Lots of wonderful forces collide to bring to life the adaptation of Elizabeth Stout’s best-selling novel Olive Kitteridge. Frances McDormand (Fargo) executive produced and stars in the title role for HBO along with Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under). Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), explaining this film can be a pretty hard sell. McDormand’s Olive is a feisty, no-nonsense – ok I’ll say it – nasty woman who barrels through life taking no prisoners. That said, the nuance in performances especially with Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins is nothing short of spectacular. Yes, she is a hard-shelled woman, but there is humanity underneath her rough exterior. She pays attention to life and people around her get second chances as a result. Olive Kitteridge proves once again what a dynamic and versatile actor McDormand is.
The historical novel by Alexandre Dumas was adapted for the screen with this lavish French epic, winner of 5 Césars and a pair of awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Isabelle Adjani stars as Marguerite de Valois, better known as Margot, daughter of scheming Catholic power player Catherine de Medici (Virna Lisi). Margot is an heiress to the throne during the late 16th century reign of the neurotic, hypochondriac King Charles IX (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a time when Protestants and Catholics are vying for political control of France. Catherine decides to make an overture of good will by offering up Margot in marriage to prominent Protestant Huguenot Henri of Navarre (Daniel Auteuil), although she also schemes to bring about the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, when tens of thousands of Protestants are slaughtered. The marriage goes forward but Margot doesn’t love Henri and takes a lover, the soldier La Mole (Vincent Perez), also a Protestant from a well-to-do family. Murders by poisoning follow, as court intrigues multiply and Catherine’s villainous plotting to place her son Anjou (Pascal Greggory) on the throne threatens the lives of La Mole, Margot and Henri.
Find Queen Margot in our library’s catalog.
In French with English sub-titles.
Ryan Murphy’s (Glee, American Horror Story) HBO mini-series The Normal Heart gets released on DVD today. The Normal Heart is based on a 1985 play by AIDS activist Larry Kramer. A bit of trivia – Kramer’s husband’s brother and sister in-law live here in Fairfield. The story revolves around the very earliest years of the AIDS crisis before there was even a language to discuss the disease. Starring Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks (the Kramer character), Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, and Julia Roberts – The Normal Heart acts as a history lesson for those too young to remember the horror of the 1980’s and early 90’s and a stark reminder to everyone else who lived through it. The film has a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ve got copies at both locations for you to check out.
Ready for a suspenseful, murder mystery, police crime drama? How about kicking it up a notch where it’s 1967 in the deep South and the real drama centers not around the murder itself, but whether the African-American police detective from Philadelphia will be killed by local bigots? Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger star in Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night based on the novel by John Ball. Heat reminds us of the racial tensions and violence which were a constant threat to most during the 1960’s and unfortunatelystill haven’t disappeared. Edge of your seat suspense with outstanding performances from Poitier and Steiger. In the Heat of the Night is a must-see, classic American film.
Our branch library, Fairfield Woods is all about British television series. You’ll find many different worlds just an ocean away in the television stacks over at Woods. For example Doc Martin, Series 6 just arrived. From PBS,
Doc Martin stars Martin Clunes as the brash “Doc” Martin Ellingham who finds himself back home in a Cornish village after his illustrious medical career in London goes awry. The townspeople are not used to the doctor’s blunt opinions and insensitive manners, often leading to mayhem in the town of Portwenn. Caroline Catz plays school teacher Louisa Glasson for whom Doc Martin finds it difficult to express his romantic feelings.
HBO’s sassy, sexy and gory True Blood returns for its final season this Sunday on HBO. For those of you out there who call yourselves Trubbies (True Blood fans), I have a little “degree of separation” treat for you:
1) You are a patron of The Fairfield Public Library.
2) I work at The Fairfield Public Library and write for this blog.
3) I have two good friends in New York City.
4) They are good friends with Audrey Fisher, the costume designer for True Blood.
That makes you my friend three degrees of separation from your favorite cast or crew member of True Blood. Pretty cool, huh? If you still need to catch up on last season, Season 6 just got released on DVD and we have it at both locations. Or if you’re new to the screen adaptation of the very popular Sookie Stackhouse novels, start with Season 1 of Alan Ball’s hilariously morbid, sexy vampire television series True Blood.
Check out all the seasons of True Blood in our library catalog.
Read the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris which were adapted to become True Blood.
Or whip up some recipes from the True Blood inspired cookbook, True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps by Karen Sommer Shalett, Marcelle Bienvenu, Alan Ball, and Gianna Sobol.
Are you going through Downton Abbey withdrawal? Consider quenching your thirst for gorgeous British costume drama with a trip down memory lane – Merchant Ivory’s The Remains of the Day. Before Carson and Mrs. Hughes, 1993 introduced us to Anthony Hopkins’ Stevens and Emma Thompson’s Miss Kenton.
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes,
Filmed with the usual meticulous attention to period and detail of films from Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, The Remains of the Day is based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Anthony Hopkins plays Stevens, the “perfect” butler to a prosperous British household of the 1930s. He is so unswervingly devoted to serving his master, a well-meaning but callow British lord (James Fox), that he shuts himself off from all emotions and familial relationships. New housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) tries to warm him up and awaken his humanity.
New York Times film critic Vincent Canby’s original 1993 review tells us all we need to know,
Taking this rather arcane story, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s award-winning novel, Ismail Merchant, the producer; James Ivory, the director, and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the writer, have made “The Remains of the Day,” a spellbinding new tragi-comedy of high and most entertaining order. Here is an exquisite work that could become a quite unlikely smash.
In the way that “The Remains of the Day” looks grand without being overdressed, it is full of feeling without being sentimental. Here’s a film for adults. It’s also about time to recognize that Mr. Ivory is one of our finest directors, something that critics tend to overlook because most of his films have been literary adaptations. It’s the film, not the source material, that counts. “The Remains of the Day” has its own, securely original cinematic life.
You really owe it to yourself to embrace the subtly and beauty of one of Merchant Ivory’s masterpieces.
Out this week is season one of Netflix’s outstanding new television series based on Piper Kerman’s women’s prison memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. OITNB – get with the acronym already – broke a lot of records over at Netflix before the DVD release. From techcrunch.com,
Orange is the New Black has been a tremendous success for us. It will end the year as our most watched original series ever and, as with each of our other previously launched originals, enjoys an audience comparable with successful shows on cable and broadcast TV.
OITNB follows the life of a privileged young white woman who after laundering drug money gets sent to federal prison for a year. Mixing intense drama with hysterical comedy and revolving the show almost completely around a female cast (refreshingly for once the male characters are either vehicles, fluff or eye candy), Orange raises the stakes for binge watching television. We warn you once you start, you may need to cancel what you’re doing for the next few hours. One episode of this wonderful show is just not enough.
Director Stephen Frears’ Philomena starring the incomparable Judi Dench finally gets released on DVD today! From Rotten Tomatoes which by the way gave Philomena a 92% rating,
Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee, mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock – something her Irish-Catholic community didn’t have the highest opinion of – and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into the son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith, a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.
In anticipation of Easter’s imminent chocolate arrival and Gen X-ers forcing their children to watch the films they loved from their own childhoods, we thought it might be fun to revisit 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder in the title role as the secretive chocolatier who awards five lucky children with a peek inside his factory. Packed with post-60’s psychedelic sets and more than one nod to The Wizard of Oz, Wonka continues to delight audiences as much today as it did upon its release over 40 years ago. Wonka is based on the Roald Dahl children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was remade by Tim Burton in 2005 using the book’s original title and starring Johnny Depp as Wonka. Which version do you prefer? As long as you’ve got a big chocolate bar sitting next to you, we’ve got the book and both film adaptations for you to compare.