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  • Kat Rosenfield 3:15 pm on 2016/07/15 Permalink
    Tags: , children's classic, film adaptations, , , ,   

    Ranking Every Roald Dahl Movie 

    This month, a very big kidlit-to-film adaptation came galloping into theaters: Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited take on Roald Dahl’s classic, The BFG. And thanks to a loyal script and Spielberg’s willingness to leave the signature darkness of Dahl’s stories pretty much intact, the big-screen version of The BFG is, by all accounts, a whizz-popping good time.

    But while Spielberg’s take on Dahl’s giant story is being very well-received, fans of the author’s work were understandably nervous going in—because previous adaptations of Dahl’s books have been decidedly hit or miss. Below, we’ve ranked them all, from the ones that left much to be desired to the nearly perfect cinematic triumphs.

    The Witches
    As a book, The Witches was magnificently creepy. As a film? Alas, nope. Despite Angelica Huston’s best efforts, the witches in the screen version came across as bumbling idiots rather than dreadful, formidable foes; the slapstick humor was overdone; and the whole thing capped off with a made-for-Hollywood ending that totally denied the bittersweet flavor of the book. But one thing does make The Witches potentially worth a rewatch: Mr. Carson of Downton Abbey makes a surprise appearance, in a brief role as a hotel chef with a mouse down his trousers.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    Tim Burton’s second outing as a Dahl adapter was, alas, the less successful of his efforts. Although the weird and wonderful visuals were…well, weird and wonderful, and the production hewed pretty closely to the original book, Johnny Depp’s unsettling take on Wonka was a sour note amidst all that delicious chocolate.

    You’ve got to love this movie for its A-plus casting—of the Trunchbull, particularly—and wildly entertaining take on the book’s forced cake-eating scene, both of which nearly made up for a script that didn’t quite capture the unique and oddly intellectual flavor of the original Matilda. Bonus points for Mara Wilson, who was not only a very capable Matilda, but grew up to be a lot like the character in some truly delightful ways.

    James and the Giant Peach
    Tim Burton was a producer on this film, and his signature claymation was the perfect vehicle for a retelling of Dahl’s twisted fantasy about a boy who goes inside the aforementioned giant peach and befriends the giant bugs who live inside it. Add in a score (complete with original songs) by Randy Newman, and you’ve got some solid entertainment, even if it’s only reasonably faithful to the book.

    Fantastic Mr. Fox
    Based on concept alone, Fantastic Mr. Fox is not just the best of the Dahl adaptations, but possibly one of the greatest movies ever made in the entire history of film. Oscar winners George Clooney and Meryl Streep as the heads of the titular Fox family; Bill Murray as a badger lawyer; a script cowritten by Noah Baumbach; and none other than Wes Anderson spearheading the effort? Be still our beating hipster hearts! But despite its charms—and it had a lot of charms—the film fell victim to the same fate of so many others on this list, falling shy of capturing the unique darkness at the heart of Roald Dahl’s original book. It was, however, still quite good.

    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    Forty years of doing Dahl onscreen, and you still can’t beat the original: The 1971 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Despite not adhering particularly closely to the source material—and being loathed by the author himself—this movie has everything that matters in a Roald Dahl adaptation, from the wildly imaginative visuals to the unrestrainedly harsh life lessons. But its reasons for placing at the top of this list can be summed up in two words: Gene Wilder. His performance perfectly captured the mercurial-bordering-on-malicious nature of the titular character in a way that remains unparalleled—and the image of him standing like Charon the ferryman, reciting slam poetry at the bow of that boat careening through a psychedelic tunnel, continues to both thrill and terrify us in equal measure.

  • Melissa Albert 4:47 pm on 2015/12/02 Permalink
    Tags: , film adaptations, ,   

    Great Books on the Big Screen 

    Winter is the perfect time to hit the movies: the theater provides respite from the cold, it’s the perfect family escape in between holiday meals and cookie bakeoffs, and it’s way easier to sneak in snacks when you’re wearing a parka. Before you see these 10 film adaptations—high-octane thrillers, thoughtful dramas, and everything in between—read the books that inspired them, stories so moving they just had to be retold onscreen.

    The Revenant, by Michael Punke
    This adaptation of the amazing semi-true story of fur trapper Hugh Glass will star Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy as two men on either side of a dark vendetta. When Hugh (Dicaprio) suffers terrible injuries in a bear attack, the assumption is that he’ll soon be dead, so the leader of his expedition orders two men to stay with him, and bury him when he dies. The men instead abandon Glass, stealing everything he’d need to survive. And yet Glass does survive, then sets out for revenge. A gripping, tense story anchored by peerless research and rich descriptions of early 19th-century life in the unsettled wilderness of the American Northwest.

    Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín
    Award-winning Irish author Tóibín nabbed his dream hometown cast—including Oscar nominees Saoirse Ronan and Jim Broadbent—and no less than Nick Hornby to pen the screenplay for the adaptation of his 2009 novel about a small-town Irish girl in the years after World War II who dreams of a better life in Brooklyn. The film, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, was directed by Irish theater veteran John Crowley (who also directed several episodes of HBO’s True Detective).

    Trumbo, by Bruce Cook
    Emmy winner Bryan Cranston stars as legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in the film adaptation inspired by Cook’s 1977 biography. Trumbo was a celebrated, highly paid talent in Hollywood during the Golden Age of movie-making—until the 1940s, when, with the Red Scare in full swing, Senator Joseph McCarthy made Tinseltown ground zero for a Communist witch hunt. Refusing to reveal the identities of other Hollywood players involved in Communist organizations, Trumbo was placed on the infamous “black list,” and barred from working in the industry for more than a decade (at least under his own name—films he wrote won two Oscars during his period of exile). The film, by Jay Roach, who previously adapted the 2008 election drama Game Change, follows the arc of Trumbo’s life and career and also stars Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, and Louis C.K.

    The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff
    Eddie Redmayne brings his post-Oscar glow to the story of Lili Elbe, artist and transgender pioneer, told in this adaptation of Ebershoff’s 2000 novel. The natural drama of Elbe’s life-altering journey, and its effects on her marriage, are well-suited to the big screen, but also make for a compelling read. Her story is one of love, ambition, and identity, and an unconventional look at an unconventional 20th-century woman.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    Weir’s debut novel is possibly the biggest self-publishing success story of all time, going from a self-published release, to a best-selling hardcover, to theaters in less than two years. Anyone who gripped the armrests watching Sandra Bullock struggling to survive the cold indifference of space in Gravity will get a similar thrill watching Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on the Red Planet, forced to endure the tortures inflicted upon him by director Ridley Scott.

    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick
    Academy Award–winning director Ron Howard brings his sure touch to this adaptation of Philbrick’s harrowing true-life account of the 1820 sinking of the whaleship Essex by an enraged sperm whale, the incident that inspired Herman Melville to pen a little novel called Moby-Dick. The cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Ben Whishaw.

    The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith
    Nobody does sexual obsession like Patricia Highsmith. In the forthcoming adaptation of her cult classic novel The Price of Salt (to be released in theaters with its alternate title, Carol), Rooney Mara’s dissatisfied shopgirl has a chance meeting with Cate Blanchett’s elegant housewife, and love, dreams of escape, and blackmail follow. We can’t wait to see what Todd Haynes, known for his incredible direction of women, does with this one.

    Deep Down Dark, by Héctor Tobar
    Antonio Banderas stars in and Patricia Riggen directs this taut real-time drama, adapted for screen as The 33 from Tobar’s 2014 book. Both tell the story of the 2010 mining incident in Chile, in which 33 miners were trapped underground for more than two months, at a mine infamous for its safety violations and previous fatalities. They survived a disastrous collapse and, starting 17 days after the accident, managed to communicate with the surface, first by notes and then by video. The telling of their trials underground, their courage under fire, and the events leading up to their rescue will star Banderas as Mario Sepúlveda, who served as spokesperson for the miners throughout the ordeal.

    13 Hours, by Mitchell Zuckoff
    On September 11, 2012, terrorists attacked a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Lybia. What happened next has been the subject of endless investigation, speculation, news articles, even hearings. Over the course of the 13-hour attack, six security personnel fought back, saving lives and serving as the primary subjects of Mitchell Zuckoff’s thrilling nonfiction account. Big-screen vet Michael Bay directs cast including John Krasinki and Pablo Schreiber.

    The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis
    The latest film adaptation from The Blind Side and Moneyball author Michael Lewis is a darkly funny account of the 2008 financial crash, told through the story of a handful of finance world outsiders who saw it coming before anyone else did. Come for the all-star cast (Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell), stay for the sharpest, most entertaining explanation of how it all went down that you’ll ever get (outside of reading the book, of course).

  • Cheri Passell 7:00 pm on 2015/01/05 Permalink
    Tags: , film adaptations, human capital, , , , stephen amidon   

    When Your Book Becomes a Movie: A Talk with Stephen Amidon 


    American author Stephen Amidon’s dark slice of Americana, Human Capital, caught the attention of Italian director Paolo Virzì, whose film version, Il Capitale Umano, became Italy’s best film of 2014. What happens when a story of greed, failure, and secrets in an American suburb takes on an Italian accent? The “Lefty from Livorno” made a few changes, but basically stayed true to Amidon’s powerful and riveting narrative.

    Born in Chicago, Amidon has worked as a film critic and written six other novels, including The New City and two nonfiction books. The Washington Post named Human Capital one of the five best novels of 2004, and the adaptation won best film at the Italian Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, and was selected to represent Italy as the best foreign film at the 2015 Oscars. I spoke to Amidon about what it’s like to see your book make it to the big screen.
    When a book becomes a movie, I usually prefer one or the other, but this might be the first time I’ve liked both equally well. Why do you think your very American story translated so well to an Italian one?
    The main reason is the great talent of the filmmakers, director Paolo Virzi and his cowriters Francesco Bruni and Francesco Piccolo. I think they were able to draw out the novel’s universal themes—greed, ambition, the often-crippling ambitions we have for our children—nd translate them seamlessly into a setting that was very different from the novel’s Connecticut. I also think the Italy of today is undergoing many of the same crises and challenges that the United States was facing when the novel was originally set (2000–2001). Specifically, what is the human cost of this Faustian deal with the big banks that allows societies to finance a high standard of living? Just how much are people willing to sacrifice for financial security and social status? How do you raise a child in a culture that puts so much pressure on them to succeed?

    What’s your favorite film adaptation of a book?
    My favorite film is The Godfather, so I suppose it would have to be that, although my one attempt to read the book didn’t go too well. It’s a difficult thing to do, I think, this film adapting business. There are so many that don’t work! Sometimes I think that bad books are easier to adapt into strong movies than good ones. That said, I think Alexander Payne (The Descendants, About Schmidt, Sideways) is a director who consistently transforms novels into strong films.

    Your book and the movie are not so different, but it took on a new life in the Italian setting. When you were writing the book did you imagine it as a movie? Did you picture Ben Affleck and Angelina Jolie instead of the Italian actors?
    I tend to visualize my novels as I write them, so I suppose in some way I am imagining them as a movie, though I certainly don’t write with a film adaptation in mind. Having your book adapted into a film is such a long shot that you have to be a bit crazy to set out with that in mind. So, no, I didn’t visualize actors, though I can safely say the characters I did imagine were not quite as attractive as the Italians who wound up playing them!

    Was there anything in Paolo Virzì’s adaptation that particularly surprised, delighted, or annoyed you? Did you think, “Wow, that’s even better than I’d intended!” or “No, no, no, not what I had in mind at all!”
    There was nothing that annoyed me, which is a remarkable thing to say, given what a risky undertaking it was. I supposed the thing that delighted me the most was the screenplay. I attempted to write a film version of the book not long after it came out and made something a mess of it, which led me to think it couldn’t be done.  But I think the way the screenwriters solved the book’s problem of multiple viewpoints is incredibly impressive. I was also deeply gratified by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s performance as Carrie (or Carla, in the film). She really captured what I intended with that character. A great performance by a great actress.

    Did the story come from your imagination or real events?
    Well, it grew out of my general observations of what was going on around me, but for the most part I made it up.

    So what are you working on now?
    Right now I am working a play that will be performed in Turin, Italy, next spring. It is called 6Bianca. It is a fascinating project, actually—it will be presented in six parts on consecutive weekends, like a television serial, but will be on the stage of the Teatro Stabile Torino and not the small screen. I have written the overall story and three of the episodes, and am working with a group of very talented young Italian writers on the other parts. I have also just finished a new novel, but I have no firm details on publication quite yet…

    So you’re hooked on Italy now?
    Absolutely. I had a brief love affair with the country when I was 19 and spent a semester in Venice as a college student, but I’d never returned, even though I lived in London for a dozen years. Having the country and its astonishing culture back at the center of my life is an unexpected but totally welcome gift. Obviously, the personal benefits are great—the Italians are nothing if not good hosts—but this renaissance is also allowing me new artistic avenues that have really challenged and benefitted my middle-aged soul.

    Paolo Virzì’s film version of Human Capital is coming to a theater near you this month.

    Cheri Passell is the director of iloveitalianmovies.com.

  • BN Editors 6:56 pm on 2014/12/15 Permalink
    Tags: book to film 2015, film adaptations, , ,   

    Here Are the Books Hitting the Big Screen in 2015 

    movies-fifty-shades-of-grey-book-tie-in-additionIf it weren’t for books, movie theaters would be a whole lot less interesting. From The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, to Gone Girl, to Unbroken, the most talked-about movies of 2014 were based on books, and 2015 promises more of the same. Make sure you’re part of the conversation by checking out the books below before they hit the silver screen.

    Paddington, by Michael Bond
    Everyone’s favorite Marmalade-loving bear—such a beloved children’s book character he’s been memorialized in bronze at his namesake train station—is hitting the big screen in a live-action adaptation that pits Paddington and his newly adopted human family against Nicole Kidman’s Cruella de Vil–esque villain. Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville plays to type as the family’s patriarch, and Ben Whishaw voices the trouble magnet Paddington.
    Release date: January 16

    American Sniper, by Chris Kyle
    Former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle has been called the most lethal sniper in American history, with 160 confirmed kills. His memoir of his time spent on active duty through four tours in Iraq made for harrowing, revelatory reading, and the film adaptation, from director Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle, promises to be one of the year’s most riveting films.
    Release date: January 16

    The Mortdecai Trilogy, by Kyril Bonfiglioli
    Bonfiglioli’s Mortdecai novels—comic capers featuring the antics of a roguish aristocratic art dealer and his long-suffering manservant—seem so perfectly pitched for film adaptation that it’s hard to believe it took 40 years for it to happen. Johnny Depp stars as the title character alongside Paul Bettany and Gwyneth Paltrow in this loose adaptation of the trilogy, which the filmmakers hope will become a franchise.
    Release date: January 23

    The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch, by Joseph Delaney
    Seventh Son, the retitled, long-in-the-can adaptation of the first book in Delaney’s YA series about a young farm boy who, as the seventh son of a seventh son, has the ability to see ghosts, ghouls, and other beasties, looks to be a fun, youth-oriented adventure film in the vein of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Just sub in Jeff “The Dude” Bridges for Nicholas “Ridiculous” Cage in the mentor role and the monster hunt is on.
    Release date: February 6

    Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
    Kink goes mainstream in this hotly (hotly) anticipated page-to-screen romance. When mousy journalist Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) meets brooding plutocrat Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), it’s the start of a beautiful friendship, complete with a whip.
    Release date: February 13

    Serena, by Ron Rash
    Ron Rash’s Shakespearean tale pits two newlyweds against the wilds of North Carolina in 1929, where they plan to build a timber empire. But things fall apart when wife Serena discovers she can’t bear children, and sets out to destroy her husband’s illegitimate child. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper team up for the third time in the film, costarring Toby Jones, Rhys Ifans, and the lawless wilderness.
    Release date: February 26

    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick
    Academy Award–winning director Ron Howard brings his sure hand at the rudder to this adaptation of Philbrick’s harrowing true-life account of the 1820 sinking of the whaleship Essex by an enraged sperm whale, the incident that inspired Herman Melville to pen a little novel called Moby-Dick. The cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Ben Whishaw.
    Release date: March 13

    Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
    Things go from bad to worse for Tris and Four in the second volume of Veronica Roth’s dystopian Divergent trilogy, and the film version looks to be upping the stakes as well. If the teaser trailer is any indication, expect action sequences that are even bigger and better than those in the film’s predecessor.
    Release date: March 20

    The Prone Gunman, by Jean-Patrick Machette
    Sean Penn and Idris Elba star in the adaptation of Machette’s thriller, which is being released in theaters as the less punny The Gunman. Penn plays an international spy who wants out of the game—but his employers have other ideas.
    Release date: March 20

    The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex
    In Adam Rex’s middle-grade instaclassic, renamed Home for its big-screen release, Earth has been overrun by conquering alien race the Boov, arrogant overlords who don’t think twice of, say, emptying Florida of its humans (they want the oranges to themselves). Separated from her mother and on the run, an earthling girl (voiced by Rihanna) pairs up with an exiled Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons) to save their shared planet from destruction.
    Release date: March 27

    The Longest Ride, by Nicholas Sparks
    Nicholas Sparks is coming back to a theater near you, this time with a tale that entwines two love stories, one in its twilight and one just starting to spark, and throws in a car accident, a ghost, and a handsome cowboy. There will be tears.
    Release date: April 10

    Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith
    Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Noomi Rapace star in this thriller based on the nail-biting debut of British novelist Tom Rob Smith, with a screenplay by Richard Price. Set in the brutal final days of Stalin’s reign, it’s full of intrigue, treachery, and good old-fashioned murder.
    Release date: April 17

    Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
    Classic-lit queen Carey Mulligan’s played Kitty Bennet, Ada Clare, and Daisy Buchanan, and now she’s taking on Thomas Hardy’s impetuous heiress Bathsheba Everdene, in the book’s first adaptation since Julie Christie took the role in 1967. Bathsheba juggles an inheritance and a trio of suitors (Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts) on her way to finding true love.
    Release date: May 1

    Paper Towns, by John Green
    We guarantee this John Green adaptation will have 100% fewer tears and 100% more road trip than 2014’s The Fault in Our Stars. In his second outing as a Green character, Nat Wolff (Fault’s Isaac) strikes out in search of his AWOL dream girl, Margo (Cara Delevingne).
    Release date: June 5

    Jurassic Park/The Lost World, by Michael Crichton
    Sure, after three movies there’s probably little of Crichton’s original novels left to explore onscreen, but from the looks of the trailer, Jurassic World is going to offer enough oh-the-hubris-of-man scientific experimentation and oh-the-tastiness-of-man dinosaur action to satisfy any fans of the books. Also, any reason is a good reason to reread Jurassic Park.
    Release date: June 12

    Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
    Pan promises to be a wildly fresh take on J.M. Barrie’s Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, serving as a prequel to source book Peter Pan, in which a not-yet-supernatural Pan (Levi Miller) teams up with a young, still two-handed Jas. Hook (Garrett Hedlund). Hugh Jackman is nearly unrecognizable as Blackbeard, a nasty sea dog who could eat Christopher Walken’s Captain Hook for breakfast.
    Release date: July 24

    Goosebumps, by R.L. Stine
    In a brilliant stroke of screenwriting, Goosebumps the movie pulls legendary kids’ and teen horror author R.L. Stine (Jack Black) into the fray, in a story that reimagines (OR DOES IT) Stine as a prisoner of his scary creations, who he manages to keep locked up in their books. When the monsters are released, it’s up to two plucky kids to save the day.
    Release date: August 7

    Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil’s Deal, by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill
    Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp play the real-life Bulger brothers, one a politician, one a violent crime boss. Oh, you need more information? This adaptation of Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s nonfiction account of a “devil’s deal” between FBI agent John Connolly, Jr. (Joel Edgerton), and Depp’s infamous mobster “Whitey” Bulger will appeal to fans of the back-room intrigue of 2013’s American Hustle, with the added appeal of watching Cumberbatch take on a Boston accent.
    Release date: September 18

    The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner
    In the follow-up to 2014’s postapocalyptic thriller The Maze Runner, the Maze’s young prisoners have breached its walls. Though life beyond the Maze doesn’t offer the release they were hoping for, we can’t wait to watch them navigate their strange new dystopian world.
    Release date: September 18

    The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
    Rudyard Kipling’s enduring stories about Mowgli, a young orphan raised by a host of jungle animals and befriended by a lovable bear named Baloo, have been brought to the screen countless times (most famously by Walt Disney). This new version, from Iron Man director Jon Favreau, pairs a flesh-and-blood child actor with CGI creatures voiced by a host of Hollywood stars, including Bill Murray, Scarlet Johansson, and Christopher Walken.
    Release date: October 9

    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
    It all comes down to this: Katniss Everdeen’s role as the reluctant symbol of the rebellion against a ruthless regime will be over, one way or another, as the credits roll on the fourth film in The Hunger Games series, adapting the second half of the third book, Mockingjay. Featuring the final performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman, it’s sure to be an emotional end to one of the biggest blockbuster book adaptations ever.
    Release date: November 20

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    Weir’s debut novel is possibly the biggest self-publishing success story of all time, going from an ebook-only release, to a best-selling hardcover, to theaters in less than two years. Anyone who gripped the armrests watching Sandra Bullock struggling to survive the cold indifference of space in Gravity will get a similar thrill watching Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on the Red Planet, forced to endure the tortures inflicted upon him by director Ridley Scott.
    Release date: November 25

    Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín
    Award-winning Irish author Tóibín nabbed his dream hometown cast—including Oscar-nominees Saoirse Ronan and Jim Broadbent—and no less than Nick Hornby to pen the screenplay for the adaptation of his 2009 novel about a small town Irish girl in the years after World War II dreaming of a better life in Brooklyn. The film will play the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
    Release date: TBA

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
    After bouncing between various directors for years (and losing one-time lead Natalie Portman), this horror twist on the Regency classic is finally coming to the screen with Downton Abbey‘s Lily James as Lizzie, Maleficent‘s Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, and former Doctor Matt Smith as Mr. Collins. Director Burr Steers reportedly rewrote Oscar-winner David O. Russell’s (!) script to include more Austen and less zombies. Color us book nerds excited.
    Release date: TBA

    Fallen, by Lauren Kate
    Lauren Kate’s 2009 teen novel Fallen spawned a legion of sequels, and now it’s becoming a movie starring Addison Timlin and Jeremy Irvine. Timlin is Lucinda, packed off to reform school for her part in a classmate’s mysterious death, and Irvine is Daniel, an angel masquerading as a fellow reform schooler, who has loved Lucinda’s soul through centuries. Expect epic love and forces dark and light.
    Release date: TBA

    The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith
    Nobody does sexual obsession like Patricia Highsmith. In the forthcoming adaptation of her cult classic novel The Price of Salt (to be released with its alternate title, Carol), Rooney Mara’s dissatisfied shopgirl has a chance meeting with Cate Blanchett’s elegant housewife, and love, dreams of escape, and blackmail follow. We can’t wait to see what Todd Haynes, known for his incredible direction of women, does with this one.
    Release date: TBA

    Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn
    In this adaptation of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s second novel, Charlize Theron plays the adult survivor of a horrific childhood trauma: the murder of her family, apparently by a Satanic cult. Twenty-five years after the crime, she begins to reinvestigate what really happened, with the help of a group of amateurs. This movie is set to be just as twisted and even more violent than 2014’s Gone Girl adaptation.
    Release date: TBA

    A Walk In the Woods, by Bill Bryson 
    Bryson’s freewheeling, funny memoir of his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz finally comes to the screen after nearly a decade in development. Robert Redford stars as the author, with Nick Nolte as Katz (a role originally envisioned for Paul Newman). The supporting cast includes Emma Thompson, Nick Offerman, and Kristen Schaal.
    Release date: TBA

    True Story, by Michael Finkel
    And now, James Franco and Jonah Hill team up to do something completely different: In a film based on the memoir of journalist Michael Finkel, subtitled “Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa,” Hill plays Finkel and Franco plays Christian Longo, a killer on the run after the murder of his family landed him on the FBI’s most wanted list. When Longo is captured in Mexico, Finkel learns that the stranger has been living under his identity. The incomprehensible choice leads to a dangerous symbiotic relationship after Longo decides that Finkel is the only journalist he’ll talk to.
    Release date: TBA

    Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
    Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard take on Shakespeare’s deadliest pair of ambitious marrieds, in a straight-ahead adaptation directed by Justin Kurzel and costarring David Thewlis and Jack Reynor.
    Release date: TBA

    Cell, by Stephen King
    Stephen King’s 2006 novel might feature the most terrifying horror premise of the modern era: on a day like any other, a strange signal is transmitted to every cell phone in the world, turning anyone using one at the time into a mindless, bloodthirsty zombie (and keep in mind, the book was written before the iPhone came out, so the same situation today would be much worse). The film reteams John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, the stars of King short story adaptation 1408, as two “lucky” survivors of the digital plague who band together to discover the source of “the pulse” and stop it before it stops everything else.
    Release date: TBA

    Truth & Duty, by Mary Mapes
    Mapes’ insider account of the 60 Minutes reporting scandal that tarnished Dan Rather’s reputation at CBS News comes to the screen as Truth, featuring Cate Blanchett as news producer Mapes and Redford as Rather himself. Think of it as the flip side of All the President’s Men.
    Release date: TBA

    The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman
    Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz play a war-scarred lighthouse keeper and his wife, whose tranquil life on an isolated Australian shore is poisoned by her inability to carry a child to term. When a boat carrying a dead man and a miraculously living infant beaches itself on their shore, they make a terrible, seemingly inevitable choice, with far-reaching consequences. Derek Cianfrance, expert in creating dark relationship melodramas, directs.
    Release date: TBA

    Z for Zachariah, by Robert C. O’Brien
    This post-apocalyptic survival story, about a teenage girl living in a sheltered mountain valley who seems to be the only survivor of a nuclear holocaust, turns 40 this year, but is still as chilling as the day it was written. It was assigned reading in middle school, and the scenes of the girl desperately scanning the radio waves for signs of other survivors haunt us to this day. The protagonist has been aged up for the film, but we’re still confident that it will make for an excellent thriller.
    Release date: TBA

    What book are you looking forward to seeing at the movies?

  • Jeff Somers 5:19 pm on 2014/12/08 Permalink
    Tags: , big books, film adaptations, , one true pairing, paul thomas anderson,   

    5 Reasons Only Paul Thomas Anderson Could’ve Adapted Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice 

    Thomas Pynchon's Inherent ViceThe novels of Thomas Pynchon have generally been considered unfilmable. Dense, chaotic, cerebral—Pynchon’s oeuvre is composed of novels that don’t lend themselves readily to cinematic moments and the condensation required to turn a book into a two-hour (or even three-hour) film. In 2009, however, the odds shifted a bit when Pynchon published Inherent Vice, one of his most accessible and “mainstream” novels ever—and indeed, the film adaptation is being released on December 12 (as the sardonic voiceover in the trailer notes, “just in time for Christmas”).

    The film was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, known for Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will be Blood, and The Master. As is often the case with Pynchon’s novels, the revelation of this one fact—Anderson as the writer/director of Inherent Vice—makes everything else click into better focus. Because there is no one else in the world better equipped to write and direct this film. Here’s why.

    Anderson is the Film World’s Pynchon
    Pynchon writes novels that tell complex and often confounding stories with dense layers of meaning and twisting, unpredictable plots that reward frequent rereads and the occasional bout of research. Anderson creates films that tell complex and often confounding stories with dense layers of meaning and twisting, unpredictable plots that reward frequent rewatching and the occasional bout of analysis. If there’s another director out there more suited to take on Pynchon, I’d like to hear it.

    He’s Used to Stories with a Lot of Characters
    A Pynchon novel is crowded with a cast of characters that are equal parts mysterious, amusing, and frustrating—just like the crowded films Anderson tends to make. The crowded tableaus of Boogie Nights and Magnolia and even the relatively sparsely populated The Master mark Anderson as one of the few Hollywood directors capable of managing Pynchon’s sprawling list of supporting and minor characters, all of whom have significance requiring careful attention no matter how little they appear on screen.

    He Tells Stories that Don’t Make Sense at First. Or at Second.
    People have been reading and discussing Pynchon’s novels for decades now. Inherent Vice is certainly one of the most accessible of Pynchon’s novels, but it remains more challenging than most books. Anderson’s films have inspired a similar level of discussion, from the meaning of the number 82 referenced throughout Magnolia, to whether or not the Master actually spoke in Freddie’s dream, to what the push-in on the tiny note declaring “but it did happen” meant, again in Magnolia. Anderson is used to weaving clues and thoughtful references into his films, making him the ideal choice to work with someone of Pynchon’s complexity.

    Anderson’s Other Works Explores the Concept of ‛Inherent Vice’
    The phrase “inherent vice” only appears in one other Pynchon novel, but its meaning is thematically explored in both Pynchon’s novels and Anderson’s films. The phrase means the unavoidable flaw in anything that is often unnoticed at first but which dooms everything to eventual ruin and destruction, no matter how nobly conceived or carefully constructed. One layer of the book explores the last gasp of California’s underground drug culture as it sours into the 1970s, and Anderson’s films often tell a story of a golden age descending into madness and chaos.

    Anderson’s Good at Sprawl
    Anderson’s films all have the feel of an epic, even if the stories they tell are small on the surface. The same could be said of Pynchon, who often takes small-scale plot (such as a woman trying to settle an ex-lover’s estate) and sprawls it out into a huge adventure covering plenty of geographic and conceptual ideas. The eccentric detective story of Inherent Vice seems like the plot of an Anderson movie that just hadn’t been made yet, except of course now it has and that is possibly the most Pynchonesque/Anderson-like thing to ever happen.

    In the end, if you’ve been curious about Pynchon but intimidated by the scale and complexity of his work, Inherent Vice might be the perfect place for you to start. Yes, some of Pynchon’s older works are shorter—but this book has the most conventional structure and storytelling in Pynchon’s oeuvre, making it the Pynchon gateway drug (which is appropriate, given the book’s setting in the closing days of the southern California drug scene’s Golden Age). But if you’re going to watch the film first, you can rest assured the perfect director will be working with the material.

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