> Chapter1-Take1: March 2014

I See London I See France by Paulita Kincer: My Book the Movie

Paulita Kincer, author of I See London I See France is taking over my blog today! I loved her book so much I asked Paulita to imagine that her novel had been optioned by someone in Hollywood - Megan Ellison, are you out there? - and to share her dreamcast with us. Take it away, Paulita!

Thanks, Sim, for your amazing review of my novel I See London I See France. Still gives me chills. If you haven’t read it yet, please check it out here. 
The novel begins in Ohio with stay-at-home mom Caroline and her husband Scott having a typical married fight that ends with him walking out the door. Stuck home with her three children, aged nine to five, Caroline decides to go in search of the energetic, dream-filled girl she used to be. She sells her minivan and takes her three kids on a quest for herself.
At the beginning of the novel, Caroline is a little beaten down, but she definitely has a feisty streak. I think it was the feisty streak that led me to choose Ashley Judd as the perfect actor to play Caroline. She even majored in French in college.

I just want to feel something.” I returned Fiona’s frank gaze. “I can’t remember the last time that I felt something other than love for my children and frustration at not being able to finish everything on time.” 
“For nine years I’ve been running and I’m still in the same place.” I tilted my head, urging her to understand. 

Caroline had studied in Provence in 1996, and she became enthralled by Frenchman Jean-Marc. As she returns with her children, she decides to find Jean-Marc again. 


Jean-Marc could be played by French actor Sebastien Roché who has been in Salome and Titus Andronicus. I can just imagine his French-accented English as he tries to woo Caroline.
I am still waiting for the perfect woman,” he confided as he shrugged, palms facing up. “I had one promise to return to me, but she took her time.” His eyes seared into me then, and I couldn’t breathe for a moment.

Caroline’s husband Scott, a busy college professor who leaves the parenting and housework to Caroline, could be played by Josh Lucas who has been in American Psycho and Glory Road. Caroline realizes that she may have married a man who physically resembles her French crush, Jean-Marc. And once Caroline leaves, Scott is outraged by her. Will his anger and her absence equal divorce? 
"He seemed like a puppy then, all eager with awkward legs and arms that had minds of their own. He stuffed his fists into his jean pockets.
I smiled. He looked good too. The stripes of his rugby shirt stretched tight across his chest, the green in it making his eyes seem greener
I smiled. He looked good too. The stripes of his rugby shirt stretched tight across his chest, the green in it making his eyes seem greener."

And, the movie would not be complete without a cameo appearance by Johnny Depp as the gypsy Gustave who Caroline meets in Scotland.
"His eyes were nearly black. I couldn’t see where the pupil stopped and the iris began, as he grasped my hand in introduction. I felt his palm warm and hard, as if the calluses had joined to form a leather glove on his palm.
“Your children are very inquisitive.” He grinned at them. He stood with his arms at his side, not shoving hands into pockets or brushing back the black curl of hair that strayed onto his forehead. He simply was – take him or leave him but he wouldn’t preen.
“Your children are very inquisitive.” He grinned at them. He stood with his arms at his side, not shoving hands into pockets or brushing back the black curl of hair that strayed onto his forehead. He simply was – take him or leave him but he wouldn’t preen."

What do you think? I would certainly need to tag along for all the filming. The scenery in London, Cornwall, Scotland, Paris and Provence would definitely add to the romance of the movie.

Thanks again, Sim, for the opportunity to dream about my perfect movie cast.

You're welcome, Paulita. I really adored your novel and I think it has the ingredients of a great adaptation in the making. The locations of course; don't you just love a movie that transports you to another place? I find the change of scenery exhilarating. And of course, Caroline is such a relatable character! Her moving storyline, her tremendous growth and self-discovery are very appealing and the romantic elements with a few strong, sexy men sounds like it would have strong box office potential for audiences who like films like Under the Tuscan Son, Chocolat, A Year in Provence, and Eat, Pray, Love. Just my cup of tea; I'm in! 
(Well maybe not Eat, Pray, Love. I'd watch it if it were on cable right now but only for the scenery; it just wasn't awfully good.) 

Visit Paulita at An Accidental Blog to check in with her Dreaming of France meme - usually lots of great posts from francophiles around the world posting gorgeous pictures and stories about France. I often share French movie news; I haven't been to France in far too long!
You can also purchase I See London, I See France from Amazon . If you read my take on the book, you know how much I loved it. I don't do ratings but if I did, I'd give it four Eiffel Towers.

Enemy Featurette - Denis Villeneuve: The Web Of His Mind

Sunday, Sunday, my lazy day. Alright, my extra lazy day. Which means a video for your pleasure. Whether you've seen it or not, I think you'll like this nifty behind-the-scenes look at Enemy starring Jake GyllenhaalThat's the movie based on Jose Saramago's novel, The Double. If you're not familiar you can take a side trip here for a tad more info, then come back and check out the featurette about director Denis Villaneuve's vision for the film. 

You say you wanna revolution? Insurgent starts shooting this May in Chicago.

Whether you liked Divergent or not, (plenty haven't) the film is making good money and number two is already in the works. If you haven't read the second in the dystopian Chicago set trilogy, that makes two of us. I enjoyed Divergent but I haven't decided whether to give some of my precious reading hours to its follow-up. I just read the publisher's blurb on Veronica Roth's Insurgent
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.
Sounds even darker than Divergent, if that's possible! I'm a little worried about the screenplay to tell you the truth. Brian Duffield wrote the script but the studio brought in Akiva Goldman to do a 'polish'. It's not the polish that's the problem, it's the polisher. I'm still pissed at Goldman for destroying Mark Helprin's beautiful Winter's Tale. With Goldman producing, writing and directing, you really have no one else to blame. That cast deserved better. Not only is Goldman giving Insurgent a polish, he's involved in the third adaptation, Allegiant as well. I'm getting angrier as I write this! My point is, IMHO, he's the last person I'd want polishing any script I was involved with - were I someone who had a script someone actually wanted to be involved in. Which I'm not. Okay, my rant is over. Apologies for the negative vibe; shake it off and move on.

Robert Schwentke (Red, Flight Plan, The Time Traveler's Wife) is directing both Insurgent and he'll helm the last in the series, Allegiant, too. Needless to say but I better, Shailene Woodley and Theo James will return as Tris and Four/Tobias along with Miles Teller(Peter) and Jai Courtney (Eric) and several others from the Divergent cast.

Production on Insurgent begins back in Chicago this May, with an opening set for March 20, 2015. Oh hell, there's already a release date for Allegiant; it's set to screen March 18, 2016. Mark your calendars:)

Hateship Loveship: The Modernization of Munro's classic story stars Kristen Wiig

I'm a sucker for a movie that tells me it's about 'being on the outside, and finding a way in.' Based on an Alice Munro short story, Hateship Loveship stars Kristen Wiig as Johanna Parry, a shy, plain woman hired to clean house and look after Mr. McCauley's (Nick Nolte) granddaughter Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld). Her mother is dead, her dad, Guy Pearce is a deadbeat. A deadbeat, with a killer smile, good looks and a drug additction.

Sabitha and her rotten little friend, Edith, begin communicating with Johanna via email, pretending to be Sabitha's dad Ken, pretending to be romantically interested. And Johanna, primed for victimhood, bites.

Munro's story - Hateship Friendship Loveship Courtship Marriage - has been updated from its' mid-century roots and moved out of its Canadian setting into the American midwest, but seeing Wiig as Johanna arrive in town, dowdy dress skirting her knees, in a bus that could be right out of Munro's story it looks as though the film maintains Munro's tone. 

I'm a mega Kristin Wiig fan; seeing the vulnerability she was able to harness even in a hilarious comedy like Bridesmaids, gives me great confidence that she'll summon Johanna's outsider character.

The scenes in the trailer where we see Johanna kissing herself in the mirror, and then finding herself face to face with Ken, only to realize it's all been one big practical joke are shatteringly painful!

Directed by Liza Johnson, Hateship Loveship's cast includes Jennifer Jason Leigh and Christine Lahti. I can't wait for April 11th when the film hits theaters for a limited run. 

Check out the trailer; do you agree?

If you're following my personal site, Sim Carter Stories, I'm on a huge high because James Stafford is running my memoir piece Beach Music on his Why It Matters site. James is a really wonderful writer himself and an editor over at The Good Men Project. Feeling very grateful!

The First Phone Call from Heaven: God is in the movie house

One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingy. "Get me heaven on the line." Mitch Albom of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven fame has just had his latest bestseller The First Phone Call From Heaven, optioned by Warner Bros. While Albom's books sell really, really well, this is the first time one of them will be made into a feature film. Definitely not one to judge by its cover, because the cover, in my opinion, is dreadful. But, if you know Albom's books, you already know that all the covers are basically bland, and that doesn't stop them from selling. Here's what the latest book, released last November, looks like inside.
From Amazon: The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief—and a page-turner that will touch your soul—Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

Apparently while Paramount is dealing with a hail storm of ill will toward Darren Aronovsky's unconventional take on the ark story and struggling to get religious groups to give Noah a gander when it opens this Friday, some spiritual fare is showing real box office promise. Heaven is for Real, which I wrote about in connection with the death of our dog, is 'tracking' really well, audiences are just dying to see the movie based on the true story of a little boy who survives a near death experience. Capitalizing on the Easter spirit, Heaven is for Real opens April 16th with Greg Kinnear starring.  

The Shack, in a similar spiritual vein is also heading to the screen. The Wm. Paul Young novel is about a man devastated by the brutal murder of his daughter in an abandoned shack who receives an invitation from God to return to the scene of the crime for a life changing conversation. The real excitement here is that Forrest Whittaker is attached, rumored to be co-writing the screenplay, directing and starring. 

Deadline notes that based on the high sales figures of all these books, studios sense audiences want to believe in a higher power. Ya think?

John Green's Paper Towns getting the Hollywood treatment

This news just makes me happy! John Green's 2008 novel Paper Towns has been picked up by Fox 2000, the folks who are bringing us The Fault in Our Stars in June. The 'folks' are actually a pair of women, Elizabeth Gabler and Erin Siminoff - just pointing it out because I'm usually kvetching about the lack of females in the film world; I have to celebrate women as driving forces when that's the reality. For the record, I have no interest in living in a totally girl-powered world, but it would be nice to get a little more balance. 

Anyway .... it's going to be something of a TFIOS reunion; Gabler and Siminoff are bringing back TFIOS writers extraordinaire Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen and Nat Wolff, the young actor who plays Augustus Water's best friend, Isaac. Wolff is quite the up and comer, he starred in Stuck in Love for TFIOS director Josh Boone - in fact he read for the part of Augustus before Boone decided on Ansel Elgort. You might have seen Wolff in Admission with Tina Fey and Paul Judd plus he's in the upcoming Gia Coppola-directed Palo Alto alongside James Franco, Val Kilmer, and Emma Roberts. That's set to screen at Telluride in April with a limited opening scheduled for May 9th. And, as you can see from the snap, Wolff and author Green really bonded on the set of The Fault in Our Stars

I am especially jazzed that Weber and Neustadter will be writing the script. The pair wrote 500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now adaptation and have several other book to movie adaptations in the works including Jojo Moyes Me Before You and Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette? Weber also wrote the script for Rosaline, based on Rebecca Serle's Shakespearian take, When You Were Mine, in pre-production now with Felicity Jones set to star. 

There's no mention of a director in Deadline's Paper Town piece; I suppose it's way too soon but I can't help but wonder if they'd like to bring Josh Boone back to direct??? 

I have a couple of John Green books on my tbr shelf already; An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska. I'll have to add Paper Towns; have you read it? Here's the publisher's overview:

Green melds elements from his Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines— the impossibly sophisticated but unattainable girl, and a life-altering road trip—for another teen-pleasing read. Weeks before graduating from their Orlando-area high school, Quentin Jacobsen's childhood best friend, Margo, reappears in his life, specifically at his window, commanding him to take her on an all-night, score-settling spree. Quentin has loved Margo from not so afar (she lives next door), years after she ditched him for a cooler crowd. Just as suddenly, she disappears again, and the plot's considerable tension derives from Quentin's mission to find out if she's run away or committed suicide. Margo's parents, inured to her extreme behavior, wash their hands, but Quentin thinks she's left him a clue in a highlighted volume of Leaves of Grass. Q's sidekick, Radar, editor of a Wikipedia-like Web site, provides the most intelligent thinking and fuels many hilarious exchanges with Q. The title, which refers to unbuilt subdivisions and copyright trap towns that appear on maps but don't exist, unintentionally underscores the novel's weakness: both milquetoast Q and self-absorbed Margo are types, not fully dimensional characters. Readers who can get past that will enjoy the edgy journey and off-road thinking
Have you read Paper Towns yet? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the casting of Wolff as Quentin. I need your comments!

I See London, I See France by Paulita Kincer; My take on the book

I absolutely adored Paulita Kincer's  I See London, I See France, a mature and moving novel about love and marriage, and the sacrifice of self we sometimes make along the way. While I thoroughly enjoyed the author's The Summer of France,  this latest book went much deeper. Perhaps because the main character, Caroline is so richly drawn, flaws and all, and because her story is so relatable, I See London, I See France really resonated with me, frequently bringing me to tears.

First, here's the overview from Amazon:
When her husband of a dozen years walks out in a huff, Caroline Sommers walks out too – to Europe, with her kids after impulsively selling her minivan for travel money. Tired of being the perfect wife, she escapes to rediscover herself, and possibly rekindle the unrequited love of a Frenchman from her college days. While shepherding her kids from London to Scotland then Paris to Provence, she finds herself at a crossroads. Does she choose love, or lust, in the arms of a European man, or should she try again with the father of her children and the man she truly loved, once?
Ah, Caroline, sweet Caroline! Right from the beginning Kincer takes us into Caroline's head and her heart so that we are with her every step of the way, not only in her journey through Europe, but her mental wanderings as well. What woman, in those moments of frustration and difficulty that arrive in any marriage, hasn't looked at her own version of Scott, (Caroline's husband) and burdened by all the demands of laundry, cooking, kids, work - whether you're a full time stay at home mom or a full time college professor - AND trying to be your own person, and wondered how it 'might have been'. Playing the 'if only' game can be dangerous but Caroline, furious with Scott for taking off, takes the leap and flies across the pond. She'll take some time to figure things out and if she happens to rediscover romance with her long lost love Jean-Marc, so much the better. Indeed! It's an impulsive move that leaves the reader worrying where it will lead, and asking ourselves what we would do in her place.

Kincer, by telling the story in chapters that alternate between past and present, paints a poignant picture, contrasting the romance, the youthful yearnings and adventures of Caroline's past with the reality of day-to-day married life. We journey back to 1996 when Caroline was a young, single and vulnerable au pair in France, enjoying her flirtation with Jean Marc and falling, along with her, for the sexy, slightly older Frenchman in one chapter. Then a fast forward to the present day in the next chapter, revealing Caroline, the wife and devoted mother, unsure where she fits into her own life in Columbus, Ohio, unsure what her travels in Europe will reveal about herself, her feelings and her future.

Deftly preventing the tone from becoming too melancholy, the author packs the book with all the charms of travel, making me feel like I was on the trip too, my suitcase squeezed into a corner of the hotel room, ready to see the sights. King Arthur's castle, (inspiring me to google Tintagel castle) the Lock Ness Monster, Monet's Garden. Eating escargot, drinking menthe a l'eau, European bathrooms, nude beaches, and a very seductive gypsy named Gustave. What was really wonderful though is where traveling takes Caroline on her inner journey. It's easy to romanticize the past, put blinders on to the faults and foibles of a memory while casting an overly critical eye on the here and now. Our heroine finds the courage to look and see things clearly for what they were and for what they are.

The children were a pleasure, their quirks and passions a constant reminder of Caroline's ties to their father, as well as her role of mother; the role that despite any subjugation of self, Caroline can never and will never divorce herself from. Kincer's Caroline isn't super-mom; she's exhausted from thinking of everyone else first and putting herself last, but she loves those kids; in the end, rather than being the ties that bind, they are the guideposts that help Caroline find her way.

A really lovely, nuanced and evocative novel that would make a fine film; fantastic locations, three sexy men, a fierce female protagonist with a strong character arc, and a compelling emotional story.

I've asked Paulita who she'd cast in the film version and I can't wait to share her thoughts. Watch for Paulita's dreamcast in an upcoming post I'll call My Book the Movie.

Connect to Dreaming of France, Paulita's weekly meme for lovers of all things French ... and I have a feeling that lovers of all things French are going to love this book!

Divergent: Don't Compare it to The Hunger Games

I feel terrible. Something happened on the way to finishing Veronica Roth's Divergent. My Nook freaked out; I scrolled from page 168ish to the next page and found nothing but a blank screen. I tried to read it on my computer but the pages stopped at the same place. I noodled around B&N's website and decided I'd call as soon as I finished doing whatever it was I decided I needed to do. But I didn't. My inherent inertia kicked in and I did nothing. Nothing. And now before I've even finished the book, which I'm enjoying so far, the movie has come out and the overwhelming consensus is, number one, it's no Hunger Games (does it have to be?) and number two, it's dull. Kind of takes any wind I had left, right out of my sails.

So in lieu of my own review, and because I like what Owen Gleiberman at EW has to say about the film (even though I haven't seen it) and about Shailene Woodley, whom I feel is a remarkably talented actress, here's his take on the film.

In the posters for Divergent, Shailene Woodley has been given the stylized bod of a comic-book sci-action vamp, and her features are as coolly chiseled as her physique. But in the movie version of Veronica Roth's 2011 novel, Woodley, I'm glad to say, is a lot more recognizably human, and that goes for her acting too. Her character, Tris, spends most of the film learning to leap and toss knives and risk death like a badass, and when she puts those skills to the test battling her society's corrupt leaders, there's no doubt that she's a superior, market-tested YA role model, like Katniss in The Hunger Games. But she is also, as Woodley plays her, an intensely vulnerable and relatable character.
Tris, a.k.a. Beatrice, has been raised as a member of Abnegnation, one of five factions in a walled dystopia that was formerly Chicago and still looks, strikingly, like a semiruined concrete-playground version of that city. The members of Abnegnation dress in plain tan frocks, like the Amish, and they're all about puritan self-sacrifice. The other four factions are Erudite (defined by their transcendent knowledge), Candor (who are compulsively honest), Amity (the naturally peaceful), and Dauntless (the fearless tattooed warrior jocks in black — in other words, the sect that anyone cool would want to be part of). Beatrice and her peers have the right to choose a ­faction for themselves (it's like picking a college — you can go to Yale even if your folks didn't). But when she takes the test to learn which faction she's best suited for, it turns out that she's in the rare forbidden ­category known as Divergent, which means she has the qualities of three factions at once: Abnegnation, ­Erudite, and Dauntless. It may sound silly to say she's an outlaw because she's self-sacrificial, brilliant, and strong all at the same time, but what's really forbidden is ­independent thought.
Woodley, through the delicate power of her acting, does something compelling: She shows you what a prickly, fearful, yet daring personality looks like when it's nestled deep within the kind of modest, bookish girl who shouldn't even like gym class. Tris chooses to become part of Dauntless not because she has any special athletic skill but because it's her nature to go for broke. The first half of Divergent is a lean, exciting basic-training thriller, with Tris willing herself to do things like jump aboard speeding trains and fight with her bare knuckles. Woodley, at every turn, lets us feel as if we're in her shoes, not so much Dauntless as thrillingly daunted.
The second half of the movie goes on a bit, with too many rote combat scenes. Yet the director, Neil Burger (the fanciful craftsman who made Limitless and The Illusionist), keeps you invested, staging a rise-of-the-savior-heroine plot so that it seems less ritualistic than it does in the Hunger Games films. It helps that the drill sergeant, named Four, is played by Theo James, who's like an unflaky James Franco with a surly hint of T-shirt-era Brando; he brings off the neat trick of playing a hardass who is also a heartthrob. And it's nice to watch Kate Winslet go full ice-blood fascist as the Erudite leader who makes a scarily smart case for a society rooted in the fine art of ­control. In many ways, she sounds similar to a movie executive, so I'm glad to see the launch of a dystopian franchise in which individuality, as embodied by Shailene Woodley, looks like it could mean something beyond hiply propping up the status quo. B+
In a companion piece, under the headline Divergent: Did it get trashed for coming out after the Hunger Games, Gleiberman notes:
Given how derivative it is, Divergent, by all rights, should be a less effective thriller than either The Hunger Games or The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I, however, liked it more than both, and for a basic reason: The heroine is allowed to show fear. Through most of the movie, there’s a pungent sense that Tris, as played by the petite, forlorn Shailene Woodley, is in over her head and knows it. In my review, I called her “intensely vulnerable and relatable,” and that’s a way of saying that when Woodley is on screen, showing us everything that Tris is going through, she approaches each moment as if its outcome weren’t preordained. The possibility of failure hangs there, with dramatic anxiety. That’s why it’s easy to feel at one with her even if you don’t happen to be part of the film’s market-tested fan-base demo. You don’t have to know the book or care, particularly, about the material; the fretful, cunning tick-tock of Shailene Woodley’s presence is enough. Whereas Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games films, while ferociously spirited and forceful (I think she’s an unabashedly great actress), makes Katniss a kind of regal WASP Amazon who is, without fail, tough, fierce, strong, Olympian, implacable. And, to me, that’s not nearly as interesting as Woodley’s woeful, life-size girl-goddess. 

So what did you think of Divergent?  Haven't seen it either? Watch the trailer.

Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin share a kiss in Still Alice

Back in November we learned that Lisa Genova's Still Alice was heading to the screen with Julianne Moore in the titular role of the college professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. I made the point that the film would be tough to watch - at least for me because my mother had Alzheimer's and I'm sure for many of you too; hard to escape knowing someone who has been stricken with this horrendous, unrelenting, dehumanizing killer.  I thought it might be tough for Julianne Moore; just contemplating the complete loss of self that comes with Alzheimer's is a harrowing and emotional prospect.

But enough of my gloomy predictions - spotting this image from the set of Still Alice online, of Ms. Moore making out with Jack Donaughy er, Alec Baldwin made me laugh. Baldwin is playing Moore's husband, Dr. John Howland although for a 30 Rock fan it's hard to divorce the pair from their wicked television series romance. I like the look of that kiss; if a picture tells a thousand words I'd say Moore is pressing herself into Baldwin with a passion that doesn't come from desire, but from a desperation to be known. 

Enough of the amateur psychology, the cast shooting in Long Beach, New York, included Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth who play Alice's daughters Lydia and Anna, along with Shane McRae as Anna's fella. McRae was Skeeter's awful boyfriend in The Help.

Have you read the stunning and disturbing book? The film comes out sometime next year.

Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson to film Brooklyn in Ireland #book2movies

This is postcard perfect Enniscorthy, Ireland, hometown to Eilis Lacey in Colm Tobin's Brooklyn. It also happens to be hometown to Colm Tobin. And according to the Cory Guardian, Enniscorthy will 'play' itself in the film version written by Nick Hornby and starring Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey and Domhnall Gleeson as Jim Farrell, the hometown boy she leaves behind. Shooting in Enniscorthy is supposed to last about ten days at the start of April, so if you're in Ireland, be on the lookout. The filmmakers will be shooting at various timeless locations including St. Aidan's Cathedral, Church Street, Castle Street, and the Curracloe Strand, and my Irish friends, they are looking for hundreds of extras. Give us a holler if you get cast.

Seeing the sights is really one of my favorite parts about watching movies; getting to travel to all these incredible places with unique architectural points of view; how are they able to maintain their charm? Surely the suburbs encroach here too? Although I suppose any town that has a castle would have to fall under the protection of the National Trust which makes sense. Did you catch the castle on the hill? And the arched stone bridge; neither is part of any tableau I'm accustomed to seeing here in Los Angeles.

If this was your home, if you'd spent your entire life here, this would be a terribly hard place to leave, like pulling out of a hug first. A place where 'everybody knows your name' has to have a potent impact. But in Brooklyn, Eilis does in fact leave this lovely place at the urging of her sister Rose to emigrate to America for a better life. An Irish immigrant story set in the early 1950's, Brooklyn was adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby and is being directed by BAFTA winning Irish director John Crowley, known for semi-edgy indies (Boy A, Closed Circuit). I'd wondered who would play Tony, the Italian boy Eilis meets in America; it's Emory Cohen who was Bradley Cooper's sullen druggie son The Place Beyond the Pines. The Brooklyn cast includes Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters in undisclosed roles; her parents? Or he could play the Irish priest who sets her up in Brooklyn. And if you've never seen the old Educating Rita classic in which Julie Walters starred opposite Michael Caine, do yourself a favor and hunt it down. 


The Giver: First trailer for the sci-fi classic is here.

"When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong."

That's the formidable voice of Meryl Streep as Chief Elder in the just-released first trailer for The Giver, the upcoming movie based on Lois Lowry's sci-fi classic. Take a look and see what you think; so many quick cuts I can't quite process it! Taylor Swift is in there somewhere; did you spot her? 

I've been irritated, and let it show, since day one by the casting of Brenton Thwaites as Jonas, signaling the filmmaker's intent to age the young character in a bid to cash in on the YA sci-fi fantasy film popularity ala Hunger Games and Twilight, and possibly, Divergent depending on how the movie is actually received when it opens tomorrow. Nothing I've seen here in The Giver trailer changes that, the kiss between Jonas and Fiona (Odeya Rush) doesn't look like a young adolescent move to me. Boo hiss. 

While the world of the novel is a colorless place, devoid of pain, the world of the film seems light, bright, and yes, colorful. I suppose director Phillip Noyce and co. thought it would be too radical to expect 2014 audiences to sit through a basically black and white film.  Not sure that would have been the way to go either, just an alternative approach. 

The Giver stars Thwaite, Streep, Jeff Bridges as the Giver (the person responsible for holding the painful memories of the society), and Alexander Skarsgård and Katie Holmes as Jonas' parents. 

The Giver opens August 15th. Will you choose to see the movie? Before you decide, remember what Meryl says, "When people have the freedom to choose, they usually choose wrong."

Hey regular readers ... my search feature is baaaack! 

Looking for something on my site, the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars? News about Gone Girl? My sad little search tool has been repaired, and it's back in place at the top right of the screen, just under the ad. So please search away. 
AND if there's book to movie news you'd like to read more about, 
please go ahead and give me a holler at simcarter1000@gmail.com 
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Divergent: Production designer on bringing post-apocalyptic Chicago to the screen

I shouldn't have left it to the last minute to read Divergent! I was biased - another dystopian YA book being adapted for the screen - but now that I'm reading it, I see I should have paid it more attention, earlier. More when I've finished Veronica Roth's book - fingers crossed that the remaining 180 pages are as taut, thoughtful and exciting as the first 145 - and that the movie follows suit. For now, via MovieFone just had to share some thoughts on bringing the author's vision to the screen from Andy Nicholson, the Oscar-nominated production designer behind Gravity, along with some shots of the bleak and futuristic version of Chicago. Scroll to the bottom to watch the trailer. I shared Nicholson's vision for the Dauntless tattoos a few days ago, and took a look at the costume designs for all the factions here. 

"Divergent" is set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago. However, my first conversations with Director Neil Burger were about how we could show that this was an aspirational society, making the best of their situation and, on the surface, managing to function relatively well. Neil also wanted to bring a sense of cinematic reality to the film using Chicago as a character and its monumental scale to emphasize the space its population enjoyed. It is important that the audience believes the world Tris lives in, and that she wants to be a part of it. And, although the story is set about 150 years in the future in a place that has been isolated from the rest of the world for around 100 years, we wanted the city we showed to be familiar. 
Creating a believable, immersive, and exciting environment for the film that reflects this future was a visual and contextual challenge requiring scientific, sociological, and historic projection. We had the added pressure of a loyal and expectant fan base, all of whom have their own inner vision of the Chicago described in Veronica Roth's book. It was very important not to let them down! Starting with broad-strokes and descriptions within the book Neil and I developed a visual bible outlining many of the details that would come to define the character and workings of "Divergent" Chicago. 
I worked with concept artists on designing the downtown area (The Hub) at first. The skyline would contain a percentage of buildings that were either damaged or destroyed, some would only survive as structural skeletons adding a few more futuristic towers not currently built. We decided that it made sense that buildings would be maintained by the population of the city, albeit to a minimal level, they would have a weathered patina suitable for their age and circumstance but would not be derelict. 
Road surfaces are disintegrated and have become partially overgrown, street signs and lights and traffic signals are gone. There were no cars, and transport is limited to the Chicago L train and a few general purpose trucks. Neil wanted to show how electrical power would be generated and we settled on the idea of scattering hundreds of wind turbines across the facades of the higher buildings in the Hub. Cables carrying power from the turbines are strung up in the sort of semi-structured more often seen in a favela. Windows are obscured by generations of grime. We had fun developing one of the great visual ideas in Veronica's book that Lake Michigan is now a marsh spotted with the rusting hulls of beached ships. 
The fence around the city is an omnipresent physical and symbolic representation of the city's isolation, and at this stage in the trilogy, its function is ambiguous, it is unclear whether the fence is imprisoning the population or for their protection. I loved the look of a huge Soviet radar array at Chernobyl, so we used that as a starting point. Its height could also be used as a Faraday cage blocking any incoming or outgoing radio communications.
Chicago's L train features heavily in the story, but we decided to give it a different backstory and change the design so that it could be used to transport freight as well as passengers. This developed into an open, utilitarian interior with small flip up seats, cargo fixing points, and a lot of bare metal finishes -- no driver and few windows. 
Apart from the Hub, screen time in Divergent is divided between 3 of the 5 factions within the city; Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite (although we see snap shots of Amity and Candor in the film's opening sequence). Each of these factional neighborhoods are very different, and, in order to play their part in telling the story, each one has to have a unique architecture and aesthetic reflecting their inhabitants' manifestos and occupations. Their design has to take into account the constraints of a long-time self-sufficient city.
Dauntless have the run of Chicago, treating it like a giant assault course and occupying an industrial area of the city. They are also very cool with an informal discipline, so we thought that they would have requisitioned any buildings they needed rather than build their own, filling them with found and re-purposed objects. Their training and sleeping quarters reflect this, whereas the pit, dining hall, and especially the tattoo parlor are more funky places, where the use of color and ornamentation is more eclectic.  

Abnegation live very close to the hub in a purpose-built village. Their core value is selflessness, so buildings are all the same, with raw unpainted finishes. Surface details had to feel like the result of a manufacturing process rather than intentional ornamentation. Their wood-block floors, doors, and window frames use recycled materials. I thought it was important that the houses looked as though they could be assembled on-site and by hand, built from pre-fabricated panels in a similar way to some existing disaster relief housing. 
For Erudite, we decided to allow them to inhabit an area of modern buildings. The interiors were always a cross between laboratory and library, with white being the predominant color. Finishes are clean and materials modern throughout. It was very important to establish that, although their quest for knowledge and scientific development is paramount, they are self-important enough to devote effort to carefully maintaining their world in a way that is fastidious and even a little unnecessary!

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