October 30, 2004

Regency House

I was drinking my new tea from Le Palais De Thés (Fleur de Geisha) today, thinking life couldn't get much better, when I realized PBS's new series, Regency House begins airing on Wednesday, Nov. 3. What a fabulous way to recover from this week's elections! Ten modern men and women get to spend nine weeks pretending to live in the early 1800s (that's Jane Austen's era), whilst looking for their own Mr. Knightly or Miss Dashwood. Here's a brief description from the PBS site:

"For nine sunny summer weeks, a group of eligible bucks and buxom ladies takes up residence in a magnificent country estate for a house party exactly like those hosted at the height of the Regency. But will 21st-century folk who are really looking for love manage to navigate the strict social protocols of the day?"

Not sure the "looking for love" Bachelor angle is necessary, but still, I cannot wait. If you loved 1900 House, Manor House, Frontier House and Colonial House, this newest edition of the historical reality series will truly be your cup of tea! -- Amy

October 28, 2004

A Tale Of Two Cities

This 1989 BBC adaptation of the great Dickens classic is neither the best of films nor the worst of films. Kim and I viewed Part I last night, eager to swoon over some British and French hotties in the form of Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay. We're not sure if it was the late '80s factor or not, but the actors playing both men are strangely attractive and yet strangely not. (They only barely resembled one another enough to make the final plot twist feasible, incidentally.) Lucie Manette has the porcelain doll look down pat, though her hair is huge (again, late '80s influence?) I found the movie lacked some of the author's wit and charm, but as plotlines go it was very faithful to the text. I'm happy to resume Part II next week, but when it comes to Dickens flicks, I prefer the 1999 version of "Great Expectations," (starring the delicious Ioan Gruffudd) which is scheduled for an upcoming movie night.

Chocolate rating: A new feature of this blog, Kim and I have decided to rate the gourmet chocolate we sample during each film. This week's selection, Sao Tome Reserva Chocolate from Trader Joe's, was too bitter to be enjoyable and we opted not to finish it, which is normally unheard of. We may as well have been eating unsweetened baker's chocolate. I'd give it a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. What a travesty. -- Amy

October 27, 2004

Bee Season

The screen adaptation of Myla Goldberg's novel Bee Season will star Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche, and Orlando Bloom's blue crush, Kate Bosworth.

October 21, 2004

Stage Beauty is Semi-Snooze

Disappointed to come away from "Stage Beauty" feeling it was a regular yawn. Billy Crudupp was impressive as one of the last great male actors to play female roles in the English theater. But as the young protegé who steals his career, Claire Danes seemed affected and very "Claire Danes." There's a sort of bizarre love scene between the two (Crudupp's character is gay, then wait — no he isn't?) Heavy-handed with its message on gender roles in society, THESSSSSSPIANS will love this movie, but I'm not sure many others will, despite some decent reviews it's received. If you're a true sucker for Restoration period pieces, check it out. Otherwise, stick with "Shakespeare In Love." -- Amy

Adaptation Updates

Jake Gyllenhaal will star in the screen adaptation of Swofford's Gulf War novel Jarhead.

The Merchant of Venice, starring Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love), Jeremy Irons, and Al Pacinio, opens on December 29. --Kim

October 19, 2004

Everything Is Illuminated

I finally got around to reading Jonathan Safran Foer's debut novel. It started out so funny that I actually couldn't read it in public and yet it became equally devastating. Liev Schreiber is directing the film adaptation which will star Elijah Wood (as Jonathan) and Jason Schwartzman. The scheduled release date is August, 2005. Also, if you've never seen Spring Forward ('99) starring Liev and Ned Beatty, you should add it to your netflix queue. --Kim

The Lost Prince

Kim and I just got our Masterpiece Theater fix watching Part One of "The Lost Prince." Set in Edwardian England just prior to WWI, it brings to light the saga of Prince Johnny, an adorable little pumpkin of a child who is shut away like a prisoner by his parents, King George V and Queen Mary. They are ashamed of his epileptic fits, autistic-like learning difficulties, and penchant for saying true-yet-inappropriate things in front of company. Ironically, the parents themselves seem to have more head troubles than their child. Lovely Gina McKee (Irene from "The Forsyte Saga") is Johnny's beleaguered governess, whose best intentions don't prevent him from being viewed as the freakish Frankenstein child of the royal family. Most heartbreaking of all is the little prince's relationship with his protective brother, Georgie, who kindly vows not to let anyone "send him away." Watching little John (Daniel Williams) scamper off to suffer a seizure in private made Kim and I damn near bawl.

Part II didn't wow us as much, perhaps because Johnny's quirks weren't nearly so cute when he grew older, and Lala's attempts to intercede on the boy's behalf usually only exacerbated a sad situation. Johnny's brilliant musical recital at the end of the movie was about as cliché as they come. Still, this royal outcast's saga lent a unique angle to the historical backdrop of the gathering storm leading up to World War I. -- Amy

October 16, 2004

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Amy and I powered through Parts II and III (A&E miniseries, 1999) last night really because we couldn't turn it off. Richard E. Grant is the dashingly heroic Sir Percy Blakeney and Elizabeth McGovern is his French wife Lady Blakeney, the former actress Madame Marguerite. Grant isn't your typical leading man as far as looks go, but in the same way that Colin Firth IS Darcy, he's absolutely mesmerizing as The Pimpernel. Lady Blakeney is a strong female character who becomes an integral player in The Pimpernel's missions to rescue French aristocrats from the guillotine. The two of them had a fantastic chemistry that overcame the many implausible plot twists. (I won't even go into the whole accent issue except to say that it's so typical of an American production to screw that up.) The Bottom Line: We loved it. --Kim

After Lord of the Rings

Variety reports that New Line Cinema has acquired the film rights to Suzanne Clarke's adult fantasy Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I have yet to read the novel, but it's definitely on the list. --Kim