Richard Linklater May Direct Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Looks like it’s not a sure thing yet, but the Hollywood Reporter is, er, reporting that Richard Linklater (most recently of Boyhood) is in talks to direct the big-screen adaptation of Maria Semple’s novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette? I’ve heard great things about this book, and all the book-related people I follow on Twitter were very excited about this news.

If you haven’t heard about it, here’s the book’s official description from the author’s site:

“Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.”

War & Peace Casts Gillian Anderson & More

Gillian AndersonThe Weinstein Company’s War and Peace miniseries, directed by Tom Harper, keeps adding exciting people to the cast: Gillian Anderson! Joe Broadbent! Rebecca Front! Aneurin Barnard! Tuppence Middleton! The cast already included Lily James, James Norton (hi Sidney Chambers!), Stephen Rea, and more, so this is shaping up to be quite the star-studded adaptation. I’m pretty excited. (Will I be able to read the book in time? I need to make myself a schedule.) Variety has the full rundown on the casting news.

Irvine Welsh & Jon S. Baird Adapting Ivanhoe

Huh. These are . . . not the names I would guess would go with this project! According to Deadline, Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting) and Jon S. Baird (director of Filth) are teaming up for an adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. You know, the one about knights and stuff. Apparently this will be a “strong new take on the source material, with Ivanhoe and his fellow returning knights suffering to different degrees from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following their ultimately failed exploits against Saladin and his successful recapturing of Jerusalem.” Interesting.

Movie Thoughts: 50 Shades of Grey

50 Shades of GreyI feel like I’ve been on all sides of many of the arguments about 50 Shades of Grey in recent weeks. Yes, I think it’s problematic in various ways. Yes, I think it has every right to exist. Yes, I think it’s provides a terrible relationship model, but no, I don’t think women are so stupid that they can’t separate fiction from fact, or entertainment from inspiration. Yes, I thought the book was terrible in its execution, even aside from any questions of content. No, I don’t think it’s helpful to interrogate or shame any individuals who are fans of the books and/or movie – people like all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons, conscious and unconscious. I do think it’s worth interrogating the various reasons why this has become such a cultural phenomenon.

So: I don’t find the story of 50 Shades enjoyable, in either book or movie form. I think the central relationship is abusive and don’t derive entertainment from it. I don’t want this couple to end up together; I want Ana to run far far away and Christian to get a bunch of therapy. I realize that many women react very differently than I do, judging by both box office figures and the opinions of women in my life. It doesn’t work for me, but to each her own. (However: it’s worth noting that for a movie that was supposedly all about women’s fantasies, most of 50 Shades was still presented through the male gaze. The camera spent much more time on Ana’s body than Christian’s.)

All that said: my main impression of the movie was that it was much less terrible than it could have been. It was certainly better than the book; the dialogue was in many cases improved, and the lack of Anastasia’s inner monologue made the whole thing slightly less ridiculous. The movie was very pretty, and the soundtrack was great. Really, as an adaptation, I’d have to consider this movie a success – it improved on the source material while remaining quite faithful to it, which is an impressive feat. For example, one of my big questions going into the movie was how they would put scores of pages of contract negotiations via email on screen. Instead, they focused on an in-person business meeting about said negotiations, and that wound up being my favorite scene in the movie – it was clever and sharp and funny and full of tension.

I was particularly impressed with Dakota Johnson, whom I’ve liked since her Ben and Kate days. She took a character who is almost blank in the novel and gave her some spark and personality, and this helped make the central relationship seem slightly more equal than it did in the book. There were times when Johnson’s Ana clearly had Christian’s number – though in some cases I wasn’t sure whether that was a deliberate choice or just Johnson not being able to help herself from elevating the character. She and Jamie Dornan had decent chemistry, and I found myself wishing they would play a couple for whom I actually wanted to root.

Trailer: Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding CrowdAny Hardy fans around? We’ve got a new trailer for Thomas Vinterberg’s adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd, and boy, it looks gorgeous. It stars Carey Mulligan, Matthew Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge, and Michael Sheen, and will be in theaters on May 1st.

Grantchester Finale Clip + James Norton Q&A

GrantchesterHere’s a clip from the season finale of Grantchester, which airs this Sunday on PBS at 10/9c. Ooh, drama. Are they trying to get Sidney out? I love these reluctant bonding moments between Sidney (James Norton) and Leonard (Al Weaver).

And here’s a fun little Q&A with star James Norton in which he answers all-important questions like “Dogs or cats?” and “Jazz or rock?”

Sarah Phelps Talks Adapting The Casual Vacancy

The Casual VacancyI’m always interested to hear about people’s writing processes in general and book-to-screen adaptations in particular, so I was delighted to see this BBC interview with Sarah Phelps about adapting J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy for TV. Phelps has previously written for EastEnders as well as some other literary adaptations, including Great Expectations; according to IMDb, she’s working on a miniseries adaptation of Christie’s And Then There Were None, so that’s something to look forward to.

Phelps talks about her process, Rowling’s involvement, and more. I particularly liked this bit about characters:

When I think about characters I imagine them walking into a room – how do they carry their weight? Who do they look at? Are their shoulders straight or slumped, do they want to be seen or ignored? Where have they just come from? What was going on? What are they thinking about right this moment? What is the secret that they just can’t tell? And then suddenly they open their mouth and there they are talking.