> Chapter1-Take1: May 2014

A month of movies to stream on Netflix

Thanks, IndieWire, for this list of movies newly available to stream on Netflix come June. With over thirty newly added titles you could stock up on microwave popcorn and make it movie marathon month.

The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Apocalypse Now
Annie Hall
The Art of the Steal (June 7)
At the Earth's Core
The Believer (Ryan Gosling) 
Better Than Chocolate
Blood and Chocolate
Bonnie & Clyde - 2013 version (June 10)
The Chorus
Clear and Present Danger
Cold Mountain
The Craft
Dance With Me
Devil's Knot
Elaine Strich: Shoot Me
El Dorado
Ever After: A Cinderella Story
Escape From Tomorrow
First Knight
Funny Lady
Gambit (June 24)
Girl Most Likely (June 6)
Harriet the Spy
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
Iron Monkey
Jane Eyre - 2011 version (June 16)

Gillian Flynn "re-imagining" Hamlet

Apparently all the best selling writers are doing it. "Reimagining" the works of Shakespeare. This is nothing new; Shakespeare has been inspiring writers for centuries. Contemporary novelist Brett Easton Ellis tackled Hamlet in Lunar Park, as did Matt Haig in his Dead Father's Club. 

This is a tad different though as it's part of what's being called the Hogarth Shakespeare series, an international publishing initiative across the Penguin Random House Group. The series is set to launch in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

Gillian Flynn - let's face it, her Gone Girl is about as darkly Shakespearian as it gets - will get a little darker still with her version of Hamlet.  Flynn joins authors like Margaret Atwood (The Tempest), Jo Nesbo (Macbeth) and Anne Tyler (The Taming of the Shrew), among others.  

This is Where I Leave You: The Trailer

I've been waiting for the trailer to This is Where I Leave You, the screen adaptation of the hilarious and moving Jonathan Tropper novel, for forever. It was finally released yesterday. Nice little bit of icing on my birthday cake. The film is set for release September 12th. I'll share the poster when it comes along, for now we have a couple of new shots along with the trailer.

This is the one where the dad dies and mom, Jane Fonda - an hilariously-enhanced Jane Fonda - insists the entire family return to sit Shivah, the Jewish mourning tradition. Have you tried to spend a week with your brothers and sisters lately? This Is Where I Leave You stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver as his siblings. Jane Fonda as the new widow, Connie Britton as Driver's GF, Rose Byrne as Bateman's ex.

Q&A | The Fault in Our Stars Author John Green & Director Josh Boone

John Green getting made up for his cameo in The Fault in Our Stars
The scene got cut.

The Fault in Our Stars movie is almost here, just one more week. In the meantime I ran across this Q&A with author John Green and director Josh Boone over at the Forever Young Adult web site. The pair attended the advance screening of the movie at the Alamo Draft House this past weekend. Check out the link for more fangirl stuff like Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort welcoming everyone to ForeverFest and apologizing for not being there in person. Green and Boone made up for their absence, they ended up egging a car with their Forever Young Adult hosts Sarah and Brandy. Those Texans have all the fun! Scroll down to the bottom if you need a trailer fix, the flick opens next week, June 6th! Will you be at the midnight showing?

Melanie Griffith is Facing the Wind with Evan Rachel Wood and Alessandro Nivola

There is still news trickling from Cannes. This morning we learned Melanie Griffith has joined the true-crime movie Facing the Wind opposite Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga and Evan Rachel Wood. 

The movie is based on Julie Salamon’s book Facing the Wind: A True Story of Tragedy and Reconciliation. It's the story of Bob Rowe, a New York lawyer who killed his wife and three children in 1978 and who avoided prison by pleading insanity.

Nivola with Bradley Cooper/American Hustle

Nivola will play the killer who searches for redemption while Farmiga is attached to play Rowe’s first wife, who he killed. Evan Rachel Wood plays his second wife, the woman he starts his new life with. Griffith, Jennifer Beals and Rita Willson will play women in a circle of close-knit friends who share the bond of grief and anger about the murders as they confront  Rowe’s second wife.

Joe Berlinger will direct and produce the film along with Elizabeth Fowler (“Devil’s Knot”).

Production is set to begin later this year in and around New York City.

Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank talk The Homesman at Cannes

Slacker Sunday brings you this press conference from The Cannes Film Festival. Tommy Lee Jones directed the western The Homesman based on the book by Glenn Swarthout about a claim jumper and a pioneer woman team up to escort three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa. The film stars Tommy Lee Jones along with Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, John Lithgow, Meryl Streep, Susanne Richter and Miranda Otto. This isn't Jones' first foray as a director and it was a kick to see Jones who I think of as such a quiet curmudgeon talking with passion about the project. And he clearly has a passion for the American frontier and for the challenging beginnings of this country. Enjoy!

The Two Faces of January: Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac star in movie based on the book

A lot of you hated Drive. Not me. I loved it. At its release Gosling and director Nicholas Winding Refn talked about how they stripped Hossein Amini's screenplay - based on James Sallis novel - down to its barest bones. This time around Amini, who also penned the adaptations for Snow White and The Huntsman, 47 Ronin and the screen version of John LeCarre's Our Kind of Traitor filming now, got a director more respectful of his words. Himself. The Two Faces of January marks Amini's feature film directorial debut.

Set in Greece in the summer of '62, The Two Faces of January, adapted and directed by Hossein Amini, is based on the book by the brilliant Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Carol) and has just been released in Ireland and the U.K. The film plays the San Francisco Film Festival next week and screens at the LA Film Festival in June.

Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac star in the drama about Chester and Colette McFarland, a con artist and his wife who who enlist the help of a seductive stranger after getting involved in the murder of a Greek police officer. 

Sounds great but the deal is, it looks great too. Oscar Isaac, the seductive stranger who we last saw in Inside Llewyn Davis, appears to turn in another great turn. The actor looks different every time we see him, a physical manifestation of the character he's channeling. The costumes in this period piece were designed by Stephen Noble (Train Spotting, Never Let Me Go); Vogue shared some images of the vintage wardrobe Noble put together. He made it plain he's a fan of Dunst.
"It was a joy to work with all three actors, but I really bonded especially well with Kirsten in our first costume fitting at Elstree Studios," Noble told us. "I called in vintage clothes from around the world and made the fitting room look like a vintage Aladdin's cave, and we spent many hours trying on shapes and silhouettes and choosing fabrics. Most actors do have an input as well as the director as to how they see their character and they develop this over the prep time, and this of course includes discussions with me about what they think their character would and wouldn't wear."
 Let's see what she wears! And check out the Vogue piece for missing details. Don't forget the trailer all the way down at the bottom. 

Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen: Shooting Brooklyn #book2movies

We've been watching the shooting of Brooklyn, the book based on Colm Toibin's novel.  Last month we saw Saoirse Ronan frolicking on the beach in Ireland with Domhnall Gleeson as the home town boy who turns her head. Now our Ellis has emigrated to Brooklyn. The folks at Socialite Life (yes, Socialite Life) got some shots of Saoirse Ronan doing some serious kissing on the beach at Coney Island with Emory Cohen*, the actor who plays Tony, Ellis new world love interest.  Note Ellis wears the same vintage green bathing suit she wore back home in Ireland, there would be no extra money for the luxury of a new bathing suit. Kudos to costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux for getting that right. It's not the most flattering cut, what do you think? 

*That's Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond the Pines, Smash) not Ethan Embry (That Thing You Do!)

3 Things John Green Loves about his book being made into a movie

"I couldn't believe a major Hollywood studio was making a movie in which the female lead has tubes in her nose the entire time. That took guts. It's an extraordinarily faithful adaptation. The producers and the studio are very conscious of the Nerdfighter community and, in a healthy way, a little bit scared of them."

"I live in Indianapolis, where the book is set, and I put [a character] in [former Indiana Pacers star] Rik Smits's jersey in one scene in the book. Getting a Rik Smits jersey into a movie was pretty exciting for me, and it's actually my jersey, so that was pretty cool. It's an old-guy thing."

"Meeting [TFIOS costar] Willem Dafoe was amazing, because his parents lived five doors down from my parents. I often saw him when I was a little kid, but I was always too terrified to talk to him. And then he was in the movie version of my book, which was surreal. And I was like, 'I grew up on your dad's street.' He was just shaking his head for the next three days [Laughs]."

"It's an old guy thing"??? What the hell, John? You're thirty six years old! How are the real old guys supposed to feel, you know, the forty year olds? 

Read more about the old man's process and how he built a huge brand for himself at the Fast Company's 500 Postcards.  

The Fault in Our Stars trailer

Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix still To Die For after all these years.

Yesterday Joyce Maynard, author of the book behind Labor Day, tweeted that her novel To Die For is back in print for the first time in years. Published way back in 1992, the material is timely in our current stranger than reality show world. The movie, directed by Gus Van Sant is available to stream instantly on Amazon.

“That’s the beauty of television. It’s like an eye that’s on you all the time. . . . Kind of like God, if you want to get heavy.”
Local weather reporter Suzanne Maretto craves nothing more than to transcend life at her suburban cable television news station and follow in the footsteps of her idol: Barbara Walters. When she concludes that her unglamorous husband is getting in the way of her dream of stardom, the solution seems obvious: Get rid of him. She seduces a fifteen-year-old admirer, Jimmy, and persuades him to do her dirty work. Mission accomplished, Suzanne takes to the airwaves in her new role as grieving widow, in search of a TV deal. If that means selling Jimmy down the river, she’s ready.
Maynard’s brilliant, funny, and groundbreaking novel—adapted by Gus Van Sant into the cult classic movie of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman—was first published in 1992 before the era of manufactured stardom and the phenomenon of televised murder trials as entertainment. The book still stands as a razor-sharp satire of celebrity-fixated culture and the American obsession with TV—a novel that imagined the phenomenon of reality television before its creation, with alternately bone-chilling and hilarious accuracy.

Take a look at the scene below - the 'seduction of James' which features an incredibly young (and imbecilic sounding) Joaquin Phoenix.  I've got to see the movie if only as a type of historical document, measuring where actors like Phoenix, Kidman, Matt Dillon and Casey Affleck were all those years ago. 

Glenn Close to play The Wife in screen adaptation of Meg Wolitzer bestseller

Glenn Close has signed on to play the titular role in The Wife, the film adaptation of Meg Wolitzer's bestselling 2003 novel about the unraveling of a marriage during The couple's  
journey to the Nobel Award ceremony in Stockholm. 

The pub offers this:
Meg Wolitzer brings her characteristic wit and intelligence to a provocative story about the evolution of a marriage, the nature of partnership, the question of a male or female sensibility, and the place for an ambitious woman in a man’s world. 
The moment Joan Castleman decides to leave her husband, they are thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean on a flight to Helsinki. Joan’s husband, Joseph, is one of America’s preeminent novelists, about to receive a prestigious international award, and Joan, who has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, has finally decided to stop. From this gripping opening, Meg Wolitzer flashes back to 1950s Smith College and Greenwich Village and follows the course of the marriage that has brought the couple to this breaking point—one that results in a shocking revelation. 
With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer has crafted a wise and candid look at the choices all men and women make—in marriage, work, and life.

I haven't read this one; in fact I've never read Wolitzer but this sounds good to me. I've just started J.K. Rowling's A Casual Vacancy and I'm enjoying being in the adult vs YA world for a change, The Wife promises more of the same. These mature female characters - in years anyway - speak to issues that resonate with older and long married folks like me. It's exciting to read about young people falling in love and finding themselves but it's good to see oneself from time to time too. 

Wolitzer fans should appreciate Runge's understanding of and passion for the material. 
“The first time I read ‘The Wife' I was instantly inspired by the story of love, creativity and a secret larger than life in itself that the main characters, Joan and Joe, are carrying. After meeting the amazing Glenn Close, I was convinced that directing this film would be a creatively wonderful and challenging experience,” said Runge.
From the sound of it, Glenn Close will make a fantastic Joan, the woman at the breaking point. She's mad as hell and she's just not gonna take it anymore. The film is being directed by the Swedish filmmaker Bjorn Runge (Daybreak) from a script by Jane Anderson who scripted the upcoming adaptation of the bestselling novel Olive Kitteridge for HBO. The four-part miniseries stars Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray and airs this September. They're currently hunting up the male lead for a planned winter/spring 2015 start, shooting primarily in Stockholm. The Wrap reports they'll be recording in both English and Swedish. 

La Chambre Bleue : Actor/Director Mathieu interview from Cannes

I learned last month that French actor/director Mathieu Amalric was adapating and debuting the Georges Simenon crime novel The Blue Room or La Chambre Bleue at Cannes. Now comes the news that the North American rights to the film, despite disappointingly mixed reviews, have been snapped up by Sundance Selects. Directed by Amalric, La Chambre Bleue also stars Léa Drucker, Stéphanie Cléau, Laurent Poitrenaux and Serge Bozon.

Check out this new interview (in English) with Amalric direct from Cannes, where he drops that he likes actors who appreciate it's not all about them (Lights Camera Action) but also the news that he's signed on to the BBC production of Wolf Hall costarring Mark Rylance. The interviewer is so impressed by Amalric working with Rylance (former director of the Globe Theater) that he's borderline insulting, the way I see it. Take a look. I'll load the trailer as well. It's in French with no subtitles but with bare naked bodies, who needs words?

Benedict Cumberbatch Watch: The Yellow Birds

Benedict Cumberbatch/An English Room by Derry Moore*

Variety reports from Cannes that Benedict Cumberbatch, Tye Sheridan and Will Poulter are set to star “The Yellow Birds.”

The movie, based on the book by Kevin Murphy revolves around two young soldiers (Sheridan and Poulter) and the older sergeant (Cumberbatch) who takes them under his wing while they are they are deployed to Iraq. The young soldiers are very young as are the actors playing them, a plus. Sheridan who plays the young Ben Day in the adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Dark Places is just 17, he doesn't turn 18 years old until the film is released this November. Will Poulter is just 20. But of course, both are babies in contrast to Mr. C's thirty seven years. The young actors are both Americans, will Cumberbatch be a Yank as well?

Tye Sheridan (center) Last Man Standing
Will Poulter (The Maze Runner)

"The war tried to kill us in the spring." So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. 
In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined.  
With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.

Story Mining acquired the rights to the Kevin Powers novel - a National Book Award finalist - and developed the script.

David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”) will direct the film from his own script.
“I never had any interest in making a war film until Jeff and Evan brought me the novel by Kevin Powers,” Lowery said. “And perhaps I still don’t, because while Powers’ story takes place during wartime, it isn’t about the conflict. It is about characters who find themselves caught up in war, but who struggle to not let it define them. I fell in love with them. It is a beautiful and deeply personal tale, relayed through images and memories, and I am excited to have the chance to bring it to the screen.”

I love how Lowery talks about the book, his appreciation for the characters. I'm frankly more excited though to see Cumberbatch as Alan Touring in The Imitation Game, the film in which he stars as the gay mathematician and codebreaker with Keira Knightley as his friend and fiance. I found a short teaser trailer of sorts so here you go:

If you're a Benedict Cumberbatch fan on constant Cumberbatch watch you probably know the image that headed this page is from the book An English Room, a cool little picture book that features British celebs talking about some of their favorite rooms. Benedict talks about his favorite place to read a script. 

Trent Reznor on Gone Girl: "The book is not exactly uplifting or happy."

There's been a lot of talk about just how much Gillian Flynn revised the ending of her novel Gone Girl for David Fincher's screen adaptation. Recently she sort of walked back expectations about those  changes to the ending and how everyone was making much ado about nada. If what Trent Reznor says is true, whatever changes the filmmakers made or didn't make, the movie is working. The lead man for the Nine Inch Nails told Entertainment Weekly, "It's a nasty film." Reznor and partner Atticus Ross are collaborating as they did with director Fincher for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network which netted the duo an Oscar. 

Talking about the book vs movie, Reznor makes the understatement of the year when he says the book 'is not exactly uplifting or happy' (No, Trent, it's not!) then goes on to add 'but it's a nasty film'. Which makes me wonder if that Entertainment Weekly cover featuring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck posed on a gurney in the morgue is a clue. Would Flynn and Fincher go so far as to kill Ms Dunne off? 
“This film has been really fun to work on. It’s been an interesting challenge with some different parameters, and it keeps us on our toes. That’s what makes it good,” he said. “It’s a much darker film than I was expecting. The book is not exactly uplifting or happy, but it’s a nasty film.” 
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
I’ve been working on it pretty much all this year on and off during the gaps, and we’ve got a good portion of the composition in good shape,” Reznor said while on break during a tour stop in Finland. “I’ve seen the film a number of times, and we’re deep into the integration part of it. I would hope by the time we leave for Soundgarden that it’s smooth sailing. And if it isn’t, there will be a studio set up in every hotel room until it is.
“Not really knowing what I’m doing in the world of scoring films, the best decision Atticus and I made starting with The Social Network was really just to listen and really try to understand what David is thinking,” he said. “It’s clear he has a pretty realized vision in his head, and he’s thought a lot about whatever project he is working on, and I’ve always felt like our role is in service to that. How do we translate the role that he thinks music should be, and the tones and textures and spaces it’s allowed to take up, and then make it better than that? So step one in all the projects we’ve done with him is just to sit and let him talk about it and listen before any music is written or before any palette of sounds is chosen. That’s been the right strategy so far.”

Image credits:

Philip Seymour Hoffman: A Most Wanted Man poster

A Most Wanted Man director Anton Corbijn on Philip Seymour Hoffman

“The Bachmann character and Philip, I couldn’t distinguish at some point. You so believed in that character as a real person that you couldn’t believe it was somebody acting that. He is that good. I don’t have to tell you that he was the best actor of his generation, by far.”

Galveston: Nic Pizzolatto's real dream cast includes Natalie Portman circa 2002

I told my fellow True Detective fans back in January that the adaptation of Galveston, the novel from Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of True Detective, was set to start filming this spring. Now we know that filming won't get underway until October. But we also have a director, Janus Metz Pederson who will helm from Pizzolatto's script.The Danish director doesn't have a ton of credits, for the most part he's worked on documentaries, but something sold the producers on his vision for the adaptation. Matthew Schoenaert stars as with the open question of who should play Rocky, the teenage prostitute that goes on the road with Roy. 

I found this insightful little piece in which Pizzolatto shares his dream cast on mybookthe movie.blogspot.com; this was back in 2010 when Pizzolatto sold the screen rights:

We've sold the movie option to a production company that's very enthusiastic about the work, so hopefully a movie will go forward. In my fanboy imagination, though, I suppose I'd fantasy cast something like this: Sam Peckinpah circa 1972 to direct. I of course would write the script. Starring Nick Nolte circa 1985 as Roy (I'd also take Warren Oates,'76), Natalie Portman circa 2002 as Rocky, Harvey Keitel as Sam Ptiko, Annabella Sciorra as Loraine, and, uh, Marisa Tomei as Carmen. Sure, why not.
"Obviously Roy and Rocky are the two big roles, and you need a brutish, atavistic man to play Roy, an old-school tough guy possessing range, with a voice that can be played like a box guitar. Nolte, of course, would have done outstanding work. I know Warren Oates isn't always classified as a tough-guy, but the important thing here is that he was a bad motherfucker, and there's even a line in the book where somebody basically tells Roy he resembles Warren Oates. Nowadays...? Viggo Mortensen? Liev Shreiber? Bruce Willis? 
Rocky is a sprite, albeit a damaged one, so for that I think of a petite actress with a well of emotional depth. Forgetting the Star Wars movies, that'd seem to be Portman."
Okay, so Schoenaerts stole the role from Willis (too old), Shreiber and Mortensen. The question remains, who would make a good Portman, circa 2002?  Chloe Grace Moretz? Hailee Steinfeld? Willa Holland (Arrow). Either of the Fanning girls, Elle or Dakota. Of course, these are all the usual suspects. Ideas?

Chloe Grace Moretz as Mia in If I Stay

Willa Holland as Kaitlin Cooper in Tiger Eyes
Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet in Romeo+Juliet
Elle Fanning as Ginger in Ginger and Rosa
Dakota Fanning as Ronnie Fuller in Every Secret Thing

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Who would you cast as Rocky? 

Amy Adams: The Story of Your Life sells for $20 Million!

Holy moly, The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang must be one helluva short story. I know. I know. At fifty seven pages, it's more accurately a novella. It's also a prize winner that garnered the Hugo winner a Nebula. But still, Paramount won out in a 5 studio battle at Cannes and is paying $20 million for the US and Canadian rights with Amy Adams and director Denis Villeneuve attached! That's a lot of cash and a Cannes record! 

Per Deadline The Story of Your Life will star Adams as an expert linguist who is recruited by the military to determine whether a group of aliens crash-landing on Earth come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit.

Eric Heisserer (A Nightmare of Elm Street, Final Destination 5, The Thing) also wrote last year's Hours starring the late Fast and Furious star, Paul Walker. 

French Canadian director Villaneuve is best known to American audiences for Prisoners, Incendies and Enemies.

John Slattery on Phillip Seymour Hoffman

"He's just one of those people that everyone wanted to work with and is very inclusive in the process — you know, puts people at ease and possessing of a good sense of humor. He's an intimidating person, a powerful person physically and vocally, and with all that body of work behind him, people were intimidated. But he would put people at ease very quickly and get right down to work. It was — he is very smart." John Slattery on Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
John Slattery made his feature film directorial debut with the making of God's Pocket, the movie based on the Pete Dexter novel. My son and I saw God's Pocket this weekend and as a Mother's Day gift to me, he's promised to give me his thoughts on the film to share with you. I'll be posting that later today or tomorrow.

Slattery spoke with NPR's Melissa Block and actually confessed to being anxious about the making of God's Pocket in a way that Roger Sterling never would. 
"I'm very proud of this film, and I stand behind it. But I do sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thinking, 'I hope other people understand it and get it and like it.' "
My son and I both loved it. 
Review Coming 

God's Pocket trailer

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