Watch This: Trailer for Big Stone Gap

Big Stone Gap looks like an old-fashioned romantic comedy from a bygone era. The comedy might be a bit on the silly side, but I’m completely sold on the cast. It stars Ashley Judd, Jane Krakowski, Jenna Elfman, and Whoopi Goldberg. All that female awesome is countered by Patrick Wilson as the romantic leading man.

Ashley Judd and Patrick Wilson in Big Stone Gap

There are other well known actors in the film, including Chris Sarandon, Jasmine Guy, Anthony LaPaglia, John Benjamin Hickey, and Judith Ivey. Dagmara Dominczyk will play Elizabeth Taylor. Big Stone Gap was written and directed by Adriana Trigiani.

Here’s the plot synopsis:

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town’s self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a “mountain girl’s body and a flat behind.” She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she’s not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave’s fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime-a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever.

The 1978 setting explains Whoopi Goldberg’s hairdo and all the interest in whether or not a woman approaching 40 has a husband.

The movie is based on a best-selling novel by writer-director Trigiani and filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. Patrick Wilson’s family also comes from Big Stone Gap, VA. I suspect some of the extras will be persons of importance to either Trigiani or Wilson.

This is Trigiani’s first directing effort. She’s worked as a producer and has written a number of best selling novels. The film will be released October 9, 2015.

Images © 2015 Picturehouse.

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

Dream Actress Pairings

The other day Sarah Shahi tweeted a pic of her and Amy Acker working together on Person of Interest.

Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker: I think that’s an interesting combination of stars. Two people that you might not ever expect to see work together and there they are, working together. Look at some of the combinations we are accustomed to seeing – Samira Wiley and Danielle Brooks, Anna Silk and Ksenia Solo, Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander, Ellen Pompeo and Sandra Oh – once we get to know the characters the choices seem inevitable. But up until the moment they were cast and the contracts were signed, all the choices were open.

It made me think about dream actress pairings.

Let’s play casting director!

If you could pair up any two actresses to star in a new movie (or TV show) who would you pick? For our movie let’s say the two are not related but instead are friends or coworkers – or lovers. They are strong, smart, and the lead actors in whatever drama we imagine for them.

My Picks

ashley judd and jennifer beals
Ashley Judd and Jennifer Beals

I’m picking Ashley Judd and Jennifer Beals. Here are my reasons.

  1. As far as I know they’ve never appeared together. Teaming up with someone new is the point.
  2. They are both in their 40s, so the movie doesn’t have to be a “let’s find true love and mate for life” kind of romantic comedy.
  3. They are both in their 40s, but that doesn’t rule out love stories if the movie needs to include that kind of story. It just shouldn’t be the only thing going on.
  4. They are both kick ass. Ashley proved she can do the action stuff in her TV series Missing. Jennifer kicked butt in her TV series Chicago Code. So if the movie is about catching bad guys, these two can handle it.
  5. They are both smart. I’d like to see a story where two leading women characters get to do something  smart and clever. If it was a political drama or courtroom drama they could be smart and savvy and make long lines of dialog sound meaningful.
  6. They are both terrific actors who are under appreciated in the awards department.
  7. I like them both and will watch anything they do.

I could go on naming combinations of actresses I’d like to see work together as lead characters, but I want to hear your ideas. Who do you think would be an interesting pair-up?