Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back in the saddle again

You may have noticed that there are a great deal of 'last year I went to this junket posts' and not so many 'this week I covered' posts. This is because a few months ago I was laid off from my main dayjob in junketville as my poorly managed company started its long-predicted decline 2 years after starting up.

In the meantime, I have been on somewhat of a hiatus from the junket world--poorly timed, given I had just launched this blog. Mostly, I have been holing up in my basement and working on scripts of my own, and taking the odd piece of junkety work that fell my way without my having to do anything to track it down myself.

Well, like all good phoenixes, it is time I must rise again, hopefully this time in the guise of a full-time freelance junket-ite. We'll see how that goes; I'm still more threat than action on that front. There are just only so many hours in the day, and mine are still primarily devoted to purging my soul of all the pet projects that have been quietly simmering away on my neverending range of back burners. But still, you can (hopefully) expect to see a few more contemporary junket discussions cropping up from here on out.

To that end, I give you: The Reader. I was excited to take this one because I read the book (it was on Oprah's book club--Version 1.0--and I long ago realized I needed to get over my gut instinct to hate on her book club as I was forced to admit that she picks good books). The book was decent--not my favorite of her selections, but I am blaming that on the fact that it was translated from German and somehow I think I have trouble really connecting to the emotional content in translated books. Blah blah blah blah.

ANYHOOT. So, The Reader was adapted by David Hare and directed by Stephen Daldry, i.e., the same team that adapted and directed The Hours. Not surprisingly, it was beautiful and very well done. Lots of critics sniffling throughout the screening, although I was oddly stone cold--likely because I a. read the book and knew the story already (see above) b. am very familiar with the subject matter (post-Nazi German guilt, amongst other things) and am oddly desensitized to anything that has anything remotely to do with the Holocaust thanks to enough years of Hebrew school to break the spirit of a far more religious person than myself and c. am a heartless shrew.

The leads are played by Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, but very unfortunately neither of them did the junket. Instead, Daldry and the other lead, a new young German dude named David Kross (I know, I know, I wanted it to be Tobias Funke, too, but Kross is no anal-rapist, just a twee little German teen). They were late so they were paired instead of separate as they were supposed to be, which is probably just as well as Kross isn't confident enough in his English (it honestly was terrific, but he was I think nervous enough to only give short answers) so Daldry did most of the talking.

I then had a 1:1 with Daldry. He wanted to go out on the patio so he could smoke a cigarette. He's a prototypically cute mid-40s British director type, i.e. very not caught up with himself despite the fact that his main credits to date are Billy Elliot and The Hours and everyone thinks he is a king of emotional dramas. I probed him on his mentioning that he had debated which way he wanted to go with the ending, out of purely personal reasons because I am having issues deciding on which way to go with the ending of something I am writing right now. Mostly the interview was boring and fine and normal, the most exciting part being that he laughed when I told him that I had sympathy for a Nazi character--and I'm Jewish (always a killer punchline).

Also, for you Michael Chabon fans out there, there is still no movement on his adaptation of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Says Daldry: it's still in limbo due to bullshit studio politics. But one never knows what kind of boost it might get once this one comes out, as this one will surely get good reviews and maybe even some Oscar buzz (although for various more political reasons Winslet is likely going to get a bigger push for Revolutionary Road and obviously powers that be don't particularly want her up against herself. But perhaps her really spectacular performance will overwhelm. Also, he said Chabon did a great script for Kavalier & Clay, so cross your fingers. Not that I liked that book, because I didn't.

The most exciting part of this junket? Honestly, since it's been a few months since I've been there, I met new people. Two power-chicks in fact. Often there are some serious characters at the junket circuit, and these two women were pretty cool. So, I'm psyched. Now go see The Reader when it opens (limited) next week. The end.


  1. Whoa whoa whoa whoa WHOA. To me, the jumpout line is: "Also, he said Chabon did a great script for Kavalier & Clay, so cross your fingers. Not that I liked that book, because I didn't."

    Discuss! That may be my all-time favorite book, so I want to hear why you didn't enjoy it!

  2. Hah! I don't really know; it just didn't rope me in and after a fashion, I didn't even finish it. I can't really say more than that.