Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday 13th + Austen = monster lit, evidently!

Enchanting memorabilia

First things first - the delightful spectacle a gauche is (as can probably be spied) a copy of Theatre Arts magazine from January 1959.

The lovely lady is a 31-year-old Rosemary Harris, pictured with Jason Robards for a feature on The Disenchanted.

It is just here for our visual delectation, but should you want to own this piece of theatre history yourself, it is purchasable on eBay for an outrageously low number of roubles.

Review corner

In the Pride and Glory arena this week there is a good thumbs up from another Australian publication, TheVine. After spreading some general lexical positivity - 'gripping', 'well-written', 'emotionally powerful' - it argues the case that the movie is contributing something fresh:

[...] [This] film uses every cop movie cliché in the book but still manages to breathe new life into the genre thanks to a stellar cast. ... [It] is reminiscent of '70s police thrillers like Serpico and The French Connection with their gritty and bleak look at urban living. While incredibly violent and vicious in parts the writer/director Gavin O’Connor spends just as much screen time focusing on the familial dilemmas of the main characters. This grounds the film and allows for a level of emotional investment rarely seen in this kind of movie. ...

Pride and Glory rises above the confines of the police family drama genre and creates a film for those who complain that they don’t make [them] like they used to. Uniformly excellent cast...highly recommended. [...]

On the flip side, Celluloid Tongue were not quite so fervent. The lone Before the Rains critic this week, Louise Keller at Urban CineFile, came to a mixed conclusion, feeling 'dissatisfied' by the way the affair 'comes to its sticky end' despite 'excellent performances by the whole cast'.

P & P....& Z

Now, if you thought that all possible Austen variants had been exhausted of late with the likes of Lost in Austen, Miss Austen Regrets, Becoming Jane and The Jane Austen Book Club, think again. Far from being a strange dream (or nightmare) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a real entity which is about to come on the scene, courtesy of author Seth Grahame-Smith. (See Amazon). It is also set to enter the world of film. The Times (no less) provide the lowdown:

[...] [This] forthcoming novel is the first mainstream 'mash-up' of Austen and horror, two of the most popular film genres of the past decade. It has been made possible only because Austen is out of copyright. ... It quickly became obvious that Jane [Austen] had laid down the blueprint for a zombie novel,” said Grahame-Smith, a television comedy writer. ...
Hollywood studios are bidding to turn [this] radical reworking of Austen’s most popular be published in April, into a blockbuster movie. Desperate for new ideas, studio chiefs hope 'P&P&Z' will mark the...birth of a feral offspring of classic British literature: 'monster-lit'. [...]
The book - which will be available in the States from May 13 and the UK from June 1 - is even being backed by a bestselling Austen biographer:

[...] Claire Tomalin, author of Jane Austen: A Life...suspects the novelist would have appreciated the latest zombie twist. 'Many of her early stories written for her brothers were very violent,' said Tomalin. 'She did have a strong sense of humour and also knew what publishers liked. As with Shakespeare or Mozart, you can mishmash what you like but the original remains. I am looking forward to reading this one.' [...]


Immune to any Friday 13th luck meanwhile is ex-Utopian Amanda Leigh Cobb, who is currently playing the lead in the stage version of Dirty Dancing. In the Boston Herald this week she tells the coincidental story of when she learned she had won the part:

[...] 'I was in complete shock . . . I walked to the subway and I was looking down. Then the subway doors open, and it’s Ethan Hawke sitting in the subway car all by himself,' she said. 'I know Ethan because he had been in ‘The Coast of Utopia’ with me the year before. I was like ‘Hi’ and he’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and I’m like, ‘I just got the role of Baby in 'Dirty Dancing!' He burst out laughing and he said, ‘You’re kidding me.’ I hadn’t even called my mom yet,” she said. [...]
If you would like to see Ms Cobb in action, click here for the Boston, Toronto and Los Angeles dates for Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage scheduled between now and June.

Last but not least, one literary listener was delighted to discover Jennifer Ehle narrated the audiobook for Witch Child, even if that fact did cause her attention to be somewhat diverted:
[...] The whole time, all I could see in my mind was Eliza Bennet...and although totally distracting on the I-have-seen-that-mini-series-too-many-times-not-to-envision the-narrator’s-every-expression level, Ms Ehle did a commendable job. [...]
If you fancy being equally distracted, Witch Child is available from various sellers on Amazon. Where mentioned in the reviews, Ms Ehle's reading is praised alongside the book itself. One listener said:
[...] This compelling...story is given an indelible reading by actress Jennifer Ehle. ... Ms Ehle's expressive voice adds dramatic resonance to an already commanding narrative. [...]

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Latest on The Greatest

[Edit: Oops, I forgot to include this clip from the movie, courtesy of YouTube]

According to the Q Chronicle, The Greatest still hasn't found a distributor, but a more recent article at the more credible Screen Daily announced that Kimmel International has made deals with several international distributors and a "North American deal is imminent." We'll keep you posted about any up-and-coming release dates.

Review-wise, Film Threat has some very non-threatening things to say about the movie:
[...] “The Greatest” is a solid film containing numerous performances worth mention. But while it comes as no surprise that Sarandon and Brosnan deliver the goods, Mulligan holds her own alongside the pros. She captures the innocence of a young woman in a desperate situation. Rose is a child trying her hardest to be an adult. The film’s most impressive performance comes from the actor whose character spends most of the film in a coma. That’s not a knock at the rest of the performers, it’s what Michael Shannon does when he wakes up that’s so extraordinary.

Playing the man responsible for Bennett Brewer’s death, Shannon has the honor of portraying the film’s most complex character. He acts his heart out during a scene where Grace squeezes every last detail about her son’s last moments from his memory. A number of great performances added to a moving script and filmed with beautiful cinematography have resulted in an outstanding film. Feste’s project shows that having the right pieces makes fitting them all together a whole lot easier.
Eric Kohn at IndieWIRE is less enthusiastic, but many bloggers have weighed in as well, and you can read their various post-Sundance-ly opinions at Reel Thoughts, Paige Duke, Obsessed With Film, Luke Hickman's Entertainment Blog, and The Evangelist, to name a few. Some fans are also discussing the movie at the IMDb message board if you want to check it out.

Tidbit-wise, in an interview at WWD, Carey Mulligan revealed that it took a mere 25 days to shoot the film:
[...] Mulligan had to switch gears — and accents — to make “The Greatest,” a contemporary film costarring Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon as a couple who lose a child. “We shot ‘The Greatest’ in 25 days, so it really was the fastest you could work,” she says. “It was brilliant because it was my first American lead role, so that was a real challenge.” [...]
Labeled the new 'star in the making,' Carey Mulligan seems to have been the talk of the town at Sundance thanks to her performances in both An Education and The Greatest. Read more about it in her interview with The Toronto Sun and at the RedBox blog and Clone Movie. (Jane Austen fans: note that she played Kitty Bennet in The Other Pride and Prejudice and Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey.)

Additional Items:
  • Many thanks to LTC for posting this link to Daily Motion, which has a video containing two (out of three) of Jennifer Ehle's scenes in Pride and Glory.
  • Also, Pride and Glory made its way Down Under on Feb 5. The reviews from The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald are both on the ouch side, but I can't resist this bit of quotage from the latter:
    [...] O'Connor has no squeamishness when it comes to brutality. In fact, he goes to such extremes in a couple of instances that the violence tips over into gratuitous nastiness. Fortunately, he knows about tenderness as well, and the scenes between Emmerich and Jennifer Ehle as his much-loved wife, who is dying from cancer, lull you into the momentary illusion that you've strayed into a much gentler picture. [...]
  • In case you didn't see it in the Chatter Box, Jodes found a lovely interview clip with Rosemary Harris at that includes some footage of Oscar and the Pink Lady.