Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I am so happy to discover there are still decades of great films for me to catch up on. 84 Charing Cross Road is an absolute gem from 1987 and although looks a tad dated, it is dated in a rather charming way. Sort of like the books they sold at the antiquarian bookshop of title.
Based on the 1970 book 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff it chronicles the 20 year correspondence between Helene, a poor writer from NYC with very specific taste in books and a bookseller in London England who tracks down many of the titles she wants. Although originally just corresponding with Frank P. Doel who was the most senior employee of Marks & Co., Helene also occasionally corresponded with other staff members and even Frank's wife Nora.
This unlikely book consists of the real letters containing the transatlantic correspondence from 1949 until Frank's death in 1968. Here is a sample:
14 East 95th St,
New York City
October 5, 1949
Marks & Co.,
84, Charing Cross Road
London, W.C. 2
Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase "antiquarian book-sellers" scares me somewhat as I equate "antique" with expensive. I am a poor writer with antiquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions or in Barnes & Noble's grimy marked-up schoolboy copies.
I enclose a list of my most pressing problems. If you have clean second-hand copies of any of the books on the list, for no more than $5.00 each, will you consider this a purchase order and send them to me?
Very Truly Yours,
(Miss) Helene Hanff
Anthony Hopkins plays Frank P. Doel, originally quite stuffy in the letters and then warming up as he becomes friends with the outspoken American on the other side of the Atlantic.
Anne Bancroft plays Helene Hanff to a tee. Anne's husband Mel Brooks bought the rights to the then popular book as a vehicle for his wife. Luckily she is an incredibly talented actress who really connected with the character of Helene and gave the film it's heart.
Judi Dench plays Frank's wife Nora, with a lovely Irish lilt to her voice. A small role, but Bafta nominated all the same!
Helene: I hope 'madam' doesn't mean over there what it means here!
Helene: It's against my principles to buy a book I haven't read, it's like buying a dress you haven't tried on.
Helene: I remember years ago a guy I knew told me that people going to England for the first time find exactly what they go looking for. I said I'd go looking for the England of English Literature, and he nodded and said 'It's there'.
Cheers and enjoy the book and the film. My book is on order!
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Let Them Eat Cake is a delectable comedic treat from the always entertaining Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Letting them loose spoofing the Court of Versailles at the time of Marie Antoinette was genius. Basically we have a French Blackadder with a cast of mostly women!
Jennifer Saunders plays the Comtesse Columbine de Vache who lives at the Palace of Versailles and lets us in on the...comings and goings, shall we say, of the court! Lots of gossip and scheming behind the scenes and let's just say that Marie Antoinette was only the second most despised woman in France!
Dawn French plays her sneaky nymphomaniacal former prostitute maid Lisette and the supporting cast is "abfab" with Alison Steadman (our shrill Mrs. Bennet) as Columbine's arch rival Madame du Plonge and Adrian Scarborough as the acid-tongued manservant/wig-master Bouffant! Lucy Punch (Elaine from Doc Martin) plays Madame du Plonge's naive but knowing daughter Eveline du Plonge.
Lisette: "You'll have to have a tryst again, like you did last summer."
Columbine: "Yes! Tryst again, like I did last year."
Columbine: "Will you shut the frock up!!!...at the back there, it's undone."
"The liaisons were dangerous. The wigs were lethal!"
Some wonderful person (thank-you, thank-you, thank-you) has put them all on YouTube. Here is the first part of Episode 1 The Pox to whet your appetite. Enjoy this frothy confection!!!!
Cheers! P.S. This one is strictly for ages 18 and up ;)
I don't even know how I stumbled upon the ladies of the blog Advanced Style today but they have inspired me, so I thought I would share. The blog is written by a young New Yorker Ari Seth Cohen, who has great style himself and an appreciation for the gifts these ladies have to give.
The documentary film Advanced Style is wrapping up this weekend at Hot Docs, the Toronto documentary film festival and I am sorry to have missed it. Creative, artistic "Dames" (there is really no other word for them), each one of these style icons over 60 has something wonderful to share about their optimistic view on life.
Here is the trailer so you can be inspired too. Hopefully this comes soon to a theatre near you. Until then, you can continue to be inspired by the blog Advanced Style.