Last Tango in Halifax might be Last Tango in Santa Fe

The Guardian tells us that Diane Keaton plans US remake of BBC’s Last Tango in Halifax. It will air on HBO. Sally Wainwright, the creator of the show, says she will be a producer of the American version but will not have a huge role in the production.

I know I have lots of feelings about this news, and I’m sure the dedicated Last Tango fans do, too.

First, where would it be set? I just made up the part about Santa Fe. It’s a cool place, there are ranches surrounding it, and a lot of films get made in New Mexico. It might be a sensible location for a series that needs both urban and rural settings along with great scenery. Diane Keaton has not asked for my opinion in this matter, however.

Who would be in it? Would Diane Keaton play Celia? She’s 67. What American actresses are in their 70s? Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, Olympia Dukakis, Julie Christie, Candice Bergen are a few possible names. So we have talent in that age category, but American women don’t look their age. That’s a bit of a problem. Do we want to see anyone who doesn’t look as genuine Anne Reid in the role?

Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax
Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax

There are simply tons of older men to choose from for Alan. Robert DeNiro, Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Peter Coyote and dozens more. But I so like Derek Jacobi’s sweet and loving Alan. Some swaggering American who is used to waving a gun around just doesn’t feel right. And 70 year-old American men still fancy themselves leading men who should be snaring women 30 and 40 years younger than themselves. That’s a bit of a problem, too. As for the feckless John, Tony Gardner was perfection in this part. Who could equal that?

What about Caroline and Gillian and Kate? Remember my dream actress pairing of Ashley Judd and Jennifer Beals? Think they’d make a good Caroline and Kate? Other actresses in their 40s abound, include Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Renée Zellweger and lots more. But I’m sort of convinced that Sarah Lancashire is irreplaceable as Caroline. Nicola Walker in her jeans and Converse sneakers brings such nuance and subtlety to Gillian.

Casting is a challenge. Adapting the dialog and locations will be a challenge as well. Diane Keaton has taken on a huge task to make this wonderful story American. I wish her well, and I wish her great luck finding the right people to do the writing and casting and create the sets.

I’m really attached to Last Tango in Halifax. Even so, Diane Keaton is trustworthy, in my opinion. If anyone can make a love story about older adults shine, it should be Diane Keaton. Who knows, I may love the American version of this tale of second chances as much as I do the British one.

When I get attached to a show, like the Millennium series in Swedish (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest) I feel a vague dread at the arrival of American versions. Then I go see it (of course) and I like it on it’s own merit. It isn’t the same as the original, but it still has the characters and the story and I end up enjoying both versions. I’m ready to see what happens to this lovely British tale of second chances. Go, Diane!

One extra good piece of good news from The Guardian post is,

The second series of Last Tango In Halifax, one of BBC1’s biggest-rating new shows of 2012, launches next month and a third is planned.

A big hurrah for season 3.

Diane Keaton image © 2003 Columbia Pictures

No, You Silly, They Aren’t Clones, They’re Septuplets

Tatiana Maslany got so much attention for her amazing work in Orphan Black. The series Orphan Black received rave reviews. Orphan Black looks and smells like success and money. How you gonna jump on the Orphan Black bandwagon?

Here’s how.

Noomi Rapace is set to play 7 different sisters in What Happened to Monday? The premise of this dystopian sci fi future world is that overpopulation has limited the number of children allowed per family to one.

There are the rules, and then there are 7 baby girls. Seems we have septuplets on our hands. They are hidden away and only allowed to be seen one at a time.

Noomie Rapace as Lisbeth Salandar
Noomie Rapace as Lisbeth Salandar

The What Happened to Monday? director is Tommy Wirkola of Hansel and Gretel. Rapace played Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium series films – the original Swedish versions, not the American one – of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. She has also been in several American productions.

There’s more good news for the 7 sisters in What Happened to Monday? They were originally supposed to be 7 brothers, and Wirkola decided Rapace was perfect for the part. So, maybe they are cloning the clones, but they have a good star and what could be a good idea.

Noomi Rapace image ©Iker Arbildi.

3 Top Shows From the Fall TV Season

What if you picked the top 3 shows from the fall season that you were the most excited about, the most eager to see, and most wanted to recommend and talk about? That’s the question I asked myself. Here is my answer.

Last Tango in Halifax

Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid in Last Tango in Halifax
Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid in Last Tango in Halifax

Choice number 1, and an all time favorite, is Last Tango in Halifax. This BBC series was shown in the U.S. on PBS.org, where you can still watch all six episodes of season 1.

Last Tango in Halifax is built around Alan (Derek Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid). They were in love as teens, and probably should have married but did not because of an interesting plot twist. Sixty years later they find each other again via Facebook. They realize they are still in love and decide to get married. Their story by itself is warm and wonderful and a real treat.

We get more story than just an adventurous Alan and Celia from Last Tango in Halifax, however. The children and grandchildren of these two charming, Facebook using elders get into the mix.

Celia’s daughter Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) is headmistress of a school. She’s brilliant and snotty and sarcastic and positively luminous. Her husband of 18 years (Tony Gardner) recently ran off with another woman. In his absence, Caroline began a relationship with another teacher at her school, a woman named Kate (Nina Sosanya). When the series opens, Caroline has yet to tell anyone in her family that she’s seeing a woman. Her coming out affects each person differently and causes mayhem in several episodes. Caroline, her two sons, and Celia live in a big house with a cottage for Celia. As the season begins, Caroline’s husband arrives and wants to come back home.

Alan’s daughter Gillian (Nicola Walker) is a farmer in Halifax. She’s been a widow for 10 years and runs the farm on her own. Alan and Gillian’s teen aged son live on the farm with her. She builds rock walls, drives tractors, replaces clutches and generally is the perfect self-sufficient woman. Well, except for her habit of choosing inappropriate sex partners like 20 year old boy toys of questionable character who are already engaged to someone else. Gillian’s sexual choices cause mayhem in every episode.

The love stories of this extended group of northern England’s most engaging characters are riveting and often run parallel as everyone in both families gets a second chance at love. The best part? They are already filming season 2.

Nashville

Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere in Nashville
Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere in Nashville. Image from ABC TV.

Give me music and I’ll love you. My favorite episode of Grey’s Anatomy? The musical one. My favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The musical one. I love Glee and Smash (is that even still on?) and I love Nashville.

I’m also pretty darn big on Connie Britton, and she’s the star of this drama, playing country music legend Rayna Jaymes. Connie Britton isn’t a great singer, but she’s good enough. Hayden Panettiere (who is a very good singer) plays Juliette Barnes, a young country star who is trying to unseat Rayna from her throne as the queen of country. There is plenty of  musical talent on this show from many other characters. A special favorite is Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett O’Connor, and possesses a wonderful voice. Lots of guys with guitars and big hats fill out the singing contingent. Rayna’s family is into politics so there’s political drama along with all the music industry goings-on. Rayna and Juliette both have rather messy love lives, further adding to the weekly drama.

I love the music, I love the characters (even Juliette, who we are supposed to hate) and I love the soapy melodrama of Nashville.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast.
Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast. Image ABC TV

I am so not the target demographic for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I love it anyway. I mostly love it because it reflects Joss Whedon’s sensibility about what makes a good story. That means that the gender balance is perfection, the women are as powerful and smart as the men and no concept is too ridiculous a stretch of science fiction to entertain.

I happen to believe that we need more geeky female role models for young girls (who are part of the target demographic for this show). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a female jet pilot warrior commando, a female scientist, and a female hacker. Role models everywhere.

These are the 3 shows I get the most excited about seeing each week from this year’s fall TV season. What are your three?

NOTE: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.

Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter

Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter is a series of six films in Swedish with English subtitles. They are based on Liza Marklund’s best-selling crime novels.

Annika Bengtzon movie poster
Annika Bengtzon movie poster

The six films (with descriptions from Amazon) are:

  • Nobel’s Last Will: While covering the annual Nobel Prize Banquet, Annika witnesses the spectacular murder of two prestigious individuals right in front of her. She’s a key witness, so she’s bound by the police not to disclose anything. It’s the story of a lifetime, and she can’t write a word.
  • Prime Time: On her way to a family gathering, Annika has to leave her two children in the care of her boyfriend so she can report on the murder of a famous TV host. The ten people who’d just spent the night at a mansion where the host’s program is taped are under suspicion; Annika learns that her best friend is among them.
  • Studio Sex: When a stripper from a club called Studio Sex is killed, the case becomes political dynamite after the police find out that the Minister of Trade visited the club on the night of the murder. Working the story also brings up bad memories for Annika and she finds herself taking it all personally.
  • The Red Wolf: In the dark winter of northern Sweden, a journalist is murdered. Annika senses that the killing is linked to a terrorist attack 40 years ago, about which the journalist knew too much. Her investigation brings her into a world of old loyalties that began with the 1960s leftists and extends into the liberal government of today.
  • Lifetime: Lonely and divorced, Annika spends most of her time at work to forget her private misfortunes. She reports on the strange case of a young female police officer who’s accused of killing her policeman husband and hiding their young son. She also suspects that there’s more to this story than an enraged wife.
  • A Place in the Sun: Annika travels to Costa del Sol, Spain, to cover a story about a Swedish family who was killed during a burglary. As she investigates, it becomes clear that the murders are connected to a drug trade that reaches from the hashish farms of Morocco to the streets of Sweden.
Annika Bengtzon movie poster
Annika Bengtzon movie poster

The films star Swedish actress Malin Crépin as the workaholic crime reporter Annika Bengtzon. She works at a newspaper on a crime beat and is friends with a number of police sources.

She has two beautiful kids at home, and a husband who whines if she isn’t home being wifely for him whenever he wants a meal or the children picked up. You might guess that the husband doesn’t last through every film in the series. Yep, he gets the boot. Since Annika tends to get very involved in the cases she’s writing about, it’s a constant source of conflict between her work life and home life.

I enjoy a number of things about this series. The acting is very good. The character Annika is brilliant at solving – not just reporting on – crime and often has it figured out before the police do. She’s awesome like that.

Malin Crépin
Malin Crépin image by Frankie Fouganthin via Wikipedia

The crimes Annika reports on are fascinating – big complex mysteries with important implications and often dangerous for the intrepid reporter.

You can see all six of the films on Netflix streaming instantly. Amazon has them in two box sets: Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter: Epsiodes 1-3 and Annika Bengtzon, Crime Reporter: Epsides 4-6. Amazon doesn’t seem to have them available for streaming with Amazon Prime – sorry.

I hope you’ll give these films a try. I watched the first and couldn’t wait to see the rest of them.

The Book Thief Looks Good

The Book Thief looks really good! It’s based on Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel from 2007 and is about a young girl in Nazi Germany. She seeks refuge in stolen books while her family hides a young Jewish man in the basement.

The film is directed by Brian Percival. It stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse and Ben Schnetzer. The Book Thief comes out in November.

Thirteen year old Sophie Nélisse has already won acting awards for her two previous films, and I’m sure you are aware of the acting talent you can expect from Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

This is the international trailer for the film.

Also check out the American version of the trailer.

You might also be interested in this interview by Amber Gochoel with actors Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush and director Brian Percival.

What do you think of the film? Do you plan to see it? Or, if you have seen it, what did you think of it?

Outtakes from The Heat

I loved The Heat. It’s now out on DVD. If you didn’t see it in theaters, you must see it now. Enjoy these outtakes and funny moments between Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

Video via USA Today.

 

Review: Hostages

Hostages got off to a slow start. I’m glad I stuck with it, however, because it builds week by week with unexpected plot twists, character development that throws you off balance, and increasing suspense. Episode 5 (of 13) aired this week, and I’m now well and truly hooked.

Hostages poster

I will watch Toni Collette do anything, which is where my initial interest in Hostages started. But not where it stopped. The cast is large and excellent. Take a minute to watch the trailer, before I get into the cast.

The cast can be explained as hostages, hostage-takers, and others. But you are never really sure who is actually a good person and who is not. Everything shifts, which is one reason why the show is so interesting. Here’s a lineup.

The Hostages

  • Toni Collette as Dr. Ellen Sanders
  • Tate Donovan as Brian Sanders, husband of Ellen
  • Quinn Shephard as Morgan Sanders, daughter
  • Mateus Ward as Jake Sanders, son

The Hostage-Takers

  • Dylan McDermott as FBI Special Agent Duncan Carlisle
  • Billy Brown as Archer Petit
  • Sandrine Holt as Sandrine Renault
  • Rhys Coiro as Kramer Delaney

Others

  • James Naughton as President Paul Kincaid
  • Hilarie Burton as Samantha, Brian’s mistress
  • Tyler Elliott Burke as Boyd, Morgan’s boyfriend
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as First Lady
  • Joanne Kelly doesn’t appear until episode 6, but she will be the First Lady’s sister

The plot begins when Dr. Ellen Sanders is ordered to kill the President during surgery in order to save her family. The writing is tight, there’s plenty of action, and nothing is what it seems. In each episode, we learn more about the characters and their motivations, which are often surprising.

I don’t want to tell you any more about the plot than that very beginning. If you haven’t seen it yet and want to catch up, I don’t want to ruin the experience with spoilers.

Hostages is on Monday nights, opposite Castle. Not an easy spot. I’ve been taping it while watching Castle, and catching up later. That’s turned out to be a good thing, because I have all the episodes of Hostages on my DVR. I think I’m going to enjoy replaying them when the season is over and I want to look back at how the clues were revealed and how the story was constructed for the maximum suspense.

Even if you didn’t DVR Hostages, full episodes are available at CBS.com if you want to catch up. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Images ©CBS and Warner Bros. Television

Apocalyptic Thinking with The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is gruesome and gross and bloody. It depicts killing by all kinds of characters, including children. If you can stand looking at that, it’s worth watching. Why?

Because behind all the gore, it’s a story about what humans do when faced with apocalyptic events.

When they aren’t busy killing zombies, the characters in The Walking Dead do all the things that people normally do – fall in love, have kids, argue, garden, work, build things, take care of each other and look at each other with suspicion.

characters in the prison
In season 4, humans are living in a prison to keep the walkers out as life goes on inside

The Walking Dead is about a zombie apocalypse, which is of course, fiction. What this fictional event does is force the characters to face questions about morality and ethics and self-preservation that go deep into human nature. If other humans threatened your safety, would you kill the them? If people came to you in your safe place wanting to share your food and security, would you allow them in? Would you teach children to be kind and caring, or would you show them how to use a knife to kill as the character Carol (Melissa McBride) is doing in season 4?

Melissa McBride in a jail cell
Melissa McBride in season 4’s prison setting

Much of the plot deals with how humans – even while surrounded by hoards of ravening zombies – are unable to trust each other and work together for their common good. There are power struggles, there is mistrust, there is no effort to join together to try to solve the problems facing everyone. Sounds like the U.S. Congress, does it not?

There are other possible forms of apocalypse that are not fiction. Nuclear war, climate change, global monetary crises – things could fall apart in many ways. The Walking Dead gives us a template for the kind of thinking that would face us if a catastrophic event overtook the world.

Global warming, for example, is already causing change. What happens when millions of people who live in coastal cities are made homeless by rising oceans? As such climate refugees move inland, will you welcome them, help them, or regard them as a threat to what you have? If you had to move inland because your city was underwater, how would you approach your new situation?

If our infrastructure fell apart around us, would it be every man (or woman) for himself, or would you work with others to bring a peaceful organization to whatever situation surrounded you? Would you put your faith in a leader such as the character Rick (Andrew Lincoln) in The Walking Dead, or would you try to take command yourself? Rick lead for 3 seasons, realized he made mistakes, and turned his leadership over to a democratic process. Do you think something like that would work in a real world situation?

The Walking Dead takes viewers on a moral and ethical journey that’s worth exploring. Our moral and ethical choices don’t involve zombies, but real people, real human failures and behaviors. What would we do in the face of global catastrophe? The Walking Dead makes you think about these things. That’s why it’s worth watching.

What’s your opinion of The Walking Dead?

All images ©AMC Television.

Women Directors Daily News

A post about 10 Female Filmmakers to Follow at Indiewire recently had many comments with additional names of women in film to follow in Twitter. One of the comments mentioned a Twitter list of women directors.

The Twitter List
The Twitter List

Since it’s really easy to make a daily newspaper from a Twitter list using a tool called paper.li, I looked to see if anyone had made this list with 451 women directors in it into a daily paper. I couldn’t find anything like that at paper.li, so I made a daily paper for this list.

You can find Women Directors Daily here.

What the paper does is aggregate tweets from the women on the list into a daily newspaper-like display. If you subscribe to the paper, you get a daily email when the paper has been published. Instead of following all 451 women, you can just read the paper each day and within a few minutes you get 24 hours worth of tweets and information from the women on the list.

Any public list from Twitter can be made into a daily paper at paper.li. It’s very easy. If you have Twitter lists of people in film, people in entertainment, producers, actors, or any other type of list it only takes seconds to make a paper for it.

Queen to Play: Small and Beautiful

Queen to Play – original title Joueuse – is a little-known French film that is quiet, beautiful and ultimately uplifting. Released in French in 2009, it’s available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I think you’ll love it. Beware, spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Queen to Play: Small and Beautiful”