Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pancks Resurfaces In Action-Packed Sherlock Holmes Trailer

Watch the new Sherlock Holmes trailer to see Robert Downey Jr. (brilliant casting!) as Holmes, Jude Law as Watson, and Rachel McAdams as the token love interest in action. And by action, I mean explosions, fist fights, and leaping from tall buildings. Hopefully the movie is more cerebral than it appears here, but either way, I can't wait to find out. Also, watch for a Pancks (Eddie Marson/Little Dorrit) cameo! --KIM

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Hobart Shakespeareans

Want to make a couple of English majors cry? Sit them down in front of this documentary about an inspiring teacher, Rafe Esquith, (think Robin Williams in Dead Poets) who teaches inner city Los Angeles school children how to get completely geeked-out about Shakespeare. Kim and I Netflixed this movie last week and went immediately bonkers watching 9-and-10-year-olds (many of whom speak English as a second language) perform Hamlet while slack-jawed Shakespearean actors like Ian McKellan and Michael York got all teary-eyed. Their end-of-the-year performance of Hamlet was awesome, but you'll also lose it watching them read Huck Finn in class and watching them say their end-of-year adieus when Rafe sends them on their way with words of wisdom they will remember for the rest of their life.

Learn more about this phenomenal teacher's program here.

Watch the trailer....

Friday, May 8, 2009

Keanu to Star in New Jekyll and Hyde

Keanu Reeves is set to star in a new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I have to admit that I am an unabashed fan of Keanu in the right role, but his wooden performance in Coppola's Dracula was one of the reasons a perfectly stunning film was spoiled for me. Maybe it's just that his style, unlike say Johnny Depp's, is out of place in a Victorian setting. Universal apparently has two adaptations of the novella in the works--the other has Guillermo del Toro directing. Details on the project here. (via @drmabuse)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Paradise Lost...Twice!

As we eke out the last day of National Poetry Month, The Hollywood Reporter says that at least one classic poem is getting the film treatment...in two different versions. (Sorry, Kim, it's not The Faerie Queene or The Rape of the Lock, which I'd actually much rather see)...Instead, it's John Milton's Paradise Lost. Two unknown actors, David Dunham and Patricia Li Bryan have been cast as Adam and Eve in the indie version from Granite Entertainment and STV Networks. Meanwhile, Legendary Pictures is also supposed to be doing a big-budget version of the famous verses with a project they're calling "Paradise." Not sure we need two, frankly, but maybe the indie version will put an interesting new spin on things.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Who do you love? We love Liz (of the fab blog Today's Special)! She will receive a copy of the Because I Love Her anthology, edited by Nicki Richesin and featuring essays by a host of wonderful writers, including Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Maynard, and Jacquelyn Mitchard. Read Liz's entry and the other great entries here. --Kim

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Giveaway: Win a Copy of the "Because I Love Her" Anthology

Just in time for Mother's Day we're giving away a copy of Nicki Richesin's new anthology Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond. The collection features thought-provoking essays by Karen Joy Fowler, Joyce Maynard, and Jacquelyn Mitchard, among many other talented contributors.

To enter, simply comment and answer the question: Who is your favorite mother in literature? To get it started, Nicki, Amy, and I will share our picks. We'll choose our favorite comment by end of day Monday the 27th so we can ship you the book in time for Mother's Day.

Rumer Godden
When considering mothers in literature, the most obvious choice for Mother Superior seems to be Marmee from Little Women. She was devoted, loving, and let’s face it, too perfect. The past few years, I’ve been inspired by the work of Rumer Godden. I’ve particularly enjoyed her memoirs in which she movingly recounts her adventures living alone with her daughters Jane and Paula in Kashmir. She writes beautifully of growing her own food and creating a rich life with very little money. I couldn’t resist jotting down notes from her books like how to be happy when you are miserable: she suggests planting Japanese poppies with cornflowers and having Jane paint a really good picture. What I found most incredible is that she was able to write many, many books, care for her daughters, and live a life on her own terms during the forties and fifties. Ms. Godden was truly a woman ahead of her time. I highly recommend her memoirs A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep and A House With Four Rooms. --Nicki


Ma Joad
The most famous mothers in literature aren’t always the good ones: Anna Karenina, Daisy Buchanan, Edna Pontellier, Becky Sharpe... Truth be told, these depictions of motherhood are generally more intriguing than the sugary-sweet variety that’s usually a default in too many classic novels. But these desperate economic times call for a desperate economic Mama, so I’m selecting Ma Joad from Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath as the most stalwart and determined of matriarchs in seriously tragic circumstances. As the backbone of her clan, she calmly and selflessly keeps the family together during their harrowing and humiliating struggles for survival, always restoring order and somehow managing to whip up a skillet of biscuits out of seemingly thin air to feed her family. Sometimes you just do what you’ve got to do to make it through, and while I might not go so far as young Rose of Sharon’s breastfeeding feat at the end of the saga, the women in The Grapes of Wrath are a testament to those women everywhere who know the true meaning of sacrificial love. --Amy


While good mothers do exist in fiction, it's the wicked mammas that make for the best stories. After all, what would Beowulf be without Grendel's vengeful mother and Snow White without the wicked stepmother? But the queen of all notorious mothers has to be Gertrude, for without her Hamlet and his oedipal frustration wouldn't exist. She married Claudius too quickly after the death of her husband (and possibly had an adulterous relationship with Claudius before Hamlet's father was murdered). However, when Hamlet violently accuses Gertrude, her response reveals she's more complex than a one-dimensional femme fatale:

O Hamlet, speak no more:
Thou turn'st my very eyes into my soul,
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct (III.iv.88-91)
...O speak to me no more;
these words like daggars enter my ears;
No more, sweet Hamlet!

By the time her lips touch the poisoned goblet during the play's tragic conclusion, she's become human and pitiable. --Kim

Historical Reality TV Poll

It's been way too long since they did another installment of those PBS series where they take ordinary people and plop them down into another era for a few weeks. "1900 House," (who can forget the darling Bowler family?) "1940 House," "Colonial House," "Regency House," "Frontier House"... Maybe they're running out of ideas? Which historical era would you like to see next? (Or, if you have a better idea, let us know in Comments.)