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!