July 28, 2010

BBC's New Show SHERLOCK, Episode 1

Sherlock and John

UPDATE: I loved the third episode. It was fantastic. Can't wait for more Sherlock.

Last night I watched the "A Study in Pink," the first episode of the new BBC/PBS show Sherlock from Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. The contemporary spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories stars Benedict Cumberpatch Cumberbatch (love the name) as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman (The Office, UK and Shawn of the Dead) as Dr. Watson. Apparently Matt Smith (Dr. Who) auditioned for the role of Watson, while Cumberpatch tried out for Dr. Who. We're lucky that didn't work out...

Nicotine patches and gratuitous texting are just some of the elements that transport the brilliant consulting detective into 21st century London. The casting and updated characters are compelling, but I didn't feel like the plot was fleshed out enough and a few elements were a bit gimmicky. I won't spoil anything, since it doesn't premiere in the U.S. until October and I'm reserving my full judgment until I see at least two more episodes. For now, my favorite contemporary Sherlock Holmes is still Bill Pullman in The Zero Effect. --Kim

July 24, 2010

Sumptuous TV Epics Are Back!

So says Friday's Wall Street Journal. From Camelot and cathedral building (with Matthew Macfadyen, no less!) to The Borgias and Scorsese's Boardwalk Empire, cable TV (namely Starz, Showtime and HBO) is stepping up its game with big budget, feature-film-worthy costume dramas. 

The trailer for HBO's Boardwalk Empire has me foaming at the mouth. One reason to look forward to Fall!

July 19, 2010

Beat the Reaper to the Movies

On Friday I read Josh Bazell's balls to the wall crime novel Beat the Reaper. It intertwines emergency room drama with mafia vengeance. It's also hilarious, gross, and about to be made into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

July 16, 2010

Upstairs, Downstairs Redux

Kim and I committed ourselves to watching the entire Upstairs, Downstairs series last year, and while we thought it was charming, we never got more than three episodes in.

Luckily, we'll get the Cliffs Notes next year on Masterpiece Classics when a new PBS/BBC co-production offers us another telling in three installments.

From a PBS press release earlier this year: "An enormous success worldwide, the original Upstairs Downstairs won seven Emmys during its run on MASTERPIECE THEATRE in the mid-1970s–including Best Actress for Jean Marsh, who will reprise her role in the new three-part series as Rose, the parlor maid. Dame Eileen Atkins, the co-creator of the original program, will also star. Screenwriter Heidi Thomas (Cranford) is setting the new Upstairs Downstairs in the same house at 165 Eaton Place in 1936, during the period leading up to World War II."

If you enjoyed the original series, you might enjoy seeing some of the cast reunite at this BAFTA awards tribute:

Duds on Display

LACMA's "Fashioning Fashion" costume exhibition opens October 2, featuring approximately 250 examples of fashionable dress and more than 300 accessories for men, women, and children dating from 1700 to 1915. I'm so excited about this someone may need to fetch the smelling salts.

Read this L.A. Times article for more info on the acquisition.

Hotel du Lac

Anita Brookner's novel Hotel Du Lac won the Booker prize in 1984, but to this 21st c. American it could easily have been published and/or set in the Edwardian era--the constricting manners and mores lend it an E.M. Forster feel. It's a dreamy tale about a romance novelist who is banished by her "friends" to a sleepy Swiss hotel where she observes various types of women and how they relate to men, while her own story is slowly revealed. The book was adapted as a televised play by the BBC in 1986.

Balls Out

Recently got to see the newly restored 1963 Italian film, Il Gatopardo, on the big screen. It stars Burt Lancaster, who is surprisingly terrific as movie's aging Sicilian patriarch, despite the fact that all of his lines are dubbed. I was sort of crushin' on him in this movie. Lucilla Morlacchi, as the young romantic love interest, is sheer fabulosity in a coy, over-acted way. Her heaving breasts were an entity unto themselves and ought to have earned an Oscar each.

The movie is epic in terms of scenery and cinematography, but the costumes are moltissimo bella, as they say.  The 45-minute ballroom scene might just be one of the best period-costume smorgasbords I've ever witnessed. It's worth Netflixing for the dance scene alone. Catch a glimpse here.

July 15, 2010

The Homes of Literary Icons

Graphic Designers Emma Straub and Michael Fusco have created a series of posters featuring the homes of Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Eward Gorey, and Flannery O'Connor. I just ordered the Poe poster.

Never Let Me Go and Howl Trailers

Good morning, James Franco! The AV Club accidentally premiered the Howl trailer early. It stars James Franco and you can watch it here. The adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go features Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley. After watching the trailer, I have a feeling it's going to be a three hankie film. --Kim