Posts Tagged ‘film’

Palm Springs Film Festival Appearance

Saturday, November 15th, 2014


Love books and movies? Want to be in balmy Palm Springs in January? Then come join The Power of Words:  Book to Screen, a January 8th, 2015, event that is a new part of the superb Palm Springs International Film Festival. It’s an all day affair of literary panels and movies, discussing how books make it to screen. Among the talent speaking:  Author Mark Bowden and scriptwriter Ken Nolan, on their film Black Hawk Down; and writer Amy Jo Albany and producer Albert Berger on their film Low Down. I’ll be sharing a panel with the fantastic  Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of The Descendants and The Possibilities. A few of the films will be screened on January 7th, the night before the full day symposium.

Come join us. Should be fascinating.


Thursday, April 26th, 2012

 Jenne Casarotto, based in London, is one of the world’s top film and theater agents. Casarotto represents the cream of British writing and directing talent through her agency, Casarotto Ramsay  & Associates. Her clients include theatrical lions like Sir David Hare, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Christopher Hampton and the estates of Tennessee Williams and Raold Dahl. Through her agency Casarotto Marsh, Jenne Casarotto supplies the film industry with top behind the scenes tech talent. Six degrees of separation. Casarotto’s affiliate agency in Los Angeles represents the academy award winning costumer designer, Yvonne Blake, who happens to be the sister of Juliet Blake, the talented producer who got my first novel, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, into active film production. Such a small world – when you are amongst The Luvvies, as the English call film and theater types.

This is all a very big wind up to say, Jenne Casarotto very rarely takes on books directly, so I am very lucky and privileged she has picked up BUDDHALAND BROOKLYN, my novel about a repressed Buddhist priest getting published by Scribner in the US on July 17. Jenne Casarotto will be representing my novel’s film rights, as co-agent with my primary agent, Richard Pine of InkWell Management.

The last time Casarotto Ramsay and InkWell joined forces like that on a book they produced something called THE DESCENDANTS, the academy award winning film written and directed by one of my all time favorite writer-directors, Alexander Payne, and starring, of course, the always watchable George Clooney.

As Reverend Oda might say, “I see. How interesting.”

Which is, of course, an absolute rave.

Catherine Deneuve Meet Madame Mallory

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Catherine Deneuve

Who should take the leads in the film of The Hundred-Foot Journey?

When I began writing The Hundred-Foot Journey I imagined the great Indian actor, Shashi Kapoor, as Papa, and France’s wonderful Jeanne Moreau as Madame Mallory. But I have changed my tune. They are now too ill and ailing to carry the parts.

Just saw Catherine Deneuve in Potiche (Trophy Wife), a silly French farce with a few genuinely funny moments. But Deneuve herself is, without a doubt, a star. I still can’t take my eyes off her. (I once sat behind her at the Yves Saint Laurent couture collections in Paris and thought I would faint – from the crush of paparazzi clamoring to shoot her.) Deneuve has that regal thing going for her which would work well in Madame Mallory. The other names I frequently hear floated for Madame Mallory are Helen Mirren (I could deal with that) and Meryl Streep (yeah, I could deal with that, but would worry Madame Mallory might be too close to Streep’s superb performance in Julie & Julia.)

Om Puri

And for Papa? The blustery Om Puri would be fantastic. His performances in films like In Custody, East Is East, and My Son The Fanatic were stellar. He was recently in the Hollywood vehicle, Charlie Wilson’s War, and he was an Ismail Merchant regular, which adds sentimental value for me. Here’s a pic to jog your memory of what he looks like.

Who do you think should be the leads in The Hundred-Foot Journey film? Like to hear your thoughts. Will forward the best suggestions to my film producers.

Video from Penn’s The Kelly Writers’ House

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Earlier this fall I read at the University of Pennsylvania’s The Kelly Writers’ House, where so many literary heavyweights have over the years read from their work. Pretty sweet to be included. Click here for the video of my Kelly Writers House reading. Or if you just want to hear the audio recording, that’s publicly available too, but be forewarned the master of ceremonies wasn’t close enough to the mike, so you probably wont hear anything until 30 seconds or so into the audio tape, when I start talking. Click here for audio only.

Simon & Schuster’s video of The Hundred-Foot Journey

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Check out the terrific teaser video Simon & Schuster made for The Hundred-Foot Journey.

Facebook page dedicated to The 100 Foot Journey

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Lars Røtterud: my clever publisher at Versal Forlag in Norway.

My Norwegian publisher, Lars Røtterud at Versal Forlag, had a smart idea: create a Facebook page where all the stakeholders of The Hundred-Foot Journey, across the globe, can make comments and submissions, in effect documenting the book’s own journey across this earth of ours. Since I have no compunction about shamelessly pinching other people’s cleverness, I have done just that. Please come check out the 100 Foot’s Facebook page here and join the “virtual” banquet starting to take shape.

More ideas from other clever people are most welcome.

Convert to the artistry of Russian film maker, Nikita Mikhalkov

Monday, April 26th, 2010


Back in the 1990s, when I lived in London, a friend of mine urged me to see “Burnt By The Sun,” by the great Russian actor-director Nikita Mikhalkov. The film revolves around an eccentric artistic family surviving at their elegant dacha in the hinterlands of Stalinist Russia, not insignificantly because the daughter has married a revolutionary hero, Colonel Sergei Kotov (played by Mikhalkov). The film won the academy award for best foreign film in 1995, but I only just got around to seeing it.

I was floored by the experience. The story is about how the daughter’s childhood love comes back from the past, to destroy the family during one of Stalin’s routine terror-purges. Mikhalkov’s’s great talent as a director and actor is that he sympathetically conveys both the revenge-driven former boyfriend and the nationalistic revolutionary hero that he has killed – both are destroyed by Russian history and Stalin. I learned a great deal about the old Soviet Union from this film, which, appropriately, Mikhalkov devotes to all of Stalin’s victims.

Intrigued by this small masterpiece in film making, I went down to our local DVD store to pull another of Mikhalkov’s works. Expecting it would be a disappointment, after “Burnt by The Sun,” I found lightning can strike twice. In “12”, Mikhalkov does a masterful homage to Sydney Lumet’s “Twelve Angry Men,” with 12 jurors deciding the fate of a Chechen boy who is accused of murdering his Russian step-father. It is, again, film-making at its unqualified best. It is no way a remake of Lumet’s work, but a distinctly Russian original, and the scenes of the Chechen boy dancing were alone enough to make me want to jump on a plane and visit culture-rich Russia and its various ethnic groups.

In real life,  Mikhalkov is associated with severely nationalistic political views, but in his films at least he conveys a great deal of humanity and sympathy for individuals of all stripes victimized by Russia’s bloody history.

No question about it: Mikhalkov is the real thing. An artist.

When a film haunts you.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

A tough tale: Spring, Summer, Fall, WInter and Spring

A tough tale: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring

One of the surest signs of a great film is how much it haunts you after the screening. I know I have seen something top-drawer when I am brushing my teeth, backing the car into a parking spot, having a cup of afternoon coffee – and  scenes from a movie seen months ago suddenly pop into my head. By this yardstick the South Korean film made by Ki-duk Kim in 2003 – called “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring” – has to be among the best films I have seen this year.

My friend Lizanne Merrill urged me to see the film, knowing, as she does, it has some parallels with the novel I am writing now, called Buddhaland Brooklyn. Both my book and Kim’s film are about a Buddhist priest and a temple and their various transformations over four seasons. Kim and I are, in fact, calling on an established Asian literary tradition where the four seasons are not to be viewed as a literal sequence of linear time, but symbols of transformations taking place within a person during an entire lifetime.

But there our two works part company. I don’t want to give away the plot here, but Kim’s film is about an aging Buddhist priest and his young acolyte, and it’s a very stark and shocking human story that unfolds against an incredibly bucolic and tranquil-looking temple grounds and setting. The film is really about passion and attachments and the reason for being and the illusions of life and, most importantly, about karmic retribution. That, I think, is what this movie is really about. Most Westerners have a sanitized and shangri-la image of Buddhism, where tolerance and wisdom are the key bywords, but in reality many Buddhist sects are as fundamentalist and rigidly doctrinaire as any sects found in the Judeo-Christian tradition. I think this film does a brilliant job bringing the doctrine of karma to life. No-character in this film –  and I mean no-one – can escape the karmic ripples and repercussions of their actions. Watch closely to what happens to the mother, towards the end of the movie, after she abandons her out-of-wedlock child at the temple.

Kim is like Hitchcock – a seemingly inconsequential act instantly creates karma that ripples disastrously through the universe. So do yourself a favor. Rent a copy of “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring”. It’s an eye opener.

Looking For A Film?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Really enjoyed the film, “Is Anybody There?”, which reminded me of that 1970s favorite, “Harold & Maude”. Sir Michael Caine is Clarence, a cantankerous old codger who is forced to move into a retirement home in a tired resort on the English coast. The home is run by a down-on-their-luck family, taking in the elderly in order to pick up state subsidies in the early 1980s recession of the Thatcher era. Edward, the family’s son played by Bill Milner, is obsessed with the decay and death all around him, just like Harold in “Harold & Maude,” and the relationship between Clarence and Edward unfolds brilliantly. Just like his 1970s predecessor, Edward ultimately discovers a passion for life through the short-tempered old man at death’s door. Terrifically enjoyable film with just the right balance of humor and pathos and truth. No violin strings, no cloying sweetness. Good film for adults exhausted by the faux emotion in many Hollywood films. Kudos to scriptwriter Peter Harness and director John Crowley.

Clarence (Caine) and Edward (Milner) bonding in

Perfectly Matched. Clarence (Caine) and Edward (Milner) bonding.

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