November 29, 2004

Because everyone loves a quiz

and the Guardian's are usually especially good: "Do You Know Your Literary Adaptations?" I scored a 9 out of 10 on this, but honestly it was mostly lucky guesses.

You scored 9 out of a possible 10
Pulitzer prize-winner. You loved Anthony Burgess's verse translations for the Cyrano de Bergerac subtitles (though you noticed the caesura was out on one of the lines), and you're always ready to spot where the film differs (inexcusably) from the book. Do you often spend your nights alone? (Whaaaat?? --Kim)

November 24, 2004

Good Knight

Franco Zeffirelli has adapted some of the greatest literary works for the screen, including one of my favorite films, Romeo and Juliet ('68). Tonight he'll be awarded an honarary knighthood for his contribution to British Arts. (Guardian UK)
You can order a poster similar to the one I own here. He's 81, but really shouldn't one be required to affect at minimum a token joust or something in order to receive a knighthood? --Kim

November 23, 2004

Trailer Park

The best-selling French novel A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot is now a film starring wide-eyed waif Audrey Tautou. I saw the trailer before the debacle that was Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason and it looks promising in an epic English Patient way.

You can watch the trailer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy here. Not much happens but it's still kind of thrilling.

Also, why am I so excited about the new Star Wars movie? --Kim


Who out there DIDN'T bust out bawling when Hayley Mills' version of this eternal optimist fell out of a tree and was paralyzed?

Masterpiece Theater does a remake of the classic Disney film, Pollyanna, this Sunday, Nov. 28 on PBS. Incidentally, the story is based on a 1913 bestseller by Eleanor H. Porter.

Nothing like a cloyingly sweet young child to transform the grump in all of us. -- Amy

November 22, 2004

Regency House Party: Episode III

In this week's installation, we learned that women in the Regency Era were expected to act demure, shy and reserved around the opposite sex. All except for Countess Griaznov apparently, who, desperate for any attention from the men, decided to serve herself up naked on the dining room table! How this was sanctioned by her normally strict chaperone is beyond us, but suffice it to say her coquettish act didn't have its desired effect. The men in the room appeared visibly revolted having to dine with the countess's body sprawled across the table as if she were the centerfold in one of Hefner's mags. Bad form, countess -- bad form. Then again, this is the same woman who invited "doctor death" to dinner and listened in awe as he discussed the plastification of corpses.

With the addition of another lady and a few more gents to the party, we still can't figure out why the only bit of lovin' going on in this house of swingin' singles is between the very dorky Mr. Foxsmith and his middle-aged lover (yes, LOVER!), Lady Devonport. The two scampered off to the stables to spend the night at the end of this week's episode. It would be more scandalicious if it were the hunky host, Mr. Gorell Barnes leading the seduction, but unfortunately, he's too dull to have put any moves on the ladies so far. We've only got one more episode left to see any of the other guys in the house actually make a move. If the REAL men of the Regency Era had been as ineffectual at wooing women as these guys are, the sad trials of childbirth that we learned about in this episode would be a moot point. -- Amy

Hanks, but no thanks...

Tom Hanks already managed to monopolize every adult role in The Polar Express, and now I hear he's been cast as the main character in Dan Brown's literary cash cow, The DaVinci Code. The news irritated me, not only because I envisioned the book's Holy Grail-seeker, Robert Langdon, as someone WAY more sexy, but also because it confirms my suspicions that Tom Hanks has become the Hollywood equivalent of Wal-Mart.

On a more positive note, Newsweek magazine recently suggested a few more favorable casting choices:
Love interst Sophie Neveu: Julie Delpy, from Before Sunrise/Sunset.
Detective Bezu Fache: Jean Reno from The Professional.

(I won't hold my breath as it will probably end up being someone like "Apple's Mom" and Richard Gere in those roles. And since this book is about as commercial as they come, I guess it only makes sense.) -- Amy

November 16, 2004

Regency House Party: Episode II

Did Regency era activities include snogging on the lawn half clothed? That's some of what we witnessed in Part II of PBS's Regency House Party, as Mr. Foxsmith became more deeply (and illogically) enamored with one of the older chaperone women, Lady Davenport. Perhaps he neglected the younger ladies in the party because from what we've seen so far, they are uninteresting and whine a lot. Miss Braund and her chaperone nearly came to blows one evening, leaving our handsome host, Mr. Gorel-Barnes to attempt to restore order. It's unfortunate that Miss Braund suffered such a hissy fit, as Kim and I briefly had cheered when she received a daisy chain on her bed from Mr. Everett. Nevertheless, he simultaneously had the hots for Miss Hopkins and proved to be quite the player. Only the "Colonel Brandon"-like Captain Glover showed himself to be a true gentleman, using bales of hay to arrange the phrase "B Happy" on the lawn outside Miss Braund's window. How utterly romantic! The episode also included insights into the world of gothic entertainment and male vomiting. Truly something for everyone... --Amy

Great Expectations and Then Some

Amy and I watched Part 1 of BBC's 1999 production of Great Expectations last week. Pip is played by the gorgeous Welsh actor Ioan Gruffud (of the fantastic Horatio Hornblower series*), so it's no surprise that it's indeed our favorite adaptation of this novel. In fact, we concluded that really no other leading actor is needed. Ever. Charlotte Rampling is an intriguing Miss Havisham; old enough to be well within spinster-ville but not so old that her former beauty doesn't shine through, giving her character an aura of pitiable wistfulness. I'm withholding my opinion on Justine Waddell's portrayal of Estella until part 2.
*Amy introduced me to the Horatio Hornblower phenomenon two years ago and my life has never been the same since. Thus, much like the origin of Pip's great expectations, the origin of movie night (and eventually Romancing the Tome) can be attibuted to a long ago (though less terrifying!) event. --Kim

November 11, 2004

Afternoon Tea

Here are a few reviews of tea rooms here and abroad. We'll add The Bel Air Hotel, Jin, Casa Del Mar, and a few others sometime soon.


San Francisco being a prime spot for European tourists, there are more than half a dozen places where you can enjoy an afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones, and clotted cream. I've been to every single one of them. My favorites are listed here.

St. Francis Hotel, Union Square
The Compass Rose room in the St. Francis is dark, elegant and filled with Oriental treasures. A pianist plays the standards during afternoon tea. Also a great place for an old-fashioned Sidecar with a view of Union Square.

Sheraton Palace, Financial District
A splendid tea is served in the opulent glass-domed Garden Court at the Sheraton Palace. I swear you'll feel like you are in a Jane Austen novel while you're sipping your Earl Grey. This is one of my all-time favorite escapes.


Paddington's Tea Room
This family-owned tea room has scones that will keep me returning again and again. The decor is fussy Victorian with lots of tea cups and, of course, teddy bears.


Four Seasons
I spent the day visiting museum after museum and then I hiked over to the Four Seasons Hotel for tea. What a perfect day. The service is wonderful.


The Shelbourne Hotel
The Shelbourne was built in 1867 and serves afternoon tea in the Edwardian Mayor's Room which oozes history. Quite majestic!

November 9, 2004

Brideshead Revisited...Revisited?

In the works...
Jude Law joins Jennifer Connelly and her real-life hubby, Paul Bettany in an updated version of Brideshead Revisited, based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh.

The original 1981 mini-series was a mega-hit and helped launch the career of its star, Jeremy Irons. I, for one, could barely keep from falling into a coma whilst powering through all 11 episodes earlier this fall with Kim. While it had its bright moments, I can only chalk up the original series' success to the lack of Tivo and good cable at the time. Perhaps if while viewing we'd been drinking as much as the movie's protagonist, Sebastian, we might have had a jolly good time. Since my only real beef with the miniseries is that is was WAY too long, I'll be eager to check out the condensed new version when it eventually hits theaters. (Kim no doubt gives it a preliminary thumbs up for the Jude Law/Paul Bettany dual hottie factor.) -- Amy

November 8, 2004

Henry VIII

Highlights of Masterpiece Theater's Henry VIII:
• Lots of frenzied, galloping, "Got an urgent message, dammit!" horseback footage, and a "Ren-fair"-worthy jousting scene
• Helena Bonham Carter as Anne Boleyn shows that despite "Fight Club," she's not abandoned roles that require a corset
• Close-up shots of Henry Tudor's "Liberace-style" rings as he heaves lovelorn sighs over Anne "I'm a Rules Girl" Boleyn
• Henry frets about going to hell for splitting with the pope; guess those countless affairs and sending subseqent wives to the chopping block are holy misdemeanors?
• Vexed by an itchy hair shirt and a good-for-nothing hubby, Catherine of Aragon gives Anne Boleyn the stink-eye and a few choice words.
• Hank and Annie B. celebrate their marriage by cutting a rug in a scene reminiscent of Captain Von Trapp and Fraulein Maria, followed by a royal roll in the hay.
• Oliver Cromwell appears in desperate need of a visit to Supercuts
• Henry blubbers at the birth of Elizabeth, future kick-ass monarch
• Anne pays the executioner and goes proudly to her death in a true "cover your eyes" gross-out-but-gripping moment.

...Four more wives to go in Part II, airing Sunday, Nov. 14.

Frivolous Bits...

I've also heard the 1971 "MT" miniseries, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, is phenomenal if you ever have nine hours to kill. -- Amy

November 4, 2004

Regency House Party: Episode 1

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Last night Amy and I eagerly watched "Pride and Prejudice," the first episode of PBS's Regency House Party. This episode introduced the single men and women and their chaperones and quickly plunged them into the strict tradition and lifestyle of the early 1800s. "The Regency period is very sexy," revealed eligible bachelor Mr. Gorell Barnes, who happens to look hot--um, I mean dashing--in a cravat and man tights. On their arrival the men quickly descend into various states of drunkenness offending the uptight hostess, a chaperone "hired" to help the host land a wife. The men are perhaps more smitten with the ladies' bosom-revealing gowns than their financial status. Captain Robinson (who bears a striking resemblance to Tim on The Office) is worried about becoming "too posh," particularly when the men receive training in the art of Pedestrianism, an elegant form of walking. After making and breaking an engagement with a woman who finds the resident hermit more exciting, Robinson decides he'd rather be watching television and departs. Next week we're hoping to see more evidence of the esteem held between one of the gentlemen and (gasp!) a chaperone. And some fencing of course.
Swoon Score: 7. --Kim

Relevant Links:
My review of Colonial House
Take the Quiz: Are You a Regency Catch?
Find out more about the Regency period.