August 29, 2007

As You Like It

Kim and I were thrilled to sit down to a Tivo'd recording of HBO's As You Like It last Friday night. We were loaded up with chocolate, and despite having my neighbor's dog barking manically through the duration of our viewing session, we were excited to get our Shakespeare fix.

The fact that it's since taken me five whole days to report back on the production shows just how entirely "eh" we felt about the whole thing. Relocating the story to 19th century Japan was a very promising idea, but since much of the movie was set in the gorgeous but slightly generic "Forest of Arden," (and since most of the cast weren't of Asian descent), it seemed kind of pointless. That, and watching a skinny Orlando whoop the ass of a sumo wrestler who was built like a Mack truck put our suspension-of-disbelief skills to the limit.

Speaking of Orlando, his portrayer (David Oyelowo), managed to keep us intrigued, but it was Bryce Dallas Howard (Rosalind) who really carried this entire movie. Her accent was spot on, her delivery was perfectly executed and she was generally a stunning visage to behold. Contrast that with the strangely bland performance of Kevin Kline. He managed to turn the play's most famous monologue into a perfect opportunity for a bathroom break, and whenever he spoke, Kim and I both started nodding off. Perhaps it was his OVer, EMPHasis of EVery SYLLable. Sorry Kevin, I normally love you but I've got to give you a thumbs' down as the forlorn Jaques.

The final scene's effluvium of music and dancing and gaiety seemed like a tepid rip-off of 1993's Much Ado About Nothing finale (which ranks as one of our favorite moments in Shakespeare adaptation history..."Sigh no more, ladies!!!!!"). Nevertheless, Kenneth Branagh, we adore you for continuing to treat modern audiences to your creative spins on the Bard. When all the world is your stage, we're happy to watch.

August 22, 2007

"Dark, edgy, muscular" Oz?

I understand the temptation to want to remake L. Frank Baum's Oz books (considering the Judy Garland movie, though a classic, isn't precisely in keeping with the tone of the original stories.) Still, this news from Variety makes me think that Warner Bros.' vision for a more "Lord of the Rings"-style revisionist take on the tales is an effort in futility. There's only one "Wizard of Oz" film that people are going to care about. It's been done. End of story...(Okay, so maybe "Wicked " the musical would succeed in film version, but beyond that, I think filmgoers are just going to want to click their heels and get the hell out of Oz.)

August 20, 2007

Kidman and Ralph Fiennes in "The Reader"

The Oscar-award winning screenwriter David Hare (The Hours) wrote the adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader. Nicole Kidman and Ralph Fiennes, who also co-starred in The Hours, will partner up for the adaptation of the novel, which takes place in postwar Germany.

"[The Reader] centers on Michael Berg, who is 15 years old when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But to his horror, he discovers that she is a defendant in a Nazi war crimes trial, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime."

Order in the Court

This dashing speciman of man is Thomas Kretschmann. He and Paul Bettany are both joining Emily Blunt, Miranda Richardson, Rupert Friend and Jim Broadbent in the Queen Vic biopic The Young Victoria. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bettany will play Lord Melbourne, Victoria's political advisor, while Kretschmann will play her uncle, King Leopold of Belgium.

The Uninvited Guests?

Just found this blurb in which Ioan Gruffudd weighs the possibility of having to disinvite people from attending his September nuptials to Alice Evans. God, I hope this isn't true. If so, we'll have to go ahead and say "damn his impudence!"...even though we love Ioan, this is truly a bit tacky, yes?

August 17, 2007

Sexing It Up

The Guardian's John Patterson discusses a new French adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover, pointing out that the director, Pascale Ferran, "hasn't stinted on the grunty bits." Good to know.

Scarlett Jo To Do Queen of Scots

Apparently, Scarlett Johansson must have so enjoyed playing Mary Boleyn in an adaptation of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl (opposite Natalie Portman's Anne and Eric Bana's Henry) that she's now ready and willing to give Mary Queen of Scots a whirl.

Source: Dark Horizons

Aniston in "He's Just Not That Into You" and Oprah Presents

From the "Please, Lord, No" Files: Jennifer Aniston may star in an adaptation of the hit self-helper "He's Just Not That Into You." Which means we'll have to suffer through too many leads like this: Out of all the actresses in Hollywood, Jennifer Aniston really understands what it is like when "He's Just Not That Into You".

In other news, "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Mitch Albom's For One More Day" will premiere on ABC, December 9th. Ellen Burstyn and Michael Imperioli to star.

August 16, 2007


Here's an interesting, interview-laden promo for the adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement, featuring insight from James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn and Saoirse Ronan, who seems well-cast as the 13-year-old trouble-maker, Briony. It's slated for theaters on Sept. 7.

August 14, 2007

Mo' Better Mowgli

As I'm not much of a fan of anthropomorphized animals, I'm not sure what to make of this news that Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is being turned into a live action film by the BBC. A version of the novel was made back in 1994 in which Jason Scott Lee, Carey Elwes (Oh my Wesley!) and Sam Neill appeared, but I don't remember it even being in theaters.

Speaking of tigers, anyone know what's up with The Life of Pi adaptation?

What Do Horatio Hornblower and Elizabeth Bennett Have In Common?

"Villagers" in a Florida community have taken up whist, a game played by Phileas Fogg, Elizabeth Bennett, Horatio Hornblower and Scarlett O’Hara, writes The Villages Daily Sun. If you're a whist neophyte, the pieces goes on to explain how it works:

Players are paired, male and female for the first round. The winning couple moves on, the man to one table, the woman to another. The male from the losing team moves over a chair, to become the partner of the woman arriving at the table. His former partner becomes the partner for the man who moves to the table.

“Sometimes you cross again,” Davis said.

After each round, which takes about five minutes, the coordinator rings a bell to signal the rotation.

No wonder it was such a popular game--it's the perfect opportunity for a little flirting and witty repartee! For further reading on the card game, wikipedia has a list of literary references to whist.

High-larity Ensues...

Check out The Egalitarian Bookworm for her side-splitting take on Becoming Jane. (...if you haven't seen the flick yet, consider this a spoiler alert.)

August 13, 2007

Coming Soon...

Here's the poster for Paramount's adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, which premeires on November 2. Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction) directs this heartbreaking tale of friendship and redemption.

Source: Rotten Tomatos

August 10, 2007

Waist Not, Want Not

Today Modish steered me in the direction of Louise Black, the designer of these cool-but-bizarre Victorian corsets.

Curious News

If you've seen Becoming Jane yet, you'll be intrigued to know that the young woman who plays Jane's namesake at the end of the film (actress Sophie Vavasseur), will also be starring as Little Nell in a forthcoming adaptation of Dicken's The Old Curiosity Shop. Toby Jones (a.k.a. Truman Capote) and Gina McKee (a.k.a. Irene Forsyte) also star.

August 9, 2007

Merry Janes

PBS has a cute and clever video promo for their upcoming Jane Austen extravanza. (They like to boast the fact that never before in TV history have all six Austen novels been broadcast as a complete collection.) We'll happily let them gloat.

August 7, 2007

Will Forrest Do Fahrenheit?

My friend Meg, who hates Tom Hanks, is sure to love this tidbit from Ain't It Cool News: Hanks is rumored to be playing the lead in an upcoming adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

August 2, 2007

Sopranos' Christopher to Star in Lovely Bones

His character on the Sopranos failed to make it in the movie biz, but actor Michael Imperioli has landed a role in Peter Jackson's adaptation of Lovely Bones. As Detective Len Fenerman, he'll star alongside Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, and Ryan Gosling. Filming begins in October. More here.

Prof Pens Guide to Understanding Adaptations

Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From Gone with the Wind to The Passion of the Christ by University of Delaware professor Tom Leitch tackles the problems faced when translating a book-to-film. “People often say that the movie was much different from the story on which it was based,” Leitch said. “The fact is that many moviegoers do not understand the problems involved in making a movie out of a book or any other work of literature” (emphasis mine). More here.