> Chapter1-Take1: April 2012

Robert Pattison gets all serious and and goes to Cannes with Cosmopolis

Have you read Don Delillo's Cosmopolis? What do you think of David Cronenberg's casting of the Twilight star in the lead role? And they'll be screening at Cannes which is usually a pretty big deal and indicative of importance if nothing else.

Wondrous Words Wednesday: tanker desk

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Cathy at her Bermuda Onions Weblog. The idea is to share new (or at least new-to-us) words that we encounter in our reading.
I've just started Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, mainly because in addition to having been made into a movie which comes out in June, my husband worked on it last summer. He set up most of the civil war/vampire battles and frankly, I like to see whatever keeps my husband out of town for weeks at a time!
The book's narrator is describing the basement of the store he works at.
"There was an old metal "tanker" desk against one wall with the inventory computer on it"
I have never heard of a tanker desk so I looked it up on dictionary.com and the merriam webster online dictionary. Nothing. So I just googled it. Ah, it's a metal desk. Big and boxy and metal like a tank. Totally makes sense. I like this picture I found of this old beaten up tanker desk. There's a certain beauty in well-used things; I just hoped this isn't 'designer distressed'. I used to live next to someone who made furniture as a hobby and it just cracked me up to see her banging away at her brand new creations trying to give them some faux history!
Speaking of faux history; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is off to a really good start! I don't know what I was expecting, silly, simple writing, I suppose but I am pleasantly surprised by Graham-Smith's highly readable prose. It's very bookish!

Gatsby and The Hobbit at CinemaCon

What happens in Vegas isn't gonna stay in Vegas this time! CinemaCon has seen a host of movie big wigs and big guns this week, with directors airing 3D footage from highly anticipated flicks.
Among them, a couple of our favorite book to screen adaptations.
Here's what the folks from The Wrap thought about the footage screened at CinemaCon ...
Sharon Waxman waxed pretty poetically about The Great Gatsby saying Lurhmann was
"taking viewers for a sumptuous ride into the past.  ...  In Luhrmann's creative hands, "Gatsby" feels       like something new. The camera swoops and swoons with the mad, gaiety of flappers dancing at Jay Gatsby’s soiree. Maguire practically steps out of the proscenium frame to walk you through Gatsby’s  mansion.                                                                                                                                   
Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge") presented the clips via a taped message from New Zealand, where he is completing the film.                                                                                                                                  
And while the audience of movie exhibitors only saw a selection of scenes, this feels like something      special, something that eluded the beautiful-but-distant “Hugo” and that can’t be touched by a 3D     “Cowboys and Aliens.”                                                                                                                           
It feels like Luhrmann has found a way to tell a character-driven, dramatic story using 3D as a true    storytelling tool, rather than as a gimmick for visual hype.                                                                   
There is a tinge of “Titanic’s” opulence, and echoes of DiCaprio as a teen in Luhrmann's “Romeo and Juliet.” The movie has Luhrmann's distinctive stamp all over it, and it's safe to predict that teenage    girls will be lining up to see it.  "                                                                                                            

Teenage girls??? What about me? I can't wait!

Reports re Peter Jacksons The Hobbit weren't as glowing. Brent Lang, calling the debut 'disappointing' wrote that,
Jackson, who is in New Zealand editing the prequel, said that raising the rate at which film is projected from 24 to 48 frames per second will enhance the 3D experience. To do that, theater owners will have to purchase a software upgrade for digital projectors.                                      

“The movement feels more real, it feels smoother,” Jackson said.                                              
He also argued that by speeding things up, the 3D would be “more gentle on the eyes.”                  

Based on the buzz that accompanied the exit from the Caesar's Palace theater, at least some theater owners and film bloggers were unimpressed. It should be said that much of the footage Jackson screened still needed effects work -- some of it had green screens in the background -- but the impact was more Spanish telenovela than“Avatar.”                                                                                           

There will be plenty for fans to savor. However, the richness of Jackson’s imagery, while beautiful, was marred because the 48 frames made each scene too crisp, if that's possible. It looked more real, in fact -- too real. Instead of an immersive cinematic experience, Middle Earth looked like it was captured as part of a filmed stage play.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
One blogger was overheard saying that it reminded him of “I, Claudius,” a PBS series from the 1970s that is not renowned for its visual                                                                                            aesthetic.                                                                                                                                              
Perhaps what is currently unpleasant to the eye will be smoothed out in post-production when it is color corrected, or maybe, like rock music or Twitter, it is a cultural shift lost on old fogies.               
As for the footage itself, Jackson screened shots of epic battles, confrontations with trolls and a            chilling sequence with Gollum that showed that he still has a knack for finding the narrative heart in J.R.R. Tolkein’s dense mythological landscape.                                                                                     
If only it looked a little more like a movie."                                                                                           
My brother in law will be seriously miffed if they screw this one up. Beware the wrath of Jeff!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: About the Book #book2movies [review]

There are so many things I loved about this book; not the least of which is the historical aspect. I really appreciated the version I read on my Nook because it had the extra feature of being able to click on links for further reading without leaving the book.  It's just so fascinating - and horrifying - to learn how World War II impacted the tiny island of Guernsey. Imagine living on this tiny island in the English channel and being able to see the the Germans as they invaded France! And worse, being occupied by the Germans for the duration of the war.  The British decided not to bother defending the island; they decided it was unimportant militarily and gave it up without a fight. Which meant troops of Germans everywhere, curfews and very strict rationing. The threat of being shipped off to concentration and or work camps was never far away. For their own safety, many of the island's children were evacuated to the English countryside where they had to live with complete strangers, while their parents remained on Guernsey, missing them desperately.
What an amazing setting for this book of letters to and from a celebrated author, Juliet Ashton, and the members of the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, a group initiallly formed in an effort to fool the Germans into thinking its members had been discussing books rather than roasting a verbotin pig!
I was constantly asking people if one, they knew where Guernsey was and two, did they know that this tiny British island had been occupied by the Germans for five years during World War II? That when they first arrived the Germans would walk four and five abreast down the streets like they owned the place?  The very idea makes me shiver!
Reading the letters was a little distracting at first; I found myself having to go back and read the salutation to know who was writing to Juliet. Trying to form a mental picture of the person wasn't so easy until Juliet finally went to Guernsey herself. Thank God! At that point everything jelled and I really began to feel deeply for each and every character. I was jealous that Juliet got to go and visit the island and experience this wonderful motley crew for herself! I found the love story aspect predictable - deliciously so! The writers followed the recipe and ended up with a beautiful little souffle and I enjoyed every mouthful ... much more than I would have enjoyed potato peel pie I am sure!
The cast of characters in this novel based on historical fact is compelling from its major to minor characters. And knowing it will be a film makes them even more exciting to contemplate.

Juliet, the writer, is vivacious, independent-minded, bright, warmhearted and curious about the islanders and their experience. At this point, she's the only one cast. Branagh has selected Kate Winslet to play the role.Sidney, her longtime friend and publisher, adores  her. Is there something more than friendship there? If we are doing famous actors here, I think Hugh Grant would be perfect.


Dawsey Adams, is the strong silent and irrisistable type. Frankly we know almost from page 1 that he and Juliet will end up together but for me it didn't make the journey there any less wonderful. I am banking on Colin Firth.
Elizabeth, the heroic woman we only hear stories of is simply epic. The bravery of her actions - from her choice of romantic partner to how she stands up for what she knows is right truly is the stuff legends are made of. She is sent to Ravensbrook for her crimes. Hmm. Strong and important part. Cate Blanchett?

Kit, Elizabeth's daughter, adorable, stubborn and precocious. The society is basically raising her, hoping for Elizabeths' return to the island. They need a Brit version of the cute little girl in We Bought A Zoo.
Mark Reynolds is rich, powerful, handsome and smoothly confident. he's the American publisher who begins wooing Juliet professionally but soon starts to court her personally. Juliet is torn in terms of her feelings as well as what she wants to do with her life. In London, life with Mark is non-stop glamour. He wants her on his arm, sharing that life and is less than understanding about her interest in these people and the book she wants to write about them. Aaron Eckhardt?

Amelia Maughery is a central figure, an older woman and the semi matriarch of the group. Judi Dench?
Minorcharacters include Christian (Juliet's handsome German love interest and Kit's father), Sophie (Sidney's sister and Juliet's best friend), Isola (the slightly batty villager is the comic relief who is always discovering something new - from brewing up herbs to learning about phrenology- what do you think of Toni Collette?  )
Eben and Eli  (grandfather and his grandson who was sent to England- his mother Jane died giving birth and was Elizabeth's best friend) Tom Wilkerson
Remy, the French woman Elizabeth befriends while imprisoned. ???

Hey Girl, The Lucky One is no Notebook ...

Hey Girl! The Lucky One is no  The Notebook so don't let me catch you sneaking into a matinee on your lunch hour!

Poor, poor Zac Ephron. It looks like the critics mostly hate his movie The Lucky One, based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. Yep, that Nicholas Sparks. The guy who wrote The Notebook that is pretty universally loved by all.
Most of that is due to the gorgeous Gosling and the major league chemistry between Gosling and Rachel McAdams. They were at that falling in, newly in love, can't keep my eyes or hands off of you stage. That stuff oozes out onto the screen and it's electrifying. And honestly I think another element in the magic of the sheer unbelievable but enticing romanticsm of The Notebook is that it's a period picture.  It is so much easier to let ourselves believe and be swept away by the sweet and soulful Noah of the 1940's time period than it is the black jockey brief wearing Logan the marine of 2012. Oh, they just don't make men like they used to! But let's be real, if Noah built Allie a house today, we'd probably call him a pathetic loser and a stalker. But done safely in the 50's? Sigh, he's a keeper. I would certainly keep him.

Just for fun, here's what the critics had to say about The Lucky One. If despite all these reviews, you choose to go and plunk your bucks down anyway, don't say you weren't warned. On the other hand, Roger Ebert didn't hate it?! So it can't be all bad. If you do go and you are brave enough to admit it, I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.

 Peter Travers in The Rolling Stone:
The Lucky One is the latest Sparks assault.

Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter:
Maybe you can't fool all the people all the time, but novelist Nicholas Sparks sure has a lot of them hoodwinked with his run of drearily predictable stories of love and fate

The New York Post
Lucky strikes out
But despite his promise in smaller movies like “Me and Orson Welles,” here he’s all flat affect, taking bottled-up angst to an extreme where you never actually see it. He’s perfectly likable but never riveting, dropping the ball on the chance to portray the complicated psychology of a war veteran.

Owen Glieberman at Entertainment Weekly:
When Efron stares, however, there's no undercurrent, no sensual mischief. He's just a lox — sweet, handsome, and a little dull.

Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post
In 2004, "The Notebook" - from another Sparks novel - became a bona fide sleeper hit, catapulting the relatively unknown Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling to newfound stardom. "The Lucky One" tries hard to re-bottle that lightning, to no avail. Some bolts are best delivered out of the blue.

Roger Ebert at RogerEbert.com
"The Lucky One" is at its heart a romance novel, elevated however by Nicholas Sparks' persuasive storytelling. Readers don't read his books because they're true, but because they ought to be true. You can easily imagine how many ways this story would probably go wrong in real life, but who wants to see a movie where a Marine leans over to pick up a photo and is blown up? And a mom trying to raise her son and feed lots of hungry dogs while her abusive ex-husband gets drunk and hangs around? That kind of stuff is too close to life.


The Guersey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society: Goodbye to my beautiful mother

Pardon my absence. I haven't blogged since my mother's death last Friday; I'm posting this picture for Saturday snapshot hosted by Alyce on her blog, At Home with Books. It dates back to World War II.  Some of you may recall my mum had been ill recently; she had pnuemonia and had been in the hospital. When she was released back to her nursing home, she seemed to rally a bit but ultimately she didn't make it. She passed away last Friday, Friday the 13th! She was 86 and prior to developing Alzheimer's about a dozen years ago, had a rich and wonderful life. I will miss her; I will especially miss the real Enid Maud Good (formerly Hayden). While her faculties diminished and language faded, one thing that stayed was her lovely English accent and her use of the word 'love'.
It was so comforting to have the nursing home care givers tell us how she used to wheel herself up and down the halls all day and how much they loved her English accent and how she would call them all "Love".
She was part of that great generation who came of age in World War II. Coincidentally - or not? I've been reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the post- World War II book that deals with the German occupation of the island. I can't help but think of my mother when I read or hear about life in England during the wartime years. Like the children of Guernsey, who were sent to the British countryside in hopes of keeping them safe from the bombing, my mother's brothers were evacuated from London--- thousands of children were evacuated in 1939 - -( see the video below); she escorted them with her mother's instructions to keep the boys together which turned out to be impossible. She was just 14 and was housed briefly herself. I grew up fascinated with her stories of rationing, painting on stocking seams, running from bombs and hiding in her family's Morrison shelter. She met my dad, an officer in the British army, when he was home on leave.
Anyway,  my mother is a bit too young to have been Juliet Ashton - she was 21 in 1946 - but I couldn't help but think of her throughout this moving and poignant portrayal of strength. I think Kate Winslet will be wonderful. I'd like to see Aaron Eckhart as the American publisher who pursues her, perhaps the lovely Colin Firth as Dawsey. A proper review is forthcoming.
Goodbye Love, I will never forget your stories, your strength, your love.

Gary Ross will NOT, I repeat will NOT, direct Catching Fire

UPDATED 4/12/12
A couple of days ago, I read on Deadline, and posted below, that despite rumors to the contrary, Gary Ross would be back to direct Catching Fire.
The Daily Mail is now reporting that nope, Ross won't direct. #2 is due in theatres Oct 2013 and Ross says that's not enough time.
“Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire,” said Ross. “As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.”
The director, who also co-wrote the film script, added that directing The Hunger Games was “the happiest experience of my professional life”, and he told Lionsgate Studio that he appreciated their support “in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise”. The Hunger Games was Ross’s first directorial effort since Seabiscuit in 2003.
The search for a new director begins immediately, as production for Catching Fire starts in August. Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning writer of Slumdog Millionaire, has written the screenplay. The existing cast, including the widely praised Jennifer Lawrence who plays the action heroine Katniss, have all confirmed they will star in the film.
As The Hunger Games continues its complete domination in the box office wars, there's been debate as to whether director Gary Ross will be back for number two, Catching Fire. Hollywood know it all (I mean that in a good way) Nikki Finke at Deadline.com has the inside story and prediction that Ross who is currently on vacation will indeed be back.

"Despite reports that have spread like wildfire on showbiz websites, we hear from multiple sources close to Catching Fire that director Gary Ross has not formally withdrawn from The Hunger Games sequel. Ross is off on a family vacation and couldn’t be reached, but these internet reports that described his withdrawal as definitive are simply not accurate.
There have also been reports about a tense standoff between Lionsgate and Fox over the sequel services of Jennifer Lawrence, who will reprise her role as Mystique in the sequel to X-Men: First Class. That has also been somewhat overblown; Fox had an option deal on Lawrence way before she signed on to play Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. That put Fox in first position. Since Lionsgate has a Catching Fire script done, Fox allowed them to go first.
As for the notion that Ross would simply toss away the opportunity to return and direct Catching Fire because of a salary squabble, the logic seems flawed. The Seabiscuit director knows the benefit of riding in a winner and not switching horses midstream. Ross lobbied hard to get The Hunger Games and turned it into the biggest hit of his directing career. Before that, he developed several serious historical dramatic projects under his deal at Universal that didn’t get off the ground. Staying for a sure-fire hit and a sequel that audiences actually want to see makes a lot of sense for Ross, particularly given how active the filmmaker has been in the construction of Catching Fire.
Ross and author Suzanne Collins have been working on this since last November. They drafted Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy back then, when the Hunger Games post production schedule became too arduous for Ross to see through a plan to write the outline and then pen the sequel script with Collins. We’ve heard that Ross developed a tight bond with everyone involved in the film, including cast. Unless the deal making completely implodes, we expect to see Ross behind the camera when the sequel gets underway. "

Blandish me with a 'forest of camellias'

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy over at her Bermuda Onions Weblog. The point is to share words that are new to us that we encounter in our reading.
This week's word is blandishment, another of those words I knew I knew but it still stopped me. Did I really know what this word meant or was I just glossing over it in my reading? Well of course the context helps! I encountered the word in --- The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, Mark Reynolds a publisher, has been sending flowers, including "a forest of camellias" as one  character describes them, to Juliet, a writer. Juliet tells her current publisher ...
"So far his blandishments are entirely floral, and I remain true to you and the Empire"
According to Merrian-Webster blandishment was first used circa 1553 and  means "something that tends to coax or cajole : allurement —often used in plural"
So Reynolds is using flowers to cajole Juliet to do something. Whether it is to be part of his stable of writers or simply go on a date, isn't exactly clear. I am really enjoying this book, told through a series of letters. The device works although it's always debatable, isn't it, whether the writer is taking the easy way out. I was disappointed to read that the Kenneth Branagh directed, Kate Winslet acted film has been delayed from its start date for another year due to casting issues. But, dear reader, if you've read this book and Kate Winslet is Juliet Ashton; who would you pick to play Sidney, Mark Reynolds and dear Dawsey Adams?


Hanks All Set for Saving Mr. Banks - Disney does Disney!

Tom Hanks who was in talks to star as Walt Disney is a go, and instead of the rumured Meryl Streep, it's going to be Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers. Hollywood.com also confirms that
John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Rookie) is set to direct, "despite the fact that this doesn't appear to be a sports movie that will make you cry a little."
Nice snark, there!
This is not about a movie based on a book. It's about a movie ABOUT a movie based on a book!
More precisely about Walt Disney convincing P.L. Travers  to sell him the screen rights to Mary Poppins based on her book. Apparently it took him fourteen years and in the end she was furious that he used animation - the film was supposed to be completely live action.

Disney flanked by Andrews
and P.L. Travers
Here's what Nikki Finke says
The Blind Side helmer John Lee Hancock is in early talks with Disney to direct Saving Mr. Banks, the Kelly Marcel-scripted saga of how Walt Disney waged a 14-year courtship to persuade Australian author P.L. Travers to sell him rights to make a film out of Mary Poppins. Disney is near a deal to acquire the Black List script, which is set up with producer Alison Owen of Ruby Films. Disney seems a natural place for the script, considering the studio owns many rights from making the 1964 classic film that starred Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and David Tomlinson, the latter of whom played Mr. Banks in the film. This is a hot project — names like Tom Hanks to play Disney and Meryl Streep to play Travers have been in the wind — and Disney’s intention is to put it into production this year.
The heart of this script comes from how close Travers felt to her story of a nanny with magical powers. Mary Poppins was highly personal, and reflected hardships in her own life and her relationship with her father, who died when she was 7. Disney finally persuaded her to let him make the film, but she was prickly all the way to the end. While Mary Poppins was lauded immediately, she hated the animated sequences in the film so much that she refused to sell any of her other works to Disney.
Hancock recently attached himself to write and direct The Partner at New Regency, based on the John Grisham bestselling novel. He is repped by CAA.

One of the comments I read said No one wants to see Tom Hanks anymore. He suggested Nick Cage for Mr. Banks. Someone else thought Jean Dujardin would be a good idea. What do you think? Do you still enjoy seeing Tom Hanks in films?

Jackman and shooting in Ewelme Oxfordshire

FILM star Hugh Jackman was watched by a crowd of villagers as he filmed scenes for his latest movie in Ewelme.

The village church was transformed to look like one in 19th-century France during the filming of a musical version of Les Misérables last week.

Jackman, who plays Jean Valjean, was among the 200-strong cast and crew at St Mary the Virgin in Parson’s Lane. Director Tom Hooper, who won an Oscar for The King’s Speech, was also spotted by watching residents.

The inside of the church was also used to film scenes. The belfry was converted into a tavern, the porch by the entrance on the south side of the church became a bishop’s lodging and the muniment room was made into a mayor’s office.

Meanwhile, the village playing field became a car park for more than 100 cars and two large trailers. Churchwarden Chips Gell only discovered that the film crew wanted to use the church three weeks ago. Priest-in-charge Jonathan Meyer was originally contacted and the two men sought the sanction of the Diocese of Oxford.

Mr Gell said: “They considered several locations and decided this one suited them best. It seemed they wanted a church that was not surrounded by housing and was genuinely old and looked quite French. The degree of authenticity was mind-blowing. I went into the church and didn’t recognise it.”

He said his wife, Sue, was particularly pleased when Jackman said hello to the crowd.

The film, which is due for release in December, also features Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.

Ewelme has previously been filmed for Eighties TV series Paradise Postponed and ITV’s detective series Midsomer Murders.

Bed Bugs to Invade the Big Screen!

Bedbugs as the subject for a horror movie?! Apparently! Tango Pictures has acquired film rights to the Ben H. Winters’ bestselling horror novel Bedbugs with The Innkeepers writer Ti West set to write the script. Winter's book publisher, Quirk Books, which will release Winter's next book, The Last Policeman, in July, will get an executive producer credit.

According to the Publishers Weekly blurb on the Barnes & Noble site :

The man behind Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters returns with an original novel set in New York's Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, a tony enclave of young families, high-end strollers, and fancy cookware (in Winters's mind if not exactly in reality).  The Wendts—infrequent artist Susan, husband Alex, and daughter Emma—newcomers to New York City, move into a suspiciously cheap apartment as a nearby mother rolls her twins off the roof, sparking a general turn to the creepy. Susan gradually becomes isolated as she encounters a "massive" stranger staring from the shadows of the yard, a noise of uncertain origin, a suicide close to home, and mysteries surrounding the apartment's last tenants. Increasingly troubling events culminate in a case of bedbugs that is demonic in scope. By turns gruesome and compelling, fueled by a slow-burn tension, and full of in-jokes about contemporary Brooklyn culture, Winters's breezy summer read will leave readers compulsively scratching. (Sept.)

Said Quirk associate publisher and creative director Jason Rekulak: “Reading Bedbugs as a manuscript felt like the literary equivalent of a Ti West horror movie—a slow-burning supernatural story with fully realized characters, light on gore but heavy on menace and dread.”

source: deadline.com

A ? FOR YOU,  BOOK FANS...Which came first? Sense and Sensibilty and Sea Monsters by Winters or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith? Clue: Both were published by Quirk Books.

Savages trailer, Blake Looks Lively

This is the trailer for the Oliver Stone film Savages, based on the book by Don Winslow.
Definitely not my kind of book, a maybe for the movie. It looks pretty intense, lots of violence, plenty of sex. I'm just not that interested in the story of a couple of out of control pot dealers getting it on with the same girl and going up against the Mexican drug cartel.

Blake Lively is the girl at the center of the threesome, the BFF's share the pot biz and the girl. Besides being best known for her relationship with Leonardo DeCaprio, Lively is also known for her role on Gossip Girl on tv and Bridget in The Sister of the Traveling Pants movies, not a whole lot more. She was in last summer's Green Lantern flop but we can't hold that against her.

Taylor Kitsch who played dark and irrisistable Tim on Friday Night Lights and British actor Aaron Johnson - he was John Lennon in Nowhere Boy- play the partners in crime, Chon and Ben. They both seem like interesting young actors I would like to see more of. Just not sure this is the vehicle I want to see more of them in.
Selma Hayak looks ridiculous as some sort of mob boss in a Cleopatra wig; I feel like I haven't seen her in anything solid in forever which leaves me wondering what happened to the woman who was Frida Kahlo? It definitely has an intriguing cast, which includes Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Emile Hirsch and Benicio del Toro.
And it is OLIVER STONE, the man who gave us Nixon, Born on the Fourth of July and Salvador. Then again, it's OLIVER STONE, the man who gave us Natural Born Killers. No, not my kind of flick.
It comes out July 6. Who knows; I may change my mind.

A very late Sunday snippet...Night Terrors

Hey all. I'm taking advantage of this space to promote my son's film "Night Terrors" which he and a friend co-wrote and will be shooting this summer. They are looking for donations. Nuff said ! Here's the link for info or to donate $. Learn more about Night Terrors at Indigogo
He is 19 and just dropped out of NYU film school because he decided he will learn more by doing. He is certainly saving his father and me a ton of money!

My mum would have loved Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George

I don't have time to do a Saturday snapshot this week but wanted to thank everyone for all the good wishes last week. My mum is back at the nursing home where she is now under hospice care. But after a really hard hit with pnuemonia and a uterine infection and more, she seems to be rallying! My brother and I are taking turns feeding her for now and she is somewhat stable. I guess you could say my 86 year old mum didn't survive the bombing of London for nothing! One of the gifts she gave me was the love of reading and when I was growing up if she didn't have a polishing cloth or an iron in her hand, she had a book.

One of her favorite authors was Elizabeth George, and her Inspector Lynley novels which I love too. I'd lost touch with George's work but I see she had a new one come out the first of this year which I intend to check out. I wonder if part of the reason is I can relate to Barbara Havers and her mother having dementia too? I also really enjoy the British television series- there are some episodes available on Netflix. Here's how Barnes and Noble describes Believing the Lie

After writing sixteen Inspector Lynley novels, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George has millions of fans waiting for the next one. As USA Today put it, "It's tough to resist George's storytelling, once hooked." With Believing the Lie, she's poised to hook countless more. Inspector Thomas Lynley is mystified when he's sent undercover to investigate the death of Ian Cresswell at the request of the man's uncle, the wealthy and influential Bernard Fairclough. The death has been ruled an accidental drowning, and nothing on the surface indicates otherwise. But when Lynley enlists the help of his friends Simon and Deborah St. James, the trio's digging soon reveals that the Fairclough clan is awash in secrets, lies, and motives. Deborah's investigation of the prime suspect-Bernard's prodigal son Nicholas, a recovering drug addict-leads her to Nicholas's wife, a woman with whom she feels a kinship, a woman as fiercely protective as she is beautiful. Lynley and Simon delve for information from the rest of the family, including the victim's bitter ex-wife and the man he left her for, and Bernard himself. As the investigation escalates, the Fairclough family's veneer cracks, with deception and self-delusion threatening to destroy everyone from the Fairclough patriarch to Tim, the troubled son Ian left behind.

Welcome to Independent Bookstore Friday

Every Friday I post a picture of an independent bookstore along with a link to their website. I love these rare breeds that are becoming increasingly harder to find by the day and just want to show my support. Feel free to play along and show your support for independent bookstores, post a picture and add your url to Mr. Linky. It can be your local bookstore, the indie you work for, around the corner or across the country. Toledo, Toronto or Timbuktu. It's up to you!
This week's independent book store is The Book Loft in Solvang, California. Solvang is a wonderful little Danish town tucked away off the coast of California. With its charming architecture, souvenir shops and restaurants, Solvang is a huge tourist destination. Solvang - that's Danish for "sunny fields"  - was reportedly founded in 1911 by a group of Danes seeking escape from the midwestern winters. Located in the heart of California's fertile farmland, Solvang is definitely an area of moderate weather year round.
The Book Loft is located on the main road through town and with its typically Danish architecture, an inviting spot to stop and shop.
Someone made the point last week that for independent bookstores to stay in business,  they have to have a niche or be special in some way. The Book Loft is that. It has the appeal of a cozy nook where you want to cuddle up with a good book but it also serves the community by offering author events and featuring works by local writers along with the best sellers.
If you are taking a trip to the Los Angeles area, I would definitely build in a day trip to Solvang or better yet, make it a weekend with visits to Santa Barbara, our Santa Barbara area wineries and a quick stop at the Chumash Casino (the Chumash are our local tribe). And don't forget Pea Soup Anderson's just down the road in Buellton. I highly recommend stopping in at the Book Loft and having an old fashioned browse around. It's probably the perfect thing to do after a late breakfast at Paula's Pancake House and don't forget to try the Danish pancakes.
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Austenland: Wondrous Words Wednesday #book2movies

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onions Weblog where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.
Wow! Another week gone by already. Participating in a couple of weekly memes really makes one aware of the passage of time. Kind of like laundry it's "didn't we just do this?"  Except Wondrous Words Wednesday is a whole lot more fun than Laundry Monday! Especially since I'm content with a Wondrous Word of the Week - as opposed to three. Yes, I'm rationalizing my laziness!

This weeks "wondrous" word comes from Austenland by Shannon Hale. It's not a difficult word, and somewhere in the recesses of my mind I'm sure I already knew it and have seen it used. Nonetheless I think it's one of those underused words that needs more airtime.

In Austenland, Mr Nobley (the Mr. Darcy character) tells Jane "You are very good at nettling me, Miss Erstwhile"   I knew from the context that the word must mean something along the lines of annoy; I like that it's derived from the 'stinging' nettle plant. And I love that 'vex' is used as part of the definition. When was the last time you used vex in a sentence?
1. Any of numerous plants of the genus Urtica, having toothed leaves, unisexual apetalous flowers, and stinging hairs that cause skin irritation on contact.
2. Any of various hairy, stinging, or prickly plants.  tr.v. net·tled, net·tling, net·tles
1. To sting with or as if with a nettle.
2. To irritate; vex.

We Bought A Zoo: My take on the movie starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson

3 Reasons you might HATE this movie

 Here are three reasons you shouldn't see this movie:

1) If you're dying to see Matt Damon running through the streets of some exotic locale, gun in hand, a la Bourne, you will hate this movie.

2) If you're aching to see Scarlett Johansson in a steamy sex scene, you will hate this movie.
3) If you read the book by Benjamin Mee and demand the film duplicate the book, you will hate this movie.

The film, thank God, is nothing like the book. Okay, maybe I'm overstating. I actually liked the book but I LOVED the movie. While the book was interesting with its stories of animal dentistry, it fell short because of Benjamin Mee's inability to put his emotion on the page. Thankfully writer Aline Brosh McKenna and Cameron Crowe took the dramatic elements of his story, changed them, expanded them, and put the emotion on the screen for him.

The 'true story' is that Mee's wife tragically died of cancer, leaving him with two little children, and a zoo to open. The zoo, you see, was already owned by Mee when his wife died. The film would have it that Mee bought the zoo, after she died, in order to recover from his wife's death. Not true. But the cinematic dramatic version is soooo much more satisfying. Purists be damned, this movie IS better than the book.
In fact, kudos to the producer who saw the heart of the story buried within Mee's memoir for seeing the opportunities it held.
In the film, Kelly the zookeeper (Scarlett Johansson) is a strong but untrained pro-animal advocate who has a crush on Damon's Benjamin Mee. In the book, there's no crush, no lingering looks, no joking over beers, no heart to heart talks. The reel story is much more satisfying that the real story.
In the film, Mee's son, Dylan (Colin Ford) is angry following his mother's death, drawing horrible pictures and getting tossed out of school. Thank heavens for the power of love and lovely Elle Fanning. In the book, he's a much younger boy, upset but barely mentioned. Thank heavens they aged him forward! Film again trounces book.

The fact that Crowe moved the "zoo" from the UK to California, and changed Benjamin Mee's nationality from Enlish to American would normally be the kind of thing that would really tick me off. And if I was Benjamin Mee I would be furious, make that "Bloody furious!" But once Cameron Crowe was attached to direct, no way this would be a British film - which could have been lovely and probably more honest and gritty - no,with Cameron Crowe attached, it would be all-American. Here's what that means.

We Americans like our dramas full of rain that turns to sunshine, sad that comes out happy, filled with turn your frown upside down mentality. American audiences like to leave theatres feeling fantastic.

And that's what We Bought A Zoo does. A dramedy suitable for the whole family with Matt Damon pulling off a greiving dad trying to raise a couple of grieving kids. Cameron Crowe pulls the camera in nice and close and lets us see the emotions flicker over Damon's face, fill his eyes. There are several scenes, among them the one where he talks with Spar, the dying Siberian tiger, another where he has a gut-wrenching shouting match with his son, where his helplessness just completely got me. The budding relationship with Scarlett Johansson was exactly right; no sex please, the wife's barely been dead a year! As was the sweet friendship between Lily (Elle Fanning) and Dylan. Sweet, innocent, it will remind you of your first love. The youngest actor, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, playing Rosie, Mee's little girl, lights up the screen and is just so authentic and adorable without being cloying.

The rest of the supporting cast including Thomas Haden Church who provides his usual deadpan comic relief - are good if sometimes they err on the side of overdone. The thing is we forgive the occasional over the top performance (never from Damon or Johansson or any of the key players) because the payoff - hope, success, happiness is just so fantastic!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach: About the book

Right from the get go, you know that while The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (formerly known as These Foolish Things) is about a group of older people, the tone is going to be anything but subdued and solemn, reverential and respectful. These are the opening paragraphs.

Muriel Donnelly, an old girl in her seventies, was left in a hospital cubicle for forty-eight hours. She had taken a tumble in Peckham High Street and was admitted with cuts, bruises and a suspected concussion. Two days she lay in A&E, untended, the blood stiffening on her clothes.
It made the headlines. TWO DAYS! screamed the tabloids. Two days on a trolley, old, neglected, alone. St. Jude’s was besieged by reporters, way-laying nurses and shouting into their mobiles, didn’t they know the things were forbidden? Photos showed her lolling gray head and black eye. Plucky pensioner, she had survived the Blitz for this?

In her fast and furious style, Deborah Moggach introduces us to a whirling dervish of characters, a dizzying array of ‘old-age pensioners’ (retirees as we call them here in the states) who for one reason or another, end up at something akin to an assisted-living facility in Bangalore, India.

Dr. Ravi Kapoor is the Indian-born, London-based doctor who is so fed up with his dirty old man father-in-law Norman, that he goes into business with his cousin Sonny, to open the hotel/retirement home back home in India, optimistically called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. His wife, Penelope, flies with her father to get him settled in India while the doctor stays home.

Muriel, a feisty (and racist) Londoner is in India for health reasons but she’s also looking for her grown up son, Keith, who seems to have disappeared from England.

Jean and Douglas are an adventurous couple constantly on the go, seeing the sights. They are the archetypes of the British traveler; there isn’t a place they haven’t been. If Jean isn’t yammering on about this place or that, she’s talking about her son, the documentary film maker.

Dorothy is a retired documentary filmmaker herself. Her young former protégé happens to be Jean and Douglas’ son and seems to be her only friend.

At the heart of the book is Evelyn, a widow. Her son and his family live in New York. Her middle aged daughter Carol is an eternal seeker; and an annoyance to Evelyn who wishes she’d grow up and settle down. Evelyn is the soul of the narrative, the sensible but likeable one, the character we’re most invested in.

While The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn’t quite what anyone was expecting, it turns out to be exactly what everybody needs.

I discovered this book after hearing that it was being made into a film - the original title of the book is These Foolish Things and as near as I can make out it was first published in 2004.

I enjoyed this novel tremendously! It’s clear that Moggach is at heart a screenwriter. She wrote the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice which earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Screenplay/Adapted. Her imdb credit list is long, dating back to 1983 and quite full of television series and includes 2010’s The Diary of Anne Frank for Masterpiece Theater.

Her style - in this novel at least - is light and fast, with chapters written much like scenes which pass by in a series of quick cuts. On the plus side, it’s quite clear and visual, we see every lovely and every ghastly sight we are meant to see. I was shocked to read that in Bangalore, there were (in 2004 at any rate) still people who defocated in the street! That's an image Moggach shares with us, along with descriptions of people sleeping in the street. As in Slum Dog Millionaire, it's sometimes difficult to divorce oneself from the difficult living conditions faced by the populace.

Since the characters are (mostly) older people, it's hard not to join them in their occasional bouts of nostalgia as well as their disappointments about what might have been and what there can still be. Moggach skillfully keeps it on the lighter side, for the most part, the characters don't get too maudlin or too depressed.

If they don’t delve too deeply, if we don’t have a lot of internal monologues, that’s a good thing in terms of a novel being adapted for the screen as this one has been. Taking a quick look at the synopsis of the film I can see the screenwriter, Ol Parker (he's the screenwriter behind the adaptation of Before I Die called Now is Good),  changed quite a few things around. I’m not sure if he's altered the ending, I hope not because it’s quite touching.  For me, seeing that there will be changes is a relief in a way. I won't be disappointed that it's not the same as the book because it isn't the book. I've had that experience, that magic. Nothing can change that. The film will be a different work of art completely. And I'm fine with that.

I'm looking forward to seeing Judi Dench as Evelyn, and Maggie Smith as Muriel. Dench seems like a natural for the part, a bit similar perhaps to her role in As Time Goes By.

And I love the idea of Maggie Smith playing one of the lower classes - I'm so accustomed to seeing her lording it over everyone in Downton Abbey.

FAVORITE LINE: I’m not sure if this is in the book but it’s in the film. Also not sure if it’s Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist) or who but I still appreciate it. Sonny, played by Dev Patel (Slum Dog Millionaire) says it:

Everything will be alright in the end. So if it is not alright, it is not the end. 

A heartening thought, don't you think? 

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