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Entries in Adaptations (94)

Friday
May162014

Lukewarm Off Presses: Danish Girls, True Americans, Murderous Scots

Three stories we didn't get around to posting about this past week or so when they were newer. Giving them but one sentence each in a link roundup seemed somehow inadequate. 

01 MACBETH POSTERS
Do we love these posters because they're good designs or merely because we love Fassy & Marion?  The internet doesn't know the difference. But those faces are mesmerizing onscreen and the opportunities to see these two play-act the violent ambitious Scotsman and his manipulative Lady (who seems to be sporting Princess Leia buns) are the draw. Is it just me or does this Michael pictured almost look like a Shannon rather than a Fassbender? Maybe it's the haircut and the camera angle. [True Confession: whenever I see a male actor with war-paint on, I shudder, fearing worldwide bloodlust adulation of Braveheart style machismo rather than any sort of interest connection to the drama or themes to come. Love of violent men seems ever insatiable.]

02 TRUE AMERICAN 
Speaking of machismo, Kathryn Bigelow's latest violent testosterone fueled drama will be based on the non-fiction book "True American: Murder & Mercy in Texas." Tom Hardy headlines as Mark Stroman, a man who attempts to kill three immigrant after 9/11 and the other Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a former Bangladesh Air Force officer, his only surviving victim, who wants to visit Stroman on Death Row. No word yet on who plays Bhuiyan but it's a big potentially Oscar friendly role so expect everyone to pretend whoever plays him is supporting for Oscar purposes ;) 

03 THE DANISH GIRL 
This movie, based on the novel by David Ebershoff which was itself inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener (who would later become Lili... predating the famous sex change procedure of Christine Jorgensen) and his relationship to his wife through the transition was once going to be headlined by not one but two huge female movie stars (Theron & Kidman). The project vanished from the "upcoming film" conversation a couple of years ago. It's baaa-aaack. Only this time it's a rising male star who is headlining, charismatic ginger Eddie Redmayne.

 

 

But here's the problem. In the intervening years there has been an inarguable rise in consciousness about transgender issues and the trans community has gotten a lot more politically brave and some might say strident. Note, if you will, all the criticisms LGBT champion RuPaul has received for his continued enjoyment of words like tranny and she-male that other LGBT citizens would like to give up. There was a lot of anger about Hollywood going with a straight male actor (Jared Leto) for a trans role last year (Dallas Buyers Club) when there are actual trans actors around. I've never liked to hem actors in this way -- actors, by their very craft and nature, are not meant to only play what they are --  so Jared Leto had a point when he said as much. The problem with his point is that it isn't the strict truth. Hollywood doesn't cast people like him for such distinct roles because they're "the right person for the job" but because they're a name and Hollywood is risk averse. It's the same reason they used to not let black actors play black characters (think Showboat) fearing loss of revenue and the same reason they keep white washing Asian roles when the time comes to cast them. But with the somewhat steady rise in actual trans celebrity (Alexis Arquette, Chaz Bono, Candis Cayne, etcetera) and the recent rise of gifted actress Laverne Cox on Orange is the New Black (a trans woman playing a trans woman, and beautifully which is the important point when it comes to acting) it has started to seem a little suspect that very few trans roles go to trans actors.

Like Leto, I don't like to see actors pinned down into one kind of character, but if more people were cast true to their ethnicity, sexuality, abilities, and gender identification, I think people would probably be okay with it when an actor played something so removed from him or herself. If there was more balance "being right for it" wouldn't sound like a copout and might actually be accepted as the truth.

Redmayne is a fine actor but expect this noise to continue and get very loud WHEN the media calls him "brave" for playing it (they're such suckers for that word which is seemingly always used offensively, as if to imply the actor is slumming by playing someone "gay" or "trans" or "disabled" or whatnot) and IF he starts winning prizes for it.

Friday
May162014

"Alone in Berlin" and Back on Marquees

Few things gave greater pleasure last year than the reemergence of Emma Thompson on the film scene, shoe chucking, Annie-scripting, Mary Poppins writing, and all. I'm not sure who or what convinced Emma that it was time to reclaim her place in the cinema but I thank them profusely and ever so much.

While she didn't receive the expected Oscar nomination for Saving Mr Banks, despite carrying it on her very capable film-elevating shoulders, her next project looks super promising so we hope it picks up interest in the Cannes market.

If all goes according to plan she'll play one half of a married couple who defy Nazis in Alone in Berlin. The true story is based on the book "Alone in Berlin" by Hans Fallada. The plot premise goes like so...

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich...

With Emma leading a drama we're in good hands but the rest of the cast makes it doubly enticing. Actor turned director Vincent Perez (Queen Margot) has also enlisted Mark Rylance, in many ways the reigning god of the stage, as Emma's husband.

Rylance in the sexually explicit Intimacy (2001) his last bigscreen leading man gig, and in "Jerusalem" for which he won all theater awards ever created a few years ago

He's rarely onscreen though if you've seen Intimacy (2001) or Angels and Insects (1995) you'll remember him. Hollywood's favorite youngish German Daniel Brühl (Rush, Inglourious Basterds) is also on board and we assume he is the key baddie Escherich.

Sounds promising, yes?

Emma with Terry Gilliam at a film premiere last monthEmma Thompson just turned 55 and though the fiftysomething years tend to be the leanest for actresses (too old, under Hollywood logic, to lead movies and too young for the juicy "old lady" roles) but maybe Emma's people realized that Dench (79), Redgrave (77), Mirren (68), and Smith (79) aren't getting any younger. Thompson is their natural successor for that whole swath of character types and Thompson doesn't seem to have much competition in the realm of aging British divas that virtually everyone loves. Tilda Swinton (53, after all, is her own special case and weirdly ageless, never young even when she actually was or old now unless the makeup artists are having Budapest prosthetic fun with her). Thompson's main competition for these future roles was surely Kristin Scott Thomas (54) but she's planning that vanishing act now. American actresses not named Streep have it much much rougher than their British counterparts once they hit their fifties so it would be wise for that generation of stars (Bening, Moore, Linney, Clarkson, Hunter, Tomei) or any that have already all but vanished who'd like to return (Allen, Pfeiffer, Davis, McDormand) to start honing their plummiest British accents. 

Saturday
May102014

Cast This: Can We Get a Patricia Highsmith Biopic Up in Here?

We're getting three starry Patricia Highsmith adaptations in the next year or so at the cinemas. First up is The Two Faces of January (Viggo, Kiki & Oscar Isaac) and then Carol (Cate, Rooney & Sarah Paulson). 

 The latest to ready itself for the cameras is The Blunderer. The cast will include Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, Imogene Poots and Toby Jones. 

Highsmith adaptations are nothing new for the cinema and soon there will be little left to adapt.

Walter Stackhouse (Wilson) is a successful architect married to the beautiful Clara (Biel) and leading a charmed and perfect life. But his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a spiral of chaos as he is forced to play cat-and-mouse with a clever killer (Jones) and an over-ambitious detective. Walter's obsession, his lies and his lust for another woman (Poots) will collide in a crush of guilt, innocence and, ultimately, fate.

Highsmith adaptations are nothing new for the cinema and soon there will be little left to adapt.

But why hasn't anyone made a biopic yet?

She was a complicated character in her looks, her art, and her temperament: famously misanthropic (and racist, too), an alcoholic, complicated lifelong relationship with her mother (who once confessed to trying to abort her) who lived to be 95, bisexual with volatile affairs, and a crazy cat lady to boot.

Who should play her in a biopic?  Two names came immediately to my mind but I want to know your thoughts before I reveal them. A few more pictures after the jump [one NSFW] and a few more notes about Hollywood's interest in her work. 

Click to read more ...

Monday
May052014

Stage Door: Bullets Over Broadway

It's Tony season which means mucho theatergoing. Particularly if you've missed everything this year as I have. My first stop after that Estelle Parsons-free trip to The Velocity of Autumn was Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway and, if you can believe my luck, I got an understudy again. This time, though, it wasn't a big deal. Though the role was major ("Olive", the gangster's moll and terrible actress) I wasn't familiar with the actress playing her to begin with. And though the 1994 film won three deserved acting nominations this musical comedy's only nominated cast member is Nick Cordero who plays Cheech, the mob henchman who shows unexpected flair for dramaturgy.

Memories of the movie and pros & cons of the stage version after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr282014

Oscar Bait 2015 Alert: "Genius" With Kidman, Firth, and Law

Yes, dear concerned reader, I know I know. I'm supposed to be thinking about 2014 and who might be Oscar nominated 9 months from now. I'll get there. I will. But I can't let this latest dazzling dangling carrot of 2015 cinematic possibility pass without mention. Because a curious trend continues...

Thomas Wolfe, Aline Bernstein, and Max Perkins to be played by Law, Kidman, and Firth

We've already noted, with raised eyebrow, the shocking rapidity of Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth veritable obsession with working together. As previously mentioned they have THREE films together coming out this year. Add a fourth to the pipeline. They will co-star again in Genius which is based on the super acclaimed biography "Max Perkins: Editor Of Genius," by A Scott Berg.

The screenplay is by three time Oscar nominee John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator, Hugo) and the cast is similarly Oscar-favored. Two time nominee Jude Law, Kidman's Cold Mountain "husband" (I will marry yoooo) has taken over the incredibly juicy role of the novelist Thomas Wolfe (which means a viable shot at a Supporting Actor trophy for Jude Law even though the best guess is that he's actually co-lead) which was once to be played by Michael Fassbender. Oscar winner Colin Firth headlines playing the influential book editor Max Perkins and Oscar winning Kidman plays Wolfe's lover, the multihyphenate writer/costume/set designer Aline Bernstein. The film takes place in the 1920s/1930s literary scene so stay tuned. Who will they cast as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway? Both of those legends also have major roles in the book.

The big obvious question mark here is budget (can it get the lush period treatment it deserves?) and Michael Grandage in the director's chair. This is the 52 year old stage director's first feature gig behind the camera though he's acted in front of it before. 

Wanna read the book?