October 31, 2006

L.A. Confidential: The Sequel Gets a Heavy Voice Over

James Ellroy's sultrily-named novel White Jazz will get the treatment via director Joe Carnahan (of the upcoming Smokin' Aces and Narc, an "overlooked gem" says IMDB, which starred Lost Boy Jason Patric), who co-wrote the adaptation with his brother.

Says Carnahan, "The script is one of my favourites. It's heartbreaking. It's, to me, what that book always was - the point of departure from the Eisenhower 50s to the psychedelic freakshow, Manson '60s. It's a total combination of the two with a heavy, heavy voice-over narration, this kind of classic noir."

The thriller, which begins filming in 2007, is a sequel to Ellroy's L.A. Confidential, which was adapted with great critical success by Curtis Hanson in 1997. Ellroy wrote the screenplay for L.A. Confidential along with Brian Helgeland (Man on Fire, A Knight's Tale). According to Wikipedia, White Jazz has been in "development hell" previously and stars formerly attached to the project included Nick Nolte, John "Lloyd Dobler" Cusack, and Winona Ryder. Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia (2006) was also adapted from an Ellroy novel. --Kim

October 27, 2006

Who Do You Love?

GET OUT THE VOTE!....Don't worry, I won't insult you with any negative attack ads or urge you to choose "Bad Politician A" over "Bad Politician B" in a few weeks. Just want you to take the time to complete this "Masterpiece Theater" survey. Voicing your likes and dislikes from among their recent offerings will help them figure out future programming. Did you love Bleak House's Mr. Guppy or was The Forsyte Saga's Soames Forsyte more to your liking? Ah decisions, decisions. Weigh in and let the powers that be know you're watching. -- Amy

October 26, 2006

Russian 'Hamlet' Wins Festival Award

Playing the Victim, A modern-day adaptation of Hamlet by Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov won the best film award at Rome's International Film Festival.

About the film:
"Playing the Victim" tells the story of Valya (Yury Chursin), a university graduate who has slipped, as the title suggests, into an apathetic job re-enacting crimes for curiously unnecessary police investigations. In the re-enactments, which are filmed for future trial reference, Valya takes the place of murder victims -- at least until the developments of the final act, which concludes the film's recurring references to "Hamlet," and in which the roles are suddenly reversed. (via The Moscow Times) --Kim

October 25, 2006

Marie Antoinette, Old School

Curiosity prompted me to watch the 1938 version of Marie Antoinette, starring Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power last weekend. If you have the time or inclination, or if you happen to catch it on cable, I'd suggest checking it out, just for kicks. Here are some reasons why:

• Norma Shearer is ADORABLE as the queen.
• She has a bitchin' thrown-down with Madame du Barry (much better than the Coppola version of this scene.)
• Louis XVI (played by Robert Morley) is ridiculous to the point of prompting snorts of laughter. I think the dimwittedness may have been overdone, but it is pretty damn funny. He's so dumb that you can't help but root for the guy.
• Tyrone Power as Axel Ferson blows Jamie Dornan's performance out of the water. Quite the hottie.
• The dresses are stunning, albeit a bit more voluminous than those in the current film. Could definitely hide a couple of court midgets under those dresses.
• The Duke de Orleans gives Eddie Izzard a run for his money. (I just Googled him and he really was a transvestite. Kind of cool that they went there in a 1938 film.)
• Unlike the Coppola film, this one covers the Affair of the Necklace (a big plotline left out of the current version and one which had a huge impact on the monarchy's downfall.) -- Amy

Tale of Two Cities

I spoke with a soap actress this week (MacKenzie Mauzy who plays Phoebe on "The Bold & The Beautiful"). She says she's involved in a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (she's playing the guillotine-doomed seamstress whom Sydney Carton falls for at the end of the novel.) According to Mauzy, they're doing performances for producers and potential financial backers right now, with the hopes that it will end up on Broadway sometime in 2007. (The musical has actually been around since 1994.) You can check out more about the musical here. (It's got a very Les Mis vibe, based on the songs I listened to.) -- Amy

October 23, 2006

Buffy's Little Sister In The Possibility of Fireflies

Michelle Trachtenberg and Kelly Preston will star in an adaptation of The Possibility of Fireflies. The author Dominique Paul will be making her directorial debut with the film based on her novel about a single mom. --Kim

October 22, 2006

Jane Austen did WHAT?!?

James McAvoy offers up a "spit-out-your-coffee" moment in an enlightening interview with The Guardian.

Let's just say he has an interesting take on playing Tom LeFroy, the young Irishman who broke Jane Austen's heart in Becoming Jane.

Kind of a funny interview, anyway. -- Amy

October 19, 2006


John Malkovich + Jeremy Irons + dragons = Hell to the Yeah!!!!!

The first part of this trilogy (based on the book by Christopher Paolini) hits theaters Dec. 15. View trailer here. -- Amy

October 18, 2006

Marie: The Verdict

So my friend, Patricia, was kind enough to invite me to an advance screening of Marie Antoinette on Monday night. Talk about lush, heavenly eye candy from start to finish!

I'm definitely, adamantly giving it a Romancing The Tome thumbs' up. I know the film bugs many people who have seen it, and so I went into the movie half expecting the thing to be a travesty. Having read a detailed bio of the queen earlier this year, I was surprised at just how much of her story Coppola was able to include in the two-hour film. (Of course, she left out a lot of the politics, both those of court and the political tension between France and Austria, of which Marie was trapped in the middle. Her extra-marital dalliances also seemed a bit glossed over, with only a lackluster nod to her relationship with Count Fersen.)

As for the movie's much maligned modern edge, I hardly noticed it. Yes, today's tunes were interspersed with period music, but in most cases, it worked well without being a distraction. There were a few exchanges of dialogue that sounded clearly out of place for 18th century Versailles, but if the point was to turn Marie Antoinette into someone wholly relatable, it worked. Kirsten Dunst's delivery always tends to be flat, and it seemed even more strange to hear her American accent mixed among others that were French and English. But what Dunst lacked in vocalese, she more than made up for in facial expressions. There were so many wonderful scenes where Dunst's face alone spoke volumes about what the queen must have felt at being dropped into the circus of the French court.

Along the way, she's transformed from mystified young girl to excessive coquette and finally, to a world-weary mother. Forget her affair with hottie Ferson, it's the strained yet poignant relationship between Marie and Louis XVI (played to great comic effect by Jason Schwartzman) that is the true love story of the movie.

And then, there are the visuals: Extravagant. Droolworthy. I coveted every one of the many gowns Dunst wore. The backdrop, interiors and costumes alone are worth eventually owning the DVD, just to have it perpetually play on mute as background prettiness. Visually, it's a masterpiece. To be honest, I didn't even notice the anachronisms sprinkled throughout the movie (like the pair of pink Converse All-Stars in Marie's closet, which I only read about afterwards...). Bottom line, Coppola's poetic license is fairly subtle. And besides, if throwing in a few modern tweaks is what it takes to woo a wider audience, fans of gorgous costume dramas should hardly complain. -- Amy

October 16, 2006

Gorgeous Costumes + Young Magicians on the Rise

Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale will star in The Prestige, Christopher Nolan's (Memento) tale of two rival magicians in 19th century London. Sounds eerily similar to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which Amy really loved and I wanted to love (I found the footnotes to be a frustrating gimmick that drove me batty). Michael Caine, David Bowie, Scarlet Johannson, and Piper Perabo will also get to wear fabulous costumes in the film, which looks lovely. More pix and details here. --Kim

October 13, 2006

Tom Quixote?

Director Andrew Davis (not to be confused with Romancing the Tome's directorial patron saint Andrew Davies) announced at a recent London press conference that he has plans to do a hybrid version of Cervantes' Don Quixote and Fielding's Tom Jones, which he says is one of his favorite novels. "It has a character who believes in the Quixote legend but lives in the London of Tom Jones," he explains. -- Amy

October 11, 2006

Julia to Eat, Pray, Love

I think this might be the first time we've mentioned Julia Roberts on the blog, oddly enough, but she'll play an unsatisfied suburbanite on an international quest in an adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything. Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy (also the man behind this month's Running With Scissors) will direct. I've never read the book and can only pray it won't smack of Under the Tuscan Sun. -- Amy

October 10, 2006

Sofia Speaks!

The Guardian has an interview with Marie Antoinette director Sofia Coppola where she speaks on being simultaneously booed and lauded in Cannes, growing up Coppola, pregnancy, why she appreciates Harold Pinter (who incidentally loves the film) and what she thinks of being generally thought of as part of the "Brat Pack" of hip young filmmakers. Author Antonia Fraser, who wrote the biography on which Coppola's latest film is based, is quoted in the piece as well. -- Amy

October 9, 2006

A "Seasonable" Choice for Fiennes

Joseph Fiennes will play Vivaldi in a new biopic about the Baroque priest/composer of "Four Seasons" fame, specifically his time serving as a music master at a school for abandoned, illegitimate daughters of Venice's courtesans. (I'm sold already). Malcolm Macdowell, Jaqueline Bisset, Lena Heady and Zuleikha Robinson round out the cast, with Gerard Depardiu still in talks to sign on as well. -- Amy

Source: Dark Horizons

Casanova Part I: Disasterpiece Theater?

Unlike the man it set out to dramatize, last night's Masterpiece Theater presentation, Casanova, failed to knock knickers off. (Not mine, at least.)

I had issues a'plenty, of which I'll name a few:

1) The film (especially the first three minutes or so) reminded me of a bad episode of THE MONKEES, with Casanova (or was that Davy Jones?) running around the back-alleys of Venice being chased by men he's cuckolded. And the background music accompanying these antics was something akin to the Benny Hill theme song. I get that they were trying to play up the farcical aspects of the story, but it was just annoyingly mad-cap and Stooge-like. This was probably my biggest gripe with the movie. It's almost as if they kept trying to make sure we'd get the joke by overly hamming it up. (Mind you, I'm not against stupid humor in a period piece, as evidenced by my review this year of Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.)But in the case of Casanova, I was bored, not bemused.

2) The dialogue sounded way too 21st century, and the delivery reminded me of the rhythm you find on shows like "Gilmore Girls" or "Dawson's Creek," a.k.a. trying way too hard to come off as clever, and not entirely working. (A huge pet peeve of mine.)

3) The sets and costumes looked cheap and amateurish. Nothing about the production value seemed on par with what we've come to expect from Masterpiece Theater.

4) At the ball where Casanova presents his castrato-turned-fiancee, the whole scene just seemed like an '80s flashback weekend. I guess the director was trying to give the story an updated feel (perhaps as Sofia Coppola has done with "Marie Antoinette") but it didn't work.

I'll give the film's star, David Tennant, some props for being charismatic enough to carry the production. His charm and flirtatiousness makes you understand why women would have shamelessly flung themselves at him. Peter O'Toole was great as the elderly Casanova reflecting on his raucous past (although this framework narrative reminded me too much of "The Princess Bride"..."Oh don't stop now! Tell me more! What happened next?!"). The rest of the cast didn't do much for me.

I'm sure people out there are going to disagree with my opinion, so feel free to let me have it. I've heard that the movie eventually takes a poignant, tear-jerking turn, bt you'll have to let me know if that's the case. I won't be watching. -- Amy

October 6, 2006

Pope Joan in works

Donna Woolfolk Cross's bestselling novel "Pope Joan" will be adapted with actress Franka Potente (Run Lola, Run) in the title role, reports Dark Horizons. Shooting begins next May.

I haven't read the novel, but the "Pope Joan saga" has intrigued me ever since I heard about the legend, which claims that a young peasant girl adopted a man's persona and fooled her way into eventually claiming the highest title in the Catholic church, until she was eventually "discovered" after literally giving birth on a public street as shocked on-lookers watched in amazement. (Dateline or Primetime or one of those shows had a whole special on the story earlier this year.) Quite intriguing. -- Amy

October 5, 2006

Hoist the Jib!!!

This month PBS is really catering to my soft spot for English seafaring adventures. (I know, there's nothing romantic about foul-mouthed, rickets-laden sailors who could stand a little less grog and a little more personal hygiene. But still...)

Starting Sunday, Oct. 22, PBS's Masterpiece Theater treats us to a three-part adaptation of William Golding's trilogy To The Ends of the Earth. The story tracks a perilous 19th century ocean voyage from England to Australia. A hardened Captain Anderson helms the converted man-o-war ship with a passenger list that includes uppity British socialites and a salty crew.

You'll see some familiar faces among the cast including Charles Dance (Tulkinghorn from MP's Bleak House); Sam Neill (pictured, Komarovsky from MP's Doctor Zhivago); Victoria Hamilton (who has appeared in Mansfield Park, the Pride & Prejudice miniseries and Persuasion); and Joanna Page (pictured, Dora in MP's David Copperfield).

The BBC drama has already aired in England, so anyone who's seen it already should give us their thumbs' up or down. It appears to have gotten pretty good reviews.

Finally, don't forget to set your VCR or TiVo (or just tune in) to PBS this Sunday night to see Part I of Casanova. And check back on Romancing the Tome to get our review! -- Amy

October 4, 2006

Copying Beethoven

This looks like it might be good, especially if you were a fan of Immortal Beloved, like I was. Copying Beethoven is directed by the same woman who did Washington Square and the Secret Garden. It stars a brown-eyed Ed Harris as the composer in the last year of his life in a fictionalized account that claims a gifted young woman (Diane Kruger) helped the ailing genius with his work. Here's the trailer. It looks like it will have a limited release in November. NPR's Fresh Air has Ed Harris's take on playing the deaf and surly legend. -- Amy

October 3, 2006

More French Flak for Dunst

Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette is suffering further ridicule now that France's Marie Antoinette Association is blasting the film, due out this month, for being historically inaccurate — specifically the queen's saucy bedroom antics. The association's president, after seeing the film's trailer, said, "It's a fright. We've spent years trying to convince people that the queen was not just a libertine who told the starving to eat cake. What do you see on the trailer? You see Marie Antoinette eating cake. I fear the film is going to set us back many years."

I think someone needs to just take a deep breath and chill out. Then again, Kirsten Dunst's response isn't doing her any favors: "It's kind of like a history of feelings rather than a history of facts," says the actress. "So don't expect a masterpiece theater, educational biopic." (She'd better not be bashing MP!)

I don't know...I agree that I would like a Marie Antoinette film to at least give me accurate information, but I also think the Marie Antoinette Association may have their corsets laced a little too tight. -- Amy

Source: IMDB.com

Knightley's Poet Pic a Go!

Dark Horizons says plans are finally underway for Keira Knightley to star in a film about Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. The screenplay for "The Best Time of Our Lives" was written by the actress's playwright mum, Sharmon Macdonald. In the movie (which will begin production next spring) Knightley will play the wife of William Killick, a man who turned up on the poet's doorstep armed with a machine gun and grenade. -- Amy