December 30, 2008


Xan Brooks argues that The Great Gatsby may be the great unfilmable novel of the 20th century (I know some of you agree with this assessment) and he's a tad ambivalent about whether Baz Luhrmann can make something of it. Brooks also asks a great question: Who would you cast as Jay Gatsby? (Read the article.)

Speaking of Fitzgerald, you probably heard that THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON is loosely based on a short story by F. Scott. Not knowing about the short story when I first saw the trailer, I immediately thought of Andrew Sean Greer's marvelous The Confessions of Max Tivoli and wondered if it was at all related. Here's the scoop from Greer.

Stephen Fry, aka Jeeves, (listen to his latest podcast, this one on language, here), is set to play Mr. Bennet in JANE AUSTEN HANDHELD. According to IMDB that project will "[re-tell] the story of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice through the lens of a fly-on-the-wall documentary crew."

December 29, 2008

Tivo Alert! Masterpiece Classics

What's the best thing about ringing in 2009? Knowing that PBS Masterpiece Classics are imminent!

The fun (well, I'll use that term lightly given that it's Thomas Hardy first up) starts on Sunday, January 4th for Part 1 of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I really loved the 1998 version starring Justine Waddell, so we'll see how this one measures up. Gemma Arterton and Eddie Redmayne star as Tess and Angel.

Check out a preview here.

January 18 kicks off Part 1 of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights! Woo-hoo! I don't think I've ever seen a decent adaptation of this novel. The actor playing Heathcliff might have been better cast in Tess: His name's Tom Hardy. Not too familiar with him, but based on this picture, I'm skeptical. Will reserve judgment and hope for the best. If this version fails, there's still a feature-film version supposedly in the works starring Abbie Cornish and Michael Fassbender.

I'm trying to finish Little Dorrit as we speak in order to be ready for the "Incomplete" Charles Dickens beginning in February!

December 10, 2008

RomTome Hall of Fame: The Thornbirds

This adaptation of Colleen McCullough's novel about forbidden love is an oldie, but goodie. Kim and I started re-watching it last night and were reduced to fits of laughter. Needless to say, not all of it withstands the test of time. Still, it's good stuff.

Classic Moments:

1) Every single completely inappropriate moment between Father Ralph deBricassart and young Meggie, including his setting her up in a bedroom right next to his, as well as this tormented line, "OH WHY DO YOU TUG SO AT MY HEART?!?" These scenes would not fly today. Watch the scene and you will laugh but simultaneously be creeped out.

2) Richard Chamberlain, buck naked, being hit on (and groped) by a white-haired Barbara Stanwyck. Watch the scene and you will laugh but simultaneously be creeped out.

Aside: I found this Richard Chamberlain quote about that scene:
Richard: We had this scene where Father Ralph comes to the big verandah at Drogeda in a huge rainstorm and there’s nobody around. He’s soaking wet and so he strips, there on the veranda thinking there’s nobody around. But, I’m standing there totally naked and um, Stanwyk comes out, she said a couple of lines and I said a couple of lines and she dried and she had never, ever had any trouble with her lines, ever before. And there was a shocked pause on everybody’s part and the kind of moment of silence and then she said ‘I’m sorry. It’s just been so long since I’ve stood next to a naked man.’ And I thought that was a really great compliment. And I thought, ‘oh, wow, I turned her on a little bit!’

3) The delicious overacting of John Friederich, who played Meggie's big brother, Frank. This guy made sure EVERY scene was his Emmy reel. Fabulous. There is lots of Oedipal stuff going on with this character and his martyr of a mom.

4) I have no beef with Sydney Penny, who played the young Meggie, but only want to point out that she went on to play Julia Santos on "All My Children" and Samantha Kelly on "The Bold & the Beautiful."

5) Father Ralph thinking that telling a story about a bird that IMPALES itself on a thorn bush is going to cheer up a sad little girl. Next time, stick with the Brothers Grimm, dude.

We will be savoring the movie in slow increments....stay tuned!