December 1, 2009

The Chrysanthemum Palace

Just finished Bruce Wagner's Great Gatsby-esque L.A. novel about children of the rich and famous. The book also stars Chateau Marmont, Shutters, and Chez Jay with appearances by Sharon Stone and Jeff Goldblum, among others. The events are parsed for the reader by narrator Bertie Krohn, the scion of a Hollywood producer who created Starwatch, a popular Star Trek-like T.V. show that boasts a cult following. Bertie is wry, self-aware, and sometimes catty as he unveils the story of a harrowing few weeks spent with his lifelong friend Clea Freemantle and her paramour Thad Michelet. All three are shadowboxing with their emotional inheritance and although the tale is tragic, it has some very funny moments, particularly on the set of the fictional space opera. If I were casting an adaptation of the film, I might consider Jason Schwartzman for the part of Bertie. I'm still pondering who would portray the 54 year-old thespian Thad Michelet, son of a Booker prize-winning novelist with a vicious temperament. Perhaps Clea could be played by Winona Ryder, with Sofia Coppola directing. --Kim

November 21, 2009

Louisa May Alcott, The Movie

PBS will air Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women on December 28. It would be hard to make a boring film about the woman--After all, she spent time on a commune as a child, was tutored by some very well-known contemporaries, and served as an army nurse during the civil war. That's only the beginning... Can't wait to see this biopic which Elle, Vogue, and The Wall Street Journal have lauded. --Kim

November 19, 2009

Whereabouts: Ioan Gruffudd

Decided to check up on what our favorite sailor in the British navy (a.k.a. Horatio Hornblower) is up to these days and was happy to learn he's starring in a biopic of The Wind in the Willows author, Kenneth Grahame. Banking on Mr. Toad also stars Samantha Morton (I LOVE her) as the author's wife, Elspeth, and explores the couple's relationship with their autistic son as well as Grahame's time as the secretary of the Bank of England.

In other Gruffudd news, he and wife Alice Evans welcomed daughter Ella to the world in early September after 40 hours of labor. (FORTY HOURS? Yikes, but congrats!) That picture, by the way, is cuteness personified.

C'mon, Get "Happy"

"Joy to the World?" Easier said than done. But if you want to REALLY spread glad tidings, good will toward men (and women), and holiday cheer, wrap up some copies of The Happy Book for friends and family this year.

Written by Meg Leder and Rachel Kempster, this charmingly quirky interactive guide is aimed at helping you suss out the secrets to your own personal bliss by prompting you keep a tally of things (both mundane and mind-blowing) that put a smile on your face: In my case, this might include a cold rainy day curled on the couch watching the Ehle/Firth "Pride & Prejudice" miniseries, preferably with fireplace lit; consuming dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa) or bacon; Bollywood dance lessons; "Masterpiece: Classics;" a fruitful trip to the local library; a husband who vacuums without prompting; the merchandise at Anthropologie; laughing so hard my stomach actually physically hurts; the imminent arrival of my baby daughter; raindrops on roses, whiskers on get the idea.

Unlike "The Secret," which encourages you to greedily make lists of things that you WANT (Shut it, Oprah), The Happy Book reminds you of all the wonderful things you already have to feel grateful for. That's something we ought to be doing way more often than just the fourth Thursday in November, yes?

Austen Truths "Universally Acknowledged"

What do Somerset Maugham, Virginia Woolf, and C.S. Lewis think about Jane Austen's novels? Find out in Susannah Carson's newly published anthology, A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen.

Here's the product description from Amazon:
For so many of us a Jane Austen novel is much more than the epitome of a great read. It is a delight and a solace, a challenge and a reward, and perhaps even an obsession. For two centuries Austen has enthralled readers. Few other authors can claim as many fans or as much devotion. So why are we so fascinated with her novels? What is it about her prose that has made Jane Austen so universally beloved?

In essays culled from the last one hundred years of criticism juxtaposed with new pieces by some of today’s most popular novelists and essayists, Jane Austen’s writing is examined and discussed, from her witty dialogue to the arc and sweep of her story lines. Great authors and literary critics of the past offer insights into the timelessness of her moral truths while highlighting the unique confines of the society in which she composed her novels. Virginia Woolf examines Austen’s maturation as an artist and speculates on how her writing would have changed if she’d lived twenty more years, while C. S. Lewis celebrates Austen’s mirthful, ironic take on traditional values.

Modern voices celebrate Austen’s amazing legacy with an equal amount of eloquence and enthusiasm. Fay Weldon reads Mansfield Park as an interpretation of Austen’s own struggle to be as “good” as Fanny Price. Anna Quindlen examines the enduring issues of social pressure and gender politics that make Pride and Prejudice as vital today as ever. Alain de Botton praises Mansfield Park for the way it turns Austen’s societal hierarchy on its head. Amy Bloom finds parallels between the world of Persuasion and Austen’s own life. And Amy Heckerling reveals how she transformed the characters of Emma into denizens of 1990s Beverly Hills for her comedy Clueless. From Harold Bloom to Martin Amis, Somerset Maugham to Jay McInerney, Eudora Welty to Margot Livesey, each writer here reflects on Austen’s place in both the literary canon and our cultural imagination.

We read, and then reread, our favorite Austen novels to connect with both her world and our own. Because, as A Truth Universally Acknowledged so eloquently demonstrates, the only thing better than reading a Jane Austen novel is finding in our own lives her humor, emotion, and love.

Here's an adapted excerpt from James Collins that ran in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

November 10, 2009

Easy Virtue

If you blinked, you probably missed seeing this whimsical adaptation of a Noel Coward play when it was in theaters. Kim and I watched it this weekend on On Demand and thoroughly enjoyed being transported back to the era of the Lost Generation with the likes of Kristin Scott Thomas, Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes and an always-scrumptuous Colin Firth.

The premise: Stodgy British family with dysfunction as sizable as their sprawling estate grudgingly welcomes their spirited, scandalous siren of a daughter-in-law to the fold when prodigal son (Barnes) returns married to a gorgeous American race car driver (Biel).

What we loved: Firth and Thomas were naturally top-notch, and Jessica Biel managed to hold her own as the quirky-but-beautiful fish out of water. Her clothes alone are worth moving this one to the top of your Netflix queue. We also got a kick out of the soundtrack, which re-spun modern pop songs like Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb" and Billy Ocean's "When the Going Gets Tough" as breezy 1920s jazz tunes. Too clever.

"Errrllll Cannnnn!"

Like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz finally getting de-rustified with a little help from Dorothy, Kim and I are determined to blog here again on a regular basis after a brief hiatus called life.

Maybe our kick in the pants was spurned on by recently partaking of afternoon tea at the High Tea Cottage in Woodland Hills. It's an unassuming little house off Ventura Blvd. and while it perhaps suffers from a bit of the teddy-bear-and-doily effect, we were pleasantly surprised by the proprietess's insanely thorough offerings of loose-leaf tea. We thought we'd died and gone to heaven when a rolling cart packed with tea varieties was brought to our table, from which we could smell any variety that piqued our interest before settling on our order. From fruity to chocolate-flavored and with names like Crime of Passion and Bourbon Street Vanilla, it was hard to narrow down our options. Kim chose a marzipan-flavor while I opted for the decisively caramel Mocha Rocca. Both were equally unique and amazing. Getting to smell the teas in their little jars ahead of time was a major plus and made the whole experience feel a bit like wine-tasting or hanging out at a perfume counter sampling the wares. I only wish there'd been time to try more.

After devouring our tea sandwiches, the rolling cart returned. This time we got to choose from several different jams to accompany fresh-from-the-oven apple-cinnamon scones. By the time we finished our assortment of decadent desserts, we were in a sugar coma and thankful that we'd chosen decaf teas. If you live in the L.A. area and enjoy afternoon tea, this place is worth the pilgrimage.

November 4, 2009

Jane Campion on The Treatment

Excellent interview with director Jane Campion about her stunningly gorgeous new film Bright Star on KCRW's The Treatment.

October 21, 2009

Wolf Hall

Thanks to the incredible staff at Skylight Books I was able to obtain a copy of Wolf Hall a couple weeks ago (hard to get at the time since it had just won the Booker Prize). The tale of Henry VIII's pursuit of Anne Boleyn come hell or high water drives the plot, but it's the ambition and inventiveness of Hilary Mantel's narrator Thomas Cromwell that make the story so compelling. She portrays him as surprisingly enlightened and, for all his power, equally beloved and feared. While I was reading I found myself picturing Jeremy Northam as Cromwell--He actually plays Cromwell's nemesis Sir Thomas More to James Frain's Cromwell in Showtime's The Tudors. --Kim

August 5, 2009

Keats & Fanny

Who among us can resist the allure of a (literally) incurable romantic, sighing deep sighs from his deathbed overlooking the Spanish Steps as he coughs up blood and ponders what might have been with his one true love?

It's been an uninspired moviegoing summer here at Romancing the Tome, but things are looking up for Fall, particularly with Jane Campion's forthcoming biopic of the love story between sickly poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his darling Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Bright Star will premiere October 18. (It was a hit at Cannes this spring, so that's encouraging.)

Check out the trailer and start stocking up on Kleenex:

F.Y.I., if you're in the neighborhood of London, you can check out the newly restored Regency House where Keats lived (and from whence he swooned over Fanny).

July 31, 2009

Dream Casting: Alive In Necropolis

Officer Mike Mercer is a confused young cop with a Colma beat (pop. living: 1,200 pop. dead: 2 million) whose life is spiraling out of control. Then he starts seeing ghosts. Author Doug Dorst keeps the plot zipping along without sacrificing character and there's something here that feels coming of age, in a good way. It's the sort of coming of age familiar to us Gen X and Yers who are forever hovering over the line between childhood and adulthood--just like Colma's ghosts hover between this world and the next.

Alive In Necropolis
certainly has what it takes to cross over into film: cops, ghosts, drug overdoses, car crashes, romance, and for a backdrop, the haunting streets of San Francisco. My casting picks: Casey Affleck, James McAvoy, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Michael Mercer, Giovanni Ribisi as "Doc" Barker, Ryan Gosling as optimistic aviator Lincoln Beachey, Peter Sarsgaard as Toronto, Jesse Eisenberg as Jude, and Lili Taylor as Fiona. Read it and let us know what you think. --Kim

July 10, 2009

Victorian Cemeteries & Drood

I began Dan Simmons' Drood in earnest this afternoon after a false start a couple of weeks ago. There's a description of Dickens' era London cemeteries during one particularly stifling summer--you can almost smell the vile stench wafting from the pages. Le Monde diplomatique's article on the history of the Victorian's "see and be seen" cemetery Highgate made a nice companion read for the day. More on Drood to come. --Kim

It's a Mad, Mad World

Vanity Fair
has some great pics of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen of Hearts and Mia Wasikowska as Alice in Tim Burton's highly-anticipated (at least, by us) 3-D version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland! I barely recognize Johnny Depp in this picture, but that's probably a good thing...I was worried he'd look exactly like he did when he played Willy Wonka.

July 8, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife Trailer

Nicki Richesin alerted me to the new trailer for the adaptation of The Time Traveler's Wife, starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana. It seems to be in the spirit of The Notebook. Is that good or bad? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. --Kim

June 8, 2009

Ma "Cheri" Amor

This looks so up our alley. Even if it sucks, I'm all about Michelle Pfeiffer's dresses in this trailer. Kathy Bates gives it some street cred, and Rupert Friend lends the sex appeal.

May 19, 2009

Pancks Resurfaces In Action-Packed Sherlock Holmes Trailer

Watch the new Sherlock Holmes trailer to see Robert Downey Jr. (brilliant casting!) as Holmes, Jude Law as Watson, and Rachel McAdams as the token love interest in action. And by action, I mean explosions, fist fights, and leaping from tall buildings. Hopefully the movie is more cerebral than it appears here, but either way, I can't wait to find out. Also, watch for a Pancks (Eddie Marson/Little Dorrit) cameo! --KIM

May 18, 2009

The Hobart Shakespeareans

Want to make a couple of English majors cry? Sit them down in front of this documentary about an inspiring teacher, Rafe Esquith, (think Robin Williams in Dead Poets) who teaches inner city Los Angeles school children how to get completely geeked-out about Shakespeare. Kim and I Netflixed this movie last week and went immediately bonkers watching 9-and-10-year-olds (many of whom speak English as a second language) perform Hamlet while slack-jawed Shakespearean actors like Ian McKellan and Michael York got all teary-eyed. Their end-of-the-year performance of Hamlet was awesome, but you'll also lose it watching them read Huck Finn in class and watching them say their end-of-year adieus when Rafe sends them on their way with words of wisdom they will remember for the rest of their life.

Learn more about this phenomenal teacher's program here.

Watch the trailer....

May 8, 2009

Keanu to Star in New Jekyll and Hyde

Keanu Reeves is set to star in a new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I have to admit that I am an unabashed fan of Keanu in the right role, but his wooden performance in Coppola's Dracula was one of the reasons a perfectly stunning film was spoiled for me. Maybe it's just that his style, unlike say Johnny Depp's, is out of place in a Victorian setting. Universal apparently has two adaptations of the novella in the works--the other has Guillermo del Toro directing. Details on the project here. (via @drmabuse)

April 30, 2009

Paradise Lost...Twice!

As we eke out the last day of National Poetry Month, The Hollywood Reporter says that at least one classic poem is getting the film two different versions. (Sorry, Kim, it's not The Faerie Queene or The Rape of the Lock, which I'd actually much rather see)...Instead, it's John Milton's Paradise Lost. Two unknown actors, David Dunham and Patricia Li Bryan have been cast as Adam and Eve in the indie version from Granite Entertainment and STV Networks. Meanwhile, Legendary Pictures is also supposed to be doing a big-budget version of the famous verses with a project they're calling "Paradise." Not sure we need two, frankly, but maybe the indie version will put an interesting new spin on things.

April 28, 2009


Who do you love? We love Liz (of the fab blog Today's Special)! She will receive a copy of the Because I Love Her anthology, edited by Nicki Richesin and featuring essays by a host of wonderful writers, including Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Maynard, and Jacquelyn Mitchard. Read Liz's entry and the other great entries here. --Kim

April 22, 2009

Giveaway: Win a Copy of the "Because I Love Her" Anthology

Just in time for Mother's Day we're giving away a copy of Nicki Richesin's new anthology Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond. The collection features thought-provoking essays by Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Maynard, and Jacquelyn Mitchard, among many other talented contributors.

To enter, simply comment and answer the question: Who is your favorite mother in literature? To get it started, Nicki, Amy, and I will share our picks. We'll choose our favorite comment by end of day Monday the 27th so we can ship you the book in time for Mother's Day.

Rumer Godden
When considering mothers in literature, the most obvious choice for Mother Superior seems to be Marmee from Little Women. She was devoted, loving, and let’s face it, too perfect. The past few years, I’ve been inspired by the work of Rumer Godden. I’ve particularly enjoyed her memoirs in which she movingly recounts her adventures living alone with her daughters Jane and Paula in Kashmir. She writes beautifully of growing her own food and creating a rich life with very little money. I couldn’t resist jotting down notes from her books like how to be happy when you are miserable: she suggests planting Japanese poppies with cornflowers and having Jane paint a really good picture. What I found most incredible is that she was able to write many, many books, care for her daughters, and live a life on her own terms during the forties and fifties. Ms. Godden was truly a woman ahead of her time. I highly recommend her memoirs A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep and A House With Four Rooms. --Nicki


Ma Joad
The most famous mothers in literature aren’t always the good ones: Anna Karenina, Daisy Buchanan, Edna Pontellier, Becky Sharpe... Truth be told, these depictions of motherhood are generally more intriguing than the sugary-sweet variety that’s usually a default in too many classic novels. But these desperate economic times call for a desperate economic Mama, so I’m selecting Ma Joad from Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath as the most stalwart and determined of matriarchs in seriously tragic circumstances. As the backbone of her clan, she calmly and selflessly keeps the family together during their harrowing and humiliating struggles for survival, always restoring order and somehow managing to whip up a skillet of biscuits out of seemingly thin air to feed her family. Sometimes you just do what you’ve got to do to make it through, and while I might not go so far as young Rose of Sharon’s breastfeeding feat at the end of the saga, the women in The Grapes of Wrath are a testament to those women everywhere who know the true meaning of sacrificial love. --Amy


While good mothers do exist in fiction, it's the wicked mammas that make for the best stories. After all, what would Beowulf be without Grendel's vengeful mother and Snow White without the wicked stepmother? But the queen of all notorious mothers has to be Gertrude, for without her Hamlet and his oedipal frustration wouldn't exist. She married Claudius too quickly after the death of her husband (and possibly had an adulterous relationship with Claudius before Hamlet's father was murdered). However, when Hamlet violently accuses Gertrude, her response reveals she's more complex than a one-dimensional femme fatale:

O Hamlet, speak no more:
Thou turn'st my very eyes into my soul,
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct (III.iv.88-91)
...O speak to me no more;
these words like daggars enter my ears;
No more, sweet Hamlet!

By the time her lips touch the poisoned goblet during the play's tragic conclusion, she's become human and pitiable. --Kim

Historical Reality TV Poll

It's been way too long since they did another installment of those PBS series where they take ordinary people and plop them down into another era for a few weeks. "1900 House," (who can forget the darling Bowler family?) "1940 House," "Colonial House," "Regency House," "Frontier House"... Maybe they're running out of ideas? Which historical era would you like to see next? (Or, if you have a better idea, let us know in Comments.)

April 21, 2009

Russell Goes Medieval

USA Today has a photo of Russell Crowe all bad-assed out on the set of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, and I have to say, the ol' chap is looking good! I don't know what all that fuss was about him being too corpulent for the role. He strikes quite a dashing figure in this picture (and R.C. doesn't usually break into my Top Ten Sexpots of All Time list, either....but that's for another post.) This is definitely more "Gladiator" Russell than "State of Play" Russell, praise be to Jesus.

In Fair Chicago Where We Lay Our Scene

I had to double check that it wasn't actually April 1st when I read this blurb: In honor of Shakespeare's supposed birthday (Thursday), Mayor Richard M. Daly has proclaimed the day "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" in the city.

April 20, 2009

Good Luck with That...

Eighty-eight year old Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is just a little obsessed with proving that Shakespeare's work was really written by the 17th earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Read the full story here.

In other news, researchers look into the "connection between storytelling and the evolved human mind" as they try to understand the popularity of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. You too can become a Literary Darwinist. Find out how. --Kim

Tomb Raiders

She hath pursued conclusions infinite
Of easy ways to die. Take up her bed,
And bear her women from the monument.
She shall be buried by her Antony.
No grave upon the earth shall clip in it
A pair so famous.

-- Antony and Cleopatra, William Shakespeare

In what's predicted to be an even bigger find than the discovery of King Tut's tomb in the 1970s (cue the Steve Martin skit), archaeologists believe they are on the verge of excavating the graves of Cleopatra and her lover, Mark Antony, who committed suicide after their defeat in the battle of Actium in 31 B.C.

See story in L.A. Times

April 17, 2009

The Complete Austen, Dickens, ---?

So if Masterpiece Theater continues its recent tradition of devoting an entire season to one author exclusively, I'm wondering who they'll opt to focus on next? I'm assuming next year we'll get to see the new BBC production of Emma in the works, but at some point, the Jane Austen well is going to run dry.

That said, which author do you think they should devote a season to next?

April 10, 2009

The REAL Shakespeare?

Scholars have come across this portrait they think might be the only accurate rendering of the Bard, painted during his lifetime. Check out the story.

April 9, 2009

Pacino Does Aging Napoleon

Al Pacino's set to star in an adaptation of the Staton Rabin children's book Betsy and the Emperor, about a 14-year-old girl who meets the aging Little Corporal after his exile on the island of St. Helena.

Source: Variety

They Did Dickens?

Recently pondering all the Dickens adaptations I've seen in my lifetime, I thought I'd post about some of the bigger-name celebs who have tried their hand at portraying one of Boz's beloved characters. Here are a few who immediately come to mind, for better or for worse.

Michael Richards (Mr. Micawber: David Copperfield)
If anyone was born to play a Dickens character, it's the guy who brought us Cosmo Kramer. (This was back before his caught-on-tape racist rant which sort of spelled his stardom's demise.) Sally Field was also in this 2000 adaptation for the TNT network playing Aunt Betsy Trotwood. Hugh Dancy was David.

GOOP (Estella, Great Expectations)
I know Estella is supposed to be kind of hateable, and in that case, Gwyneth succeeeded ten-fold. I can never block this terrible move poster from my memory, but fortunately, I have mostly banished from my mind her cold-fish performance in this film. I think this marks the moment Gywnnie first started to bug (as I actually tolerated her in Emma — I know many others didn't.) Robert DeNiro and Anne Bancroft played Magwitch and Havisham types, but even with hottie Ethan Hawke as Pip, this one was pretty bad. For a far superior telling, you must see the version with Ioan Gruffudd and Justine Waddell. Watch the clip:

Christopher Plummer (Ralph Nickleby: Nicholas Nickleby,)
So perfect as mean Uncle Ralph, although I will always love him as my Georg. Anne Hathaway was in this one (I'd completely forgotten!) as Madeline Bray.

Gillian Anderson (Lady Dedlock: Bleak House)

I'm still not convinced she can offer up more than two facial expressions, but for this portrayal, it really worked. This might be my favorite Dickens adaptation to date, and Scully nailed it. No offense to Laura Linney, but I still kind of wish Gillian was doing the intros to Masterpiece Theater (if we can't have Russell Baker, that is.)

Alec Guinness (William Dorrit: Little Dorrit; Fagan: Oliver Twist; Magwitch: Great Expectations)
I've not seen any of these, but Obi-Wan got nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Little Dorrit (1988). Take a good look at the clip below and tell me we aren't lucky to get Matthew Macfadyen as Arthur Clennam? (Spoiler alert in case you haven't figured out what happens this Sunday on LD.)

April 6, 2009

Three Imaginary Poem-to-Film Adaptations

In honor of National Poetry Month, I'm proposing the following poems be adapted for the big screen:

Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, directed by Tim Burton with Johnny Depp as the narrator, Amy Adams as the ghost of Lenore, and Dave Navarro as the voice of the raven.

Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, directed by Woody Allen and starring Louis Garrel as the Baron and Scarlett Johansson as Belinda.

Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen, directed by Peter Jackson with James Franco as Knight Red Crosse, Cate Blanchett as Gloriana, Michelle Williams as Una, and Emily Blunt as Duessa.

What poems would you like to see adapted for film?

April 2, 2009

Much Ado About Shakespeare Adaptations

I started to title this "My 5 Favorite Shakespeare Adaptations," but soon discovered there was no way I could narrow it down that much--even ten was too difficult. I still have this sneaking suspicion I'm missing a few. As for the plays, Romeo and Juliet was my Rosaline and then I read Hamlet and that was it for me. I was head over heels--I've even dated a few Hamlets, unfortunately. Henry V and Macbeth take third place. If I'm forgetting any or you disagree with my choices, take me to task in the comments. --Kim

12. The Taming of the Shrew dir. Franco Zeffirelli with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

11. Tempest (1982) with John Cassavetes, Susan Sarandon, Gena Rowlands, Raul Julia, and Molly Ringwald

10. Henry V (1989) with Kenneth Branagh (Love the St. Crispin's Day speech in the video below.)

9. The Merchant of Venice (2004) with Al Pacino and Joseph Fiennes

8. Hamlet (1948) with Laurence Olivier

7. Hamlet (1996) with Kenneth Branagh and Kate Winslet

6. Romeo + Juliet (1996) dir. Baz Luhrmann, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes

5. Throne of Blood (1957) dir. Akira Kurosawa

4. Shakespeare In Love (1998) with Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth (meh) Paltrow, co-written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, which is a combination of Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night

3. Much Ado About Nothing (1993) with Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, Keanu Reeves, and Denzel Washington

1. Romeo and Juliet (1968) dir. Franco Zeffirelli

And I have to add Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990) written and dir. by Tom Stoppard, starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, which is more of a spin-off than an adaptation, although the play Hamlet co-exists within the movie and drives the plot.

Long Live the King

First off, how HOT is this trailer for Season 3 of The Tudors, premiering Sunday? I so wish I had Showtime.

Second off, if you're in New York, you should check out this Vivat Rex! exhibit on Henry VIII's literary artifacts at the Grolier Club of New York, now through May 2. (It travels to Washington's Folger Shakespeare Library next fall, FYI.)

April 1, 2009

And Speaking of "Alice..."

...Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland (featuring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, sweet Jesus!) will get an IMAX 3D release next March 5th! I'm already tripping out.

Alice & Louisa

Today's Publishers Lunch announces two books centered around two famous literary women: one an author, and one a muse.

First, Kelly O'Connor McNees' The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott supposes a romance that might have tempted the writer in the summer of 1855 when her family moved to a New Hampshire Village. (to Amy Einhorn Books)

Next, Melanie Benjamin's Alice Have I Been will see an 80-year-old Alice Liddell reflecting on her life, including her childhood days spent with Charles Dodson, a.k.a., Lewis Carroll, who was inspired by the little girl to write Alice In Wonderland. I'm extra intrigued by this one, since there are so many theories as to whether Dodson's interest in the girl was innocent or not. (to Bantam Dell)

March 31, 2009

In a Drood Mood

Special thanks to my co-blogger, Kim, for sweetly gifting me a copy of Dan Simmons' Drood. I have to admit the book's heft intimidated me, but I devoured the first chapter last night and am hooked! The book paints a fascinating portrait of Charles Dickens (so timely this spring) and is cleverly and cuttingly narrated by the author's onetime collaborator, Wilkie Collins (The Woman in White). So far it's funny and suspense-filled and a little bit horrifiying, and I'm sure I'll tear through all seven hundred-odd pages in no time before passing it back to Kim.

The book's set to be adapted by none other than director Guillermo del Toro, of Pan's Labyrinth fame.

March 30, 2009

Debt, Little Dorrit, and You

Amy and I were thrilled to post our thoughts on the first episode of Masterpiece Theatre's Little Dorrit on one of our very favorite blogs, The Egalitarian Bookworm.

Blame It On Shakespeare

I've always thought it I ever bumped into Ben Kingsley in public I would probably meekly cower in the corner or scream and run away. Maybe it was his badassity in Sexy Beast... Maybe it was because he played such an a-hole when he cameo'd as himself on "Entourage..." And as someone who has interviewed less than cooperative actors in my day, I can sympathize with how the Guardian's Rachel Cooke was a little freaked by the prospect of interviewing Mr. Ghandi himself. So it was with great pleasure that I read her interview and discovered that, contrary to both of our preconceived notions, he's actually something of a teddy bear! The image of him with a ziplock bag of Fisherman's Friends took the scary away, just like that!

He gives some props to Shakespeare, and I was hoping he'd talk about his role in Christopher Rush's "Will," (a fictional account of the Bard's deathbed meeting with his lawyer to discuss his last will and testament) but no such luck. We'll just have to wait for more news on that one.

March 26, 2009

Guest Blogging for Little Dorrit

Finally! The long-awaited production of Little Dorrit begins on Sunday night. Amy and I will be contributing a guest post on the first episode at The Egalitarian Bookworm. Go here for details. --Kim

March 18, 2009

Titus Pullo Lives!

This news of a film version of the HBO Rome series is music to my ears. Too bad, presumably, no Ciaran Hinds, since Caesar got eighty-sixed already in the series.

March 4, 2009

Ramona Quimby

I loved Beverly Cleary books when I was a second grader, and it's about damn time Ramona the Pest got some screen time. That said, I never imagined, when I was reading the books, that she had a couple of hotties for parents. Corbett and Moynahan? Seriously?

February 19, 2009

Portman's Out For Regency Blood

Natalie Portman's name is being bandied about in connection with the Pride & Prejudice and Zombies project.

Tyger! Tyger! Burning Bright

It looks like Yann Martel's survival tale, Life of Pi, is finally getting its sea legs...with no less than Ang Lee in talks to direct! Great pairing. (M. Night Shyamalan was previously attached.) Still don't know how they're gonna pull off Richard Parker. CGI animals never seem to work for me.

In the meantime, I still love watching the amateur versions on YouTube.

Source: Variety

February 17, 2009

Elton John Scores Zombie Austen Pic!

It just gets more and more intriguing...see the deets at Variety.

Okay...further, more careful perusing has brought to light that this is not in fact, the zombie film, but something else entirely: Austen and aliens. In my rush of excitement, I wrongly assumed this was the zombie one...which leads me to believe perhaps there are getting to be a few too many campy spin-offs of Jane? The first time around it's clever. The second time around it's "enough, already." -- Amy

February 16, 2009

Dickens Mania Commences!

We celebrated Amy's birthday in true Romancing the Tome style on Sunday by attending a Bollywood performance, dining exquisitely at Comme Ça, and watching the first episode of 2007's BBC production of Oliver Twist on Masterpiece Theatre. The casting is fantastic, although we both agreed that Tom Hardy (Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights) is almost too attractive as psychopathic scoundrel Bill Sikes (let's call it the Willoughby Effect). The little boy who plays Oliver is adorable and Timothy Spall as Fagin is utterly creepy. Unfortunately, the Artful Dodger's accent was so thick that we could barely understand a word he said. Following next week's conclusion of Oliver will be David Copperfield starring Daniel Radcliffe. Of course, I'm eagerly awaiting the five episodes of the brand new Little Dorrit, which begins on March 29. --Kim

February 13, 2009

More Unorthodox Austen...

...This time it involves time travel, with Sam Mendes directing. It's based on a Brit miniseries that starred Tess of the d'Urbervilles' Gemma Arterton and Jemima Rooper.

Source: Variety

Stiller & Cruise: Hardy Boys?

I have to grin at the idea of Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller starring as the boy detectives all grown up...who knows how it'll pan out. I found Tom Cruise slightly annoying in Tropic Thunder, but I give him credit, I guess, for making an ass out of himself for comedy's sake.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

February 11, 2009

How Did I Not Know About This?!

Pride & Prejudice and Zombies. Apparently there's a bidding war for the movie rights.


Existentially Speaking

Albert Camus' The First Man gets its celluloid shot. Get the deets.

Pickpocket Alert!

Don't forget to set those DVRs to record Part I of Oliver Twist on Masterpiece Classics on Sunday. No DVR? Watch it online stating Monday, the 16th.

Whoever would have thought that Fagin might be a campy, Yiddish German Jew? His portrayer, for one. Watch Timothy Spall's interview about how he approached the iconic villain. (Where have you seen him before? He's Peter Pettigrew of Harry Potter fame, and he played Mr. Emerson in the 2007 adaptation of A Room With a View.)

February 10, 2009

Casting Upgrade

Sienna Miller's ousting as Maid Marian from Ridley Scott's Nottingham movie (allegedly because she was too young/thin to credibly star opposite a paunchy Russel Crowe) just took a turn for the intriguing.

The Telegraph is reporting (via Mark Strong) that the equally svelte Cate Blanchett is now taking up where Miller left off.

Crowe and Blanchett? I'd pony up some dough to see that Aussie pairing, fo sho'.

February 6, 2009

Shakespeare, Shaken

The Wall Street Journal today interviewed Christopher Moore, author of Fool, which retells "King Lear" through the eyes of Lear's quick-witted impudent sidekick. What an original twist! Can't wait to check it out. Speaking of Bard-inspired books, I'm halfway through The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, (David Wroblewski's canine-centric take on "Hamlet") which I'm enjoying immensely.

February 5, 2009

Sense & Sensibility

Mr. Bingley is swell and all, but when it comes to Pride & Prejudice, it's all about the Darcy. Sense & Sensibility, on the other hand, presents us with two very different (but equally worthy) gentlemen to root for. I, myself, am a "Colonel Brandon" girl. Who are you partial to? Vote here, and don't forget to catch Part II of Sense & Sensibility on Masterpiece Classics Sunday!

February 4, 2009

Pacino to Play King Lear

Last year we reported that Anthony Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts, and Keira Knightley would be starring in Joshua Michael Stern's adaptation of King Lear (and it's still listed as in pre-production on IMDB). Meanwhile, Al Pacino is set to star as King Lear in an adaptation written and directed by Michael Radford who also worked with Pacino on Merchant of Venice. Variety reveals that "the film will be true to its period, very similar to the classical look of 'Merchant of Venice.'" --Kim

February 3, 2009

Whereabouts: Ioan Gruffudd

Our favorite sailor in the British navy, Horatio Hornblower (a.k.a. Ioan Gruffudd) will join Rupert Friend and Natascha McElhone in "The Kid," reports Variety. It's an adaptation of the true life story of Kevin Lewis, who grew up an abused child only to get mired in London's criminal underworld.