Some exciting announcements of upcoming adaptations:
Howards End by E. M. Forster
E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End is to be adapted into a four-part TV miniseries produced by BBC and Starz, to be helmed by the Oscar nominated Manchester by the Sea director Kenneth Lonergan. Hayley Atwell plays Margaret Schlegel, Matthew Macfayden takes the role of Henry Wilcox, and Tracey Ullman is Aunt Juley Mund. I just can’t help but compare this new cast to that of the, shall I say, definitive 1992 Merchant Ivory production with Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Redgrave. Inimitable. Yet, I’m glad to hear of a rebirth of this brilliant E. M. Forster novel.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Anne Barrows and Maryanne Shaffer
At long last, the best-selling novel (2009) is finally adapted for the big screen, renamed Guernsey. Phew! While its popularity has subsided by now, I hope the movie will revive it, for it’s a delightful read and the characters are resilient residents on German occupied Guernsey Island during WWII. Written as a series of letters between a London writer Juliet Ashton and her friend and publisher Sydney Stark and later, with the charming Guernsey folks, the book exalts the power of reading, not potato peeling. How do you turn epistles into a movie? We’ll have to see. Downton Abbey‘s Lily James will play Juliet, after first Kate Winslet then Rosamund Pike dropped out. Hope this will go to completion. The director is Mike Newell, known for Great Expectations (2012), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), and perhaps the most memorable, Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
At last something to look forward to after Downton. Ian McEwan’s Whitbread winning novel (1987) about the perpetual trauma of a lost child will be adapted into a 90 min. TV drama co-produced by BBC and Masterpiece. Benedict Cumberbatch to star. With the Sherlock series going down an erratic rather than rational path, I hope this one is a more grounded outlet for Benedict’s superb acting skills, like his Parade’s End (2013). This is his second time in a McEwan novel. Back in 2007, he played a supporting role in the Oscar nominated Atonement, relatively unknown, stressing on the ‘relatively’. And hats off to actors who can navigate freely between the big and small screen platforms.
The Sea Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard
Glad to learn that Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long, The English Patient) is stepping out from her long acting career into the director’s chair, and acting too in this adaptation of English author Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novel. While I haven’t read any of Howard’s works, I’d seen the screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s, and that’s her screenplay for the Oscar winning Polish film Ida (2013). I highly anticipate Lenkiewicz’s new work. Glad she’s collaborating with Scott Thomas in her directorial debut. Mark Strong is said to be in talks to join the project. Of course, my dream cast would be Colin Firth with Kristin Scott Thomas.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
According to director Jon Chu (Now You See Me 2), this will be “the first all-Asian cast feature from a Hollywood studio in a long, long time.” Umm… since Joy Luck Club (1993) that is. A risk or a good opportunity? Constance Wu (TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”) is on board to play a major role. If you’ve not read the book, rest assure that with a title like this, it has got to be a satire, and not a get-rich-quick manual. Not that I’m crazy, nor rich, but reading Kwan’s imaginary yet true-to-life characters is an extravagantly wild ride. His astute and bold satire of modern day’s opulent Singaporean families (his own cultural background) is what Jane Austen would have loved to poke fun of if she found herself in a 21st century rich Asian home. But of course, just like the writing of our dear Jane of yesteryears, the heroine (Rachel in Kwan’s book) is your everyday middle class, highly educated yet modest gal growing up in (immigrant) America, finding (surprise!) that her boyfriend actually is Mr. Darcy incognito when she travels back with him to his family home in Singapore for the wedding of his best friend. I highly anticipate this one, but with great trepidations. They better make this work, or it could easily be a disaster of ethnic proportions.
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