What to Watch: Winter Movie Round-up

Oscar season has folks running to the movie theater. Is this the year Leo DiCaprio finally takes home that golden statue? Will he ban it like some members of the African American community think he should in order to support the black community or take after Marlon Brando, have someone else accept and then reject it for him? Either way, Leo deserves to win.

Office politics on a global scale are aside from the point, here are some of the films I’ve seen this winter:

  1. The Revenant: no one is laughing. The White Walkers would be no match for Leo’s depth of spirit and determination to get justice served. There was no snickering or leaving the theatre for this battle of the elements, man and the politics of the era. Never has Tom Hardy been so revile. We also got to see my quiet crush, Domhnall Gleeson as the sweet, yet naive captain.
  2. Joy– now before you join me in the when-is-Jennifer-Lawerence going to be likable, haven’t we had enough of her for the time being table, let’s say I watched this one because my family wanted to watch it. I was reluctant, aside from J.Law, the trailer didn’t wow me, and I kept thinking really? Bradley Cooper, DeNiro & J.Law? Ugh. We’ve been there…with the same producers. However, I watched it and damn. Shazam. I was wowed. It was damn good and inspirational. Everyone who has had an idea or a dream they left on the table due to a misstep in their youth, should watch this film.
  3. Train Wreck– There is a spoiler alert in here. It was more enjoyable then any other Judd Apatow-involved film. Amy Schumer was great, to a point. Then, it reverted to the same devices any other rom com uses to resolve, with a charming ending, but still why must we always find that the only way for a woman to be happy does she half to be half-naked? Is that a distraction for eating humble pie or just another distraction showing the character hasn’t grown that much, just enough to make everyone in their life who always forgives them, love them enough to go another ten rounds.
  4. Hateful 8 – was a snowy, miserable, painfully slow bloated Tarantino film. My boyfriend loved it. I tried to not fall asleep. If only he wasn’t as indulged, there could have been half an hour less to this movie, no intermission – the last time I remember hearing about one was vaguely as a child, Ghandi had one. This is not Ghandi, it will not give you inspiration but some of the acting is excellent. The overuse of racial slurs towards Samuel L. Jackson, were a bit much to take. We got the point Quentin. If you want to see Channing Tatum be horrible in a charming way, the second half will reward you, but when the break came I was ready to leave.
  5. Brooklyn – thought this one would speak to my Irish heritage. Instead, her millennial indecision annoyed me to no end. I kept waiting for something to happen, so did she. Don’t let life make your decision, make them for yourself. I would rather sit through the uneven, should-have-been-an-SNL sketch, Tina Fey & Amy Poehler  comedy “Sisters” again, then watch this. Perhaps I was annoyed she left my ginger crush, Domhnall Gleeson, to believe she was interested when she was being selfish. What I didn’t like about this film was that there were no consequences to the characters lies by inaction. She left a wake of tears, but she was happy. Well, isn’t that uplifting? No.
  6. In The Heart of The Sea– swoon hard, swoon in 3-D at Mr. Chris Hemsworth, but don’t expect a lot of plot in this one. Ron Howard expressed his excitement at using 3D, inspired by the film “Life of Pi,” which was an excellent film. Mr. Howard, you abused 3D in this film, as if you were an NYU film student learning how to use a camera. There was a serious lack of character developement but oh Thor, you are handsome and you have beautiful blue eyes.

RENTALS: This is winter. Finally.

  1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – all the banter and fun that was missing from James Bond, can be found in this great romp of a movie. Two thumbs up, a little sad I missed this one in the theaters, but it was gone fast. It’s definitely worth watching over say The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  2. The Women in Gold – another film, but smaller that I had wanted to see in theaters. The story of the rightful owner, Maria Altman, who fled the Nazis in Austria seeking the Klimt’s painting of her Aunt Adele (pronounced A-dell-ee, not like the singer), which was claimed by the Austrian government and placed in their museum. It’s a wonderful film starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. I love when a film showcases a relationship and determination of two people, who are unlikely to come together, thinking neither party will teach the other one.
  3. Everest – another true story. Why climb it? Because it’s there. I can’t imagine what would make me want to climb Everest after seeing this film and what you could happen to you as you climb, your body literally dying with each step. This film showed some of the worst and selfish parts of humanity. It showcased ego wanting to triumph over nature, and then getting ego’s ass being thrown off a mountain by its pure arrogance. The hero of the story for me was Peach, the wife left behind in Texas who rallied her minions to get a helicopter for her dying husband to get him off the damn mountain, where he had been left to die by people he paid $65,000 to be there.

NETFLIX & CHILL:

1. Jessica Jones – (series, not a film) Turn it into a drinking game by taking a shot every time Kristin Ritter pouts or there is some serious hot sex…so maybe you can have some too. Not something I could power watch because of all the pouting. Still, love a deviant, reluctant superhero- yes, that means I’m going to see “Deadpool,” despite how awful Ryan Reynold’s Green-Film-He-Got-Blake-Lively-From-As-Well-As-Paid. Ritter pulls it off and manages to pull back my interest just when I think I can’t take her pouting anymore. Great plot twists.

2. The ReWrite – this is a charming film helmed by Hugh Grant. Hugh plays a washed-up rogue writer and does it well. If you are looking for a fun film with banter insert Marisa Tome. Add reluctance, social missteps, a few literary quotes and Hugh Grant and you’ll be laughing with this one.

TV (Bonus):
Tyrant – I loved the first season. They went so far in each episode it was truly well-timed with all that is going on in the Middle East. The second season started off the same, then got quite annoying, so much so I started going back and catching up with British reality TV like “Come Dine With Me” and the ever-entertaining “Don’t Tell The Bride,” which is a great concept and never disappoints for awkwardness and dreadful “oh, hell no, he. Did. Not. Do. That! She can’t marry him!” But, after the holiday season, I caught up on the last episode and it’s back to a place where I can be intrigued again, leaving out a lot of the soap opera and focusing on the action of political decisions. This series explores the tricky lines of moral compasses, with less cursing and jazz than “Homeland.”

Music (Bonus):

X-Ambassadors “Love Song, Drug Song” may be Brooklyn’s answer to The Kings of Leon, and I love it.

King Charles–  one of my favorite artists I’ve ever worked with, is also extremely talented. I’ll never forget how all the women in the office found a way to come to my office when he was in there for two hours. He is highly entertaining. He was an absolute dream when we trekked through the living hell that SXSW can be to manage and gave his full KC charm to a small room of people at his showcase there. A true talent.

Hope you enjoyed that. Note, as much as I love film and TV, I am reading two books about product management and a novel called “Smoke,” which is riveting.

How I Would Recast The Role of James Bond’s Q…Ramble

SPOILER ALERTS CONTAINED

As I walked out of Spectre last night with two friends, we recast the movie. While we enjoyed different aspects, it became clear that while classic Bond in many ways, when setting up characters of the past in this current franchise, there was a lot to be desired.

I tried to shake my head of internal quips about the appearance of Grumpy Cat’s cousin popping up and ten other camp moments in the film. It’s Bond, but it was lacking intentional jokes in one key area, which always added charm to Bond’s character.

Q – a classic role, which always led to great, cheeky banter, looks laughable when standing next to Bond. The jokes fell flat- he orders Bond a detox drink, then doesn’t even get to stay in the scene while Bond tells the server to skip a step and throw it down the drain.

When Q is faced with two dangerous men from Spectre, an organization which encourages members to present their resumes by killing one another, Q evades them rather than engages them entirely. Previous Quartermasters were older, but all would have had to go through combat training. How about we stop with the stereotypical nerd who has to hide in a closet as he method of self preservation? Instead, add some diversity and gravity to the role by casting Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes; Covert Affairs).

images

It would be a lot more interesting if Q and Bond physically sparred with some of the cool toys (*quite devoid, due to the ‘department merger/cut’ battle faced as part of the plot line.) Let’s envision a boxing match between the two of them, Q chastising Bond about plummeting another car off a mountain/river/speedboat, etc. – now I’d really want to watch that. Q could have at least used his laptop to smack one of the bad guys in the head- mind over matter.

Let’s hope the next Bond film will “get the 007 program out of the Dark Ages,” the way the evil C (as in careless, not C*nt we were all thinking, come on now, M leaves the crud quips to Bond) intended by giving a little more meat to the supporting cast.

P.S. Applause to the wink-nod-homage to  ‘Jaws’ when Bond takes down the new Jaws character with four barrels. High five for that moment Sam Mendes.

Have You Ever Been Han Solo’d? …Ramble

It is one of the best responses to a first ‘I love you’ when Princess Leia tells Han Solo she loves him right before he gets frozen by Darth Vadar:

Leia: I love you.

Han: I know.

Swoon! It was funny, in character and just about the hottest smirk Harrison Ford has ever given on film. I ‘got Han Solo’d’ a few days ago, so spotting this little gem as part of an exhibit at MoMA made me giggle. It’s the little things in life that have to be appreciated.

Image

R.I.P. Paul Walker…Ramble

Last night I was out with a friend who was a little surprised how in shock and upset I am about Paul Walker’s tragic fiery death last Saturday. Paul was one of my all time favorite Hollywood actors. It wasn’t just his hypnotic ocean blue eyes, winning smile, that wavy blonde hair and great physique that attracted me to Paul, it was his personality and his love of sharks.

Image

You can’t find a person saying anything bad about Paul. Even the claims that he was street racing were dismissed because he was aware as a famous actor who stars in films about that kind of racing, it would encourage others to take dangerous risks. The jeweler who stepped up to tell the story of how Paul anonymously paid for a soldier’s engagement ring is only one of the many great stories about how generous and real Paul Walker was and amounts to the loss of a great guy, a great human who used his popularity for the benefit of all.

I recently saw an interview with Walker speaking about the Davidoff campaign and how he had thought by now he would retire but was having too much fun. He loved being a dad and my heart goes out to his teenage daughter Meadow. I’d just like to tell her -your Dad brought a lot of smiles to people through the big screen and through his every day generosity. Thank you for sharing him with all of us.

Hope Paul is racing at unbeatable speeds in the sky. R.I.P.

Why Helen Fielding HAD to Kill Mark Darcy/Colin Firth/Mr. Darcy…Ramble

Fourteen years have gone by since there’s been a new installment of Bridget Jones’. Well, then is it any wonder to gush like crazy over the return of chick lit’s leading lady and her creator? If there wasn’t a Bridget, there might not be a Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and The City) or an Andy Sachs (The Devil Wears Prada) or countless other great books that made us laugh, cry, relate and let us know, we’re not strange creatures from outer space if we are singletons.

Mad About A Boy

Recently spoilers were printed in the UK that quickly made the rounds to the US media. Helen Fielding had killed MARK DARCY! When Helen was asked by Vogue’s Valerie Steiker, culture editor last night at Housingworks Book Store, if she expected the swift reaction via Twitter from fans, she said no. She didn’t expect to be sitting at home in her pj’s like Bridget, watching the telly, and seeing updates about Syria, then the next story saying “HELEN FIELDING KILLED MARK DARCY!” She didn’t expect a man to run out of a restaurant she had just left yelling at her “You murdered Colin Firth!” right after the news broke. When I asked one of my friends to come to the event she said “Bitch killed Mark Darcy, she is dead to me.”

The hard part was having to tell Colin Firth. After all, the BBC version of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice”, of which Colin played the most memorable Mr. Darcy, inspired Fielding’s character Mark Darcy. For Ms. Fielding, Colin/Mr. Darcy/Mark Darcy is a hybrid creature and she cannot separate them. She wanted to tell him about the character’s end in person but, their schedules were so conflicting she had to tell him over the phone. She said it was like a death, she asked him if he had someone there with him.

However, Colin/Darcy/Mark Darcy did not disappoint. How very British of this clever man to take it in good stride, and announce that it was a fictional character and no one had actually died. So, as a fan, when I heard the spoiler I was quite upset. However, as a writer, we are constantly told to kill our darlings, throw thunderbolts at our characters to shake them up, to challenge them and create conflict and new goals. For Ms. Fielding, Mark Darcy is a gentleman. He would never leave Bridget and their two children, so he had to die. “It’s far better that he dies and lives on in memory untarnished, like Jesus. He’d never be a fuckwit.” Indeed would you want to read a book about a happy marriage? We love Bridget for her struggles, for her self-doubt, for her bumbling through social situations and love.

Colin/Mr.Darcy/MarkDarcy

Colin/Mr.Darcy/MarkDarcy

Fielding said the way in which dating has changed now with social media, is the amount of things that can be silent and have to be interpreted.

Fielding has often be thought to be Bridget. She created Bridget as a means to write columns so she could keep her own life private. There are, of course, many similarities. She admitted she is overly ambitious in the kitchen and the blue string incident did happen to her. Her friends know she is usually going to overreach in that area and takeout will be ordered. Fielding is now divorced, a mother of two and living in London and in her 50’s. Bridget Jones is a widow, 51, and a mother of two living in London trying to sort out social media and modern dating. I can just say Poor Bridget! Let the comedy ensue.

When the Q&A was opened up to the audience I asked Helen if there was anything she had wished from the book had made it into the films and vice versa (oh self brag moment: Fielding said “That is a very good question” – oh yes, I have professionally interviewed people but a compliment from Helen/Bridget –for now she is a hybrid of those two personas for me–is quite amazing). Ms. Fielding answered yes and sometimes things get confusing. There were things she wanted to put into “Bridget Jones: Mad About A Boy” but had happened in a previous book or film. One thing she would have loved to have in the films was Bridget Jones interviewing Colin Firth the actor. (Note: if you own the 2nd film there is an outtake of exactly that but I didn’t bring that up since she seemed a bit tired from a full day of press). So, in actual real life, Helen met up with Colin Firth in Rome where she was Bridget Jones for the night out with Mark Darcy! And, they’ve also had phone conversations where Colin Firth is Mr. Darcy.

Indeed Helen Fielding is so charming and so humble when it comes to the success of Bridget. Ten minutes into the event, she admitted she was quite relieved and happy with it since she stressed about the VOGUE part of the evening – dressing up for it, accessorizing properly and wearing hard-to-walk-in-heels. I love that she removed those uncomfortable heels and let us all just have them sit there and admire them. Hurrah for Helen/Bridge.

Helen Fielding Sans Heels

Helen Fielding Sans Heels

Helen spoke about how men and woman just communicate differently. Bridget’s motto is KOB = keep buggering on & of course, she does. Women will go out, have some drinks and have a laugh about their problems. Whereas, (Fielding kept saying she is not a sociologist), a male friend went out with another man who was getting a divorce after twenty years. She asked him afterwards why the couple is getting divorced and her friend responded he didn’t know, they talked football all night.

When asked what she would be if not a writer, she replied a doctor. She said if anyone wasn’t feeling well she would be quite happy to assist them. Oddly enough, five minutes later the last “question” was really more a drawn out statement, when a woman three chairs down from me began moaning. If you were on the subway, you just move away from that kind of insane moaning, we’re New Yorkers, we used to it. However, this poor elderly woman who had come on her own was slumped over, unconscious in a bookstore! Guests and Fielding sprang into action. The fire department came and took the woman to a hospital. I want to say, as relieved as we all were she regained consciousness, thank you to you Ms. Moaner. You saved us from a seemingly, unending, pointless statement that was taking down the whole event and instead, gave us a chance to see Helen-Bridget as doctor in action.

The best question from Vogue was, if this book becomes a film, will Mark Darcy be present in flashbacks. Fielding said he would be well represented and that she’d like to be part of the casting! Oh ah.

Finally, it was lovely to have a bit of chat with Helen during the book signing afterwards. I was very happy I got to discuss the “Chick Lit” genre which so many in publishing “eschew” , which is the tone and genre I write in and Helen was surprised and told me to keep on going with it. The great thing is I got to inform her that Mad About A Boy is #1 in the Fiction Satire genre on Amazon. She was so happy. I love when you get a few moments with someone you admire, for whatever reason, and they are made happy by something you said to them. Thank you Helen-Bridget. I am glad you wrote another installment and shocked Britain by writing about a woman in her 50’s- gasp, dating!

Having a laugh with Helen

Having a laugh with Helen

Keep Writing & LOVE chick lit! Helen Fielding

Keep Writing & LOVE chick lit! Helen Fielding

Face-off: One Name ‘Annie Walker’ = Two Characters…Ramble

USA has just renewed the spy series “Covert Affairs” (which first aired in 2010) for a fifth season. This is good news for me because I really, really like the show. I got to be in one of the planning meetings and USA is number one for a reason- they think of everything. Seriously. I  have never been so impressed with a planning deck before and I’ve worked at and with many cable channels.

Recently I saw the film “Bridesmaids” (2011), a comedy that shares the same exact main character’s name – ANNIE WALKER. That means it’s time for a FACE-OFF.

ACTRESS PORTRAYING ANNIE WALKER:

Piper Perabo is the star of ‘Covert Affairs’. Her acting career started professionally in 1997 in films, but her breakout role came in ‘Coyote Ugly’ in 2000. She usually plays a good girl, with a bit of an edge. One of the producers, Doug Liman, also has a film background, and in fact produced ‘The Bourne Identity’ and ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ so he knows a thing or two about great spy projects. Piper’s Annie is sweet enough to work her magic on turning assets, but when it comes to her thought process, sometimes her emotions get in the way and bad things happen.

Kristin Wiig became a household name for her work on Saturday Night Life from 2005-2012. I remember hearing a lot of buzz about her, and, when she first came on board I wasn’t even watching SNL on a regular basis anymore. For some reason her ‘Target Lady’ character really didn’t appeal to me. Then she played an annoying, jealous, conniving executive at E! in the movie ‘Knocked Up’, and then I too, became a member of Team Wiig, which only increased during promotion of ‘Bridesmaids’. Many of her interviews were done with co-star and close friend, Maya Ruldolph. They made the point that the film shouldn’t be categorized as a female comedy, because it’s just a comedy. This is exactly how I feel about my own manuscript, which is commercial fiction in my opinion, not women’s fiction.

WINNER: In terms of longevity, it, of course has to go to Piper, since she is going into season five and Ms. Wiig has said there won’t be a sequel to Bridesmaids.Though the roles are so different, both actresses have been nominated as ‘Annie Walker’ for Golden Globes so this would be a tie.

USE OF FORCE

‘Covert Affairs‘ is one of those rare basic cable channels where guns are used and characters actually die, both good and bad. There has been wounds and ‘good’ characters have been killed, as well as ‘bad ones.’ TV’s Annie Walker is a good shot. She gets the job done and she can also kick the crap out of someone. She was also shot in her sister’s kitchen and nearly died, which only adds to her character development and experience dealing with sticky situations.

‘Bridesmaids’ does involve a smack. It’s a smack given with love to Annie Walker, by a fellow bridesmaid, the sister of the groom, played by Melissa McCarthy. It looked like it hurt, but it did serve to give Annie Walker a reality wake-up call to stop wallowing and being a sad sack, and get her shit together. The cop who plays Annie’s love interest is a sweet and kind guy, but never has to pull his gun.

WINNER: TV. I’m a little shocked but it’s true.

EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE:

Piper‘s Annie Walker speaks a ton of foreign languages, part of why she was recruited early off of ‘The Farm’ where the CIA trains and placed in the field. She started the series lovelorn over a guy who turned out to be a fellow agent. She hasn’t really had too many qualms about turning an asset by becoming his lover, yeah, that didn’t turn out so good since he was killed and she almost died too.  When her sister found out she was a spy it destroyed their close relationship. Sadly, that was the end of her sister on the show, who was shipped off elsewhere. So you got: two dead former lovers, a whole bunch of kills, many flirtations, a hot but full of secrets affair with her handler Augie and killing off her identity of Annie Walker so she can go off the grid.

Kristin‘s Annie Walker is broke. She opened a bakery in a recession and when it went under, her boyfriend left her so she’s not exactly stable, happy or the best friend in the world. Once her BFF tells her she’s engaged, she goes on a downward shame spiral that includes her booty call boy toy telling her ‘you’re no longer my 4th favorite’, purposely hitting a fellow bridesmaid repeatedly in a heated tennis match, picking a cheap restaurant that gives the entire bridal party the runs (this scene totally could have been shorter, a sure sign of Judd Apatow’s involvement in the film), ditching the cop who is a sweet and decent man because he is basically a sweet and decent man and facing off with a popular teenage girl at her job in a jewelry store so she gets fired and has to move in with her mother.

WINNER: Does anyone really want to win in this category? Hands down it’s Kristin Wiig’s Annie Walker. She’s got more issues than a magazine hoarder.

LEADING MEN:

Covert’s Christopher Gorman has a twelve pack of abs. When he was on ‘Ugly Betty’ and he was shirtless, he became  ‘the talk of the town.’ He’s an undercover hottie with a body, but at the same time he plays a blind man. Never one to let that stop him, Gorman’s character Augie goes into the field, was a lady’s man before he and Annie finally hooked up this season. Smart, sexy and also a keeper of deep secrets that got both him and Annie into a ton of trouble this season.

Bridesmaids started out with Annie hooking up with her sex buddy, Jon Hamm. He is hot, a pig and won’t let Annie ever stay the night. Scoundrel! However, she meets Officer Nathan Rhodes, played by Irish comedic talent, Chris O’Dowd. He is an attractive fellow with a very nice accent.  Tall, caring and encouraging, this is a solid man a girl would be crazy to blow off, which Annie does and then realizes her self-involved mistake.

WINNER: Covert’s Chris Gorman. Annie Walker can take care of herself, but it’s the teamwork and trust with Augie that make Annie successful. He taught her well and together they are an unbeatable team.

Overall winner goes to USA’s Annie Walker on ‘Covert Affairs’, yet audiences win no matter which Annie they prefer.

Books Vs. Movie Versions…Ramble

It’s easy to replace the original version of a book in your memory, with what happened in the film adaptation. Here are a few changes from popular books made into popular movies, you may not remember:

1. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen is a classic that has sparked a whole genre of books inspired by the original. In the film version starring Kiera Knightly, the film ends with Mark Darcy being told the nicknames he can call her i.e. “My Pearl” on Sundays. The classic book ends with a summary of the relationships between The Darcys and different characters in the book. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, do, once engaged, then become rather playful in the same vein as the movie, questioning how they could ever have fallen in love and what was the timeline.

2. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding, not only based on Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, it sparked a whole genre of ‘chick lit’ itself. The genre is a fun, career women who bumble along when it comes to love. In the film, Mark Darcy and rival Daniel Clever have several scenes in which they are both present which climaxes with a fist fight on Bridget’s birthday. However, in the book, the two never face-off in person. Bridget also has a brother, who doesn’t add much to the book anyway,  which didn’t make it into the film.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, like Helen Fielding, Collins was able to be part of the film adaption, which remained closely faithful to the book. In first book in the much beloved trilogy, Katniss Everdeen saying goodbye to her family, Gale, and the mayor’s daughter who gives her the pin of the Mockingjay for good luck. In the film version, we never meet the mayor’s daughter. The pin is given to her by her costume designer, Cinna.

4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson is also the first book in a beloved, albeit, adult, not YA, triology. There is one huge difference the film changed, for the better. At the end of the film, Lizbeth wants to go see Blomkvist, to give him a gift and resume their romantic relationship. In the book, it is a cheesy license plate that says ELVIS on it. The film fortunately made it an expensive leather jacket, a much sexier gift. However, both end up in the trash.

5. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. The book added this interesting detail- the four white horses our heroes rode off in on the end, were used by Prince Humperdink to go hunting. He would jump from one horse to another, in order to maximize their energy in his hunting pursuits.

Small changes can add big drama or cut out unnecessary details weighing down a book. What are some of your favorite differences between books and their film adaptations?