December 30, 2008


Xan Brooks argues that The Great Gatsby may be the great unfilmable novel of the 20th century (I know some of you agree with this assessment) and he's a tad ambivalent about whether Baz Luhrmann can make something of it. Brooks also asks a great question: Who would you cast as Jay Gatsby? (Read the article.)

Speaking of Fitzgerald, you probably heard that THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON is loosely based on a short story by F. Scott. Not knowing about the short story when I first saw the trailer, I immediately thought of Andrew Sean Greer's marvelous The Confessions of Max Tivoli and wondered if it was at all related. Here's the scoop from Greer.

Stephen Fry, aka Jeeves, (listen to his latest podcast, this one on language, here), is set to play Mr. Bennet in JANE AUSTEN HANDHELD. According to IMDB that project will "[re-tell] the story of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice through the lens of a fly-on-the-wall documentary crew."

December 29, 2008

Tivo Alert! Masterpiece Classics

What's the best thing about ringing in 2009? Knowing that PBS Masterpiece Classics are imminent!

The fun (well, I'll use that term lightly given that it's Thomas Hardy first up) starts on Sunday, January 4th for Part 1 of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I really loved the 1998 version starring Justine Waddell, so we'll see how this one measures up. Gemma Arterton and Eddie Redmayne star as Tess and Angel.

Check out a preview here.

January 18 kicks off Part 1 of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights! Woo-hoo! I don't think I've ever seen a decent adaptation of this novel. The actor playing Heathcliff might have been better cast in Tess: His name's Tom Hardy. Not too familiar with him, but based on this picture, I'm skeptical. Will reserve judgment and hope for the best. If this version fails, there's still a feature-film version supposedly in the works starring Abbie Cornish and Michael Fassbender.

I'm trying to finish Little Dorrit as we speak in order to be ready for the "Incomplete" Charles Dickens beginning in February!

December 10, 2008

RomTome Hall of Fame: The Thornbirds

This adaptation of Colleen McCullough's novel about forbidden love is an oldie, but goodie. Kim and I started re-watching it last night and were reduced to fits of laughter. Needless to say, not all of it withstands the test of time. Still, it's good stuff.

Classic Moments:

1) Every single completely inappropriate moment between Father Ralph deBricassart and young Meggie, including his setting her up in a bedroom right next to his, as well as this tormented line, "OH WHY DO YOU TUG SO AT MY HEART?!?" These scenes would not fly today. Watch the scene and you will laugh but simultaneously be creeped out.

2) Richard Chamberlain, buck naked, being hit on (and groped) by a white-haired Barbara Stanwyck. Watch the scene and you will laugh but simultaneously be creeped out.

Aside: I found this Richard Chamberlain quote about that scene:
Richard: We had this scene where Father Ralph comes to the big verandah at Drogeda in a huge rainstorm and there’s nobody around. He’s soaking wet and so he strips, there on the veranda thinking there’s nobody around. But, I’m standing there totally naked and um, Stanwyk comes out, she said a couple of lines and I said a couple of lines and she dried and she had never, ever had any trouble with her lines, ever before. And there was a shocked pause on everybody’s part and the kind of moment of silence and then she said ‘I’m sorry. It’s just been so long since I’ve stood next to a naked man.’ And I thought that was a really great compliment. And I thought, ‘oh, wow, I turned her on a little bit!’

3) The delicious overacting of John Friederich, who played Meggie's big brother, Frank. This guy made sure EVERY scene was his Emmy reel. Fabulous. There is lots of Oedipal stuff going on with this character and his martyr of a mom.

4) I have no beef with Sydney Penny, who played the young Meggie, but only want to point out that she went on to play Julia Santos on "All My Children" and Samantha Kelly on "The Bold & the Beautiful."

5) Father Ralph thinking that telling a story about a bird that IMPALES itself on a thorn bush is going to cheer up a sad little girl. Next time, stick with the Brothers Grimm, dude.

We will be savoring the movie in slow increments....stay tuned!

November 25, 2008

Counterpoint/Soft Skull Books that Would Make Great Movies, 2009 Edition

It's time once again for our annual review of the Winter 2009 catalog from Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press. We poured over the latest offerings from their always stimulating selections and the following are the books we think would make great reads and that we'd love to see as films one day. (Frankly, with a catalog this good, you'd be hard-pressed to find a book that wouldn't make a decent film adaptation.) --Kim

Sex, Death & Oysters
by Robb Walsh
Aside from the sex and death, Robb Walsh's non-fiction book about oysters might not seem at first glance a match made in movie heaven. But consider Charlie Kaufman's film Adaptation--which was an adaptation about trying to write a screenplay based on a Susan Orleans book about orchids--then get back to us.

Darwin's Garden by Michael Boulter
Johnny Depp was born to play the role of Charles Darwin. Imagine him in period costume puttering around the grounds at Down House, including the heated greenhouse where the father of evolution "conducted experiments on orchids and primulas" while having to deal with the ordinary sturm und drang of family life. Andrew Davies (Bleak House, etc.) would direct.

I Wouldn't Start from Here by Andrew Mueller
Last King of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald could probably handle the uber-tense moments brought on by clashing ideologies, landmines, and mercenaries in this non-fiction road trip ("it's like a Bond film but with much, much less sex"), but could he do it with a sense of humor? That we don't know... we do know that we're intrigued by this "gonzo recounting of disaster in the modern world."

Milk, Sulfate, and Alby Starvation by Martin Millar
Guy Ritchie? Alfonso Cuaron? Edgar Wright? Your guess is as good as ours, but more importantly, the Milk Marketing Board has taken out a contract on Brixtonite Alby Starvation's life and we want to know what happens next! Apparently Neil Gaiman is a fan of Martin Millar and List calls Milk... "a work of rare genius and truly cult."

November 18, 2008

New "Heights" for Masterpiece Theatre

Laura Linney will host the new season of Masterpiece Theatre Classics (Gillian Anderson hosted last season), which includes Wuthering Heights. Watch a video promo here. Other classics to be adapted in the upcoming season include Tess of the d'Ubervilles, Oliver Twist, and Little Dorrit, adapted by Andrew Davies and starring Matthew Mcfayden. --Kim

November 17, 2008

Confederacy of Dunces: The Curse

My husband came across this article recently after we wondered why John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces has never found its way to the big screen. The article's a few years old, but I assume there's still been no headway since. Let me know if you've heard differently.

Interesting stuff, anyway.

November 13, 2008

Tempest With a Twist

Helen Mirren will play the unfairly banished sorceress, Prospera, in a new film adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, which will be filmed in Hawaii and directed by Julie Taymor of Broadways The Lion King fame.

Here's the rest of the star-studded cast:
Jeremy Irons: Alonso, King of Naples
Chris Cooper: The sinister Antonio
Russell Brand: jester Trinculo
Alfred Molina: Stephano, the drunken butler
Ben Wishaw: Ariel (great choice)
Felicity Jones: Miranda
Djimon Hounsou: Caliban
Reeve Carney: Ferdinand, Miranda's love interest

November 12, 2008

The Incomplete Charles Dickens

Will the Jane Austen fans who flocked to PBS last winter/spring for "The Complete Jane Austen" tune in for "The Incomplete Charles Dickens?" Masterpiece Classic has yet to set the schedule for when they'll air the author's adaptations, but here's a preview of what they're planning for Little Dorrit, The Old Curiosity Shop, Oliver Twist and David Copperfield.

Also in 2009: Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D'Urbervilles!

Whereabouts: Matthew Goode

I never watch Masterpiece Contemporary (I'm sure it's wonderful, but to steal from Johnny Cochran, If there's no corset, you must acquit.) However, I might have to start watching now that I know Matthew Goode is the new announcer for the series. (Maybe I'll just watch the first five minutes.) I've bitched in the past about Russell Baker getting the axe...I'll stop complaining now.

Speaking of Masterpiece Theater vets, set your TiVo for November 23 for The Unseen Alistair Cooke, when the one-time host gets a "This is Your Life"-type special, posthumously.

Meet Bella

Read why Kristen Stewart almost didn't sign on to play Twilight's vampire-crushin' Bella in the Stephanie Meyers adaptation at Dark Horizons.

November 10, 2008

Camelot Redux

Showtime and the BBC are developing a contemporary series retelling of Camelot. The guys behind The Tudors will write and produce. I am destined to have tunes from the Lerner and Loewe musical in my head for the next 24 hours, at least.

Source: TV Week

November 7, 2008

He Knew He Was Right: Conclusion

Last night Kim and I finally got around to watching the last hour or so of Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right, as envisioned by Romancing the Tome patron saint, Andrew Davies. We have to say, in terms of his past masterpieces, this one was a bit of a letdown. (Can't win ’em all.)

We enjoyed the first part of the movie, but couldn't help but wonder if the production ran out of financing two-thirds of the way in. How else to explain why they didn't bother giving us a wedding scene when there were no less than three to choose from? It seems like they raced to tie up the storylines in very anticlimactic fashion. The dramatic injustice of Aunt Stanbury refusing to let her niece marry Matthew Goode (say it ain't so!) lasted all of five minutes before the dowager had a change of heart. The demise of the deranged Louis Trevellyan seemed to happen even more quickly. There was a good "I'm gonna stab you all through the heart with this kitchen knife" moment from one of the French sisters, but even that story arc ended with a fizzle.

We attempted to watch a bad documentary about Anthony Trollope included on the DVD which featured very amateur reenactments and a lead actor sporting an appalling fake beard. Eventually, we lost interest and were lured away by red velvet cake. So in the end, our movie-watching night was still a success.

November 6, 2008

Jack Black Joins "Swift" Boat Campaign

Jack Black (whom I saw last night at a Lakers game, incidentally) will play Lemuel Gulliver in a re-imagining of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, depicting the pilgrim as a free-spirited modern day travel writer who gets an assignment in the Bermuda Triangle. This sounds cute — he's one of those guys who can crack me up without saying a word. Regardless, anything has to be better than that wretched adaptation starring Ted Danson in the late ’90s.

November 5, 2008

Clint Does Clemens

I was just earlier this week thinking about how much I love Mark Twain and how I want to go back and read his classics. Now, I find out Clint Eastwood loves him, too! His new project is a biopic of the steamboat sailor-turned-author. Clint will play Twain in part of the movie, too.

By the way, if you've never seen it, check out Ken Burns' documentary about the's fantastic. I think it made me bawl, but then again, all of Ken Burns' movies do.

Want to help save "Becky Thatcher's" house in Hannibal, Missouri? Donate here.

November 4, 2008

What Would Dickens Do?

Today, NPR's morning edition drew parallels between our current economic angst and that of Charles Dickens' London. Listen to the story or read on a similar theme in the Telegraph.

Couldn't we all use a crazy patron like Miss Havisham right about now?

November 3, 2008

Welcome to Hell

Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to Electronic Arts' video game franchise, Dante's Inferno, based on the classic Divine Comedy. That'll be one creepy-ass film.

Source: Variety

October 29, 2008

Jane Austen Unscripted

Kim and I attended Jane Austen improv at Theater Asylum in Hollywood on Saturday night. I was a little skeptical to begin with, and while the first-five minutes or so seemed shaky at best, the production certainly turned to madcap frivolity. Thanks to the impromptu nature of the plot, every night's show tells a completely different story, starting with a theme suggested by the audience. The one we saw included three sisters of marrying age whose late mother died after spontaneously combusting. (Don't ask.) Remarkably, the players managed to keep an authentic Austen-esque narrative throughout and even wrapped up all the completely RANDOM loose ends into a happy ending of sorts.

The production runs through mid-November. Check it out if you're in L.A.!

October 27, 2008

Britches, Bonnets, Barouches, etc.

In "The Bonnets are Back," The Guardian's Sarah Dempster reviews the elements of a good period drama as BBC launches the new Andrew Davies miniseries Little Dorrit. --Kim

October 25, 2008

Whereabouts: Matthew McFadyen

Our second favorite incarnation of Mr. Darcy talks Dickens' Little Dorrit with the Guardian. I can't wait for it to air in the U.S.! Fifteen episodes!

October 23, 2008

He Knew He Was Right

Okay, so Kim and I only completed Disc One so far from this 2004 Andrew Davies adaptation of the Anthony Trollope Novel, but let me weigh in:

The movie is a veritable Who's Who of British actors, the problem being, Kim and I kept saying, "Who is that?" every five minutes, since we couldn't immediately place them. It made for a fun guessing game during the viewing. Then there was Matthew Goode, who effectively elicited our giddy screams when he appeared in his first scene. Charming. Lovable. Swoonworthy.

The movie is a fine amalgamation of over-the-top angst mixed with superficial silliness. Kim and I preferred the latter, specifically Dr. Who's William Tennant and his pathetic gambits for finding a wife with the equally annoying French sisters. We also loved the no-nonsense Priscilla Stanbury and her cranky-pants dowager aunt.

The annoying bit tended to be Louis "I know you're a tramp" Trevelyan and his "Whatchootalkinbout,willis?" wife, Emily. Too bad "Cheaters" wasn't around when Louis needed some surveillance done. Instead, he relied on a not very reliable Mr. Bozzle to keep tabs on his missus to make sure she wasn't testing the feather bed with her godfather (played to deliciously skeevy effect by Bill Nighy.)

As an aside: We hated the "What?/There, I did it!" asides that all the characters periodically pulled with the camera. When will directors realize this is a totally lame gimmick?

More to come...

October 20, 2008

Last Week for Contest: Cast New 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

We're giving away the Breakfast at Tiffany's Special Anniversary Collection DVD to the person who submits our favorite suggestion for a modern day version of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Get the details here. --Kim

Cary Grant's Money Pit

Finally getting a chance to post about our viewing last week of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. What a treasure! This was appreciated after our previous movie night featuring A New Kind of Love, which even though it starred the incredibly handsome Paul Newman (and was, strangely, nominated for 2 Oscars and a Golden Globe), kinda sorta made our eyes bleed.

Ad exec Cary Grant (titular Mr. Blanding) is supporting his devoted, yet materialistic wife and 2.5 precocious children, plus a stereotypical maid (it's 1948), on $15,000 a year, but living in your typical shoebox New York apartment. His wife wants to pay a decorator to redesign the apartment, but Grant has a better idea: Why not buy an historic fixer-upper in the suburbs? Starry eyed over a shared vision of their dream house, the Blandings are easily hoodwinked into purchasing a lemon that they can't afford (how apropos!). Their wiseacre friend, played by Melvyn Douglas adds a wry touch as do some of the local yocals.

Who cares if seven years later Jim and Muriel Blandings metamorphose into Frank and April Wheeler from Revolutionary Road, in this movie the American dream is still a wonderful thing. --Kim

October 6, 2008

Leo and Kate Reunited in 'Revolutionary Road'

Amy and I watched the trailer for the Sam Mendes film adaptation of Richard Yates' incredible novel Revolutionary Road, which I found "intoxicating" and "remarkable" when I read it in '06. As we've reported previously, the film reunites Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet. The trailer sets the mood, the casting seems to work, and the era is all the rage, thanks to Mad Men. I'm really looking forward to seeing this film, but I know someone who is probably even more anxious to see it than I. (Hint: She likes tomatoes, but not Tom Hanks.) --Kim

Reader Challenge: Cast Breakfast at Tiffany's

From the mail bag: Romancing the Tome reader Peter G. needs help casting his fantasy project: an updated "darker" and "grittier" Breakfast at Tiffany's--one more like the original Truman Capote novel. Peter imagines Brad Pitt for the role played by George Peppard, Ann Margret for Patricia Neal's role, and Billy Bob Thornton taking the Buddy Epsen role. He adds that "The Henry Mancini soundtrack at the various parties could be substituted for new up and coming bands."

Of the young actresses working today, I adore Amy Adams (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) AND she can sing.... But the part of Holly Golightly calls for someone with just the right balance of naivete and insouciance. Perhaps Natalie Portman or Scarlett Johannson?

Now If Peter wanted to go the nostalgic route instead of gritty, Wes Anderson would probably do an amazing job. It's been a while since the American Express commercial and all he's got going on right now is an animated flick. Maybe he'd give Ryan Gosling a shot at the George Peppard role....

Readers, what do you think? Our favorite answer wins the Breakfast at Tiffany's Special Anniversary Collection DVD. You can post it in the comments or send me an email at kim at kimsaid dot com.

October 1, 2008

The Duchess: Come and Knock on our Door

"Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

Ironic that those were the words Princess Diana used to describe her marriage to Charles, when in fact, her 18th century ancestor, Georgiana Spencer, had the same damn problem!

While watching "The Duchess" last night, I couldn't help but think of the 1970s sitcom, "Three's Company," which aptly paralleled the film.

Ralph Fiennes, as the Duke, would be Jack Tripper, who spent his time stumbling over his words, as opposed to falling over sofas. He had some serious control issues, partly because try as he might, he really didn't have much couth with the ladies. I don't think his much-coddled dogs were "Regal Beagles," but they were close.

Kiera Knightley, as the Duchess, would be Cindy/Chrissy, the charismatic beauty with crazy coiffures whom all the fellows love. She was given to dimwitted mishaps like knocking her hair into flaming candelabra and having serious "blonde moments": Whoops! I married a cruel and callous a--hole!

That leaves Hayley Atwell, the Duke's mistress and the Duchess's BFF, as Janet. She's the brunette, no-nonsense one. (Last night Kim and I kept thinking "What else has she been in?" This morning I googled her: Brideshead Revisted's Julia! Duh!)

They all live together in one house and HILARIOUS (okay, maybe not) drama ensues. And yes, just as Mr. Roeper thought there might be some funny business happening in that apartment, the two girls were borderline bi-curious it seems.

Who would be crazy neighbor, Larry, you ask? Not sure. Perhaps, Keira's eyebrows, which seemed to embody a life of their own in this film, not to be overpowered by her tremendous wigs and hats.

The movie was cliche-ridden: the trepidatious deflowering of a virgin; the abhorrent husband demanding a male heir, not deigning to glance at his daughter when it's born; lots of shots of Keira walking down halls -- with a fierce purpose -- her dress train swishing the floor behind her; an imposing, over-the-top score accompanying every "dramatic" kissing scene; much wailing and gnashing of teeth during a baby hand-off moment. It was a bit much, even for Kim and I who happen to eat that melodrama up with a spoon.

Still, the costumes, sets, etc. and the soap-opera caliber storyline made it definitely worth our while. For anyone who gets caught up in the "Oh, I wish I lived two centuries ago and could find my Mr. Darcy" fantasy world, this movie will snap you back to reality. Fabulous estate aside, marriages back then weren't so great. But if you, the Mr. and his mistress can all just learn to get along, well, three's company, too!

September 30, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole

Check out some pictures from the set of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." I love the Victorian costumes! That's relative newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice, by the way. Burton's better half, Helena Bonham Carter, is supposedly in the movie, too. She'd make a killer Queen of Hearts, if that's who she's playing. I'm reading that the film's going to start out live action then switch to CGI once Alice lands in Wonderland (presumably the animals, etc.) As we reported below, Johnny Depp will play the Mad Hatter.

September 29, 2008

A Modern Day (British) deTocqueville

Stephen Fry visited the 50 states (driving a black London cab) for a book and television series, which will air in England in October.

Here's an excerpt

The overwhelming majority of Americans I met on my journey were kind, courteous, honourable and hospitable beyond expectation. Such striking levels of warmth, politeness and consideration were encountered not just in those I was meeting for on-camera interview, they were to be found in the ordinary Americans I met in the filling-stations, restaurants, hotels and shops too.

Read more here and check out Stephen's blog!

Also, if you've never seen him play Mybug in the 1995 adaptation of Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm, you're missing a real treat. Add it to your Netflix queue!

The Better the Book, The Worse the Film?

That's the conclusion this L.A. Times article comes to, anyway.

September 27, 2008

'It's all on account of the war'

Christopher Hitchens on Brideshead Revisited the novel and the newish adaptation in The Guardian.

September 25, 2008

Higgins Hottie Showdown

Brad Pitt and George Clooney both want to play Professor Henry Higgins to Keira Knightley's Eliza Doolittle in a new adaptation of My Fair Lady. Oh my God! This is like Sophie's Choice!!!!

What's your vote? I'm gonna have to go with Clooney.

Lit Lover's Ephemera

For the Romancing the Tome reader who has everything:
Felted Soft-Collar Duchess
Soldiers Egg Cup
Vintage Typewriter Keys Necklace

Cajun Queen

Disney Animation will release "The Princess & the Frog" next Christmas. Oprah Winfrey will reportedly lend her voice to the lineup, which will feature Disney's first ever African-American princess. I'm digging the setting: New Orleans' French Quarter during the Jazz Age!

Welcome Back...

For those of you fortunate enough to be on your way to Versailles anytime soon, The Petit Trianon is open again for business!

From the Associate Press:
The Petit Trianon, the mini-chateau at Versailles that French queen Marie Antoinette used as her refuge, reopened Wednesday after a yearlong, $7.34-million renovation funded by Swiss watchmaker Breguet, which once made a timepiece for the queen.

Among other improvements, electric wiring was fixed, more rooms were opened to the public, and a garden pavilion was refurbished.

Curators said they wanted to avoid a stuffy museum feel and instead sought to make it seem as though the 18th century French queen and her entourage had just stepped away for a moment.

September 24, 2008

Depp Goes Nutso for 'Mad Hatter'

Johnny Depp is set to star in yet another Tim Burton flick--this time it's a live-action/cg-animated version of the classic Alice In Wonderland. Our scruffy friend will play the eerie Mad Hatter in the Disney production. More here.

Jeeves & Wooster

Last night Kim and I watched the first three episodes of the P.G. Wodehouse series and loved it. Hugh Laurie and Stephen Frye are adorable. We both agree that we would love a shrewd and discerning valet to draw our baths, serve us breakfast in bed, tactfully let us know when our wardrobe choices are abominable and generally keep us from bungling social conundrums. Also, we wish that, like Bertie, we could "think about" working, but not actually have to work. Here's a highlight from last night's viewing:

September 23, 2008

The Most Godawful Movie Ever?

I love Shakespeare, and I love Bollywood...(I actually take Bollywood dance classes). So you'd think melding the two would send me into fits of rapture. Not so, after reading this Guardian review of The Last Lear. Too bad. Guess I'll have to stick with Bride & Prejudice.

Don't Call Me Ishmael

A new adaptation of Melville's tome, Moby Dick, will take Ishmael's narration out of the picture and make Ahab "more charismatic." Is nothing sacred?

See full story in Variety

September 22, 2008

Brideshead Lingering

"Enough with the Brideshead Revisited!" I hear you all screaming. But really, since the film doesn't open in the UK until October 3, I say that gives me carte blanche to continue blogging about it...especially when I read this delightful interview in The Guardian with Matthew Goode where he talks about his manly bits and makes fun of celebrities who attend award ceremonies when they're not even nominated.

Plus, well, he's just a looker, isn't he?

September 15, 2008

Lifetime's Coco Chanel

Having my interest stirred at the news that Audrey Tatou would soon play Coco Chanel in a feature film, I thought I'd whet my appetite this weekend and watch the heavily promoted Lifetime version of the designer's life, featuring Shirley MacLaine as Coco in her later (more grumpy) years. Frankly, all the Shirley stuff bored me. Her complete lack of an accent threw me off and they kind of lost me with the Scarlett O'Hara/Maria Von Trapp (take down the curtains!) scene. Luckily, MacLaine's scenes were only a fraction of the overall movie.

Otherwise, I give Lifetime some modicum of credit for bringing a costume-film to their network, even if it was apparent they were working with a limited budget. (So much more interesting than that "She Fought Alone" crap they normally do.) I actually didn't mind Barbora Bobulova as the younger Coco, and although some of the love scenes bordered on Velveeta and the signature "bob" seemed wrong--It made her look like Kate Jackson circa Charlie's Angels or the main chick from Saturday Night Fever-- I couldn't take my eyes off her fabulous attire, including those hats. Oh my God! Those hats!

In summation: I'd say catch it in repeats when you can (God knows they'll air the hell out of it) just to see the hats.

September 12, 2008

Once More With Feeling: I, Claudius

First the epic Brideshead Revisited miniseries gets a facelift. Now, the same thing's happening to the 1976 Masterpiece Theater classic, I, Claudius. (Which I never watched, incidentally, because I was two at the time...but my aunt has raved about it.) Relativity Media and director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father) are giving the Robert Graves book a new adaptation to highlight the stuttering, handicapped Roman emperor and his ilk. Based on the production value of the BBC version (see photo, exhibit A), I'm thinking an update is long overdue. But for those of you who've seen the 10-part series, is this news welcome or woeful?

See full story from The Hollywood Reporter

September 10, 2008

"Elephant" Flies

Sara Gruen's "Water For Elephants" spurred a bidding war, with Fox 2000 taking home rights. Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) is said to have signed on to direct. I'm a little stumped on who they should cast, but we'll keep you posted.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Proust Questionnaire as Answered by Jane Austen

How might Jane answer the Proust Questionnaire?

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.

What is your greatest fear?
The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love.

What historical figure do you most identify with?
We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.

Which living person do you most admire?
My sister Cassandra.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.

What is the trait you most despise in others?
Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.

What is your greatest extravagance?
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?

On what occasion do you lie?
Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain for the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.

Which living person do you most despise?
The Prince Regent

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Love" and "money"

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What wild imaginations one forms where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Nobody who has not been in the interior of a family can say what the difficulties of any individual of that family may be. It is better that way.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My darling child, Pride and Prejudice.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A single man in possession of a good fortune.

Who are your favorite writers?
Samuel Richardson, Cowper, Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
The girls... still prefer Don Juan; and I must say that I have seen nobody on the stage who has been a more interesting character than that compound of cruelty and lust.

What is your most treasured possession?
If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.

Where would you like to live?
Anywhere but Bath.

What is your most marked characteristic?
My height.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
General benevolence, but not general friendship, made a man what he ought to be.

What is your greatest regret?
There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.

If there is a Heaven what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?
I would not presume to put words in God's mouth, but perhaps "You have delighted them long enough."

(Inspired by Lux Lotus)

September 5, 2008

Darwin Biopic Planned

Real-life married couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly will play Mr. and Mrs. Charles Darwin in "Creation," a movie about the evolutionary revolutionary and his uber-religious missus. Jeremy Northam, Toby Jones and Benedict Cumberbatch also factor in.

September 4, 2008

Director Talks "Duchess"

Video: Saul Dibb, director of Keira Knightley in The Duchess, discusses with the Guardian his hopes and fears for the movie. The intro clip from the movie looks extremely promising!

There are more video clips of the actors from the premiere discussing their experiences on the set and the celebrity culture of the 18th century.

del Toro Goes Canon Crazy

According to Variety, Guillermo del Toro is apparently going to keep this blog in business for the forseeable future, what with the slew of literary adaptations he's hankering to make, including Tolkien's The Hobbit,Dan Simmons' Drood (supposing what might have prompted Charles Dickens to write The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, among others.

September 3, 2008

The Return of Movie Night!

Several years of living in separate cities brought a sad demise to the weekly "movie night" that Kim and I used to delight in, complete with ever-changing varietals of red wine and dark chocolate (usually feasted on in lieu of actual dinner because Kim had no cooking implements whatsoever in her apartment). As a result, the "film review" aspect of our blog has suffered considerably in recent years, what with our involvement with men who, though supportive, would rather not be the only dude sitting in a theater for the latest Joe Wright/Andrew Davies costume-drama-palooza.

But like Jane Eyre's eventual return to Thornfield Hall, Kim has moved back to the City of Angels, thus sparking the joyous recommencement of the official Romancing The Tome movie night.

Expect a slew of new posts on adaptations, some old-standbys and others more obscure. As we ready the Netflix queue for our endeavors, we've got a list that stretches for miles of films we can't wait to watch or re-watch. Got any suggestions for movies we MUST add to the list? By all means, drop us a line!

Coming soon: Jeeves and Wooster Season 1, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. I'm told it's fairly epic.

September 2, 2008

Regretting the War of Independence

Had the American colonies not revolted from the Motherland, would we Yanks get to watch BBC1's new production of Tess of the D'Urbervilles this month along with everybody else? I hate having to wait!!!

This is probably my favorite Thomas Hardy novel, and based on the preview, it looks like it won't disappoint. Hans Matheson looks fetching indeed, even if he is the baddie. If anyone can figure out when PBS will see fit to air it here, please let us know!

Here's an article from the Guardian about a 17-year-old arsonist destroying the film's priceless period costumes. He should be flogged soundly.

September 1, 2008

Austen Gets the Frankenstein Treatment?

From the Telegraph:

The questing pioneers at ITV's programming laboratory have noted that both Pride and Prejudice and Life on Mars are popular with the public, and decided to fuse the two, to form one bold, innovative, and utterly preposterous new whole.

The premise of Lost in Austen is that a young woman from present-day London suddenly finds herself travelling back in time to the early 19th century, where she becomes a character in Pride and Prejudice. (Read the rest of the article.)


August 27, 2008

Inspired Casting

Audrey Tatou to play Coco Chanel. ’nuff said.

Robbie Burns Gets "Thriller" Treatment?

What happens when you mix Michael Jackson and beloved Scottish poet Robert Burns? I don't know, but it's bound to be good. And yet, there are no plans to release an album?

See story, from the Guardian.

August 26, 2008

Recommended Blog

I'm currently into the Art Deco aesthetic (who ISN'T these days?), which is why I just fell in love with this blog dedicated to all kinds of Art Deco gorgeousness...check it out.

August 22, 2008

Garai Lightens Up

This Guardian interview with Romola Garai makes her sound so much more likeble than the last interview we pointed out, in which she grumbled about doing period films and dissed, (deservedly so, but still) Dirty Dancing II. I take back everything I said about her in my last post. I daresay I would go to tea with her! And I'm actually intrigued by her new film, Angel, which is supposed to be a satirical homage to over-the-top costume dramas. Here's the nifty trailer.

McAvoy Explores Gnome Love

James McAvoy and Emily Blunt will voice star-crossed lovers in "Gnomeo and Juliet" for Miramax. Kate Winslet and Ewan MacGregor were originally attached to the project, as we first reported, but it apparently didn't pan out. Described as a "loose and edgy" adaptation of Shakespeare's play, the film depicts McAvoy and Blunt as would be gnome lovers from rival gardens. I'm scared off by the fact that Elton John will contribute several songs. He lost me after the Lion King and ripping off his "Candle in the Wind" song for Lady Di.

August 18, 2008

Brideshead Revisited: The Conversion

Okay, we all remember how bored to tears I was watching Jeremy Irons for what seemed like 37 hours in the original Brideshead Revisited miniseries. After the backlash my negative comments incited on this blog, I approached the recent release of the feature film version of Evelyn Waugh's novel with apprehension and anxiety. Would I hate it as much as the miniseries? Could I bear to sit through even two hours for the sake of reveling in the costumes and scenery? Would I silently seethe and dream about attacking Aloysious with a sturdy set of garden shears?

To prevent the aforementioned, I decided to actually read the novel in the hopes that it might offer up some mitigating insight that could let me enjoy the film. Am pleased to report that it most certainly did! I don't know whether I'm in a more receptive place in my life, but this time around, the story resonated with me. I found it sweet and funny and sad and telling, and I'm pretty sure I read the book faster than the viewing time of that original miniseries.

With that under my belt, I very much looked forward to seeing another adaptation of the movie, and despite some liberties taken to successfully cram the tale into the more palatable two hours, the movie did not disappoint. Lady Marchmain was so much more relatable to me this time around for a variety of reasons (well done, Emma!) and Matthew Goode was a serious sight for sore eyes. I had some problems: I missed the days on the oceanliner when Charles and Julia had the boat to themselves while everyone else was seasick...I couldn't understand why they needed to throw in the "I'll sell her for some paintings" part...And shock of all shocks, I found that this film's Sebastian (Ben Whishaw) didn't measure up to the miniseries' Anthony Andrews.

Best of all, as expected, were the clothes. Here's what I covet:

Julia's white coat from the ocean voyage
Julia's cute bathing suit
Julia's sweater/dress when her father died
Julia's Art Deco tiara at her coming out
Lady Marchmain's fur-trimmed blue coat
Any of the cloche hats
Any of Lady Marchmain's jewels
Julia's sparkly bobby pins in Venice

All in all, watching the film (and enjoying it, for the most part) is a perfect example of how, sometimes, reading the novel first makes all the difference. Now that I've been baptized into the world of Bridehead, I might even go back and rewatch the original miniseries. Maybe not soon...but someday. (Like Sebastian's father, I came around in the end.)

August 7, 2008

"Road" Warriors

USA Today has new photos from the Cormac McCarthy adaptation, The Road. You will barely recognize Viggo Mortensen. I highly recommond the book, if you can handle the heartbreak of it all.

August 6, 2008

How To Be a "U"

Reading about the new MTV show "From Gs to Gents" I couldn't help but think about Nancy Mitford's instructions for being "U" (upper class) or "non-U" in her satirical guidebook, "Noblesse Oblige." Many of her rules were a matter of linguistics and vocabulary, for example:

non-U: take a bath
U: have a bath

non-U: dentures
U: false teeth

non-U: mirror
U: lookinglass

non-U: serviette
U: table-napkin

non-U: glasses
U: spectacles

non-U: perfume
U: scent

non-U: radio
U: wireless

In looking up more examples, I came across this article on updated rules from UK etiquette expert, Mary Killen. A few examples:

-- At the grocery store, use a basket, never a cart
-- Never eat between meals. Stick to breakfast, lunch and dinner only
-- Say that butter is "off," not "rancid"

I'm pretty sure I'm a hopeless case, but I can pretend. Let's put it this way: I'm hosting a dinner party this weekend entitled "French Laundrymat" as opposed to "French Laundry." I think I'll go have a bath now.

August 5, 2008

Obama...the new "Mr Darcy?"

It sounds like a stretch, I know, but the arguments in this N.Y. Times article are as well-made as they are hilarious. Thanks, again, to Jen for the head's up.

August 1, 2008

Firth Goes Wilde

Colin Firth has signed on to the adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, playing Lord Henry Wotton, the aristocrat who corrupts Dorian (Ben Barnes), as he descends into a hedonistic lifestyle. Filming began this week.

Firth also recently completed the motion-capture adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

July 31, 2008

Pyramid Scheme

Queen of de Nile, Nefertiti, is heading to the silver screen in the adaptation of Robert Zacco's "The Arms of the Sun." The film will be shot in Morocco and Dubai. Sounds like it could be cool. I'm wondering who they'll cast to play her. What's Angelina's schedule like these days? Or Jessica Alba?
Source: Hollywood Reporter