Virgin River on Netflix

Robyn Carr Virgin River Series

Continuing Netflix’s obsession with raiding the romance genre for ideas for productions, now Robyn Carr’s super-popular Virgin River series is being adapted for the screen.

Set in small town America, in Humboldt County, California, the book series follows a large cast of couples and side characters – but then I guess most people reading this post have heard of it! It looks like the initial run might just be for the first book.

Will I watch this show? Maybe… I don’t usually enjoy seeing characters I’m this familiar with (nor locations I’ve had in my mind for years) being presented in a way I don’t recognise.

A Word on Book Adaptations

To All the Boys I_ve Loved Before by Jenny Han Movie Tie-In Cover

Over the years, when it comes to film and TV adaptations of books, I’ve seen a million comments in a similar vein:

  • Why didn’t the author cast a different actor?
  • Why did the author let them change a scene from the book?
  • Why didn’t the author pick different music?
  • Why? Why? Why?

(On a side note, this applies to book covers, too.)

This has come to my attention again with the release of the movie version of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. As successful as the movie is, Han has come under attack from the male Asian American community, and has been suffering abuse all over the internet.

Much of this centres on her making the Asian heroine’s love interest white.

However, some of it is about the inclusion of actor Israel Broussard in the film. With the actor’s newfound fame, people have been digging into his social media accounts. He is from Gulfport, Mississippi – deep Trump country – and it’s been discovered he made all kinds of horrific, racist, discriminatory (now deleted) tweets over the years.

Here’s the truth about adaptations:

THE AUTHOR HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING.

Nothing whatsoever. When you sell the rights to your book, YOU’VE SOLD THE RIGHTS TO YOUR BOOK.

You get no say in the casting. You get no say in the writing of the script*. You get no say in filming locations, or music, or costumes, or what the movie posters look like.

It is no longer your story.

Please remember that before attacking an author about something they have no control over.

 

*Added to say that very occasionally an author might get a say in some script choices. Usually this only happens with very famous authors of a very well-established series. And even then the input they get is minimal.

For example, Diana Gabaldon is listed as a “consultant” for Outlander, and yet that still doesn’t mean she writes the scripts, nor that she gets a say in the overall production.

The Week: 23rd – 29th July

Friday afternoon drinks on the patio near the lake at the National Library. Canberra put on a sunny and surprisingly warm day. It was a gorgeous end to the week.

Australian Parliament from the car on Friday afternoon.

There was a terrible fatal accident involving a truck, three cars, and many people right near where I live yesterday morning. It’s on a patch of the Monaro Highway where, recently, I’ve seen a car run off into a paddock, a huge truck overturned, and, a few weeks ago, it was the exact spot we nearly got cleaned up by an aggressive male driver who ran a red light several seconds after ours turned green. And that’s before mentioning the endless kangaroos/foxes/wombats/possums that have been hit by vehicles and now line either side of the road.

We had to drive past the scene yesterday (and will have to travel past there twice today), and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

The Monaro Highway is the thoroughfare for interstaters going to and from the Snowy Mountains, the country, and Sydney, and is also where all the reckless ute-driving workmen (who’ve never met a road rule they won’t break) travel from early morning through to late afternoon.

I had a lot of posts this week, with all the news floating around!

#Cockygate Resolved

Tara Crescent Cockygate Resolved Thank You

The Bridgertons are coming to television!

bridgerton

RITA Awards 2018

Forbidden River (The Legionnaires #2.5) by Brynn Kelly

A Buffy Remake?

buffy_sarah_michelle_gellar_gettyimages-1150569

Dear Canberra Writers’ Festival: Barnaby Joyce is NOT a writer, and you know it

BarnabyJoycewearsanAkubrahatanddoesthehangloosehandgesturewithhisrighthand

The Trump Effect on Books

Tessa Dare Donald Trump Paper Costs Canada Trade War 1

Roswell Trailer

Roswell New Mexico 2018

On this day: Prisoners of War in Ukraine

20th Anniversary of Ever After

The Week: 25th June – 1st July

Australian Parliament on Saturday afternoon.

Winter Evening Light Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Sonya Oksana Heaney 28th June 2018 Canberra Australia Nature

Winter Sky Sunset 2 Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 28th June 2018 Nature

Winter in Canberra

Yesterday we finally made it to the National Gallery for the Cartier exhibition. I’ll do a post about it next week, but – WOW. This wasn’t just random stuff; it was Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara, and some of the Queen’s favourite jewellery, and Grace Kelly’s tiara, and Elizabeth Taylor’s necklace, and tiaras belonging to Queen Victoria’s daughters, and a clock belonging to a US president…

Followed up with lunch at Canberra’s oldest Italian restaurant – good start to the weekend.

My review of Someone to Care (Westcott family #4) by Mary Balogh

To China

Chinese Embassy Australia Canberra

The next trademark drama.

Cockybot cockygate trademark for Secret Garden

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I_ve Loved Before by Jenny Han Movie Tie-In Cover

What is this?!

Hidden Truths (My One-Night Stand #3) by Giovanna Reaves

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Yound adult author Jenny Han’s book To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has been made into a movie, and the trailer is out now.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once? 

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

And here’s the trailer:

The Week: 14th – 20th May

It was a gorgeous week here. I could go on about all the horrible things that happened in the world, but you know what they are…

We had a late lunch in Manuka yesterday afternoon. On the way home we had to drive past St Christopher’s Cathedral. Such blue sky. It looks a bit like it’s a Tuscan town in this picture! The trees around it were full of hundreds of cockatoos.

RT Book Reviews Closes

RT Book Reviews logo

Little Women 2017 – Cast

14722570-high_res-little-women-ep-2_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqM37qcIWR9CtrqmiMdQVx7GgL7o0_ESnuLxJzSWOePQE_wdpWilla Fitzgerald little women 2017

No more library fines for most young readers in L.A. County

Libraries in Los Angeles are letting kids read off their debt.

Out Now: Dater’s Handbook

A novelisation based on a movie starring Meghan Markle, Dater's Handbook by Cara Lockwood cover

Romeo and Juliet Manga?

Manga Classics Romeo and Juliet by Crystal S. Chan (Adapter) and William Shakespeare and Julien Choy (Artist) Cover

The Best Trademark

20180517_134440

Little Women 2017 – Cast

little-women-2017

I do not know what possessed the BBC to send a cast and crew to Ireland to film a miniseries of classic American Civil War-era novel Little Women, but that’s precisely what they did in 2017. The series aired in some countries around Boxing Day last year, and now it’s America’s turn.

I first watched it in January, and – as a huge fan of the 1994 movie – have thoughts about it.

Because these thoughts turned into something of an essay, I’ll be discussing the casting on one day, and the production on another.

I’ll not be talking about the earlier adaptations.

These posts will also be on my history blog. There will be spoilers.

In case you’re not familiar with the story:

Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Alcott wrote the books over several months at the request of her publisher. Following the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy—the novel details their passage from childhood to womanhood and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.

Little Women was an immediate commercial and critical success with readers demanding to know more about the characters. Alcott quickly completed a second volume (entitled Good Wives in the United Kingdom, although this name originated from the publisher and not from Alcott). It was also successful. The two volumes were issued in 1880 as a single novel entitled Little Women.”

 

Of course, the most important casting choices for Little Women will be the sisters. Other major roles are Marmee, the girls’ mother, Laurie, the young man who moves in next door, and the elderly Aunt March. There are other roles, but those are the three people tend to care about.

Firstly: I have NO idea why people have complained about the actresses’ accents. Three of the four actresses ARE American, including Jo, so I think people are simply looking for faults where they don’t exist.

Jo is the star of the book, and the series, and here she is played by Maya Thurman-Hawke. She is Uma Thurman’s (and Ethan Hawke’s) daughter, whom she resembles – but to me she is a lankier, younger version of Lynette Wills.

maya-hawke-in-little-women1-a

This is a very different Jo to Winona Ryder’s 1994 Oscar-nominated version. She is awkward, scruffy, and passionate. It is a great performance and even though she’s a newcomer you can see how much work she put into the role, but I’m still a Winona fan!

The problem with her casting is that she looks like the youngest of the March sisters, when two of the girls are supposed to be significantly younger than her. (Also, I nearly broke through the screen to try to do something about her unbrushed, unstyled hippie hair!)

Little Women

This leads me to Amy – the baby of the family. She is played by a twenty-year-old Kathryn Newton here, though she is meant to not have even reached her teens at the start. She fares much better as the grown version of the character.

People love to hate Amy for three reasons:

  1. She is the youngest, and therefore does some immature things at the start that people refuse to forgive her for as she matures.
  2. She is supposed to be the pretty blue-eyed blonde of the family (and people love to hate pretty blondes!) – which leads to:
  3. She marries Laurie, and everyone wanted Jo to marry him, so they won’t forgive her for it.

I have always found the hatred directed at Amy abhorrent and enormously misogynistic. Amy is my favourite March sister because she grows and changes the most, and has a wealth of interests and ambitions.

Amy March Little Women 1994 Kirsten Dunst Samantha Mathis

In the 1994 version she was played by two actresses: Kirsten Dunst as the younger version, and Samantha Mathis as the grown version. While I always found it odd how different the two were from each other, they were both so brilliant in the role I forgave it.

The problem with Newton in the role in this new adaptation? There are a few.

Little Women 2017 Kathryn Newton Amy March Sonya Heaney Screencap Skating Scene

Firstly: she is older than the actress playing Jo, and it’s obvious. She is a poised young woman to a Jo who is still mastering her teen awkwardness, and no amount of Amy skipping around the house and sitting on the floor with her legs splayed makes her seem any younger.

Secondly: this obvious maturity makes her childhood mistakes seem calculated and evil, and the writer and director lingered on them so long it painted a completely wrong picture of the character.

Thirdly: no time actually seems to pass. In 1994, we saw Mathis’ Amy had grown because she was in 1870s gowns and had 1870s hairstyles:

Samantha Mathis as Amy March in Little Women (1994)

Little Women film- Samantha Mathis as Amy March)

2017’s Amy is still in the voluminous Civil War-era skirts, with ear-hugging 1860s hair as an adult – the same fashions that were around when she was a child:

Little Women 2017 Kathryn Newton Amy March Laurie Sonya Heaney Episode 3 screencap Europe

It results in an Amy who looks too old to be a child, and too young to be an adult.

Superficially: nobody in a period drama should have dark eyebrows and bleached blonde hair.

Now… there are two more March sisters, but I need to mention Laurie.

Jonah Hauer-King actually physically resembles the book character better than 1994’s Christian Bale, but: 1994’s Laurie was Christian Bale!

Little-Women

He was simply brilliant in the movie, unsurpassable.

2017 Laurie and Amy are below. I think they suit much better than Laurie and Jo.

Amy-March-1174517

On the other hand, Hauer-King does an excellent job. He’s likeable, loveable, and IS a good match for Amy when he finally realises Jo is his best friend, not the love of his life.

The other two March sisters are the two people tend to overlook more.

In this version, tragic Beth has been given a whole new level of “homebody”. She has a full-on anxiety disorder in this incarnation, which is not something I have ever seen before, and I’m not sure was necessary.

Little Women 2017 Episode 1 Beth March Sonya Heaney Annes Elwy Screencap Winter

Welsh actress Annes Elwy (as in, the only sister not played by an American) does a great job with what material she has, but she is written to fade into the background at so many points. I still find her highly likeable, however.

Beth’s death in the movie was a hugely emotional scene with only Jo present; in this miniseries everyone’s crowded around and I really don’t think it had much of an impact, despite Emily Watson’s good acting…

The eldest March sister, the sensible, motherly one, was played well by Willa Fitzgerald, even if she does come across as a bit of a bore! I actually think that overall this was the March sister who was the best cast. She is everything Meg should be, but the actress simply does not have enough to work with to make her as interesting as Jo or Amy.

Emily Watson’s Marmee is a much more harried, rough-around-the-edges mother than Susan Sarandon’s version in 1994. I think it suited this scruffier production of the book, and she is always a great actress, but I still prefer a warmer interpretation.

Watson also gets extra points, because Susan Sarandon – the real woman – has emerged as highly unlikeable since the 2016 US election.

Angela Lansbury (of recent “women need to take some blame for getting raped” infamy) plays Aunt March, the elderly aunt who takes Amy to Europe. She is a different aunt to the 1994 version, but she is really good in the role.

This is VERY different casting to the ’94 movie, but that is a good thing. I do prefer the movie cast overall, but there are some interesting changes in the 2017 version.

50th Anniversary of Romeo and Juliet

Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet 1968

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the release of Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.

The movie premiered in London on the 4th of March, 1968.

When I was in Verona in February 2017 the old house that is now marketed as “Juliet’s House” had some of the costumes from the film on display, as well as Juliet’s bed. If you are ever in Verona, go *into* the house – don’t just hang out in the overpopulated, heavily touristy courtyard. It’s an incredible building in its own right.

Verona is an amazing city, and totally overlooked. The daytrippers really miss out by just glancing at Juliet’s and Romeo’s houses and then moving on to Venice.

DSC00697Juliet_s House Verona Veneto Italy Franco Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet 1968 Costumes Bed Sonya Heaney Oksana February 2017

DSC00694Juliet_s House Verona Veneto Italy Franco Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet 1968 Costumes Bed Sonya Heaney Oksana February 2017

DSC00696Juliet_s House Verona Veneto Italy Franco Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet 1968 Costumes Bed Sonya Heaney Oksana February 2017

 

Fifty Shades is still going…

I honestly forgot about Fifty Shades of Grey, so was surprised to see another film trailer on the television in the last few days. This is the final movie… correct?

I’ve since read a few articles discussing the Fifty fad, and one point comes up time and again: the story – about a kinky billionaire stalking a young woman – seems extra creepy now. This is because the United States now has a lecherous billionaire as President, and the #metoo and other movements have exposed how many men of Christian Grey’s ilk wield their power to become sex abusers.

In the space of only a few years, this series’ always uncomfortable power dynamic is coming off as ten times creepier than before.

So far, early reviews aren’t promising: