> Chapter1-Take1: August 2015

Happy 100th Birthday Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman 
Born August 29, 1915
Died August 29, 1982

I could eat Johnny Depp up in ‘Chocolat': It’s our Saturday Matinee #book2movies

What was eating Johnny Depp?

Is Johnny Depp back? Ive been pondering the question a lot lately as spots for the upcoming Whitey Bulger biopic inundate my TV. I guess the second part of the question has to be, back from what?

Back from the scarf store

Back from wherever he stashed his scarves and a slew of confounding career choices. You can find dozens, probably many dozens, of articles on line on the subject: Where Johnny Went Wrong, What Happened to Johnny Depp, Johnny Depps Downward Spiral. They all say the same thing: he used to be so cool, he of the Edward Scissorhands—sharp cheekbones and cheeky, hip attire; when did he turn into such a laughable caricature of himself? Tim Burton gets a lot of the blame, Pirates of the Caribbean gets its share. 

Wigging out

Whatever the cause, Black Mass, the bio-pic might be the cure. At fifty two, its a more mature Depp than weve ever seen, made more mature with the help of old age makeup and wigs. Can you imagine Johnnys glee as he sat in the hair and makeup chair and realized that he got to play with fake hair AND play a serious part! An actors idea of heaven.

Couldn’t you just eat him up?

Okay, enough about the new Johnny, and the bad Johnny, for today’s Saturday Matinee let’s watch the sexy, cool, boho Johnny we knew and loved in Chocolat. 

Based on the book by Joanne Harris, Johnny Depp plays Roux, a passerby of sorts (he docks his houseboat nearby) who drops in on the tiny French village where Juliet Binoche (Vianne Rocher), the mysterious new girl in town, upsets the uptight locals by opening a tantalizing Chocolaterie during Lent. The chocolates are supposedly full of magical elixirs with healing properties.

Winning the Taste Test

Directed by Lasse Holstrom—the guy must be a foodie, he also directed 2014s foodies fave The Hundred Foot JourneyChocolat was nominated for Best Picture, Best Screen Adaptation and Best Musical Score. Juliette Binoche was nominated for a Best Actress while Judi Dench got a nom for playing Viannes chocoholic landlady. It didnt win a thing but it did give us one of Johnny Depps tastiest roles.

The impressive cast of Chocolat also includes Alfred Molina, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugh O’Conor, Lena Olin, Peter Stormare and John Wood, all of whom, along with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp, received a cast nomination from SAG. 

What do you think of today’s #SaturdayMatinee?  Delicious? If not, what’s your favorite Johnny Depp role?

Chocolat is available to stream in the usual places: Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay and Vudu. You’ll have to check Netflix.

Here’s what I thought of Johnny Depp’s  The Rum Diary disaster.

Black Mass: An Unholy Alliance of the Talents of Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon & More

Is Johnny Depp back?

The first trailer for Black Mass had me rooting for what looks like the return of the real Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger. Now that the September 18th release of the movie is just a couple of weeks away, weve been seeing a trio of 30 second spots playing out on TV, highlighting the sick, nasty nature of the notorious gangster.

The Unholy Alliance

For those of us not up on the details of this fine specimen of human garbage—although there’s still time to read Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill—we’ve also got An Unholy Alliance, a 4 minute featurette that gives us an inside look at the key characters and what made Whitey tick. 
 It’s a business opportunity. Get the FBI to fight our wars against our enemies. While they protect us, we do whatever we want to.” 

Take a look ... 

An Unholy Alliance featurette

 Black Mass trailer
TV Spot #1
TV Spot #2
TV Spot #3

Here in L.A. it’s going to cost me somewhere between $13 and $15 to see Black Mass in theaters. Are you going to fork out the cash to see Depp & company? What’s your local ticket price? 

Pair of Posters Foretell the Coming of the Scottish Play: Marion Cotillard & Michael Fassbender in Macbeth

Putting a new spin on Shakespeare

We’ve been following the journey of this latest iteration of Macbeth since we first learned Marion Cottilard was going to play Lady Macbeth with a French accent. We were a little bewitched, bothered and bewildered to tell you the truth. Then we read some early reviews from Cannes and saw the trailer and were blown away. 

Two Posters but where’s the US release date?

We’re still waiting for a definite release date here in the US—so far all we know is sometime in December—while our mates in the British Isles will get the pic October 2, the rest of the world shortly thereafter. For now we do have these two stunning new posters. I’ll repost the trailer for your Friday viewing enjoyment and can’t wait to hear what my friends across the Atlantic have to say about the film.

Are you an Anglophile?

You might remember that Scotland tried to break away from Great Britain earlier this year but for now Scotland is, in fact, still part of the United Kingdom and indeed, the British Isles. That makes these two new posters for ‘the Scottish play’ right on point for British Isles Friday hosted by Joy Weese Moll.


First Poster for ‘The Danish Girl’ starring Eddie Redmayne & Alicia Vikander

Eddie Redmayne is The Danish Girl

Who else can’t wait for The Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander? How do you like this first official poster for the film slated to open November 27th here in the US? We had our first look at Eddie as Lili Elba—one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery in the 1930’s—back in February. Redmayne looked quite as lovely in that first shot, as he does here, which is to say quite as lovely as costar Alicia Vikander. Vikander plays Lili’s wife, Gerda, an artist who asked her husband to pose as a woman when her model stood her up. 

A Les Miserables reunion

Directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) the cast of The Danish Girl includes Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, Sebastian Koch, Emerald Fennell and Adrian Schiller.

No trailer yet, I’ll keep you posted.

Camelot starring the Inexhaustible Vanessa Redgrave #TBT

Some actors fade away, some just keep clicking along

The Secret Scripture—one of the movies I’m most looking forward to this year—stars a handful of fine young actors: Rooney Mara, Theo James, Aidan Turner, Jack Treynor, Omar Sharif Jr. and the not quite as young, Eric Bana. It also stars the legendary Vanessa Redgrave. Redgrave is 78 years old and just keeps on rolling along; working, working, constantly working. In her fifty year career as an actor, she’s appeared in over 130 films and television shows. In fact theres been a hardly a year when she hasnt worked. That doesnt count her stage work. 


Thats what she is. Today, Im looking back at one of my favorite Vanessa Redgrave roles, throwing it back to the 1967 when she starred as Guinevere in Camelot

Who will rescue Guinevere?

Based on both the stage play and the novel The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Camelot was an altogether dazzling film, filled with magic, sets that looked straight out of a fairy tale, costumes fit for a queen. A lush and vibrant musical score. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences thought so too, the film won Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Musical Score.

The ultimate love triangle.

And what a story for the ages. A tragic queen who deeply loves her King Arthur but is in love with Lancelot. Its painful to watch Vanessa Redgrave’s Guinevere regretfully betray Arthur, played with distinguished pathos and beautiful resignation by Richard Harris. The actress never looked more beautiful.

Never could I leave you.

Perhaps that’s because she and co-star Franco Nero really were falling in love, not just as their characters Guinevere and Lancelot but in their private lives as well. Redgrave left her husband, Tony Richardson, and had a child with Nero, but they weren’t really fully together until four decades later when they finally joined hands in a marriage-like commit-ment in 2006. Just look at them! Gorgeous in Camelot in 1967 and still gorgeous in this still from Letters to Juliet from 2010.

The original trailer sucks!

You could watch the trailer which I’ve included below but frankly it stinks. I usually complain that today’s trailers tell us too much, give everything away but this one tells us nothing. It reminds us that the music is from the acclaimed Lerner & Lowe but does little more than share a brassy rendition of the main Camelot theme song which is a shame when you think about how many fantastic songs are in the film. 

My sister and I memorized most of them when our dad brought us the score to the Broadway musical: How to Handle a Woman, The Lusty Month of May, Take Me to The Fair and the lush If Ever I Would Leave You which accompanied the love montage showing Vanessa Redgrave in all her glory, through all the seasons. 

Richard Harris singing Camelot is my kind of magic

The trailer gives us nothing, zero of that. There’s little inkling of the drama to come. Better to watch the following clip featuring Richard Harris as Arthur singing Camelot. The king is in disguise as a commoner when he first meets Guinevere. If you’ve never seen it, or haven’t seen it for awhile, I think you’re going to love it. And when you’re ready, the movie is available to stream on Amazon, GooglePlay, Vudu and YouTube.

Camelot/Musical Clip


Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Casting 'The Girl on the Train’: And Haley Bennett makes Three

The girl that The Girl on the Train watches

We have our Megan! Haley Bennett will be joining Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson in the screen adaptation of The Girl on the Train. Bennett has been cast to play Megan, the woman Rachel watches from the train, fantasizing about her perfect life. She’s beautiful, ever so slightly younger—a handful of years—than co-stars Emily Blunt as Rachel and Rebecca Ferguson as Anna and theres something about her eyes that makes her look a bit sly; perfect for the character of Megan. 

Bale & Bennett in upcoming Terence Malick film 

The up and coming actor has a busy future working with some impressive actors and directors. Well be seeing her in the Untitled Terrence Malick project with Christian Bale as well as the Untitled Warren Beatty project. Well also be seeing her in the upcoming remake of The Magnificent Seven. You may have seen her in The Equalizer with Denzel Washington, The Hole, or Lost in the White City. 

And she can sing

Honestly the only thing I’ve ever seen her in is Music & Lyrics, her film debut back in 2007. She played a gorgeous, somewhat spoiled pop singer waiting for Hugh Grant to write her a new song; he’s got the music but he’s stuck on the lyrics and relies on help from Drew Barrymore, the woman who waters his plants, to help him write them. You probably know what happens between Drew & Hugh.

I knew her when ... 

Er, not really. But as we're old friends with the film’s director Marc Lawrence and his family,  my husband, son and I all went to the premiere of Music & Lyrics at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I’ve only been to a handful of premieres in my life, but if you’re only going to go to a few premieres, one taking place at the famed Grauman’s on Hollywood Boulevard isn’t a bad one to scratch off your bucket list. It hit all the bells and whistles complete with red carpet,  those tell-tale beams of lights strobing the sky, and of course, the thrill of being on the VIP guest list while crowds gather across the street wishing they could get in too. Nothing like feeling like an insider to pump up your own flagging self-worth for an hour or two. After the movie, we went to the aptly named ‘after party’ held at some club high atop the Hollywood & Highland complex next door, arriving just in time to see the quickly disappearing back of Hugh Grant. If Haley Bennett was there, I don’t remember. Take away: great food, too many people, and not enough time to spend visiting with our friends who were mobbed most of the night. Grumble, grumble, grumble. 

Next stop. The men.

Now for the men in The Girl on the Train. I shared my thoughts on casting the guys here. Some of the names people are talking about are Tom Hardy, Ben Whishaw, Aidan Turner (yes, please), Cillian Murphy and Andrew Scott (Victor Frankenstein) Who would you cast? Hmmm. How about Christian Bale?

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: My take on the book behind the Robert Redford film

Read any good hikes lately?

Reading Billy Brysons account of hiking the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods, knowing that Robert Redford is playing Brysons part in the screen version was an odd experience. For one, had Redford not made the movie, I probably wouldnt have bothered to read Bryson's book. I previously read—and enjoyed—Cheryl Strayed's Wild, about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and I would likely have decided I knew all I needed to know about hiking some grueling mountain trail without reading the old mans version. 

I’ll walk with you, Bobby!

Second, Redford and Nick Nolte are almost twice as old as Bryson and his friend Steven Katz were when they attempted the hike. The idea of men of almost eighty—especially someone with Nick Nolte's lumbering physique— attempting the AT is ludicrous. 

I guess that’s where the humor comes in. Id read that one of the reasons that Redford was attracted to the book was that it was so funny. Hmmm. As much as I liked the book, and certainly there were some humorous situations, most of them concentrated at the beginning and revolving around Bryson's preparation for the hike—the purchase of the gear, the packing of the backpack, and Bryson's fears—but overall I found it more fascinating than funny. 

 Bears on the AT Image Source

Bears hike the Appalachian Trail too!

Bryson intersperses his tale of tackling the trail with all kinds of eye-opening, mind-blowing facts and anecdotes. Like the story of what happens to a little boy when a bear comes snuffling by his tent looking for food, or the group found floating peacefully dead in the water when hypothermia set in. Its a wonder anyone sets out for a walk in the woods at all!

I guess most of us dont. A sad fact from the book ...
 On average the total working of an American these days—that's walking of all types: from car to office, from office to car, around the supermarket and shopping malls—adds up to 1.4 miles a week, barely 350 yards a day.  p. 136
I don’t know where that little factoid came from—Bryson doesn’t say— but if that’s true, it’s an eye-opening statistic. No wonder we have such an obesity problem in this country!

“Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” Steven Wright

As a nature lover—I do love nature, but that doesn’t mean I want to sleep in it—I found Bryson’s accounts, all written in his very accessible, anecdotal style, of the environmental damage we’ve done to our country really disturbing. Most of the destruction has been done heedlessly as we’ve rushed on toward progress, paying little mind to the land stripped and destroyed in our wake. If there’s one thing Bryson’s book did for me, and I hope both the book and the film does for others, is to remind us that our forests, our rivers, lakes, mountains, and even our deserts, with all the living beings they’re home to, really are precious resources. Resources we need for sustenance of body and, of almost equal import, of soul. 

 In America, alas, beauty has become something you drive to, and nature an either/or proposition—either you ruthlessly subjugate it, as at Tock’s Dam and a million other places, or you deify it, treat it as something holy and remote, a thing apart, as along the Appalachian Trail.’ 

So who’s ready to go hiking?

Looking at the trailer (below) for the movie based on Bryson’s book, I can see the movie is not the book. They’ve made changes, added things that didn’t happen in Bryson’s account of his Walk in the Woods. I’ve read that Redford is using the movie to explore friendship and aging. And as I said, Redford and Nolte are too old to play their parts. That being said I saw an article indicating the movie is likely to boost interest in the Appalachian Trail, and that increased attention is bound to be a good thing, generating awareness, and who knows, maybe even action. 

Rediscovering America

Running 2200 miles from Maine to Georgia, the AT can be a harrowing experience or just A Walk in the Woods, depending on where, when and how long you stay on the trail.  Bryson’s subtitle for his book is Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. That says it all. It’s a rediscovery we need to make before the trail, like the almost extinct American Chestnut tree, disappears completely.

A Walk in the Woods starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson opens September 2. Did you read the book? Are you up for the film?

Carol starring Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara Coming November 20th: The Trailer is Here Now

I was watching the documentary TIG: Finding Life in the Face of Death the other night, about the comedian who delivers a shattering set at a comedy club when she learns she has cancer. The cancer diagnosis is the last straw in a string of challenges and the documentary is really about Tig Notaro's journey back from it all. I highly recommend it.

Sex and the single woman

What brings Tig to the Sunday Slacker page is that Tig is a lesbian of about forty and along the way she meets a young straight woman. The two strike up a deep friendship, and while the younger woman has up to now only had experiences with men, the two ultimately fall deeply in love and develop a romantic relationship. There are no uncomfortable displays of affection to stir up your homophobic angst, just a couple of people who clearly love and care about each other. 

Women in love

While Tig is most definitely not predatory in the situation, the film Carol came to mind, in which Cate Blanchett plays an older married woman who does prey on a much younger straight woman, played by Rooney Mara. Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt, the older woman  married to Kyle Chandler probably doesn't identify herself as a lesbian. Judging from the storyline and the trailer there will be love scenes between the two women and displays of affection that may either stir up your passions, your homophobic angst, or both, depending on where you sit on the sexual spectrum.

Seeing straight?

Take a look and see what you think. How will your feelings about your own sexuality and same sex relationships in general impact your response to the film. Will you go to see it, or, if you're a straight woman, will the sexuality turn you away as it did for millions of men when it came to seeing Brokeback Mountain?

There's a new trailer out with gorgeous musical backdrop of Judy Garland—or a Judy Garland-esque singer—singing My Foolish Heart. And that's your Sunday Slacker video.

The Martian: Bring Him Home (No, it's not just a song from Les Miz!)

You know what I think about when I hear "Bring Him Home" the tagline for The Martian? My first thought isn't Matt Damon. The first thing I think about is Hugh Jackman singing Bring Him Home in Les Miz. Remember that heart-rending song Jean Valjean sings when Eddie Redmayne—er Marius—might be dead? Very emotional but not what I should be thinking about.  I'm supposed to be thinking about Matt Damon, stuck out there on Mars, desperately trying to survive and to find a way home. This newest trailer should help. FYI, I'll be filing it over in the Featured Trailer spot at the top left of the page.

Paul Newman as Hud: The Man You Love to Hate #TBT

Is it possible that, like me—up until a few days ago, anyway—you haven't seen Hud starring Paul Newman, Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas? The film came out in 1963, the day after my tenth birthday. Even if I'd been allowed to see it, Hud wouldn't have been on my radar. I had my sights set on Gidget Goes to Rome

Based on the Larry McMurtry novel, Horseman, Pass By Hud, is not the kind of character a fan wants to see the actor with the famous blue eyes play. While the book starts a wee bit slower, told from Hud's nephew, Lonnie's point of view, director Martin Ritt kicks up the dirt right away, with Lonnie being sent by his granddad to fetch his uncle home. He looks all over the dusty western town—80 ┬║ and it's not even full morning yet—finally finding Hud's empty convertible parked in front of a married woman's house. Hud, who has spent the night with the woman, passes her husband on his way out, and to protect his own skin, pretends it's 17 year old Lonnie who's been bedding the wife. 

Right from the get go we see Hud is a bit of a shit. A womanizer, without values and scruples, Newman, sex appeal oozing from his jeans, is incredibly good at being bad. He has no redeeming value. He's not bad on the outside with a heart of gold inside. He's just a selfish, terrible human being. There's no character arc. No growth. No transformation. If you love the anti-hero Newman of Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, it's painful to watch.

It could have been worse. 

In the movie, the family's housekeeper Alma is played by Patricia Neal in a Best Actress Oscar winning performance. In McMurtry's novel, she's a black woman named Halmea. The family have been sitting on the porch eating the peach ice cream Halmea has made and Granddad, (Melvyn Douglas in the movie) tells Lonnie to take the empty bowls in to the kitchen for Halmea to wash.
"Why don't you take them bowls in to Halmea?" he said to me. "She might want to get her dishes done."
 These are the first words we hear out of Hud's mouth:
"Then let the nigger bitch gather 'em up herself," Hud said. He sat on the edge of the porch, picking his teeth with a sharpened matchstick. He had on his suede boots and a new pear-buttoned shirt, but he didn't seem to be in any hurry to leave for wherever he was going.
"Let her work a little," he said. "She sits on her butt all day."

As bad as Hud is—and he's bad—I couldn't have abided watching that. Instead, the film skirts the issue of race completely. I've heard it said that the fact that Ritt cast Patricia Neal instead of a black actress shows how deeply held the country's prejudicial attitudes around race were. Despite his ugly language, there's an attraction and sexual tension between Alma and Hud that erupts quite nastily. Lonnie too, has a crush on her. Patricia Neal is layered and stunning in the role but I can imagine the country's response had Ritt tried to depict that relationship the way McMurtry does in the novel. In 1963? That was the same year George Wallace was proclaiming "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." Hud was a shit? Imagine the shit-storm that would have followed had the characters related to each other the way they did in the novel!

That being said, if you've seen Hud, you know the details, and you also know what a powerful and moving film it was. If you haven't, I really don't want to ruin an exceptional experience. You know how everyone's always harping 'they don't make 'em like they used to'? This is the kind of movie they're talking about.

In addition to Patricia Neal's win,  the movie earned Melvyn Douglas his first Oscar in the Supporting Actor category—he wasn't there, Brandon de Wilde, the young actor that played Lonnie accepted on his behalf. Don't you hate it when that happens? So anti-climactic.

The black & white cinematography by James Wong Howe took home a trophy too. Watching it I couldn't help wonder if the film influenced Alexander Payne's decision to shoot Nebraska in black and white. Different states, but the bleached out expanses of dry flatlands are so similar. Hud was also nominated for the screenplay adaptation, the art direction/set decoration and Martin Ritt for directing. Naturally, Newman was nominated for Best Actor. Why didn't he win? Was it because his Hud was such a despicable character? The competition was fierce: Albert Finney for Tom JonesRichard Harris for This Sporting Life, Rex Harrison for Cleopatra and the winner, Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field.

I've got the trailer below but unless you've seen the movie, I really wouldn't recommend watching it. It's cool in that vintage old timey overly dramatic way but it really does spoil some of the best parts.

Do yourself a favor, pull up Hud on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, or GooglePlay and enjoy today's movie for a #Throwback Thursday in its' entirety.

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