> Chapter1-Take1: July 2013

Saving Mr. Banks POSTER ... AKA Big Ears and Brolly

Call it the Battle of the Icons. It's clear from this poster featuring the iconic mouse ears and Mary Poppins umbrella that Mary Poppins author, P.L. Travers,(Emma Thompson) had grave concerns about Disney's adaptation of her beloved Mary Poppins book series. Walt (Tom Hanks) may be all ears here  but he's just giving her lip service. Despite her protestations, Walt went on to use the animations and musical elements Travers reportedly detested.
This particular poster says COMING SOON ... I hear soon is Christmas Day. 

If this is all news to you, catch up at my here here and watch the trailer below.

Broken: My take on the movie starring Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy

Earlier in July I posted  my take on Broken, Daniel Clay's deeply disturbing - and deeply moving - page turner of a debut novel. Now I've seen the movie based on that book. It blew me away.
The story of an 11 year old girl who comes home from school one day to witness a brutal beating in her North London cul de sac, Broken won Britain's 'Best Independent Film Award' in 2012.  The film was released here in the U.S. this past week.

Broken is stunning. It was directed (brilliantly) by acclaimed British stage director Rufus Norris but it all begins with the book (brilliant) and the adaptation, brilliantly done by Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe. When I read the book, (horrified, tearful) I was concerned that the material might be too violent and simply prove too dark to work on film but O'Rowe's adaptation tweaks the source material, turning total devastation into something more bearable but equally profound.

It begins when Bob Oswald (Rory Kinnear), a furious single father with anger control issues, brutally lays into Rick Buckley (Robert Emms), an awkward, simple neighborhood teen innocently washing his car because Oswald believes Rick has forced himself on one of his three daughters. He believes that because that's what his daughter tells him and this is a man who believes in and loves his daughters; despite the girls being the anti-creme de la creme. If there ever was peace in the neighborhood, that moment breaks it.  That beating is the beat that starts it all, and it's only the first of several violent episodes that will change the lives of the residents of the cul de sac forever. 

Eloise Laurence as Skunk with dad, Archie, played by Tim Roth. Such a lovely surprise to see the gentle side of Roth. I don't think I'll ever forget him from the opening coffee shop scene in Pulp Fiction. NOT gentle.

While Norris' Broken shows Skunk's broken world populated with broken souls, he knows when to pull back from the bleakest moments and, taking a page from Daniel Clay, has even managed to blend warmth and comedy into the mix.  Norris walks a fine balance, setting sweet moments between the riveting action; little pastiches of family life, where the characters just soar and sing;  their voices, their actions are so sure, so authentic, so organic, that it all just seems effortless. The young actress who plays Skunk, the extraordinary Eloise Laurence, let's us see everything, not just on her face but in every gangly muscle in her body; sweet but not sappy as daddy's girl, splayed across actor Tim Roth's body at bedtime with familial ease; scrappy with her beast of a big brother (Bill Milner) slapping and teasing at each other like kids do; vulnerable as we see her crushing on her teacher, Mike Kiernan (Cillian Murphy) discovering the loveliness of a first kiss with a boy she likes (George Sargeant).  

The cinematography by Rob Hardy is lovely too; a masterful mix of dappled light and a slightly slowed action you expect from an indie coming of age film, but surprising and effective here in this hybrid. The score from Damon Albarn works in the same way; the music bounces along and we're lulled into enjoying the family dynamics, when, BAM, something horrible happens and Skunk's world breaks a bit more.

There's so much more I'd like to say about this movie that I can't find words for; how poignant it was, how it makes you think about all the Broken things, not just in Skunk's world, but our world too. And it's unfair and quite, quite sad. But there's beauty in it too. Broken is currently in theaters and available to stream on Amazon.

Read my Q+A with Daniel Clay, the author of the novel Broken. And watch the trailer below ... it's dazzling. 

The Fault In Our Stars movie gets its own page.

LOVE this image from TUMBLR
Shailene Woodley  IMAGE SOURCE

Can't wait for The Fault in Our Stars movie based on John Green's mega selling and beloved book?  

Neither can I. The film starring Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace and Ansel Elgort as Gus starts production August 26 in Philadelphia so chances are it won't hit theatres until late in 2014 at the earliest, and quite possibly not until 2015. If you're Jonesing for news, I've just created a TFIOS page where I'll be following along from the west coast and sharing photos, info, fanart, trailers, movie posters, interviews and other goodies as they pop up. 

My first disappointment has got to be the news from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette  that Philadelphia will stand in for Indiana. Hmmm! Is The Fault in Our Stars without Funky Bones like a day without orange juice? Or do you take heart that Ansel Elgort, (our Augustus Waters) told MTV about his and Shailene Woodley's preparation plans:
“We’re going to visit some cancer hospitals and talk with kids and patients who’ve had the same things that our characters will have,” said the actor. “We’re probably going to go and meet with John Green in Indiana and see the Funky Bones and see the different places in the books. So it’s really exciting and the process is going to be great and we’re both so excited. It’s an amazing story and we’re privileged to be able to bring it to life.”       

Funky Bones/ Indiannapolis Museum of Art

Why visit the Funky Bones or any of the Indiana locations if you're not using them in the film? Maybe they will shoot crucial Indiana scenes there while filming the majority of the film, including Hazel's house, in and around Pittsburgh in order to take advantage of the tax benefits. Of course, there is that trip to Amsterdam; will they have to wait for spring to film the magical spring snow we hear about in the book?

First Trailer for Ben Stiller's remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Danny Kaye was the original
Walter Mitty
The first official trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was just released. That's the one where Ben Stiller takes on James Thurber's classic dreamer immortalized by Danny Kaye in the film version. I've got to say, Stiller looks like he's made a beautifully evocative film for all of us with stars in our eyes, but whose lives are maybe a tad more grounded. Watch! 

If the trailer isn't playing, go here to view. 20th Century Fox put it up on YouTube and then pulled it but you can still see it on Apple.  Everyone is buzzing about how brilliant it is and how ambitious Stiller is. 

Read my first Secret Life of Walter Mitty post.

New MR MORGAN'S LAST LOVE Trailer will have you Dreaming of France #book2movies

Michael Caine is Mr. Morgan in Mr. Morgan's Last Love
There's been a U.S. release date plus a charming new trailer since I last posted about Mr. Morgan's Last Love back in April.  I've been following the movie, written and directed by German filmmaker Sandra Nettleback, and based on French author, Francoise Dorner's novel La Douceur Assassine since November of 2011 ... I'm thrilled to learn it will finally hit theaters here in the U.S. in October.

Besides some additional French locations, the trailer gives us a  glimpse of Mr. Morgan's deceased wife (Jane Alexander), his angry son, played by Justin Kirk (Animal Practice) and some sweet and charming moments between the aging American widower and the much younger dance teacher portrayed by Clemence Poesy. 

Help! At the beginning of the trailer, what are the young women working behind the cafe counter saying? I'm pretty sure the first girl is saying she doesn't understand; but what does the second say? 

Interested in everything French? Visit Paulita's meme Dreaming of France every Monday.

"There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."              

Neil Patrick Harris cast in - wait for it - Gone Girl

Neil Patrick Harris:
Is he Desi Collings?
It's an almost Dunne deal;  Rosamund Pike has officially been offered the part of Amy Dunne but still hasn't "officially" said yes - that hasn't really changed since my post on the 18th of March. With that 'news', we also learned that Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry have both been cast. 

No word on who they're playing but I have a couple of guesses. Neil Patrick Harris could be Tanner Bolt, the spray-tanned celeb lawyer, OR my guess; Desi Collings, Amy's boyfriend from her boarding school days who still sends her 'thick, padded envelopes that Amy tossed unopened after showing them to' Nick.  Harris is a gifted comedian(How I Met Your Mother) and the BEST Tony award show host EVER but he hasn't had much of a chance to flex his dramatic muscles lately; I think he's perfect for the good-looking wealthy WASP and former boyfriend.

'In Amy's stories he was a pale Romantic figure, and their courtship had been of the boarding-school variety; chilly football games and overheated dances, lilac corsages and rides in a vintage Jaguar'. ... After Amy cut it off with Desi, he still lingered around the Wickshire campus, a ghostly figure in dark blazers' ... 'Amy returned from a dance one February night to find him lying on her bed, naked, on top of the covers, groggy from a very marginal pill overdose. BUT HE STILL PHONED HER.'

Writer, director, actor Tyler Perry: Detective Gilpin?
Tyler Perry could be Jim Gilpin, the detective in charge of the case - it matters not a bit that Perry doesn't match the 'rangy and thin' description - his partner Rhonda Boney, is a bigger role as I recall from the book. I would expect it to be a key role in order to tempt Tyler Perry, best known as the incredibly successful writer and director of all those Tyler Perry 'Madea' movies where he plays Madea. What do you all think? Who is Tyler Perry playing in Gone Girl?

I'm really excited to see the rest of the cast; especially all the women. Besides the great parts of GO, Nick's hard-drinking twin sister, and Detective Boney - who Nick finds 'surprisingly ugly - brazenly, beyond the scope of everyday ugly' and then goes on to say he has an affinity for ugly women because he was raised by a trio of of ugly women who ' were all smart and kind and funny and sturdy, good, good women.'  An admission from Nick on page 47 that had me questioning whether a wife killer would feel this way about women.

Plus there's the slew of crazy women on the periphery of the case; Frito-pie pushing Shawna Kelley who's putting the make on Nick, Noelle Hawthorne their neighbor and self-proclaimed best friend of Amy - the woman Nick doesn't even know. Hilary Handy, an Amazing Amy stalker. Desi's mother. A nice lineup of whackos.

In the words of Nick Dunne  "Women are fucking crazy."

Laura Dern cast as Mrs. Lancaster in The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars, the film based on John Green's immensely popular young adult novel, has been on my radar since January of last year. In the post I wrote then, I was pretty enthusiastic about the signing of Shailene Woodley as Hazel. That was pre my own reading of the novel. Now that I've read it - I will post my take on the book  one of these days - I'm even more excited about Shailene, I think she's perfect. I'm a little less sure about Ansel Elgort, who we learned would be Gus just this past May, but as I posted here John Green and director Josh Boone think he's perfect so that's that. 

Now, just weeks before production begins in late August, Laura Dern has been cast as Mrs. Lancaster. I like Laura Dern; she's a good fit for Hazel's hovering, desperately protective mother. As a mom myself, it's impossible not to relate to Mrs. Lancaster; I empathize with her anxiety and determination to do whatever she can to make her daughter's life the best it can be. And somehow keep the sadness at bay. Sometimes that does lead mothers into ridiculous hyperbole - You can do it, you're the best, etc. Or as Hazel tells us:
 My mom was really super into celebration maximization.

Nat Wolff cast as Isaac in TFIOS

Nat Wolff who just worked with director Josh Boone on Stuck in Love - he's Rusty - has been cast as Isaac, the friend that gets Gus to go to the cancer support group. Oh, Isaac! What a cutie pie you are; I have a feeling you're going to make me cry too. I'm a little like Hazel's weepy weepy dad; everything in this book made me cry. I's not a huge part but I wonder who will end up playing Hazel's father to Dern's Mrs. Lancaster? Thoughts? 

I'm still waiting to see who will play the hateful Peter Van Houten; I read somewhere - and forgot to note it - that Hugh Laurie had been suggested. Love Hugh and his linguistic abilities; the bitter House doctor is a natural for the vile Van Houten and his misogynistic ravings.

Since The Fault in Our Stars is going to be one of the most highly anticipated films for fans of the book, I'm going to create a special TFIOS page; the latest is that while filming is about the begin, the movie itself may not hit screens until 2015! Let's hope the imdb listing which lists it as 2014 is correct.

The Spectacular Now trailer: Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller

Remember that magic moment in Cameron Crowe's Say Anything, when John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler stands on his love's lawn, Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes blaring from the boombox? James Ponsoldt, director of The Spectacular Now definitely does. Ponsoldt told the L.A. Times: 
"It changed my life when I saw it, it genuinely did," Ponsoldt said of the 1989 cult favorite. "I totally fell in love with Diane Court [Ione Skye]. I had the poster on my wall. I was hooked."
Ponsoldt is hoping he can impact today's teens in a similar way, hoping that today's ya audiences will be hooked on his screen adaptation of Tim Tharp's The Spectacular Now, the ya novel about a hard partying guy who falls for a nice girl. 

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller
That nice girl is played by Shailene Woodley who I first saw in - and thought she was spectacular in - The Descendants as George Clooney's daughter, but America's teenagers know her from the television show The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Woodley has a trio of films coming out in the next several months so chances are we'll all get to know her a bit better; a year or so younger than Jennifer Lawrence, she may give The Hunger Games star a run for her money with the release of Divergent, based on the popular Veronica Roth novel, next March. Her leading man in The Spectacular Now, Miles Teller, is Peter in Divergent. And Ansel Elgort, who plays Woodley's brother in Divergent is Gus to Woodley's Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars, currently shooting. It's a small small world. 

The Spectacular Now Trailer #1   2:00 minutes

The movie opens August 2, ten days from now, time to read the book first if you haven't already. I haven't already. The character Woodley plays, Aimee, seems like the kind of girl I'd want my own son to bring home; smart, funny, NOT trashy.  Miles Teller - memorable as the young driver in The Rabbit Hole - is Sutter Keely, hugely popular, all hormones and bravado, sees Aimee as a 'social disaster' and decides to make her over. Well, we've seen the makeover theme many times in movies and that usually comes back to bite someone in the bum. The 1980's romcom Can't Buy Me Love with Patrick Dempsey as the loser turned big man on campus comes to mind; what's the best make-over movie you've ever seen?

The Liebster Blogger Award: and the winners are ...

Taking a break from movies based on books for a fun announcement. Allison at Allison's Book Bag nominated me for a Liebster Blogger Award! Thanks so much Allison! And as many an actor has gushed "It's an honor just to be nominated" or "You like me, you really, really like me!" 
Er, not exactly, but it was still super nice of Allison to include me. Allison is a lovely Canadian - living in Nebraska - who writes childrens' book reviews on her Allison's Book Bag blog. 

I'm new to the Liebster but according to Allison and blogger Sopphey Says the award is more of 'an internet hug' that you pass on, if you wish, to fellow bloggers whose blogs you enjoy, than an "award".  I don't know about you but I can use all the hugs, virtual or otherwise, that I can get.
Allison herself was nominated by writer John Hall. I'm one of several bloggers Allison nominated; I'll be sending my shout outs too. I hope the bloggers I nominate won't mind my embrace - one woman's internet hug is another woman's dreaded chain letter! Sorry it took me a few days Allison; it was fun!

The Rules dictate Liebster Award nominees answer a few questions posed by the nominator. And as I see it, a nomination, is actually a win, so ... In for a penny, in for a pound. Here are my answers ...

Have you ever met anyone famous? Yes! MLH works in the biz and every once in awhile I'll visit him on set or go to a wrap party - which I mostly hate. One of my favorite wrap parties though, was for the movie Drive which starred Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. The party was held at a funky bowling alley in the valley, with a ton of karaoke fun. I met both Ryan and Carey, but it was the hug from Ryan Gosling that had me blushing and giggling like a school girl. So mortifying. 

Where is the farthest you have traveled from your home? Perth, Australia. A quick 20 hour hop from L.A.!

What is your greatest phobia? Answering questions about phobias.

What is the most unusual thing you’ve eaten? I grew up with a pretty bland palate, eating comfort food like roast beef and yorkshire pudding; I'm a total anomaly in Hollywood - I HATE sushi. Mexican and Chinese are about as adventurous as I get. I blame my British mother didn't put a lot of emphasis on adventurous meals even though we lived in more exotic locales like Libya, Turkey and Puerto Rico for a time.  

What is your goal in life? To stop blaming my parents.

If you could be only one of the following, which would you be? Rich, famous, young, beautiful, or smart? Why?  Young, definitely! At my age the idea of doing it all over again is thrilling.

What are you best at? Not cooking, that's certain. 

E-books or print books? Both. Although right now my Nook is on the fritz,it's eaten up my Gone Girl which I decided to reread, and I feel like throwing it out the window. Permanently. I'm sure I'll calm down, call Nook customer service or walk over to B&N later today and they'll take care of it. It's so convenient ... except when it's not.

What is your greatest weakness? Oh crap. Let me count the ways ... but seriously, I know this sounds like a cop-out but since I'm not running for anything I'll keep my weaknesses to myself. I'm pretty sure that my friends and family have them all figured out.

Should the toilet paper hang over or under? 20 years ago I used to care - definitely under - these days I'm grateful if whoever used the last piece remembers to leave a new roll in the bathroom at all. 

At this point The RULES say I'm supposed to 
List eleven random facts about myself
Nominate eleven other bloggers for the Liebster Award
Notify these bloggers
Ask eleven questions that your nominees may choose to answer upon accepting the Liebster Award

Man, this is harder than I thought! 
Okay, 11 random facts
1    Russell and I are, along with star Tom Evert Scott,(that's the three of us above) the first people you see in the movie That Thing You Do,Tom Hank's directorial debut. Yes, MLH worked on it too. Yes, that's how we got the job:)
2  I love a good fried egg sandwich and a cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon. PG Tips English Breakfast with milk and sugar. MLH does it best.
3  Any shade of sea green; teal, turquoise, aqua, aquamarine, cyan really floats my boat.
4  Honey nut Cheerios with sliced bananas and milk is my favorite breakfast.
5  I was born at home, over a fish and chip shop in Richmond, on the outskirts of London.
6  My son Russell is named after my father-in-law and my brother; both are named Russell, as is my best friend's husband. How many Russell's do you know?
7  My first kiss sucked. I was seven and a boy my age named David shoved me up against the wall, and pressed his wet, smelly mouth against me. (And I thought I'd forgotten)
8   We have a thirteen year old beagle named Charlie
9  Growing up I lived in six different countries: England, Libya, Turkey, Canada, Puerto Rico and the good ol' US of A. Technically Puerto Rico is actually a commonwealth and a U.S. territory but I still count it.
My older brotheer Russell and me on a camel in Tripoli. I think I was three-ish.
10 I consider myself a Brit by birth with a huge chunk of Canadian thrown in; I spent some very formative years in Canada; age 5 through 14.
11  My middle name is Elizabeth, I was born a few days before Queen Elizabeth's coronation. Yes, that old.

HERE ARE MY LIEBSTER AWARD NOMINEES/WINNERS; some fellow bloggers I love. They're readers, writers and generally all around good people whose posts & comments usually make me think and/or smile.

Paulita at An Accidental Blog. Paulita is a writer living in Ohio who so loves France she wrote the book Summer of France and hosts the Dreaming of France meme every Monday. It's one of my favorites and this week she's got a super giveaway too.

Emily at As the Crowe Reads and Flies is the smart and lucky lady who has the best job in the world - manages a bookstore - and manages to post book reviews as well as travel and tell us all about it in delicious and delectable detail. Like the fact that she and her DH have been to Anguilla six or seven times since 2009. So jealous!

Arti is a Canadian blogger over at Ripple Effects - or should I say up north at Ripple Effects? ; I always enjoy her really insightful posts on both books and movies. 

Louise, like my nominator, Allison, occasionally blogs about childrens' books but what I love about Louise is that she's Australian; it is so much fun when she shares about Aussie book festivals and places. Right now she's in Paris but you can find her at A Strong Belief in Wicker

Kathy at Bermuda Onion does a ton of reviewing on her site. She also hosts the popular Wondrous Words Wednesday meme and is currently hosting some great giveaways.

Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea is another busy reader/reviewer. Her meme First Paragraph First Chapter Tuesday Intros where I've discovered many a good read.

Cipriano at Book Puddle is another Canadian. His posts tend to be pithy quotations like this one from Martin Amis. "Don't I ever do anything else but take soulful walks down the Bayswater Road, I thought, as I walked soulfully down the Bayswater Road.
-- Martin Amis, The Rachel Papers --

Esme at Chocolates and Croissants is Paris-based and a super photojournalist. Take a look at her picture of a French priest texting. Sacre bleu!

Nise at Under the Boardwalk is a beachloving, bookloving mom. My childrearing downs are done - Russell is 20 - so her blog takes me back.

OKAY, nominees, IF you accept this mission and this award, (I'll contact you) please:
answer the 11 questions at the end of this post - I promise you'll get there eventually!
nominate 11 other bloggers (I cheated and stopped at 8)
post 11 random facts about yourself
DON'T FEEL BAD IF YOU DON'T WANT TO PLAY ALONG ... :) I won't take it personally, at least I'll try not to.

My Questions for the Liebster Winners

What's at the top of your bucket list?

If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

City mouse or country mouse?

Best vacation ever?

What do you love most, besides reading and the people in your life?

What book is on your nightstand right now?

If you could be reincarnated as either sex, which would you choose?

What's the worst dish you've ever made?

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?

What's your secret to happiness?

Coke or Pepsi?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Must See Trailer

Donald Sutherland plays a mean meanie; his President Snow is ruthless.
Lionsgate released the new trailer for The Hunger Games "Catching Fire" at this week's ComicCon in San Diego. The movie looks intense giving star Jennifer Lawrence a chance to flex those award-winning acting muscles; the trailer shows off some of other acclaimed actors in smaller parts including the talented Mr. Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee) and Donald Sutherland, who cuts a cold and ruthless presence as President Snow.  Their creepy conversation about the necessary death of Katniss and just how that should play out so she's a symbol others learn from, rather than a symbol to inspire the masses, is chilling. 

While the romantic alliance between Katniss and Peeta will come under closer scrutiny; the level of suspense and danger of games are definitely ratcheted up; it looks like they've decided to pitch past Hunger Games victors against each other, definitely upping the violence. President Snow tells Katniss the first games were child's play compared to the next round of 'games'; and as Haymitch Abernathy  says:
"I think these games are going to be different"

I'll say! 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes out November 22, 2013.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: My take on the book

The jacket copy for Jojo Moyes' Me Before You asks the question "What do you do when making the person you love happy means breaking your own heart?"  It's a question, given the unique context of this story, I pondered again and again over the course of reading this honest, poignant and often humorous love story; my answer as changeable and hard come-by as Louisa's.

Louisa is the tiny, 26 year old self-described "ordinary girl leading an ordinary life". I balked at that when I read it; was taken aback by a young woman labeling herself 'a girl', but that's very much what Louisa is, despite her age. Louisa herself tells us her mother "reached out her hand and felt my forehead as if I were much younger than twenty-six." Don't get me wrong, I like her but at the book's beginning it's difficult to see Lou as anything but callow, and almost stubbornly clinging to her status quo.  She's been dating the same guy for six years; she hasn't thought about it much but supposes they'll marry at some point and she'll 'pop out a couple of kids'.

There are reasons that Louisa is stuck in girlhood; born and raised in the fictional English tourist town of Stortfold, complete with castle and maze, Louisa has never been anywhere, done anything.  An incident in her teens may have stunted her growth as well, so that while her younger sister whizzed past her academically, and left home, Louisa stayed home with her parents, chipping in her salary from the Buttered Bun, a local cafe where she's worked for six years before it closes, leaving Louisa jobless. 

But what to do? When it comes to her skill set, she's utterly lacking. In the words of her father, pondering her only possible job reference "Oh fecking marvelous ... 'Louisa Clark is very good at buttering toast, and a dab hand with the old teapot.' "

After a few false starts a desperate Louisa accepts a job as a caretaker - she labels it "wiping it old people's bums" until she's assured that her charge is neither old, nor in need of toileting help, at least not from her.

Enter Will Traynor. 

Handsome former Master of the Universe, Will is a paraplegic; miserable in his wheelchair bound existence. Louisa's job - she's been hired by his mother - to cheer him up; help him find a reason to live. Not an easy task. Paralyzed from the waist down in an accident two years ago, Will's past was filled with the best life had to offer; education, financial success, travel and adventure, excitement and love. Louisa, innocent and ignorant,having little to offer but good intentions, makes it her mission to help him live the best life his limitations afford. Will, seeing Louisa's brightness and potential, counters by making her, his Eliza Doolittle. Seeing how these two change each other, watching Louis transform from the frightened little girl we first meet into the brave and capable young woman who courageously answers the dust jacket question is the great joy - and kick in the gut - of this book. 

What I especially loved was how Moyes didn't shy away from the uncomfortable details of Will's quadriplegic state and its' truly heart-wrenching challenges - not the least is dealing with pity; I don't think I'll ever look at a quadriplegic the same way again. And the light Moyes brings to the issue at the heart of the novel - read it and weep -  left me dazed and confused, shocked and surprised by my own inner struggle. I loved Lou and Will. I wish this beautifully written love story could have gone on forever.

Will it make a good movie? Oh yeah!  First of all, great location, although I'd set my castle town by the sea.  But it's the characters, and their relationship in this extraordinary situation that really make this story. While the casting of Will and Lou is the most critical, Moyes surrounds the couple with a compelling array of friends and family that I can't wait to see on screen. Pat, Lou's fitness obsessed boyfriend; Mrs. Traynor, Will's upset and uptight mother; Nathan, Will's cheerful and capable caretaker, Louisa's entire family all jumbled together in their small, hectic household. 

Michael Fassbender
Casting Me Before You:  Michael Fassbender kept leaping to mind as I thought about Will. Sexy and gorgeous, that's a given, but in Fassbender I see the type A personality Action with a capital A guy Will Traynor used to be, as well as the dark, brooding Will, helpless in his chair, we see when he meets Louisa. Thoughts?
Any suggestions for Louisa, with her dark little head, funky fashion sense, naivete and grit? No actress is screaming Louisa to me and I wonder if that's because the character is such a complex combination of innocence, insecurity, determination and ultimately womanly maturity that the role calls for a fresh new face that we can meet along with Will, someone who can surprise us with her growth. 

MGM nabbed the screen rights to Me Before You back in January. I know lots of you have read it already - who would you cast in the pivotal parts of Will and Lou?  I first blogged that the book was being adapted for the screen back in January.


Rosamund Pike is the "Gone Girl" and Reese Witherspoon goes "Wild"

Reese Witherspoon to star in WILD
News broke today that Reese Witherspoon has been cast in the film version of Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild. She'll play the author, an inexperienced hiker who tackled the west coasts' 1,000 mile Pacific Trail solo after her mother died and her relationship floundered. If there was even the slimmest remaining chance of Witherspoon playing Amy in Gone Girl, it's gone now. Her company, Pacific Standard, will still produce.

Rosamund Pike for Amy in Gone Girl?
In a wild coincidence the  Hollywood Reporter also announced today that Gone Girl director David Fincher has narrowed down his choice of actors for the pivotal part of Amy to Rosamund Pike. She wasn't even on the shortlist I posted Tuesday but that makes sense; so little is straightforward or clear in this industry town. And maybe he saw early footage from Hector and the Search for Happiness, the screen adaptation Pike just wrapped. According to the article Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and Emily Blunt are all gone gone gone, with the never-before mentioned Pike being Fincher's top pick. The director has picked out his couple of the year: Ben Affleck for Nick, Rosamund Pike for Amy in the film version of Gone Girl. I'm assuming author Gillian Flynn is onboard as she and Fincher are adapting the script together. Will Pike and Affleck sign on? And if so, what do you think of Fincher's casting choices? 
Sounds like it will all boil down to the money; the budget is still being finalized. 
Both projects are expected to get started in the fall. 

Ender's Game: Should you boycott the movie?

Oh wow. I've posted a few entries on the upcoming Ender's Game movie based on Orson Scott Card's sci-fi novel, the last one this past May. I had no idea this controversy was brewing, no idea that the author was not only anti-gay, but stridently and powerfully so as member of the board of the National Association for Marriage, a group  that worked hard in opposition to gay marriage. According to a thoughtful piece in the Los Angeles Times, Card isn't just opposed to gay marriage; he's opposed to homosexuals, period. He wrote the following in 1990:     
“Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.”
Despicable right? So despicable there's a movement calling for a boycott of the November 1st theatrical release.  I completely disagree with Cards' views - he's an ugly neanderthal as I see it - but I'm not sure a boycott of the film - which I understand doesn't present any of those views - is the appropriate response. Take a look at the controversy in this post pulled in its entirety from deadline.com and let me know what you think. Do we judge and appreciate art in and of itself; or do we take our view of the artist's character into account? The Times article has some provocative thinking on the issue. 
"Just six days remain until Lionsgate brings its new big budget sci-fi franchise Ender’s Game to Comic-Con, where the studio is keeping controversial author and anti-gay advocate Orson Scott Card out of its panel line-up. But an online protest calling out Card for his inflammatory past remarks has now prompted Lionsgate to step into the fray for some damage control. The “Skip Ender’s Game” petition hosted by Geeks OUT calls for fans to boycott the Summit-released November 1 pic in theaters, on DVD, and On Demand and to avoid buying merchandising and toys to “keep your money out of Orson Scott Card’s pockets.” Card responded to the furor with his own cry for tolerance last week, which only stoked the fire. The studio today announced unspecified plans to host a benefit premiere to support LGBT causes. Here’s Lionsgate’s statement:
As proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community, champions of films ranging from Gods and Monsters to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a company that is proud to have recognized same-sex unions and domestic partnerships within its employee benefits policies for many years, we obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organization for Marriage. However, they are completely irrelevant to a discussion of Ender’s Game. The simple fact is that neither the underlying book nor the film itself reflect these views in any way, shape or form. On the contrary, the film not only transports viewers to an entertaining and action-filled world, but it does so with positive and inspiring characters who ultimately deliver an ennobling and life-affirming message. Lionsgate will continue its longstanding commitment to the LGBT community by exploring new ways we can support LGBT causes and, as part of this ongoing process, will host a benefit premiere for Ender’s Game.
Dominic Patten contributed to this report. "

Will Ben Affleck "wear his cockiness like an ironic T-shirt" in screen adaptation of Gone Girl?

Word is that David Fincher wants Ben Affleck as Nick for the thriller, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Flynn must be in agreement; she and Fincher are writing the adaptation together.  
According to Deadline, Affleck will delay directing the adaptation of Dennis Lehane's Live By Night for Warner Bros to take the role. Told you about that here.

So does Ben fit with your picture of the former writer who, along with his New York-loving wife moves back to Missouri? And then, you know, s@#t happens. All kinds of s@#t.

Remember how Amy describes Nick when she first meets him ?

"..., he wears his cockiness like an ironic T-shirt, but it fits him better. He is the kind of guy who carries himself like he gets laid a lot, a guy who likes women, a guy who would actually fuck me properly" Gone Girl, p.24
"Mainly, I will admit, I smile because he's gorgeous. Distractingly gorgeous, the kind of looks that make your eyes pinwheel, that make you want to just address the elephant - "You know you're gorgeous, right?" - and move on with the conversation. I bet dudes hate him: He looks like the rich-boy villain in an 80's teen movie - the one who  bullies the sensitive misfit, the one who will end up with a pie in the puss, the whipped cream wilting his upturned collar as everyone in the cafeteria cheers" Gone Girl, p. 25
But she also tells us that he's not that guy; he's a regular guy, he's funny and he's nice.  And he sounds sexy - my opinion.
"He talks to me in his river-wavy Missouri accent: he was born and raised outside Hannibal"   and    "he informs me that Missoura is a magical place, the most beautiful in the world, no state more glorious. His eyes are mischievous, his lashes are long. I can see what he looked like as a boy."
The river-wavy accent is a little scary - it is just far too easy for actors to overdo the drawl and twang of southern accents - and Affleck - who I respect and adore - strikes me as being a tad too old -he's forty one and Nick is only 34! According to the L.A. Times I'm not alone with preferring a younger Nick; they say the results of an informal poll show readers prefer Ryan Gosling (YES!) with Jake Gyllenhaal a close second; both are 32. Ah well, there's still a chance Affleck will turn it down BUT no way Gyllenhaal would ever be cast; Fincher and Gyllenhaal did NOT get along on Zodiac. In fact, their discord has been written up in many a movie site; this piece in GAWKER kind of sums it up.

And what about Amy, that wonderful wife? There's no new news but I shared back in March that Reese Witherspoon, originally on-board to star via her own production company, Pacific Standard, had decided not to take on the role of Nick's wife, Amy Dunne. I wonder if Ben's casting will have an impact on Reese's decision? Here are the current front-runners for the job, although the Times says Portman is no longer on the short list. And no Jessica Chastain at all. Maybe not quite 'pretty' enough if you consider these classic beauties that Fincher is or was looking at.
Emily Mortimer

Charlize Theron

Natalie Portman
UPDATE: Who will play Amy Dunne? None of the above; Rosamund Pike is that Gone Girl

See Ben Affleck as Nick in first official image released by 20th Century Fox

First Trailer for 12 Years A Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender

The first trailer for 12 Years a Slave was just released; the movie stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northrupp, a free black man trapped into slavery. Michael Fassbender is the vicious slave-owner. Benedict Cumberbatch also plays a slave owner and Brad Pitt who produces, has a role as well. Steve McQueen, the risk-taking director behind the Fassbender starrer, Shame, as well as Hunger helmed the film, said to be a much darker take on the horrors of our history than Django Unchained.
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave


Will Traynor: Dreaming of France in Me Before You

"Where would you go, if you could go anywhere?" Le Marais, Paris

My weekend reading, the devastating Me Before You, had me shedding tears aplenty but there was also plenty to smile at in this powerful, enlightening and utterly surprising novel.  
Louisa, has been hired on to be a caretaker/companion to Will Traynor, the handsome but bitter quadriplegic who has decided to end his life. Yes, it's that blunt and emotionally loaded. Louisa's goal is to make Will's life so full of adventure and surprise that he changes his mind. Will, on the other hand, is intent on making small-town girl Louisa live a larger life than the one afforded by her place of birth and education. 

"Promise me you won't spend the rest of your life stuck around this bloody parody of a place mat." Will tells her, the fact that he's the one stuck in the wheelchair not lost on Lou or the reader.  "You only get one life." Will tells her. "It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible."

When Louisa asks him where she should go, Will's first thought is Paris. Ah, Paris. If only a cafe au lait and a croissant was the answer to everything.

A smile settled across his face now, his eyes creasing with pleasure.
"Paris. I would sit outside a cafe in Le Marais and drink coffee and eat a plate of warm croissants with unsalted butter and strawberry jam.""Le Marais?" "It's a little district in the center of Paris. It is full of cobbled streets and teetering apartment blocks and gay men and orthodox Jews and women of a certain age who once looked like Brigitte Bardot. It's the only place to stay." 
Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
The screen rights to Me Before You have been optioned by MGM.
Connect to the Dreaming of France meme hosted by Paulita at An Accidental Blog.

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