> Chapter1-Take1: December 2018

Mary Poppins Returns: My quick take

The screener for Mary Poppins Returns arrived in the mail the other day but instead of watching it right that very minute I waited to watch it with my sister. Her grandson, a special needs boy of 15 had just had an operation, we thought he might like it too. As it turned out he slept through most of the movie, even the parts where Lin Manuel Miranda leads a group of his fellow lamplighters through the streets of London, over bridges and through the air, in an exciting display of BMX skills

While I thought Miranda was somewhat miscast-thinking he would be to Mary Poppins what Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep was to Julie Andrew’s Mary in the original-my sister Nancy thought he was charming, charismatic and practically perfect in every way. As it turns out there’s another romantic interest in the film for our lamplighter as you’ll see. Van Dyke  does play a completely different role in this film; one of the high points of the movie is watching the old codger dancing on his desk.

The heart of the story belongs as always to Mary of course, and Emily Blunt brought her considerable skill set to the task. She sings beautifully-as she did in Into The Woods-but there was no Spoonful of Sugar to capture this old fan’s heart. In fact the most memorable musical number might belong to scene stealing Meryl Streep as some sort of fix-it marvel in a shop that turns upside down. 

While my sister and I both enjoyed the film, I can’t pretend I’m not a teeny bit disappointed. There was, despite everyone’s best efforts, a soup├žon of magic mysteriously missing. Not that there weren’t moments where I didn’t ooh and aah and get a tad misty eyed but I can’t imagine the movie compelling little girls to beg their mommies and daddies to go out and buy them a Mary Poppins doll-yes Virginia, little girls do still play with dolls. And when it comes to singing the songs, I really don’t have one roaming around my head, an ear worm begging to be sung. For a musical, that can’t exactly be Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious.

The Actress Roundtable: Regina King Nominated for If Beale Street Could Talk

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Congratulations to Glenn Close for her Golden Globe Best Actress nomination for The Wife. We had a look at what Close had to say to this year's roundtable panel on Monday.

Today, let's have a listen in on Regina King, nominated in the Supporting Actress category for If Beale Street Could Talk.

From THR...

"I want to have ownership in telling the story," King told the Actress Roundtable. "What's the point of being a part of it if not?"
Regina King told the Actress Roundtable she chose to participate in If Beale Street Could Talk because of Barry Jenkins and James Baldwin. Beale Street is Jenkins' follow-up to his Oscar-winning film Moonlight, which he wrote and directed and which won the Oscar for best picture and best adapted screenplay.
Jenkins also wrote and directed Beale Street, adapted from the James Baldwin novel of the same name. On Jenkins, King told the Roundtable, "He is one of the most gracious human beings I've ever met. I learn something from him every time I'm in his presence."
She continued to say, "I am attracted to projects that not only are good stories, but the creators of that project are true collaborators."
"I want to have ownership in telling the story. What's the point of being a part of it if not?"
The first time she and Barry Jenkins met was over a Skype call. King recounted that an hour after their meeting she thought, "If it's not this film, I am working with him on something, because he is truly a collaborator and I know I'm going to learn something. I'm going to leave the situation bigger than I was when I came in."
King is a three-time Emmy Award winner (American Crime, Seven Seconds) and a Golden Globe nominated actress (American Crime). She stars in If Beale Street Could Talk alongside KiKi Layne and Stephan James.

If you don't know who Stephan James is, check out the Julia Robert's Homecoming series. The young Canadian actor, nominated for a Golden Globe in the series, is major star material.

Watership Down: This ISN'T Peter Rabbit

Watership Down stars James McAvoy, John Boyega & Nicholas Hoult

It's been two years since I first shared the news that the BBC and Netflix were teaming up to bring you a new adaptation of Watership Down, based on the classic novel by Richard Adams. At the time I was blown away by the strength of programming we were seeing on our TV screens. That's only been multiplied in the past couple of years. We are seeing amazing content on our small screens, much of it via Netflix with HBO and Amazon in hot pursuit, it's no wonder movie theaters are seeing less of our entertainment dollars. The four hour-long episode series promises to be more of the same, especially with its all-ages appeal. Watership Down features the vocal talents of James McAvoy as Hazel, John Boyega as Bigwig, Nicholas Hoult as Fiver with Peter Capaldi, Daniel Kaluuya, Gemma Arterton and Ben Kingsley. Beware, while it's billed as all ages, this is no Beatrix Potter fuzzy bunny children story, as you'll note in the trailer below. 

“All the world will be your enemy, and when they catch you they will kill you. 

But first, they must catch you.”

About the book

A worldwide bestseller for more than forty years, Watership Down is the compelling tale of a band of wild rabbits struggling to hold onto their place in the world—“a classic yarn of discovery and struggle” (The New York Times). 

Richard Adams’s Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in the Hampshire Downs in Southern England, an idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of “suspense, hot pursuit, and derring-do” (Chicago Tribune) follows a band of rabbits in flight from the incursion of man and the destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they travel forth from their native Sandleford warren through harrowing trials to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society. “A marvelous story of rebellion, exile, and survival” (Sunday Telegraph) this is an unforgettable literary classic for all ages.

Watership Down hits December 22.

The Hollywood Reporter: The Actress Roundtable

Rachel Weisz, Glenn Close, Regina King, Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga & Kathryn Hahn for THR's Actress Roundtable

One of the things I look forward to most as awards season heats up is the annual tradition of the Hollywood Reporter sitting down with a table full of possible award contenders and chatting. Organized by category: actors and actresses, writers, directors, cinematographers, editors, etc, the videos give we the fans extraordinary peeks into the thought processes and personalities of the people who make the movies. 

While THR doesn't release the full hour-long recordings until January, we do get tantalizing bits and pieces like this five-minute video edited to highlight some of what Glenn Close shared with the panel of women—three of whom are starring in movies based on books we've been talking about— including Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased, Destroyer), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite) plus Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) and Kathryn Hahn (Private Life). Close is part of this year's conversation due to her work on the remarkable The Wife based on the book by Meg Wolitzer.

I'll share additional videos throughout the week.

My take on the novel, The Wife
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