creating images to replace dialogue that refers to people and faces, to see stuff happening instead of describing it.

Do you want to do more English language projects? I’d be happy to if I find something that I feel comfortable with and that makes me react strongly. It’s not important what language it’s in, it’s just important that it feels right. So, yes, I’m open to it.
There are plenty of other Smiley books by le Carré. Would you want to make more of them into films?
We have discussed the rest of the Karla trilogy — “Smiley’s People” and “The Honorary Schoolboy” — to see if we could do something, but we haven’t set when or where.
Most of le Carré’s characters have code names like “Tinker” or “Tailor.” If you were giving yourself a spy code name, what name would you chose?
Do you know how they got these names?
Most of the ones in the movie are based on the old nursery rhyme.
Every time MI6 started a new operation, they called this certain woman who had a dictionary, and she just randomly chose a word from that dictionary so there would be absolutely no connection between the operation and the word. So Operation: Witchcraft, for example, is just something chosen from the dictionary by this woman. So I think I would choose some totally random name: Sven. [laughs]
[laughs] I love it. The perfect spy code name.
Yeah, the Swedish spy Sven."

On a side note, did you know that Tomas Alfredson and Daniel Alfredson are brothers? The latter is the director of the Swedish language film versions of  The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I just watched The Girl Who Played with Fire last night. More about that in another post.

The Woman in Black trailer and pictures of Daniel-Harry Potter-Radcliffe

Are you excited about The Woman in Black? It's based on the book by Susan Hill and stars Daniel Radcliffe. It's coming out pretty soon - February 3 here in the states, February 10th in the UK.
It remains to be seen whether Radcliffe can rid himself of his Harry Potter cloak or whether he is doomed to wear it forever. A prospect, perhaps, even scarier than this would-be scary movie! I guess we will have to wait and see.
In the meantime I like this photo - let's face it he will always be short but he does look rather grown up. And there are a ton of other pictures you can see here at The Woman in Black pictures and you can watch the trailer below.
source: The Movie Blog

On Never Let Me Go with Carey Mulligan

Looking at the beautiful picture of Carey Mulligan as Daisy in The Great Gatsby from my last post, I remembered seeing this article about her in The Guardian. It ran last year in conjunction with the opening of the film Never Let Me Go, based on the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishigura. A novel which Time magazine, by the way, called "THE NOVEL OF THE DECADE."    

Never Let Me Go also stars Keira Knightly and Andrew Garfield and caused quite a stir at film festivals like Toronto and Telluride.

I haven't read the book or seen the movie yet.
Should I? Well I'd love to hear what you have to say but I have a very strong hunch I'll be doing both!  I just put it at number 3 on my Netflix queue. Check out the trailer and tell me if you'll be doing the same!

From the Guardian...
It's the day of the premiere and confusion reigns inside the London hotel. TV cables are snaking down the corridors, photographers stand in huddles and the doors keep opening and shutting like a Feydeau farce. The press minders, meantime, have turned harried and irritable. ''What time are we leaving, Jane?'' barks one to the other. ''It's Kate,'' Kate snaps back.

In all the hubbub, it takes me a moment to register Carey Mulligan, hiding out on a window seat with her back to the light. Her blonde bob is scrunched, her make-up applied. At first glance, she might be a 14-year-old trying to pass for 18 at the local nightclub. Then she gets to her feet and is instantly transformed, looming 1.77 metres tall in her tottering heels. Her voice is in her boots; rich and deep, at least three octaves lower than it ought to be. Everything about her is quietly confounding.

In the course of a hectic six-year career, Mulligan has conspired to look both young and old, plain and beautiful. She was mousy as Kitty Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, grave and soulful as Ada Clare in the BBC production of Bleak House; impishly vulnerable in her Oscar-nominated breakthrough in An Education, a broken bird when she played The Seagull on Broadway. I can't tell whether she's a wizened, watchful Miss Marple in the guise of a limpid ingenue, or the other way around. ''I have a very forgettable face,'' she explains. ''I don't look specific.''

Her latest film, Never Let Me Go, makes great play of this mutability. Cast as Kathy, Mulligan is, variously, romantic heroine, sacrificial victim and quiet, stoic witness. Mark Romanek's drama - based on the marvellously blank, affectless novel by Kazuo Ishiguro - is a sci-fi tale of sorts. Kathy, Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) are pupils at a cloistered English boarding school that doubles as a farm for human organs. Their only hope is an audience with the mysterious Madame, who is rumoured to offer deferrals that allow these clones to live for a time as normal people. ''It's a metaphor for our lives,'' Mulligan says. 
''It could end tomorrow, or 70 years from now. But we know it's going to end.''
She last worked with Knightley on 2005's Pride and Prejudice, when Knightley was a star and she was not. Since then, she has played stealthy catch-up. In fact, Ishiguro tells me, there was early indecision over the casting; some debate over which woman would play vivid Ruth and which one retiring Kathy.

''But I think they're better suited this way around,'' he says. ''It has something to do with the respective beauty and sexuality they have. Carey's charm is a more passive one. She's not as conventionally attractive as Keira but she's a terrifically subtle actress. There's this dual-layer effect with Carey, what she gives is never black and white. It's her voice that's the key. She can look so vulnerable that you expect her to sound quite girly. But the voice is surprisingly low and mature. It gives her this strange authority.''

As a child, Mulligan lived in transit. Her dad was an executive for the InterContinental hotel chain and shuttled the family from one hotel to the next. I tell her this sounds impossibly glamorous. ''Oh God, it's totally not,'' she says. ''I probably painted it as that when I was about 12, wanting to be cool, but it really isn't. My dad was a hotel manager, so I was born at the Grosvenor House [London] and then lived at the Mayfair. Then it was Hanover and Dusseldorf. Most hotels have a set of rooms on the top floor for the manager's family. It sucked because you couldn't have a garden and you couldn't have pets. Lose a guinea pig behind the radiator and you've got a big problem.''

That said, it prepared her well. ''I like being a gypsy and I'm obviously comfortable in hotels. I mean, I don't bring flowers or hang art, but it feels like home. It means you don't have to think about real life. You just focus on the work. The only life you live is the life of the film.''
She is now 25 and wanted to be an actor from the age of six. In her teens, she wrote a letter to Kenneth Branagh, begging him to be her mentor. Branagh declined, as did the three drama schools she applied to in secret. So she wrote another letter. This one went to writer-actor Julian Fellowes, who had recently visited her school to give a talk. Incredibly, Fellowes went on to arrange an audition for Pride and Prejudice. Still more incredibly, she got the gig, which meant jacking in her part-time job pulling pints at the Three Pigeons pub. ''I was just this random, giggly fool,'' she recalls. ''I was 19 and had about four lines and no idea what was going on. Then I got a play at the Royal Court, so I thought, 'At least I've got work until the end of the year.' Then I got Bleak House.'' She waves a hand, a shade embarrassed by her own good fortune.
The way Mulligan puts it, all she ever wanted was to be a jobbing actor. What she was after was the thrill of the work; the smell of the greasepaint. So she wished and wrote letters, and then her dreams came true and caught her unawares. 

Even now, six years in, her lack of training still niggles. ''Some people are at peace with their work,'' she reflects. ''I always think, 'Oh f---, they're going to find me out.' I mean, I still have days when I genuinely cannot act. There's a scene in every film which I look back on and think, 'That was the day I couldn't act.'''

Next up is a role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby. She'll play Daisy Buchanan, the siren of East Egg who lures the hero to his doom; a woman possessed of ''a low, thrilling voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech were an arrangement of notes that will never be played again''. Her voice, says Gatsby, ''sounds like money''. It's a role that might have been written with the actor in mind.
There is a telling scene near the start of Never Let Me Go in which a kindly teacher blows the whistle. ''You will become adults but only briefly,'' she tells her students. ''You will start to donate your vital organs. That's what you are created to do.'' I wonder if this chimes with Mulligan's charmed, veal-calf existence. Does she occasionally fear there might be some dark and terrible price to pay?

''Yeah, maybe I'm going to find out that I have to give my blood in order to stay in this world,'' she says. ''But no: there's no club. There's nothing going on that I don't know about. It's funny, because it's all illusion. It's basically about people getting up and driving to work and pretending to be someone else and then driving back to sit in their hotel and watch To Catch a Predator.''

To catch a what? ''Oh, you have to watch it! It's on in America, it's a reality show. They snare paedophiles. They go online and pretend to be little boys and girls, and they get these paedophiles to come to this fake suburban house. And then this guy walks in called Chris Hansen and collars them. And then, when they try to walk out, these police officers jump on them! Aw, it's the best thing,'' she says, her eyes alight. ''I mean, these poor guys, it's not like they're armed. I mean, they're horrible but they're basically just sad, pathetic men.''

The press minder arrives to wrap up the interview but Mulligan will not be stopped; she's on a roll. ''And they've got this guy who's dressed in army camouflage, with leaves on his outfit, who hides in the bushes, leaps out and throws them to the ground. The Leaf Man! Oh, it's so good. That's what I want to do. I want to play the fake child on To Catch a Predator. No, wait!'' she says. ''I want to play the Leaf Man!''
Basically, I think, she wants it all.

Classic charisma

Variety magazine has christened Mulligan ''the new Audrey Hepburn'', although she is more coiled and anxious than your average gamine. Kazuo Ishiguro says she has more in common with Shirley MacLaine or Isabelle Huppert, while Julian Fellowes suggests she's an amalgam of them all, a classic screen heroine whose ''bird-like fragility [contains] a core of steel''.

Just lately she's cracked the US. The tabloids have fixated on her hair, her contribution to a track on the last Belle and Sebastian album and her brief relationship with Shia LaBeouf, her co-star on Oliver Stone's Wall Street sequel. But that's OK, she shrugs, because it's as if these reports play out on a parallel planet. Off screen, she is able to vanish into the woodwork. ''We were in Telluride recently, sitting in a gondola, and the other passengers were talking about Never Let Me Go, having just that minute seen it. And I was just sitting there, unnoticed.''

Carey and Leo; so gorgeous together

 YUMMY New pictures from The Great Gatsby. What more is there to say? Except that it comes out next Christmas. Oh, and poor Tobey Maguire ... did you know there was a Facebook page devoted to stopping him from being cast as Nick? I agree he wouldn't be my choice - he has a dopey mouth and I think Nick has to at least look intelligent as well as naive. 

Here's the doomed fb page if you want to check it out
Stop Tobey Maguire from destroying the Great Gatsby

This year's Oscar poster proclaims Celebrate the movies in all of us!

I just saw this years' poster design for the Oscars on deadline.com. It was designed by Anthony Goldschmidt, and Mark and Karen Crawford of Blood&Chocolate, and features eight images of Oscar-winning movies - 5 of which are based on best selling books. The Best Picture winning movies are Gone with the Wind (1939), Casablanca (1943), The Sound of Music (1965), The Godfather (1972), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Forrest Gump (1994) and Gladiator (2000). Also pictured is Giant (1956) which didn't win the Best Picture award but did garner a Best Director for George Stevens. Not sure what the thinking was on that one! I also think they could have included a film from this  century! 

What I do like is the headline."Life. Camera. Action." and the tagline "Celebrate the movies in all of us" because it's true. Films - whether they are based on a book - or come completely from a screenwriter's imagination, are grounded in the stories of our lives.

We are the movies, pure and simple.                                          


Daniel Craig IS Everyman in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I thought Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was intense and fantastic. Part of that was a great script based on an amazing book. Part of it was Rooney Mara who was just incredibly surprising and formidable. Then there's sexy Daniel Craig. We're so used to seeing him as the fairly cold-blooded 007. Bond would certainly never need a woman to come to his rescue! I love Craig as Blomkvist; he's just a bit more human, hence loveable. And still sexy as hell in his Euro garb!
I just saw this great little interview with Daniel Craig in the Calgary Herald. Apparently questions about his recent marriage to Rachel Weizs as well as the next Bond film, Skyfall, were off limits. 

Here's what he did have to say about being Daniel Blomkvist to Bob Thompson, Postmedia
Q: What’s the key to taking on an iconic role?
A: The less you think about what other people think in this industry, the better, and the more original you can be.
Q: Was that your approach with Blomkvist and Bond?
A: You can’t go into a project thinking, “Oh, how would these people like it?” You must get on with what you want, and be single-minded about it.
Q: Blomkvist is not the macho Bond type, right?
A: I wanted to put a reality into (Blomkvist). He gets shot at, and he runs away — I mean, screaming, just like anybody else would. That was really the key.
Q: Did you portray him like an Everyman?
A: I believe I did. What I love about him is the connection with Salander. He doesn’t have to prove he’s a man. He doesn’t have to go around beating his chest. And he’s very happy to fall into this sort of relationship where she’s literally wearing the trousers.
Q: Did you feel the burden of great expectations filming the movie?
A: I think we have 65 million readers of the book. And we have lots of people who have seen the Swedish/Danish version of the movie. And we may get millions of other people to see this movie. Everybody will go back and read the book, and watch the Swedish version. It’s a win/win.
Q: Is the Blomkvist-Salander alliance the story’s main attraction?
A: Yes. They come from completely different social classes. But I think Salander’s never really learned to trust anybody. There are very few people in her life that are straight with her. And he is.
Q: What’s their connection?
A: Blomkvist walks into her life and says, “I think you’re great. I’d like to work with you. And I’ll walk away.” And I think it just appeals to her.
Q: What about the filming process?
A: We didn’t do one thing in sequence. We shot the end of the movie first, so you always had to know where you were, and had to make sense of it.
Q: Did Fincher include you and Mara in the creative development?
A: We all got involved with mapping out the complex film. And it’s a testament to David’s skill as a director that it all remains very interesting.
Q: Were the intimate scenes between Blomkvist and Salander difficult for you and Mara?
A: No.
Q: So sex scenes in movies aren’t difficult?
A: No, of course not.
Q: Really?
A: Intimate scenes on a movie set are just dry, bizarre things; people standing around. And I don’t make those other kind of movies. (Smiles.) Not for a long time, anyway.

Safe & Sound from The Hunger Games by Taylor Swift

I was listening to the newly released single from The Hunger Games soundtack by Taylor Swift, and was surprised to find I liked it! It's sort of mournful and hopeful at the same time. If you haven't heard the single, Safe and Sound, from Taylor Swift and the Civil War, here it is.

The Movie I am READING now: The Girl Who Played with Fire

Wow! Wow! Wow! I've just spent the last couple of days absolutely immersed in number two of the Millenium trilogy; The Girl Who Played with Fire. My husband dragged me away from it to see the latest Sherlock Holmes movie last night - Game of Shadows which Noomi Rapace was in, along with stars Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr and a stunningly brief appearance by Rachel McAdams. Not great but certainly entertaining enough, and I've taken time out to do some laundry and eat but besides that I've been pretty much glued to the page. Or should I say pages. All 649 of them. I think the sheer length of the book - it's daunting heft - kept me from reading it before. Who has time to read such a loooooong book?! How long will it take?? Trust me, make the time and it will fly by. Take this coming weekend for example. Forget going to yet another boring New Year's Eve party and ring the New Year in with Blomkvist and Salander instead.
This is an incredibly exciting read - more so in many ways that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. One of the things I loved most about it is that quite a bit of it takes place in Stockholm; it's great fun to get a sense of the city and I look forward to seeing it on film. Isn't that one of the reasons to read they always put on those posters - READING TAKES YOU PLACES. This book sure took me places.
Another thing I absolutely loved - the amazing cast of characters. We get to see Libeth in a whole new light. We see more of wonderful Armansky and Palmgren, Nils Bastard Bierman- her horrible guardian - more of Erika Berger, the Millennium editor and of course more of Mikael Bloody Blomkvist. Then there is a dizzying array of all new characters, good guys and bad guys - I mean, really, really bad guys -  and I won't even go into who's who because it is just so much fun to go along for the ride!
Having read the book, I will look forward to seeing David Fincher's version of it which should come out in a couple of years. A couple of years?? That's IF he decides to do it - he's said Book 2 and Book3 are basically two parts of one entire book and if he does direct, he'll shoot them back to back. Regardless, that's way toooo long to wait so I'll be watching the Swedish language version in the meantime. Interesting that Neils Arden Oplev is not back to direct, instead it's Daniel Alfredson who also directs the final film in the trilogy, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. AND he is brother to Tomas Alfredson, who you may remember, just directed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  It's a teeny tiny world when you come right down to it!  

Here's the trailer for Alfredson's version of The Girl Who Played with Fire. Thankfully we still have Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth and Michael Nyquist as Blomkvist! BUT BEWARE, this trailer, as is true for all trailers frankly, may just give too much away!

War Horse: Kids Books don't always equal kids movies

I still haven't had the chance to see War Horse yet. Based on the book by Michael Morpugo, at this point one thing is clear. Even though this film is based on a kids book this is NOT a kids movie! Perhaps that should have been clear from the get go. The setting is World War I after all.

Here's a snippet from the Screen Rant review:

"That said, the marketing for the film (coupled with the children’s book source material) might lead some moviegoers to think that War Horse is a mostly lighthearted and inspiring adventure suitable for older children – which, for anyone familiar with the stage adaptation that inspired Spielberg’s movie, would be a mistake. There is a huge difference between having scenes of animals and people in peril in a children’s book (or portrayed by puppets in a stage play) – and having live human and animal actors in the same situations in a very realistic-looking film. For casual audiences, War Horse may actually be one of the heavier and more challenging films of the year – as the World War seemingly destroys everything in its wake (soldiers, innocents, and animals alike). The heavy tone and heart-wrenching moments don’t detract from the overall success of the film, but for sensitive viewers, it’s important to note that the War Horse marketing definitely makes the movie look significantly lighter than what actually plays out onscreen." To read the entire piece, click HERE

Will Cate Tiernan's SWEEP series be the new Potter, the new Twilight, or both?

Hmmm.  I've never heard of Sweep so this news sort of passed me by, but apparently it's a really popular teen book series by Cate Tiernan. Any fans out there? If so you'll be happy to know that Universal, who picked up the rights to the Sweep series last March, has hired a writer and a good one at that. Robert Nelson Jacobs who has done some great adaptations, Chocolat, The Shipping News & The Water Horse will write the screenplay which author Cate Tiernan is pretty happy about.

The funny thing—I think—is that Vince Vaughn and company (Wild West Picture Show Productions) will produce. His sister Victoria Vaughn (odd how some families do that alliteration thing, eh?) will oversee the production. I like that his sister works with him. Nice to be able to spread the wealth around! Universal Pictures must be banking on the series to take off where Breaking Dawn (the final installment in The Twilight Saga) and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows are out of theaters. The good news for them is there are at least 15 books in the Sweep series! If they prove as successful as the Potter series that could make everyone as rich as JK Rowling! I'm assuming they'll start with the first one, Book of Shadows but who knows!

In fact some people are saying Sweep is something of a hybrid of the two uber popular fantasy series. While Sweep has a strong female protagonist, 16 year old  Morgan Rowlands, she is a bit like Harry Potter in that she learns she is a “blood witch” meaning as Screenrant.com tells us "a born witch, descended from an entire bloodline of powerful magic users –  in the same way that Harry Potter discovers that he is not “just Harry” as he had always imagined, but in fact, a famous and powerful wizard at the beginning of J.K. Rowling’s series.

The Twilight similarities are especially apparent in the romantic elements of the story, as well as the nature of heroine, Morgan. Bella, the female protagonist in the Twilight series thinks of herself as ordinary, though those around her consistently respond to her as if she is extraordinary, and we eventually discover that she is, inherently, far beyond “normal.” Sweep opens with Morgan’s internal monologue observing “yesterday I was ordinary—not too pretty, not too plain;” she soon makes the discovery, however, that things are not as they had seemed.
Morgan’s discovery of her true nature is also akin to The Twilight Saga; she comes face to face with her bloodline through her interactions with, not a mentor or profit, but, a seriously hot boy. A boy who becomes the third corner in a romantic love triangle between Morgan, Cal (the boy) a Wiccan who can sense her “innate power,” and his enemy/brother, Hunter. The love triangle between the brother’s brings in an element from another tremendously popular teen fantasy series The Vampire Diaries."

I was curious and took a little trip over to Cate Tiernan's website. This is what she has to say on the subject!

‘‘So they’ve finally announced it in Variety–Sweep might become a movie.
I don’t know much more than you do, at this point–Alloy, which owns half of Sweep, made the deal. But I really love the screenwriter they’ve hired for the adaptation–he adapted one of my favorite movies, Chocolat, and has done several other terrific movies, so I feel like I’m in good hands.
But I don’t know anything about the schedule or timeline or casting–I won’t be involved in any of that. The author usually isn’t, unless they’re much bigger and more powerful than I am!

Thanks to everyone’s good wishes, and for all the excited tweets and posts! It’s so gratifying to see!

What’s really perplexed me is all the negative comments on some of the film sites, with people hating on Sweep without having read any of them, and saying it’s just like Harry Potter and Twilight. It’s so weird! Why don’t they read one of them first? Then they can hate on it if they want. It’s the dissing without knowing what they’re talking about that’s freaking me out.

But anyway: Sweep movie, possibly. Many things can still not work out. But my fingers are crossed. Thanks so much for all your support’’

Follow Cate Tiernan on twitter at @CateTiernan
I just love her attitude!
Sources: Screenrant.com, Variety, CateTiernan.com

Harrison Ford Joins Asa Butterfield in Ender's Game Adaptation

It's been a rumor for awhile but Variety reports it's definite. Harrison Ford will join Asa Butterfield - that wonderful young star of HUGO-  in Ender's Game, the film based on Orson Scott Card's novel. Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins:Wolverine) will direct from his own script.
Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld co star along with Aramis Knight, Moises Arias, Jimmy "Jax" Pinchak, Suraj Parthasarathy, Conor Carroll and Khylin Rhambo.
According to Variety:
The film will start shooting early in 2012 in New Orleans and will be released in the U.S. on March 15, 2013.
Set in Earth's utopian future, "Ender's Game" Ender is a young genius strategist recruited by the government to help destroy an insect-like alien race.
Ford will play Colonel Hyram Graff, who's in charge of training young military recruits. Breslin will play Valentine Wiggin, Ender's older sister, while Steinfeld plays Petra Arkanian, Ender's trusted right hand.                                          Ford recently signed on to play famed Brooklyn Dodgers g.m. Branch Rickey in Legendary Pictures' Jackie Robinson biopic "42."
Steinfeld starred in the Coen brothers' "True Grit" and will soon play Juliet in Carlo Carlei's upcoming adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic romance. Breslin can currently be seen in Garry Marshall's "New Year's Eve" and the indie "Janie Jones."

First Trailer for The Hobbit Released

Ah, Bilbo Baggins! It's so good to see you! While the film is still a year away, the first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been released.

Take a gander. Personally, I dig the singing dwarves.  Good to see Ian McKellan as Gandalph again, Cate Blanchett looks ethereally gorgeous as Galadriel and thank God, Andy Serkis is back as Gollum.
Here's the official synopsis for the movie:
“The Hobbit” follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakensheild. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.
Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever … Gollum.
Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities … A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.
I think JRR Tolkein would approve!

The Flowers of War opens December 23

I posted awhile back about The Flowers of War, (you can read that post HERE) the multi-lingual film which is notable for being China's entry into the Academy Awards and for the fact that it stars Christian Bale. Wrekin Hill, the American distribution company, is releasing the film in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco tomorrow, December 23rd.  It was released in China on December 16th. The book the film is based on doesn't even come out in English until next year so we can only rely on reports from others.

I've posted the Hollywood Reporter's review of the film below. It's a negative review on the whole. I will probably ignore the negative review and see the film.  I usually see what I want to see anyway, don't you? The film and the book it's based on, is about the Nanjing massacre which took place in 1937. It's an event I am in absolute ignorance about. I suspect quite a few of you are as well.

I will probably see the film because I am intrigued and looking forward to seeing how the filmmakers used language and subtitles. I don't know if I would be as interested if Christian Bale wasn't playing the lead but because I respect his choices as an actor so much, I'm intrigued to see what it was that attracted him to the role. It will be months before I can read the book in English so I don't have to feel guilty about seeing the movie first.  I intend to do a little reading, to get myself a mini-education as to the facts of the Nanjing massacre. And for that, I thank the filmmakers and Christian Bale for that. Art informs us, broadens and enlightens us. I don't know if this is great art but it can't be completely bad because it does just that!

Here's the Hollywood Reporter review
Based on Yan Geling's novel "13 Flowers of Nanjing,"  the Nanjing massacre plays front and center in director Zhang Yimou's tale.
It's something you'd think only the crassest of Hollywood producers would come up with — injecting sex appeal into an event as ghastly at the Nanjing massacre — but it's an element central to The Flowers of War, a contrived and unpersuasive look at an oft-dramatized historical moment. One of the first Chinese-financed features to topline a major American star (Inseparable, with Kevin Spacey, debuted at Pusan in October), Zhang Yimou's elaborately produced drama automatically will draw attention due to the presence of Christian Bale atop the cast but has the misfortune of coming so close on the heels of a truly outstanding film with the same setting, Lu Chuan's City of Life and Death. After a Dec. 16 commercial launch on home turf, Wrekin Hill has set one-week runs beginning Dec. 23 in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with a wider release to follow next year. But commercial prospects, at least in North America, look very limited.
To read the entire review check out it out at The Hollywood Reporter  and watch the trailer here. I don't know about you but it sure looks good to me!

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