The first teaser trailer for HBO’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 best seller, Big Little Lies, has just been released. Shailene Woodley plays Jane, a young single mother who moves to a coastal community so her son can attend a better school. There she becomes entangled in the messy lives of the seemingly perfect mothers of her son’s classmates, Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and Madeline (Reese Witherspoon). PopSugar gives a full rundown of the cast, with comparisons to the characters in the book.
The setting has been changed from the book’s Australia to Southern California. The seven-episode series is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club), who also worked with Witherspoon on the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild.
Release is planned for some time in 2017. No specific start date has been set.
Revelist says “the show doesn’t have much of a presence at the convention beyond these cryptic bathroom signs. But make no mistake, this is a brilliant way to spread the show’s message directly to its target audience — and in a space that, despite the best efforts of geeky women and activists alike, is still considered very male-dominated.”
“the story is wacky, ya’ll. Immensely wacky, but, like, in a fun way. Midnight Crossroad starts off as a book about a pawnshop owner’s dead girlfriend and turns into a murder conspiracy involving white supremacists. Day Shift is ostensibly about the suspicious circumstances in which one of Manfred’s clients [he is the psychic] dies and ends up with a pack of weretigers wandering through town and vampires hunting a telepath visiting his grandpappy. Night Shift goes from people and animals killing themselves at the crossroads to a magic sex ritual with a pitstop at a subplot with a hangry Etruscan-literate vampire.”
Despite fears about Hurricane Matthew closing many theaters, Girl on the Train rolled to its expected major box office opening over the weekend. On the other hand, The Birth of a Nation, about a slave uprising, considered a major Oscar contender, did not do as well as expected.
Next week, two film adaptations open, one in theaters and the other on TV, and a new BBC series begins on PBS Masterpiece.
It is getting strong reviews. Calling the director among the “great American filmmakers,” Variety said few “can do quite as much with quiet as Kelly Reichardt. Superficially empty soundscapes are layered so intricately with the rustle of nature, the brooding of weather and the breathing of preoccupied people that her films come to seem positively noisy to a sympathetic ear. So it is in the marvelous Certain Women, where the storytelling has a similarly latent impact.”
It stars Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, and Lily Gladstone and is based on short stories from Maile Meloy’s collection, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (PRH/Riverhead, 2009), specifically, says Variety “Tome,” “Native Sandstone” and “Travis B.”
It airs Sundays, October 16th through November 20th and stars Keeley Hawes from Upstairs Downstairs “as the an intrepid widow who decamps from dreary England to a sun-dappled Greek island with her four recalcitrant children, ages 11 to 21.”
Also airing on TV is The Julius House: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, based on the Charlaine Harris character of a crime-solving librarian. The series began in 2007 with Real Murders, the most recent is the 2016 title All the Little Liars.
The first trailer for the Netflix adaptation of Daniel Handler’s (aka Lemony Snicket) A Series of Unfortunate Events (HarperCollins) has just been released. In keeping with the books’ tongue-in-cheek tone, it is not a traditional trailer. Rather than building anticipation with a litany of exciting scenes and major stars, just one character appears, Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, wandering through the dimly-lit stage set, warning people to “look away.”
The entire series will be available on Netflix beginning January 13, 2017 (which happens to be a Friday).
Watch closely, several visual jokes are embedded in the teaser.
According to Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Count Olaf in the show, the series is Netflix’s most expensive production to date. While co-hosting Live! with Kelly last month, he described the new adaptation as “super dark … a much darker take on the material than has been seen before” but also “fun” and “exciting” and said it’s been planned as a “four-quadrant show,” to appeal to kids, teens, 20-somethings, and adults. The eight-episode first season will cover the first four titles in the 13-book series.
New York magazine calls the comic book Cage “one of the most important black characters in sequential art,” noting, however, that over his 44-year history, Marvel struggled to “make the character relevant in a world where conceptions of black characters in American pop culture were rapidly evolving.”
Charting the character’s evolution in “5 Comics to Read Before You Watch Luke Cage,” New York magazine writes that the first stories, collected in Luke Cage, Hero For Hire vol. 1, represent “Marvel Comics’ blatant attempt to cash in on the Blaxploitation craze.” As a result, the collection is “somewhat awkward to read today, with its urban patois (penned by white men, of course) and simplistic depictions of avarice.”
The Netflix series is quite the opposite. As the show’s creator Ched Hodari Coulter tells Wired magazine in a cover feature on the series, “There have been African American superheroes on our screens before—such as Wesley Snipes’ titular turn in Blade—but Luke Cage is the first to be surrounded by an almost completely black cast and writing team and whose powers and challenges are so explicitly linked to the black experience in America.”
A collection of comics featuring the character was released in August, Luke Cage: Avenger, (Marvel).
Fittingly for a book that considers the concept of time travel, including how it has been imagined and used in literature, Doerr begins his review by sharing his favorite time travel stories (a key one is Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”) and then moves on to Gleick’s history, calling it,
“a fascinating mash-up of philosophy, literary criticism, physics and cultural observation. It’s witty (“Regret is the time traveler’s energy bar”), pithy (“What is time? Things change, and time is how we keep track”) and regularly manages to twist its reader’s mind into … Gordian knots … he employs time travel to initiate engrossing discussions of causation, fatalism, predestination and even consciousness itself.”
Time is a subject bound to be at the forefront this fall. In addition to Gleick’s book there is Now: The Physics of Time, Richard A. Muller (Norton) and a surprising number of TV shows on the subject. So many that it has lead the WSJ to call time a “hot concept” for the upcoming season, writing, “Television networks are consumed with time-shifting in every sense.”
Not exactly time travel, more deja vu, are the many remakes and spin-offs of older shows. WSJ lists “Taken (a prequel to the Liam Neeson revenge movies) and Emerald City (billed as an edgier Wizard of Oz fantasy). Then there are the franchise expansions, with spin-off The Blacklist: Redemption and a fourth (fourth!) addition to the Chicago line of dramas from Dick Wolf (Chicago Justice) … Lethal Weapon (Fox), and Training Day (CBS) … Fox’s Prison Break sequel and a series based on 43-year-old horror classic The Exorcist … MacGyver.”
All this led Jimmy Kimmel, WSJ reports, to say: “All your favorite VHS tapes are now becoming shows.” It leads Glamour magazine to point out “The past is a franchise.”
Profiling the production, New York magazine writes that Soloway turns “one of the most compelling cult novels of the last 20 years into a television show with the potential to be as groundbreaking in its examination of gender politics as her first.”
Making a splash at the box office over the weekend was Disney’s heavily-promoted Queen of Katwe, in a limited run. The adaptation of a book with the same title about a chess champion, it will expand to more theaters over the coming weeks. Also expanding to more theaters is the Australian hit adaptation, The Dressmaker.
Based on Ransom Riggs’s eerie photo-fantasy hit novel, it stars Samuel L. Jackson, Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Chris O’Dowd, Ella Purnell, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp and Judi Dench.
Early reviews are not enthusiastic. The Hollywood Reporter says that during the first hour of the movie, it “appears Tim Burton seems well on his way to making one of his best films,” but after that special effects take over and undermine the story. Predicting the movie will “generate some robust initial business based on the built-in teen fan base as well as Burton fans, but whether it’s enough to spur sequels to the two remaining books in the trilogy is an open question.” The novel is currently #6 on The USA Today Best-Selling Book list.
Denial is a courtroom drama about the legal fight to prove the Holocaust occurred. It is based on Deborah E. Lipstadt’s book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier and is directed by Mick Jackson. Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall star.
Its debut at the Toronto Film Festival brought mixed reviews. Variety calls it “a curiously awkward and slipshod movie that winds up being about nothing so much as the perverse, confounding eccentricities of the British legal system.”
The Hollywood Reporter says it is “compelling” and “sensitively dramatized” and that “Rachel Weisz’s arresting, combative Lipstadt, a shining woman warrior, is a role she will be remembered for.”
A tie-in is out: Denial: Holocaust History on Trial, Deborah E. Lipstadt (HC/Ecco).
Comic fans can rejoice as Luke Cage, a live action series on Netfilx, finally airs. It is based on the comic superhero which first appeared in 1972’s Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.
Mike Colter plays Cage, a role he first created on the Jessica Jones series, also on Netflix.
A collection of comics featuring the character was released in August, Luke Cage: Avenger, Mike Benson, Adam Glass, Brian Michael Bendis, Frank Miller, Dalibor Talajic, Leinil Francis, Billy Tan and, Eric Canete (Hachette/Marvel).
Milton’s Secret is based on the children’s book Milton’s Secret: An Adventure of Discovery through Then, When, and the Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle and Robert S. Friedman with illustrations by Frank Riccio (Red Wheel Weiser Conari/Hampton Roads).
Directed by Barnet Bain, it stars Donald Sutherland, Michelle Rodriguez, Mia Kirshner, David Sutcliffe, and William Ainscough.
So far, there are few reviews for the film about being present and aware and creating a happy family.
Inspired by a 1947 Newsweek article estimating “that one-quarter of Atlanta policemen were, in fact, members of the Ku Klux Klan,” NPR calls Darktown (S&S/Atria/37 INK; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) “a blend of history, mystery and violence.”
The new officers faced tough restrains. They operated out of a YMCA for fear they would cause a riot at police headquarters, “they could only patrol the back neighborhoods; they weren’t supposed to set foot in the white parts of town,” Mullen says. “They couldn’t drive squad cars; they had to walk their beat with a partner” and were not allowed to arrest white people.
NPR notes “some of the tensions described in Darktown — like the ability of white police to injure or kill black citizens with impunity without being charged or punished — sound disturbingly familiar.”
Mullen plans this as the first in a series with each book focusing on new officers who replace those that retire “as the story of Atlanta’s racial coming-of-age moves into contemporary times.” The second book is expected in fall 2017.
In a publishing twist, NPR reports that Mullen’s agent “circulated his manuscript without his name or photo attached.” Mullen, who is white, has lived in Atlanta for 15 years. The influential Dawn Davis of Simon & Schuster bought the book for her imprint. She told NPR she found the blind submission forced her “to read it just as a piece of literature … I couldn’t look up what kind of reviews the author got, I couldn’t look up anything about the author. What his previous books were, even — or if it were even a man. I had to just kind of read it, and explore it for what it was.”
The New York Times adds “One incendiary image ignites the next in this highly combustible procedural, set in the city’s rigidly segregated black neighborhoods during the pre-civil-rights era and written with a ferocious passion that’ll knock the wind out of you.”
The Scottish production company Synchronicity Films, known in the UK as the force behind Not Another Happy Ending, has bought the rights.
Originally published by a tiny 2-person house Saraband, the novel earned praise from The Guardian, which said “The book’s pretense at veracity, as well as being a literary jeux d’esprit, brings an extraordinary historical period into focus.”
If the projects make it to screens, they will follow in the footsteps of adaptations of previous Booker titles. Hilary Mantel’s two winners Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies were made into a BBC/PBS Masterpiece series. Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally became the now iconic 1993 film Schindler’s List. Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi were also successfully adapted.
The book was published in the U.S. for the first time last year, when it was expected that the film would get its U.S. release, The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio; Thorndike Large Print; OverDrive Sample).
Disney’s big movie, Queen of Katwe opens in limited release Sept. 23rd, expanding to more theaters the next week. Starring Lupita Wyong’o, who won an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, David Oyelowo (Selma), and newcomer Madina Nalwanga, it is directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding).
Goat also opens on the 23rd. Directed by Andrew Neel, starring Ben Schnetzer, Nick Jonas, and Gus Halper, it is a college fraternity film that traces a series of brutal induction rituals and the strain they place on two brothers. The Hollywood Reporter calls it “A harsh but gripping study in uncontrolled male aggression.”
The series stars Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, and Geena Davis. A tie-in has not been released but 2011 marked the release of the 40th Anniversary Edition (HC).
On the 25th Poldark, Season 2, begins airing on PBS Masterpiece, starring Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Heida Reed. Of season one, The New York Times wrote:
“Sweeping, stirring, rousing, lush. These are the sorts of adjectives suggested by Poldark … It’s the kind of show in which every plot twist appears to require a shot of someone pounding on horseback along the Cornish coast, close to the cliffs and outlined against the sun … Another adjective that comes to mind is shameless, in the sense of nonstop audience-pandering melodrama. But there’s good shameless and bad shameless, and Poldark is reasonably good stuff, milking the emotions and pleasing the eye without unduly insulting the intelligence.”
He tells Kelly that the new adaptation will be “super dark … it is a much darker take on the material than has been seen before” but also “fun” and “exciting.”
The older version he references is the 2004 film, starring Jim Carrey, which compressed the 13 book series into a single movie [CORRECTION: As pointed out in the comments, Harris exaggerated, the movie was actually based on just 2 titles from the series]. Harris reports that the Netflix series will treat each book in 2 episodes, so the show will be much more expansive. The cast and crew have finished filming the first four titles.
The plan is to create what is called a “four-quadrant show,” one that appeals to a range of audience demographics including kids, teens, 20-somethings, and adults.
He also says the series is Netflix’s most expensive production to date.
Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) is the executive producer and directs half of the episodes.
The story features Moana, a Polynesian teenaged girl, voiced by Hawaiian native and movie newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, who sets sail in the South Pacific to find Maui, a shape shifting demi-god, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, to enlist his help to save her community.