> Chapter1-Take1: October 2014

Julianne Moore tells Kristen Stewart "I feel like I can't find myself" in Still Alice Clip

You can take all the scary Halloween horror films in the world and stick them in a witch's cauldron; for me there's still nothing more horrifying than the nightmare of Alzheimer's disease. We're still waiting for the Still Alice trailer (I'll just keep using that stupid pun until they give us a trailer, already!) but Yahoo movies has released an exclusive new Still Alice clip for the film based on Lisa Genova's book. (Which I loved! Read my take here.)

Still Alice stars Julianne Moore as Alice, the brilliant professor stricken with early onset Alzheimer’s, Kristen Stewart who plays her daughter, Lydia, an aspiring actress and Alec Baldwin as her husband.

There's been nothing but Oscar buzz for Moore and Stewart since the film premiered at TIFF this past September, prompting Sony to release the movie this December for a short Oscar-qualifying run. I can't wait, in fact the film is screening at the AFI film fest here in a couple of weeks: my ticket printout is waiting on the fridge for my hot little hand to snap up. I'll let you know what I think after I've seen it but I'm very, very excited.

Add this to the brief scene I posted in mid-September and I think I'm pretty safe in saying I should bring tissues. 

Here's the clip in which Lydia asks her mother what Alzheimer's feels like. Alice's answer is as articulate as you might expect from a linguistics professor, as heartbreaking a conversation a mother and daughter have ever had, especially as it's so low key. There's nothing over-reaching here as Alice explains, quite articulately, but in a very restrained, almost detached way, how it feels. 
“On my bad days, I feel like I can’t find myself,” says Alice. “I’ve always been so defined by my intellect, my language, my articulation, and now sometimes I can see the words hanging in front of me, and I can’t reach them, and I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know what I’m going to lose next.” 
If the video isn't working, you can link directly to the clip here: http://goo.gl/poECY2

Hack Attack: George Clooney Turning the Spotlight of British Tabloid Journalism

George Clooney didn't take much of a honeymoon. Gorgeous George — he really is that old timey definition of handsome ala Cary Grant (in fact, I'd love to see him in a biopic based on that star's life)  — is going to direct the screen adaptation of Hack Attack, written by The Guardian reporter, Nick Davies. Published this past summer, Davies' book drills down on the way the British tabloids hacked the heck out of everyone they wanted a scoop on, from celebrities like Hugh Grant, to cops, royalty and even innocent victims of terror attacks. They denied it of course; you may remember Rupert Murdoch and his son squirming ever so slightly in the spotlight as the 168 year old News of the World was forced to go out of business. Needless to say, we don't practice those scurrilous techniques here in the states. Hahahahahahaha! Do you really believe that because I can dig up some swampland for sale if you're interested? 

The newest news is that Andrew McCarten, currently getting tons of attention for penning the screenplay for the Stephen Hawking story The Theory of Everything, has been signed to write the adaptation. This sounds like it may be a bit of a passion project for Clooney whose father is the longtime and respected journalist Nick Clooney, and who showed his own zeal for the news business when he directed the Edward R. Murrow portrait Good Night and Good Luck. According to Deadline, Clooney wants to make a film in the All the Presidents Men mold; I'm hoping that includes an onscreen role for Clooney as well. 

George Clooney with dad, Nick. Er, that's George on the right.

Hailee Steinfeld considers The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

And said yes! Deadline broke the news that Oscar winning Hailee Steinfeld has agreed to play Hadley in the screen version of Jennifer E. Smith's YA romance.

What begins as a really lousy day when Hadley misses her flight to London for her father's second wedding, then gets stuck at JFK (at least it's not Newark), brightens up considerably when the cute girl meets a cute British boy with a cute British name. I wonder what 'the Statitstical Probabiltiy' of meeting a boy named Oliver are in 2014? Anyway in the whole 'meet cute' rom-com trope, the two are seated together on the plane and that long flight to London is over in the blink of an eye. Somehow the pair lose track of each other in the disembarkment chaos - what is the statistical probability of that happening, I wonder - but it sounds like it all turns out all right in the end. I love how the description for the Jennifer E. Smith book hypes Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it. You know it's true love because it passed the 24 hour test of time. Did I mention it's YA?

I wonder which cute Brit boy will co-star as Oliver? Hopefully not Asa Butterfield who starred in both Enders Game and the upcoming darker YA project Ten Thousand Saints with Hailee Steinfeld. I say hopefully not, not to be snarky - I think the two make a really cute couple which they are, or were anyway, in real life, - but because while they say 'the third times the charm, honestly isn't twice enough? It was for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence who paired up successfully for The Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle but are getting panned for their third timer, Serena. Here's Steinfeld and Butterfield in Ten Thousand Saints and Ender's Game. Can we get a change of face here, please?

Time to round up the usual suspects; who's on your British boy list?

STILL ALICE starring Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin: Poster

Clearly SONY has taken a very realistic approach to the poster for Still Alice. And with the solo shot of Julianne Moore looking both vague and vaguely frightened, it's clear the film is all about Alice. BUT Kristen Stewart fans - they are a hugely loyal and passionate bunch - take heart as word is the movie will get a qualifying OSCAR run here in Los Angeles in December with the intention of definitely putting Stewart up for a Best Supporting Actress nomination with Ms. Moore being promoted for a Best Actress nom. 

The film got the highest praise when it ran in Toronto, with both Moore and Stewart getting nothing but raves. The small clip we've seen doesn't give us too much to go on, surely we'll get a trailer soon?
This is one of my most highly anticipated films, like many of the fans of Lisa Genova's book, I've got a personal connection to the destruction and havoc the disease causes. My mother lived with Alzheimer's for over 15 years after her initial diagnosis and seeing the unraveling of her mind was a slow, horrible and painful experience. I'll never stop wondering what it was like for her living within the nightmare. I can't imagine I won't be torn apart by the movie but we'll see. 

You can have a Life of Crime with Jennifer Anniston today

Life of Crime, the adaptation of Elmore Leonard's The Switch, comes out on Blue Ray, DVD and Digital HD today - that's October 28th. I found this behind the scenes exclusive over at IndieWire; the video features Jennifer Aniston, Isla Fisher and screenwriter-director Daniel Schechter (Get Shorty) chatting about getting into character and adapting the Elmore Leonard novel.

As we talked about this past June, (there are some good pictures at the original post) Aniston plays Mickey Dawson, a suburban housewife married to wealthy philanderer Tim Robbins. Robbins, who is carrying on an affair with Isla Fisher (she played the  isn't the least bit bothered when a gang of ex-cons kidnaps his wife for ransom. But that's going to change, oh yeah, that's going to change. Mickey will get her revenge!

Just like Jennifer Anniston will get hers, Living well IS the best revenge, don't you think?

Here's a trailer to refresh your memory. Following that, the behind the scenes peek.

Have Broom Will Travel

Sorry book to movie fans, there's no book to movie post today. If you're in the mood for a change of pace from me, I'd love you to give this Halloweenish piece a read. 

Have Broom Will Travel

Into the Woods: Be Careful What You Wish For, Meryl Streep

Good morning! Today's Slacker Sunday post, a featurette for Into the Woods is really nothing more than a great big commercial for the movie based on Steven Sondheim's genius musical starring Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Chris Pines, James Corden and Johnny Depp. While I'm no fan of Disney's greed - must they plunk their name atop everything they do? - I have to admit this adaptation looks pretty fetching. I didn't see the Broadway production starring Bernadette Peters as the witch but I did see Cleo Lane's acclaimed performance in the part of the witch here in the Los Angeles production way back when. (Okay, it was the eighties) Meryl, I'm sure, wouldn't dream of comparing herself to Bernadette Peters or Cleo Lane in their glory days but I'm equally sure most Sondheim fans will admit to being more than intrigued. I know I am. And Chris Pines as the prince. He sings? 

Into the Woods opens Christmas Day!

Here's that featurette and following that a clip of Peters singing Stay with Me from the show. I couldn't find a good clip from the production of Cleo Lane but if you've ever heard that gorgeous, gravelly voice you know it can not be duplicated. Streep, the smart, super star actor is no copycat and will forge her own path Into the Woods, I'm sure. Because I couldn't bear to see the great Streep ripped apart by the critics like some in the cast of Les Miserables (poor Russell Crowe) were.

A Long Way Down: My take on the movie starring Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Pierce Brosnan and Aaron Paul #book2movie

Oh, so heartbroken! I've finally managed to see A Long Way Down on Netflix (we just installed a ROKU which took care of slow streaming and freezing problems)- I blogged and blogged and blogged and blogged about the book, I loved it sooooo much - and, yes, it IS a long way down. A hard flop down, I would say. I was prepared to be disappointed as the lack of a real release date here in the states was a pretty big clue the adaptation of Nick Hornby's book was a dud. And then those initial pesky reviews

The problem with the movie though, isn't how bad it is, it's how good it could have been. The material was dark, and edgy and bitingly funny; that laughing through the tears kind of funny. The movie was a weird melding of I don't know what, snark, sap and lacking in gritty recognizable authenticity, with director Pascal Chaumiel seemingly encouraging the cast to overact like they were in a high school play. There's a total lack of trust in the actors to tell the story, and the audience to get it. Instead there are plenty of obvious, dig-in-the-ribs moments. The relationship between JJ (Aaron Paul) and Jess (Imogen Poots) is so nuanced in the novel, we feel, rather than see a push/pull attraction; the movie plays it out in the open, with Jess draping herself all over him, pretty much as you see it in the poster above. Their rom-com ending is NOT what I was looking for at all.

The script by Jack Thorne misses the mark completely; we really don't get to see the utter hopelessness that would drive four souls to the top of a building to throw themselves off, and the sheer bungling and dawning realization of the gravity of the situation that stops them. The cast is incredibly talented in other films and tv shows but here are given a shallow script that never delves into who these people really are. As a person with creative leanings I was especially disappointed that we didn't get to know J.J. better. He was probably my favorite character in Nick Hornby's novel - the tortured musician who knows there's nothing he can do in life except make his music - in the film he's reduced to a caricature and rom-com bad boy. Pierce Brosnan's TV host Martin Sharp was okay; I was actually surprised how well they handled the underage girl aspect, believing in fact that she really did look 25 vs Martin being a dirty old perv. Rosamund Pike  so incredible in Gone Girl, comes off as fake as Martin's former broadcasting partner. Sam Neil is fine as Jess's dad, if wasted in the part.

On the good news front, I believe one can never have too much Toni Collette, and she's just as watchable here as Maureen as she always is. Also I've become an overnight fan of Imogen Poots - her character is supposed to be over the top and she plays it balls to the walls - and really hope she gets more effectively directed as Dee Moray in the screen adaptation of Jess Walter's luminous Beautiful Ruins. Oh God, I hope they don't botch that too!

Dan Tallerico, in his review over at RogerEbert.com puts it pretty well, enumerating the problems in his review, quoted in full here.
There are moments of tenderness and honest human emotion buried in the frustrating “A Long Way Down” but one has to work far too hard and give far too much credit to the over-qualified cast to grab at them. Based on a hit book by Nick Hornby (“High Fidelity,” “About a Boy”) that contained an emotional minefield maudlin enough that the film took nearly a decade to come into existence even though the Hornby bandwagon was full in the ‘00s, “A Long Way Down” is a textbook case of over-direction. Characters laugh too hard; the score by Dario Marianelli alternates between wispy guitar strumming and heartstring-pulling piano tinkling; the suicidal characters literally dance to “I Will Survive” at one point. You get the idea. Honest emotion falls victim to poor filmmaking again. 
Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) wants to kill himself on New Year’s Eve. He has tumbled from the height of popularity after a sex scandal with an underage girl destroyed his family and sees no reason to go on if he’s not famous. He climbs to the roof of the Toppers Building, a notorious suicide spot; so notorious that he runs into three other people on this frosty, fateful evening. Maureen (Toni Collette) has a severely disabled son and can’t go on. Jess (Imogen Poots) is heartbroken and J.J. (Aaron Paul) tells his new mates that he has brain cancer. The four agree to delay their life-ending until Valentine’s Day, keeping tabs on each other over the next month-and-a-half and, of course, forming a unique bond. 
When the “Topper House Four” is outed in the press (it turns out that Jess’ dad is a famous politician, making her bait for tabloid headlines), they become semi-celebrities. To escape the attention, they jet off to a resort, frolic in the surf, grow closer, learn the importance of life, get a tan, etc. 
“A Long Way Down” is a film that’s afraid of its subject matter: suicidal depression. One never senses any actual danger or urgency in the plight of these characters to battle their demons before they kill them, and the lack of any sense that these people might actually end their lives drains the piece of drama. Their depression is merely a plot device. J.J. was once the frontman for a band called Gepetto and he laughs about one of the hackneyed lines that he wrote: “I don’t mind the pain, it’s the hope that kills me.” Writer Jack Thorne and director Pascal Chaumeil present the line as a bit of humor about a wannabe grunge band that never was but it’s indicative of the problem with the film. The movie never minds the pain. It doesn’t pay attention to it. We don’t feel it. Well, most of the time. The always-great Collette somehow finds a way to make the most maudlin and manipulative character arc of the quartet hit most of the right beats. The film's greatest value is further proof that Collette makes everything she's in better. 
To be fair, Poots is quite good here as well, but both actresses are weighed down by a director who didn’t trust them. Jess lying on her bed singing the BeeGees classic “Tragedy” should be done with a wink, not with a treacly score underneath. When the foursome realizes they’ve written their non-suicide pact on the back of Maureen’s suicide note, the actors have been directed to laugh in response in an exaggerated, overblown way. It sounds picky, I know, but “A Long Way Down” never registers emotionally because it is constantly reminding you it’s a movie. And it’s not a very good one.

Why have only Five Novelists won Oscars for writing screenplays based on their books?

Why don't more novelists write the adaptations for their own novels? That's the question, and the answer, according to Lindsey Bahr in EW, is because, Gillian Flynn aside, they're not very good at it. While Flynn did it with Gone Girl and did it to great success, she's the rare exception. And that's just judging financial success as it's a little too early to predict her nomination, and certainly a win, a rarity indeed. According to Bahr only five authors have won Oscars for adapting their own work for the screen! *

''The two big differences between books and movies are pace and perspective,'' says screenwriter and cohost of the popular Scriptnotes podcast John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). ''Novels can luxuriate in internal moments of indecision and longing. Movies keep chugging along at 24 frames per second.'' Flynn's adaptation—which August says he ''desperately wanted to write''—soars because she was willing to trim the fat, cutting subplots and even characters. 
''You start making the cuts that are really painful,'' Flynn says of her kill-your-darlings approach. ''There are certain scenes that I would just hang on to. I knew, ultimately, they were going to go. I just couldn't quite do it yet.'' Through a series of drafts and five-hour phone calls with director David Fincher—''He very much likes to see the beginning, middle, and end of a scene''—the final product came together. ''There was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I'd spent two years painstakingly putting together, taking a hammer to it, bashing it apart, and reassembling it into a movie,'' she says.
The collaboration with director Fincher may have been the key. And Flynn's own experience at EW and knowledge of Hollywood may have made her a bit more savvy than the average novelist about the whole scripting process. A process that went awry somewhere along the line with Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You. I liked the movie but it didn't exactly bowl the critics over OR earn the bucks. 

Still, Bahr points out, there might be a shift coming. Rainbow Rowell is tackling the screenplay for her popular YA book, Eleanor & Park and Jess Walter is co-writing the script for the adaptation of his beautiful Beautiful Ruins novel with director Todd Field (Little Children) - which makes me a bit nervous as Field isn't exactly a screenplay A-lister either. 

''The smart novelist writes the best book she can and lets the movie be the best movie it can be,'' says August. ''There's no victory in a faithful adaptation if the result is mediocre.''

* Who are the handful of authors who won an Oscar for writing the adaptations of their own novels?
I was curious and thought you might be as well so I've been scouring around for you:

Pierre Boule, (with Carl Foreman,Michael Wilson), The Bridge Over the River Kwai, 1958 
Mario Puzo, The Godfather, 1972 
William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist, 1973
Mario Puzo, The Godfather (Part 2), 1974
Michael Blake, Dances with Wolves, 1990
John Irving, The Cider House Rules, 1999

Me Before You: Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin Cast as Louisa and Will

I've been following news of the screen adaptation of JoJo Moyes Me Before You and I follow the author on twitter but you know how that is, unless you actually stalk their stream, it's easy to miss things. Well I missed things! I'm sure some of you already know what I find quite surprising news - according to JoJo Moyes, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin have been cast as Louisa and Will in the adaptation of her best-selling novel. 

Surprising because when I think of Emilia Clarke, it's the sexy, often almost naked, Amazonian-like, power wielding Daenarys Targaryen she plays on Game of Thrones that comes to mind, a stark contrast to the unsophisticated and sheltered working class 26 year young Lou hired to look after the suicidal wheelchair-bound upper crusty Will from Moyes novel. But perhaps it takes a dragon tamer to handle the likes of prickly former master of the universe Will Traynor! And Clarke is certainly an extraordinary young actress so while I might have cast more conventionally, I'm almost as pleased with her casting as Moyes herself. The author announced the news on her twitter account last month - the tweet I missed. "Thrilled to confirm we (finally!) have a Will and Lou for the Me Before You movie. Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke. Who are both Awesome."

I don't know how 'Awesome' Sam Claflin is as Will, I don't know too much about the actor except that he's Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games:Catching Fire and the upcoming Mockingjay duo. And he's currently starring opposite Lily Collin in Love, Rosie, the film based on Cecelia Ahern's Where Rainbows End so I suppose he's one of the up and coming hotties in the YA film world. Physically, he's about a half dozen years too young, a cross between my first choice to play Will, Michael Fassbender, and a young Hugh Grant. He strikes me as being a tad too Grant (fresh-faced) and not Fassbender (dark) enough in energy, and, dare I say it, almost too good-looking to be Will, but I don't suppose I'm the target audience for Me Before You, am I? Still, I hope they don't make it into another silly romantic comedy, surely the difficult subject matter Moyes tackles deserves better than that? 

To be honest, with the YA adaptation kings Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter doing the scripting - The Fault in Our Stars, The Spectacular Now, 500 Days of Summer with screenplays coming for John Green's Paper Towns and Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette - I'm a teensy bit concerned because the more I think about it, the more I'd like to see British writers with an understanding of Brit sensibilities. Something a bit quirky in that wonderful understated British way. As much as I LOVED the film Love, Actually I'd lay money on it they've been told to watch the movie with an eye to the relationship between the prime minister played by Grant and his tea-serving Natalie, with its obvious class distinctions, which is almost but not quite the vibe the adaptation deserves. 

I'm assuming most of you have a good idea about Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke. Check out the trailer for Love, Rosie, see what you think of Claflin.

Pacino in The Humbling "Why don't you get me a deal writing my memoirs? Isn't that what washed-up actors do?" TRAILER

Is Philip Roth's The Humbling still on your pile of books to read? If so, you've got a couple of months before the movie version hits the theaters. I've been intrigued since I heard that the novel has been adapted for the screen with AlPacino cast as the washed up actor, Simon Axler.

Here's the low down on the book from Barnes and Noble:
Everything is over for Simon Axler, the protagonist of Philip Roth’s startling new book. One of the leading American stage actors of his generation, now in his sixties, he has lost his magic, his talent, and his assurance. His Falstaff and Peer Gynt and Vanya, all his great roles, "are melted into air, into thin air." When he goes onstage he feels like a lunatic and looks like an idiot. His confidence in his powers has drained away; he imagines people laughing at him; he can no longer pretend to be someone else. "Something fundamental has vanished." His wife has gone, his audience has left him, his agent can’t persuade him to make a comeback.
Into this shattering account of inexplicable and terrifying self-evacuation bursts a counterplot of unusual erotic desire, a consolation for a bereft life so risky and aberrant that it points not toward comfort and gratification but to a yet darker and more shocking end. In this long day’s journey into night, told with Roth’s inimitable urgency, bravura, and gravity, all the ways that we convince ourselves of our solidity, all our life’s performances—talent, love, sex, hope, energy, reputation—are stripped off.

The novel, especially for those of us pacing the boards in own third acts, sounds like mandatory if terrifying reading and the idea of Mr. Pacino as Axler is nothing if not exciting. I had put the book on the back burner since the film doesn't come out until January 23rd but now that I've seen the trailer, I'm going to have to move it to the top of my pile.

In the film, Greta Gerwig plays young, star-struck lesbian whose adoration gives the fallen star a lift but, as you can see from the trailer, their relationship doesn't exactly strike calm in the hearts of those around them.

The solid cast includes Dianne Wiest, Kyra Sedgwick, Charles Grodin and Dan Hedaya; Wiest and Grodin while never huge Hollywood names, are strong, immensely talented actors who have been turning our stellar performances for years. Barry Levinson directs from a screenplay by Buck Henry and Michal Zebede. While Zebede (Devious Maids) is a newbie, both Levinson and Henry have had long, illustrious, some would say iconic, careers. While he's never stopped working you might say Levinson's glory days were the 80's and 90's when he gave us the glorious Avalon, Diner, Rain Man, The Natural, Bugsy, Sleepers, Wag the Dog, Good Morning Vietnam. Buck Henry's writing career going all the way back to 1960's with the television show Get Smart, The Graduate, Catch-22, What's Up Doc? and The Owl and the Pussycat among his screenplay credits. (Small world department; I just mentioned playing the prostitute in a scene from The Owl and the Pussycast over on where I write MY memoirs!) I'm very, very excited to see what these undeniable genius types bring to the material.

Here's the trailer. Tell me, doesn't it look AMAZING? Remember, if you want to read the book first, The Humbling comes out January 23 in theaters and VOD.

Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy: In the Heart of the Sea trailer

Well I have seen the trailer for In the Heart of the Sea which stars Chris Hemsworth and all I can say is, it looks like a whale of a tale. Yes, I went there. Hemsworth was in Ron Howard's amazing Rush; the director must have fallen in love with Hensworth just as I did because Howard cast him as the real life captain of the whaling vessel the Essex. The film — which is now scheduled to come out December 11, 2015 not March — is based on the book about the true story that inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick. 
The ordeal of the whaleship Essex was an event as mythic in the nineteenth century as the sinking of the Titanic was in the twentieth. In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with twenty crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than ninety days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents-including a long-lost account written by the ship's cabin boy-and penetrating details about whaling and the Nantucket community to reveal the chilling events surrounding this epic maritime disaster. An intense and mesmerizing read, In the Heart of the Sea is a monumental work of history forever placing the Essex tragedy in the American historical canon.
Yep, pretty sure, Melville didn't read Nathanial Philbrick's account;  the author's name only sounds like it's straight out of the 1800's? Philbrick was born in 1956, the National Book Award winning book was published in the year 2000.

For my Dreaming of France friends, here's the trailer in French.  It's a nebulous connection at best but the French voice over grabbed me. Au Coeur de la Ocean, un film de Ron Howard avec Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Benjamin Walker et Ben Whishaw.

And here it is in English. It's the same, correct?

The film opens December 11, 2015. 

Nicole Kidman talks "universal theme of a man controlling of every aspect of a woman's life" in Before I Go To Sleep

Good Slacker Sunday morning all! (What a crazy headline!)I hope the day finds you well and happy, ready to celebrate the glorious world and your place and space within in. Yeah, I woke up in a good mood: Ebola, Isis, right-wing politicians, you don't scare me! What does? The idea of people carrying guns in grocery stores. Thank God that doesn't happen here in California, but I signed and tweeted the Moms Demand Action petition to stop Krogers in other parts of the country from allowing guns in their grocery stores. Check my twitter feed or link to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America  End of political rant, thank you. 

Okay, back to fun, scary stuff. Here in the states Before I Go To Sleep, a horror movie of sorts, is being released the day before Halloween. Based on the SJ Watson thriller which I've posted about from time to time, Before I Go To Sleep stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. For today's Sunday Slacker post I'm posting the most recent trailer and linking to an interview with Kidman in The Australian 

Here's what Kidman told the magazine about the subject of control within the context of a marriage - and the film. Just in case you think she's talking about her relationship with Scientology's superstar Tom Cruise, she clarified that no, it's not about him. 
Simply enough, Kidman says she was attracted to the film because she knew its director, Rowan Joffe, the director of Brighton Rock. (Joffe is also the son of director Roland.) “(I) just connected to the universal theme of a man controlling every part of a woman’s world and her having to fight her way out of that,” she says. 
Kidman says she was intrigued by the internal struggles in this film: Christine’s need for her husband (Colin Firth’s Ben) and how that contrasts with the husband relishing “complete control over every aspect of her life”. 
“Control is a really fascinating subject for a movie,” she says. “And that’s what this is, it’s a film about that and identity, obviously.”

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry: My take on the book behind the upcoming movie

I can't say I loved Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture. Not like I loved the bright and breezy Where'd You Go Bernadette which I read just before tackling Barry's much weightier and complex novel, also written in the epistolary style. While I found Barry's book, shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, slow-going, challenging but ultimately satisfying, I think my personal preferences are for material a little more easily accessible.

The basic story is that of a doctor assessing an ancient patient's ability to be relocated when the mental hospital, where the one hundred year old woman has spent most of her life, is slated for demolition. The patient, Roseanne reveals her life before her institutionalization in an epistolary she keeps hidden under the floorboards. That history - tumultuous and tragic - isn't quite clear because Roseanne, while well-intentioned has the expected issues of memory loss and revision that come with one hundred years of living. Even if she is sane - and we're not at all sure of her mental state - what really happened and what she remembers or wants to remember may not the be same thing. What has she forgotten over the years? What has she reforged and altered to protect herself?
What of your personal history have you revised to protect yourself? That's a theme I find myself confronting over and over again on my other blog where I write 'memoir' and struggle to retrace my own footsteps. I can only tell my own truth, but it's painful to discover that doesn't always align with another's reality. 
Dr. Grene, her psychiatrist, at seventy plus years, isn't a young man himself. He's been caring for Roseanne for at least a quarter century, and his side of the story, his efforts to get to the truth of Roseanne's life, as well as the story of his own life, with its loves and losses, is told in his own words in an alternating narrative.

Both have compelling tales to tell but much of Roseanne's early years take place against a background that almost demands historical context. Sadly my knowledge of Irish history is shamefully small - as in close to zero - and Barry's writing is full of references to the Irish uprising and often veiled allusions to the surrounding political ramifications so there were notions that were difficult for me to fully fathom.

Vanessa Redgrave Now and Then (Camelot)

Wading through the work - that's how it felt sometimes - the story itself is dramatic and cinematic. Little wonder then that the book, basically an unravelling of a mystery, is currently in preproduction with filming in Ireland starting up soon - imdb says 'shooting in September' but I can't find any evidence of that. While I'm finding some of the casting mystifying - Eric Bana as Dr. Grene for example - I can see this has the potential to be a thrilling period drama. The venerable Vanessa Redgrave has been cast as Roseanne with Rooney Mara as the younger version.  Mara is not quite the alluring beauty the young Roseanne is meant to be - and that Vanessa Redgrave was in films like Camelot and Blow Up. Much is made of Roseanne's looks and while Mara does have the requisite mysterious aura I still think Jessica Chastain, originally cast as Roseanne would have been the ultimate choice. There is a cold and cruel Catholic priest that figures prominently in Roseanne's world, Fr. Gaunt, who will be played by the gorgeous Theo James. I initially balked at his casting - why waste his romantic appeal by casting him as the rigid priest? - now that I've read the book, and understand his role in the events of Roseanne's life, I can see how the playing against type could work really well. Jeremy Irons and Jack Reynor are also onboard, the latter plays one of Roseanne's love interests, probably her husband, but that's not entirely clear. Which fits right in with my take on the book! The film will be directed by Irish director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot.)

If you'd like to read a real review of Barry's The Secret Scripture from reviewers who have a greater understanding of literary criticism and the important historical context referenced in the novel,  I've got two links for you to check out.

The New York Times
The Guardian

 I won't assign rating points; I don't feel I'm qualified. As to 'enjoyment points'? Hmmm, I'd give it 3 out of 5 Irish roses.

Men, Women and Children - What device will you watch the trailer on?

"Don Truby thought about Kelly Ripa's anus. He thought about what it would look like as he slid his penis into it."
                                               Men, Women and Children, A Novel; Chad Kultgen

I haven't read Men, Women and Children, the novel that Jason Reitman's newest film is based on. Judging from the first two sentences (above) it's a pretty 'racy' book. The plain black text on white stock cover sort of screams something wicked this way comes. Here's the copy from the book jacket:
Chad Kultgen, cult hero and author of the buzz-generating illicit classics The Average American Male and The Lie, cuts to the quick of the American psyche like no other author writing today. In Men, Women & Children he explores the sexual pressures at work on a handful of troubled, conflicted junior-high students and their equally dysfunctional parents. From porn-surfing fathers to World of Warcraft-obsessed sons, from competitive cheerleaders to their dissatisfied, misguided mothers, Kultgen clicks open the emotionally treacherous culture in which we live—in his most ambitious and surprising book yet.

But I'm a fan of Reitman. I loved Up in the Air starring George Clooney with Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. I even liked his adaptation of Joyce Maynard's Labor Day with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. So while the prudish part of me wrinkles my nose at the thought of Kelly Ripa as an object of this guy's sexual fantasy - I'll never be able to watch her spot for that new chocolate hazelnut spread without thinking of that line again - ew! - I'm putting it on my list of maybe see's. 

As the poster indicates there's a lot of reliance on the devices many of us are attached to night and day. I'm hoping the movie looks at that addiction which includes being tied to far more than just porn. At my house when we try to start a conversation, we've learned to wait while we come up out of our zoned out trances. The film stars Adam Sandler as the porn-addicted Truby; he's such an on-again, off-again actor I can't see bothering on his account. But the rest of the cast is pretty strong; Jennifer Garner as the internet monitoring mom with Kaitlyn Deaver (Last Man Standing) as her daughter Brandy, Dean Norris from Breaking Bad, Rosemary DeWitt (Kill the Messenger) as Sandler's wife, Judy Greer (will Sprint please stop using that annoying iPhone commercial where Greer and pals squeal to the glass-breaking point?) and for the millions of The Fault in Our Stars fans, Ansel Elgort who reportedly got addicted to World of Warcraft himself to play Norris' son. Emma Thompson does the voice over narration.

The movie is playing in L.A. now; too late for me to read the book - which feels a tad too icky to read anyway. What can I say; I couldn't finish 50 Shades of Grey either. But if any of you have read it, I'm quite curious as to your thoughts. I'm probably being way too squeamish and silly. 

Here's the international trailer for the film ... Thoughts?

Will Christian Bale bail on The Deep Blue Good-by too?

The last we heard definitively, Leonardo DiCaprio had decided to disembark as Travis McGee in the adaptation of John D. MacDonald's The Deep Blue Good-by. The so-called 'salvage consultant' and resident of the Busted Flush houseboat was the big man onboard for the 21 colorful Travis McGee novels, and Fox is hoping to create a franchise ala the Bourne series out of them. While DiCaprio is still onboard, as it were, as producer, a lot of people on the forums are mighty glad to see him go. Not big enough, they complain. Really? Leo is 6ft, tall enough I think to carry off McGee's 6'4" stature, but that boat has sailed so it's time for me to move on. 

Word is Christian Bale was circling the Dennis Lehane script with James Mangold directing but he hasn't said yes or no yet because, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox wants him to agree to the sequels (not all 21 books, surely!) and he's not keen to do that. So they're sort of at a standstill with Bale off to do the Steve Jobs movie that Aaron Sorkin penned. Will he bail completely on the project, or return when he wraps the Jobs job?

Christian Bale and Natalie Portman/Knight of Cups

I'm just not that invested in the 'should he go, or should he stay' question where he's concerned. While I love Bale as an actor, he's not my perfect Travis. If I can't have Leo, I'll take McConaughey for starters. In my previous The Deep Blue Good-by post I suggested Chris Hemsworth but I think I was just blinded by his beauty in Rush. How about you? Who would you cast as the guy who loafs around on the Busted Flush until he runs out of cashola, then gets busy finding stuff that needs to be found for a mere 50% finders fee?

Anyway, thought you'd like to know there's a completed The Deep Blue Good-by script ready and waiting for the right guy to say yes to. As it stands right now the studio is hankering for Christian Bale, in the meantime Bale is off to do the Steve Jobs picture before he commits (or doesn't) to being Travis. I picked up a copy of The Deep Blue Good-by from the biblioteca today, maybe I'll have some bright ideas when I've finished re-reading the book that started it all. How about you? Any thoughts?

Game of Thrones / Kit Harrington fans might love Testament of Youth (TRAILER)

It's taken Testament of Youth three quarters of a century to make it onto the movie screen. The memoir, the first of four written by Vera Brittain, and published in 1933 details a young woman's coming of age story during the World War I years. For those of us who seem to enjoy watching history rather than read it, it sounds irresistible. The film which just debuted at the London Film Festival is slated to hit theaters in the UK on January 16, 2015 and here in the states sometime later in the year. (I can't believe it's already time to get that list - guide to movies based on books/2015 - together!)

Alicia Vikander (Kitty in Joe Wright's sumptuous but flawed Anna Karenina) stars as Vera, a brilliant young woman keen to study literature at Oxford and to be a writer. Brittain sacrificed her dreams to serve as a wartime nurse - what else? that's mostly all that women were allowed to do even when there wasn't a war going on - while Kit Harrington, the remaining heartthrob in the Game of Thrones cast, plays soldier, poet, and love interest Roland Leighton. Emily Watson and Dominic Cooper play her parents in the film from British TV director James Kent (Marchlands, Inside Men, The White Queen) with the screenplay written by Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls, Love Rosie, Death Comes to Pemberley).

There's a trailer (below) and I've found some images to share with you. Here are a couple of links to reviews from the London Film Festival screening if you want to go there. Variety review by Guy Lodge. The Guardian review by Peter Bradshaw. I think I'll wait and try the memoir first, it sounds incredibly moving. 

And oh by the way, the book was adapted for the small screen back in the 70's by the BBC so yes, some of you have seen it before. I'm curious to see if it rings a bell with me as well. Have any of you read Brittain's memoir? I'm so curious to know more about it; I'm of the generation where both my British grandfathers - one who I saw twice in my life, the other who I never met - fought in that war, while much of my own limited knowledge comes from historical dramas like Downton Abbey and Atonement. Writing that sentence I'm simply amazed by my own lack of historical curiosity but there it is! Shameful.

The Secret Scripture: Casting includes Theo James as Fr. Gaunt, Eric Bana as Dr. Grene

Would you cast gorgeous hunky Theo James - he was Four in Divergent - as a priest? Because apparently he's playing Fr. Gaunt in the adaptation of Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture, currently in preproduction. I don't see it. Granted, I'm only two thirds of the way through the book, perhaps the novel and his character takes a turn I've yet to see because otherwise why waste Theo James mega sex appeal on a role that calls for none of that? I've written about the upcoming adaptation a couple of times; initially Jessica Chastain was set to play Roseanne, the younger version of the ancient patient (Vanessa Redgrave is Roseanne at age 100) at a Irish mental hospital. Her life is revealed through her secret diary; Rooney Mara replaced Chastain this past summer.

In addition to James as Gaunt, I've learned that Eric Bana will play Dr. Grene, the psychiatrist charged with assessing Roseanne's condition. Variety reports that Jack Reynor will play Roseanne's 'love interest' but it's not clear whether that means he plays her husband Tom McNulty or John Lavelle.  McNulty is described as a "short, thickset, almost fat man in a sturdy and neat suit"  while Lavelle is said to be dark-haird and pale-skinned. And simply irresistible. That sounds like Aidan Turner who has been cast in an unspecified role to me. Turner who you know from The Hobbit also stars in the upcoming Poldark Masterpiece Theater series on PBS. He ticks all the boxes for tall dark and handsome! Jeremy Irons is also onboard, while imdb doesn't break it out, I assume Irons is too old to play her beloved father and probably has been cast as John Kane, the old pervy man who cleans Roseanne's room and goes about with his fly undone. That likely leaves Tom Vaughan-Lawler (Charlie, Love/Hate, Peaky Blinders) to play her da. 

I expect to finish The Secret Scripture and get my take up sometime this week; I'll see how I feel about the casting of Theo James as Gaunt when I finish the novel but I gotta feeling this book, already full of horrors, takes another dark and disturbing turn. 

Rooney Mara plays the young Roseanne McNulty
Does Aidan Turner (The Hobbit, Being Human) play Lavelle? Fingers crossed.
Eric Bana seen here in Deliver Us From Evil cast as Dr. Grene
Jack Reynor seen here in Transformers: Age of Extinction plays Roseanne's love interest

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