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Entries in Adaptations (104)

Friday
Sep052014

Review: The Two Faces of January

Michael Cusumano here to review the latest stylistic throwback based on the writing of Patricia Highsmith.

When people gripe “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” films like Hossein Amini’s The Two Faces of January are the kind of movie they mean. It’s adapted from the work of an acclaimed novelist whose books were the source of such beloved films as The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train. It features big stars in sumptuous foreign locales. It is made with a careful attention to detail. It doesn’t dumb things down or clutter the plot up with needless action. It is fair to say I was primed to love this movie, yet it never quite jolts to life. At some point my investment in the story passed from suspense to impatience. It never went so far as indifference, but I was pretty far from the edge of my seat. Rather, I was leaned back in my chair, head in my hand, thinking what a classy job everyone involved was doing and admiring the sumptuous visuals and thinking how this was going to end up being one of those reviews that used the word “sumptuous” a lot.

The key problem is that foreign intrigue of the Hitchcock variety requires storytelling that stays a few steps ahead of the audience, and it's easy to keep leaping ahead of January’s characters. Far too much time is spent with characters sitting in cafés, smoking, drinking, and eyeing each other suspiciously, when they should be trying to have sex with or murder one another, preferably both. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep032014

Back to School. Tips from "Matilda"

Hello all, Margaret here celebrating another day of "back to school" week. I'm sure there are plenty mourning the end of their summer, but I know I can't be the only one who feels a thrill of excitement every time September rolls around. Even if you're past your school years, doesn't the arrival of autumn get you itching to pick up some clean blank notebooks and a fresh set of pencils? Perhaps that attitude is why Matilda (both of the 1996 Danny DeVito film and the classic Roald Dahl novel on which it's based) has always been a personal hero.

Matilda Wormwood was a girl genius, and even though she had execrable crooks for parents and was subject to outrageous familial neglect, she didn't let that get her down. In or out of school, there is a lot we can learn from Matilda.

Keep yourself sharp. Left to her own devices from a tender age, Matilda didn't take that as an excuse to let her mind idle. She charged on down to the local library, and had read every book in the place by her sixth birthday.

Negotiate creatively. When her parents denied her requests to enroll in school because they'd rather have her at home to sign for UPS packages, Matilda was undeterred. She mixed in a little bleach in with their hair tonic and engaged in a little telekinetic TV exploding, and she was in kindergarten in no time.

Don't be afraid to be smart So what if her class was only on the two times tables? If you can multiply 13 by 379 in your head, sing out!

Develop a signature look. When Matilda decided somewhere around age four that the hair ribbon worked for her, she stuck with it.

Stay away from school principals who favor military jackets and knee shorts. This one should speak for itself.

Keep these tips in mind and you should be able to navigate back-to-school season (or the post-Labor Day work week) with style.

Now, who else out there was a school-loving Matilda type? Reveal yourselves!

Tuesday
Aug262014

Lukewarm Off Presses: "Chef" Again, Lord Attenborough, Joan Allen, and Movie-to-TV Series

Four interesting tidbits coming atcha that we neglected to discuss for multiple reasons. If you hadn't yet heard them, they'll feel like brand new news to you.

In what is clearly understood to be an awards-traction move, Jon Favreau's sleeper hit Chef will be coming back to theaters this Friday in wide release. I'm not sure it has the critical oomph to win any nominations and it didn't have the box office size to make that a non-issue (a la gargantuan hits like My Big Fat Greek Wedding) but could it sleeper hit its way into, say, The Screenplay race? I'm realizing I neglected to consider it at all there which is an obvious mistake. I had a really good time watching it with friends though; it's an easy sit and safe for diverse groups of viewers. My favorite visual was ScarJo eating a bowl of pasta but my least favorite visual was being asked to believe that vivid ScarJo and sexy Sofia Vergara would be a good sexual match for mopey Jon Favreau. These men and their self-serving onscreen fantasies!

Vanity Fair remembers Lord Richard Attenborough (1923-2014), actor turned Oscar winning director. I apologize profusely they we didn't honor him with an RIP here. This week was rough offblog. I'll remember him best as the director of Gandhi (1982) a very good biopic (as I remember it) that was unfortunately tarnished by being crazy over-rewarded by the biopic-obsessed Academy and had the misfortune to win in a strong year too what with Tootsie and E.T. and Victor/Victoria and Blade Runner all knocking about the cinemas and arguably moving on towards 'timeless classic' status. (Gandhi even took Costume Design)  Reportedly Shadowlands (1993), a biopic of C.S. Lewis with Anthony Hopkins & Debra Winger (Oscar-nominated) was his favorite of his own films. I liked that one too at the time. Notice how I'm ignoring the elephant in the room (A Chorus Line)

TV has a long history of attempting series versions of hit movies. Sometimes they're wildly popular (see M*A*S*H), occassionally they develop rabid fanbases but don't quite become big hits (Bates Motel, Hannibal currently) but most of the time they're quickly forgotten (Working Girl, anyone?) and cancelled. As you have probably heard Steven Spielberg is producing a series based on Minority Report even though there's been a show stealing that stop future crime premise for some time now (Person of Interest) and how you gonna function without Samantha Morton's pre-cog eeriness? Martin Scorsese is developing a Shutter Island TV Show for HBO which sounds like a strange idea in an ongoing format unless they go anthology with it and tell different crazy people stories as they come to grips or lose their grip of reality altogether OR they make it about the doctors and play-actors creating these worlds for the crazy prisoners, you know? And there's also a series coming based on that campy 90s hit Devil's Advocate which originally starred Keanu & Charlize as young marrieds and Al Pacino as The Devil. I have to tell you that all three of these sound like T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E ideas to me. Agree or disagree?

...and a tardy Yes No Maybe So extra

We don't do every trailer but I'd feel remiss if we continued to ignore the fact that Joan Allen, who disappeared so completely and who we've missed terribly, has a new movie coming out. The Stephen King adaptation A Good Marriage. Spoilers direct from the trailer in this Yes No Maybe So...

Yes - Joan Allen in a leading role again. It's been since, what, Upside of Anger (2005) for which she should've easily copped the Oscar (and she wasn't even nominated -oh the humanity). And the premise will certainly give her emotional scenery to chomp on. 
No - So the trailer basically tells you what's going to happen: she finds out her husband is a serial killer and then she tries to rescue one of the intended victims and things get scary. So if we're looking for good scares and suspense we won't get that here since we know what will happen.
Maybe So - Stephen King adaptations have been instant classics (Carrie) and absolute garbage and every gradation inbetween so who knows. I'm not familiar with director Peter Askin's work (Company Man, Certainty, Trumbo) beyond the filmed version of John Leguizamo's stage show Spic-o-Rama. Anyone?

Monday
Aug182014

Coming Soon? More from the Author of "Gone Girl"

On a trip to Los Angeles last year I met longtime reader Margaret de Larios who, as it turns out, turned our own Anne Marie of "A Year With Kate" fame on to the blog originally. Margaret wanted to sound off on a topic I was very intrigued by so here she is to talk about the mysteriously silent upcoming movie "Dark Places". Say hello! - Editor


In just under two months, Gone Girl will likely be taking cineplexes by storm. The movie's marketing team is not of a mind to let us forget it, slowly rolling out new posters and trailers as well as sending David Fincher out to stoke internet buzz by playing coy about a possible new ending.

But what about the other Gillian Flynn movie, Dark Places?

Because there is another Gillian Flynn movie. And a TV series in development. And a project with HBO. And an original screenplay. And two new impending novels. Gillian Flynn is about to be everywhere and I, for one, plan to welcome our new thriller overlord.  Her work is creepy and uncomfortable and gripping in the best way. It also, significantly, happens to feature a wealth of meaty, nasty female roles. This could portend some long-needed mitigation of the True Detective Problem (or the Hannibal problem or the Breaking Bad problem or the-- well, you get the gist) and be a boon to lovers of actressing everywhere... as long as we finally get to see them produced.

Gone Girl is in the bag and Flynn's every development deal makes news, so whither Dark Places with Charlize Theron? [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug152014

Review: The Giver

Hey, folks. Michael Cusumano here fresh from having Jeff Bridges impart the wonders of humanity directly into my brain.

It’s an amusing irony that Phillip Noyce’s film of Lois Lowry’s beloved middle-school staple The Giver feels like an afterthought following the recent glut of Young Adult adaptations. It was Lowry’s vision of dystopia which helped launch the army of teenage Chosen Ones currently clogging multiplexes nationwide. Now, not only is The Giver late to the party, but the richly imagined worlds of Lowry’s literary descendants have left her story feeling undercooked. I can’t imagine teenage audiences who have spent the past few years steeped in the sprawling, detailed insanity of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books will be rapt with attention watching Jeff Bridges shambling around his library, triggering the occasional lame stock footage montage meant to portray humanity in all its myriad wonders.

Noyce’s film version might have had a fighting shot if it had tapped into the elemental power of the story’s spare allegory, but alas, even with a plotline of this simplicity, The Giver can’t make the pieces fit. The logic begins to fall apart right from the opening narration. We are told that this is a society where all the highs and lows of humanity have been wiped away and people live in a serene state of medicated blankness. Everyone strolls around grinning like they lost a fight with a body snatcher. We meet our hero Jonas (Brenton Thwaites, a monument to blandness) on the day of the great Ceremony where he and his two equally personality-free friends are to receive their lifetime job assignments. Yet no sooner does the narration tell us that this world is free from competition and envy than we hear the trio chatting about how they hope they get a great job, crossing their fingers that they don’t get put on the janitorial staff. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t this indicate that they are A) competitive and B) envious.

Get used to this confusion...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug152014

Nicole's Return. The Dates Are Ever Changing.

When will our beloved Kidman return to us? For someone who works so consistently, doesn't it seem like it's hard to find Nicole Kidman in a movie theater? Grace of Monaco keeps threatening to arrive but never does leaving us to wonder if it will ever play in regular movie theaters after its shaming at Cannes (that place can be brutal). Any big dreams for the quality of Paddington (it comes from charming source material at least) her Christmas film, have been dashed by that hateful slapstick trailer and Colin Firth's exit as the voice. The wait is soon over though. For those of you who missed The Railway Man in theaters, it's just out on DVD and Blu-Ray. [Warning: Nicole's part is small enough that when the climax arrives, she's literally a blurry figure in the background.]

 

Next up though is the thriller Before I Go To Sleep which has a new poster (above) and a new release date: Halloween to be exact. Let's just hope it's better than The Invasion or Trespass. (It's apparently really hard to make a good thriller post-Hitchcock because not that many filmmakers are skilled at making them.)

After that picture all us Kidmaniacs will wait again for her other completed films to play the release date shell game. Most promising by far is Werner Herzog's Gertrud Bell biopic Queen of the Desert both because Herzog is an amazing director (another feather in Kidman's auteur-fetish cap!) and because the role is big and central. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Queen of the Desert is doing the fall festival circuit so maybe they're waiting until 2015?

CAST THIS!
This is one of those stories that was so obviously a Film Experience type of story that I pretended to myself that I'd already covered it on the blog. Like those dreams you have where you already went to class or work so there's no need to jump up and go when you wake up! Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are now attached to the film adaptation of Liane Moriarty's comic best seller Big Little Lies about a group of three mothers whose kids are in the same Kindergarten class in a beautiful Australian seaside town (with secrets, natch). A sprained ankle sets off a series of events which eventually leads to a school riot and a murder. There are three major characters (and apparently a lot of broadly drawn but possibly scene-stealing supporting casts). No word yet on which of the moms Nicole & Reese are planning to play but obviously a third star will be joining them.

These are the characters...

Madeline: gleefully extroverted, fashionable, and still a "glittery girl" at 40. Her broken Dolce & Gabbana heel sets the plot in motion. She's happily married but still having trouble with her ex and his younger "new age-y" wife
Celeste: a nervous very beautiful mom with twins, who is married to a wealthy man
Jane: shy, plain and uncomfortable in her own skin. New in town but Madeline and Celeste befriend this single mom when her son gets in trouble the very first day of school

YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO PICK THEIR ROLES FOR THEM AND ADD A THIRD ACTRESS IN THE COMMENTS!

Let's just pray this wasn't doesn't go the way of The Danish Girl which Nicole was attached to for quite some time until development hell took it from her plate. The film is still trying to get made but instead of an actress in the transgender lead role it's now Eddie Redmayne with his Les Miz director Tom Hooper guiding him through the transformation. 

Sunday
Aug102014

Linkages

Flavorwire Christina Hendricks tries to function in a modern office
Hollywood.com Why Anna Kendrick would make an awesome girlfriend 
Skullflake Studios "maybe superheroes aren't for girls, mom"
/Film puts together a comprehensive look of superhero films coming in next few years. So many
VF Helen Mirren twerking 
Towleroad first look at James Franco as an ex-gay activist in new Gus Van Sant picture 

 

Vulture Groot should remake a bunch of movies 
Empire Universal bought up the rights to Anne Rice's entire Vampire Chronicles. I swear to god if they dont just deal with the sexuality this time, what will be the point? We've already had True Blood. You can't keep homogenizing everything to make it risk-averse
Coming Soon Michael Fassbender seems to like this Justin Kurzel person a lot. His MacBeth director is also guiding him in the film adaptation of the video game Assassin's Creed
Awards Daily Kristen Stewart in Camp X-Ray trailer. This actress is really trying to change perceptions of herself this year. 
Pajiba the cast of HBO's Westworld remake all announced. I'm sad that Yul Brynner cannot be resurrected. I love me some Yul Brynner
Variety Amazon fighting with Disney over DVD/Blu-Ray sales
Variety Lucy is a huge hit in France. No surprise really since Luc Besson directs and France is basically adopting Scarlett Johansson now that she's soon to birth a French baby. 
LA Times Jennifer Lee, one of the directors of Frozen (I met her this season and she was very sweet) will write the screenplay for the adaptation of the YA novel A Wrinkle in Time. I swear that movie has been in development for my entire lifetime 
Variety Lizzy Caplan will play Joseph Gordon Levitt's love interest in an untitled Christmas movie from his 50/50 director

Oh and I forgot to post this great UK poster for Maps to the Stars.

I love quad posters but we only get the vertical ones here in the US. I'm getting so desperate to see this movie. 

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