Angel, Spike, Xander, Mal Reynolds, Jayne, Dr. Horrible, Victor, Topher Brink, Tony Stark, Agent Coulson. Great characters. I enjoy them all. One thing they have in common is that they are some of the on-screen characters under the guiding mind of Joss Whedon. He uses some great characters in his stories – at least half of them are men.
I don’t care about any of those guys. Why? Because everybody writes great male characters for film and TV.
Joss Whedon does something that everybody else doesn’t always do. He writes great female character, too. Speaking as a woman, I can testify to the fact that women are desperate to see great female characters on their various screens. When someone like Joss Whedon gives us that with brilliant consistency, women notice. I pay homage to him today.
Here’s a little treat in the form of a few of the women Joss Whedon invented for the screen, with Joss’s fuzzy and warm face right in the middle. I’m not going to name characters and shows to match up with the faces below. If you don’t already know those facts, you need to embark on a study of Joss Whedon’s filmography immediately.
I love you, Joss, and every woman you ever created.
Whedon on Whedon Women
This is an old speech, from 2006 and Equality Now, but I know Joss Whedon still gets the same question everywhere he goes. It’s worth listening to his answer one more time.
Joss is right. Instead of asking him why he’s doing it right, we should start asking everyone else why they’re doing it wrong.
On 4 November, Equality Now will honor award-winning writer, director, producer and Advisory Board member, Joss Whedon, for his work on gender equality at an event in Beverly Hills, California. Chaired by Board member Gloria Steinem and hosted by Paul Reiser.
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?
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!
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
The crimes Annika reports on are fascinating – big complex mysteries with important implications and often dangerous for the intrepid reporter.
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?
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.
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.
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
Dylan McDermott as FBI Special Agent Duncan Carlisle
Billy Brown as Archer Petit
Sandrine Holt as Sandrine Renault
Rhys Coiro as Kramer Delaney
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.