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.

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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