September 26, 2012

Wuthering Heights

As with "Downton Abbey," we Yanks have had to wait patiently for the U.S. release of Wuthering Heights, the latest film adaptation of Emily Bronte's achingly romantic masterpiece, directed by Andrea Arnold.

I first borrowed the novel from my classroom library in eighth grade, and because the copy was battered, and the cover was torn, my teacher let me keep the book after I'd read it. It was then and has remained one of my favorite novels of all time, despite the fact that Cathy and Heathcliff's love story is, well, certainly no fairy tale.

Adapting the book for film has proved a tough nut to crack, for a variety of reasons. Fans of the novel generally get a little aggro when it comes to depicting Heathcliff properly, and many film versions fail to get it right.

The last film version I watched was courtesy of Masterpiece Theater in 2009. Tom Hardy (whom I adore, but not necessarily for this role) played Heathcliff. Frankly, I'm not sure any actor can ever live up to my imagination, though Ralph Fiennes, Timothy Dalton and Laurence Olivier have all given it a shot. Still, I'm more-than-thrilled to keep watching new versions in the hopes that one might finally get it right. Could this one succeed? If you've already seen it, let us know!

September 25, 2012

Was Shakespeare A She?

No Sweat Shakespeare Blog has an interesting and succinctly written primer detailing which alternate candidates could (but probably don't) deserve credit for penning all those great plays, including one female candidate: Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke.

September 22, 2012

Shakespeare in Withnail & I

Richard E. Grant (as Withnail) memorably performs a monologue from Hamlet in the final scene of Withnail and I, but it occurred to me last night while re-watching this favorite flick that it's also inspired by Shakespeare's Henry IV. Marwood ("I") is Prince Hal, of course. Fans of the movie, did you think so, too? --Kim

September 20, 2012

Shakespeare Hits the Small Screen!

Kim and I aren't the only ones embracing modern adaptations of Shakespeare. TV execs apparently are, too! "America's Son" (which sounds, in a nutshell, like "Revenge" meets "Hamlet") is on deck at Fox, while ABC is cuing up a version of "West Side Story" (which is "Romeo and Juliet" re-told.) Here's the story from Cinema Blend.

September 19, 2012

Mia Wasikowska Between the Covers...Again!

With Joe Wright's Anna Karenina bound to leave us doleful about the plight of unhappy wives (here's an early review, by the way), adding a dose of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary next year is certain to leave brides-to-be second-guessing their paths to happily-ever-after. Nevertheless, following her film turns in Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland (2010) and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (2011), Wasikowska is the sort of book-loving beauty we're happy to root for at the box office.

September 18, 2012

Downton Update: Elizabeth McGovern Is a Rock Star

No, LITERALLY a rock star. Well, at least a star who rocks.
As the lead singer and songwriter of Sadie and the Hotheads, McGovern has created a kind of supercharged alter-ego, a private weekend hobby that has blossomed into a fully fledged album-producing and touring entity. (Guardian UK)
Another reason to love Lady Cora. 76 days, 5 hours, 51 minutes, and 34 second until the U.S. Downton Abbey Season 3 premiere. (Yes, there's actually a countdown clock for that.)

September 11, 2012

The Local Cinema: Soon to be a Book Lover's Paradise

 Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham

While summer blockbusters typically leave us cold, we're always ready to cozy up to fall and winter's more intellectual, Oscar-worthy fare. The upcoming releases include a spate of book-to-film adaptations, and here's a list of what's coming soon:

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (Joe Wright directs Keira Knightley and Jude Law) watch trailer

Charles Dickens' Great Expectations (Mike Newell directs Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes) watch trailer

David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (Tom Twyker and the Wachowski siblings direct Tom Hanks and Halle Berry) watch trailer

Orson Scott Card's scifi Ender's Game  (Gavin Hood directs Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Abigail Breslin)

Beautiful Creatures, an adaptation of the first book in Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's bestselling YA fantasy series, the Caster Chronicles (Richard LaGravanese directs Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, and Jeremy Irons)

William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon directs Amy Acker and Nathan Fillion)

Salmon Rushdie's Midnight's Children (Deepa Mehta directs Satya Babha and Shriya Saran) watch trailer

Lloyd Jone's Mr. Pip (Andrew Adamson directs Hugh Laurie and Eka Darville)

Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky directs Emma Watson and Paul Rudd) watch trailer

de Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons (Jin-ho Hur directs Ziyi Zhang and Dong-gun Jang) watch trailer

Matthew Quick's Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell directs Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper) watch trailer

Jack Kerouac's On The Road (Walter Salles directs Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund) watch trailer

Yann Martel's Life Of Pi (Ang Lee directs Suraj Sharma and Gerard Depardieu) watch trailer

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (Peter Jackson directs Benedict Cumberbatch and Elijah Wood) watch trailer

September 10, 2012

Coming Soon on Masterpiece Theatre: Ralph Lauren's Downton Abbey Ads

Care to guess who will be sponsoring PBS's Mastepiece this coming season? Rather than Exxon Mobile or a cruise line we'd never set foot on (if only travel by ship were as glamorous as it once was on the Titanic), it will be Ralph Lauren. "...On Sept. 30 they’ll start running ads during Upstairs Downstairs... and then the retailer will create specific ads for different series, including Downton Abbey," reports Bullet Media. --Kim

Casting Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures by Emma Straub

I can't wait to pick up a copy of Emma Straub's novel, Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures, at the author's Skylight Books reading this Wednesday. In the meantime, I couldn't resist playing casting agent for the title character, a fictional Academy Award winning movie star. Just reading the book's synopsis on Goodreads (which calls to mind everyone from Lauren Bacall to Marilyn Monroe) had me imagining a young Elizabeth Taylor (circa BUtterfield 8) in the role... but since that's obviously out of the question, how about Michelle Williams? And the director: Sofia Coppola, perhaps? Share your casting picks in the comments. --Kim

September 5, 2012

TV Time Warp Round-up

Considering it may be a while before time machines exist (not to mention have all the kinks worked out -- I'm none too keen on accidentally getting stuck in Cromwell's England or a pair of too-tight seventies' bell-bottoms), I'll more-than-happily make do with my television set. Fall is rife with kick-ass costume dramas. A rundown of what's in my DVR queue:

Boardwalk Empire: Nucky Thompson is a not-very-good guy who's also not-very-good-looking, and yet I find myself drawn to him with a fervent ardor and an ardent fervor. (The age-old Steve Buscemi conundrum). It's kinda, sorta "The Sopranos" but with bootleggers and flappers. (And if you're looking for eye candy, Michael Pitt's Jimmy Darmody more than makes up for what Buscemi lacks.)

Copper: Set in New York's Five Points during the Civil War era, the dreamy Tom Weston-Jones plays Detective (a.k.a. "Copper") Kevin Corcoran. The initial episodes felt a little more Sherlock Holmes-meets-C.S.I. than I expected, and while there were a few moments worthy of eye-rolling (saving the day on a nightmarishly fractured leg? Righhht), there are plenty of narrative layers to keep me tuning in.

Hell On Wheels: Laying railroad track is mind-numbing grunt work, but there's absolutely nothing boring about this show, which can be likened to "Deadwood"-on-the-move. Protagonist Mr. Bohanan (played by Anson Mount), is a ruggedly handsome troubled soul, the hero you can't always trust not to kill a guy or rob a train. Rapper Common does a seriously bang-up job as emancipated slave Elam Ferguson, whose love story with former prostitute, Eva, (pictured) is downright swoon-worthy.

Downton Abbey: Um, this goes without saying, of course. Anyone across the Pond gets to dive into the action this month. Sadly, we won't get to see it here in the States until January, so I'll just have to wait in agony to (I hope) see Mr. Bates freed from his wrongful incarceration. This season, Maggie Smith comes with a side of Shirley Maclaine. (Let the snarky mother-in-law smackdown begin!) Considering the real landed gentry of England began a gradual decline following the First World War, I can only hope this beloved show doesn't succumb to the same fate. But not too worried, really. The Bellamys of Upstairs, Downstairs made it through 68 episodes (the original lot, anyway)...surely, the Crawleys can compete with that.

Downton Abbey Season 3 Preview Trailer:

Watch Downton Abbey Season 3 Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

What other televised costume dramas should Kim and I be watching?