Friday, December 21, 2012

Flawed But Still Powerful: Les Misérables

"[Director Tom] Hooper and his production team decided the cast members should sing the songs live, as opposed to adding them later in a state-of-the-art recording studio. That decision certainly adds urgency to the visuals, but it very much works against [Russell] Crowe, who pales in comparison to the multi-talented [High] Jackman and seems more frustrated than evil in his screen time as the blindly brutal enforcer Javert.

"Hooper also starts the $61 million film with a digitally created dock scene with shockingly fake backgrounds.

"In a stage setting, Les Miserables quickly energizes viewers as we’re close to the action and feel part of the young rebels gathering to fight back against the monarchy. The screen version robs viewers of the thrill of watching the actors create stage magic." [phillyburbs]

~ "Les Miserables adaptation still powerful"
by Lou Gaul
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Movie: Les Misérables
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012


She added to See the Movie Read the Book Directory under Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror

In this 1935 adaptation of H. Rider Haggard's classic adventure novel, producer Merian C. Cooper (best known for directing King Kong) changed the setting from Africa to the Arctic.

A group of explorers, led by a dashing Randolph Scott, sets out in search of the legendary "flame of life," a mysterious force that bestows immortality like the fountain of youth. Their perilous journey takes them to the heart of a remote glacier where they are taken captive by the beautiful but impossibly cruel She, played by Helen Gahagan.

A colorized version of the 1935 film was released on DVD in 2008 that includes previously unseen deleted scenes.

Movie: She
She by Henry Rider Haggard
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Soul, Many Worlds: Cloud Atlas

"Cloud Atlas is all over the place, intentionally. It follows six completely different stories, in genres from science fiction to crime thriller to romance. As with the novel, there are six movies within the movie, set in the past and the future.

(David) Mitchell thought his novel would never make it to the screen: the size of the cast it would take. It doesn't cost a writer a dime to add a character, but it can cost a filmmaker a lot to add an actor to a cast. The Wachowskis (Lana and Andrew Wachowski) got around the problem by having actors play as many as six completely different roles. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant, among others, are transformed to the point of being unrecognizable through Hollywood makeup and costume magic.

By casting it this way, Mitchell believes, the filmmakers also made it easier for viewers to understand his concept, of one soul moving through the many different worlds.." [npr]

~ When 'Unfilmable' Books Make Memorable Movies
by Elizabeth Blair
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Movie: Cloud Atlas
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Missing Morgan Freeman: Alex Cross

"Morgan Freeman played Alex Cross in the first two adaptations of this series, Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, but he declined a third. Instead, the role goes to Tyler Perry, a younger actor who is enormously successful within the US and largely unknown beyond its borders... Tyler Perry disappoints in the title role...
This adaptation betrays both Patterson's original novel and the spirit of the two earlier films. The original plot has been put through a Hollywood meat grinder." [BrisbaneTimes]
~ It's just not the same without Freeman
by Paul Byrnes
Cross by James Patterson
Movie: Alex Cross

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Friday, October 26, 2012


Lincoln added to See the Movie Read the Book Directory under Dramas and Documentaries.

Based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the motion picture directed by Steven Spileberg opens in November.

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and David Strathairn, the movie focuses on the 16th president's final tumultuous final months.

Movie: Lincoln

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shuffling Meager Storylines: Cloud Atlas

"As a plausible solution to realizing the nested narratives of David Mitchell’s 2004 nightstand-warmer, this two-and-half-hour feature adaptation is not the worst imaginable. 

"Cloud Atlas The Major Motion Picture shuffles among the meager storylines/settings — a colonial slavery saga, a futuristic corporate dystopia, a '70s paranoid gumshoe story, a drawing-room romance of musical rivalry, some caper involving a railroaded editor, and, coming full circle, a post-apocalyptic return to prehistoric tribalism — with an impressive hit rate for visual matches, editorial cross-referencing, and occasional humor. If it’s not the book, it’s a little like keeping six mediocre books going at once — or finger-bookmarking multiple pages in a Choose Your Own Adventure."

Cloud Atlas: It Could Have Been Worse! 
by Nicolas Rapold
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Movie: Cloud Atlas

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Reader

The Reader added to See the Movie Read the Book Directory under Dramas and Documentaries.

Based on the novel of the same title by Bernhard Schlink, The Reader tells the story of teenager Michael Berg in post-WWII Germany as he engages in a passionate but secretive affair with an older woman named Hanna. Eight years after Hanna's unexplained disappearance, Michael is stunned to discover her again as she stands on trial for Nazi war crimes.

This is a haunting story about truth and reconciliation and how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another. Kate Winslet won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her performance as Hanna. Actor David Cross played the role of Michael Berg.

Movie: The Reader
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower added to See the Movie Read the Book Directory under Dramas and Documentaries.

This is a rare instance where the director of a movie based on a novel is also the original author. Stephen Chbosky's book was published in 1999. The film is now in limited release and not yet available on DVD.

The film follows a shy high school freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman) as he meets a pair of outgoing seniors named Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), with whom he becomes good friends.

Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Starved for Inclusion: Hunger Games

"I can’t say for certain this adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games was or wasn’t spot on, I can say how it felt when watching it play out on the big screen. And to me, it could have and should have been better, given there was always going to be a possibility of audience members that never read the book.

"Given the overall unbalanced story and lack of introduction to the apocalyptic world that consumed “The Hunger Games,” I can’t imagine any hard core fan of Collins ‘loving’ this adaptation. Sure, it will get more positive reviews that negative, but that doesn’t mean it’s good."

'The Hunger Games' feeds, but ultimately starves
by Marcus Eger

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Books Into Movies: Satantango

Mesmerizing with its descriptive prose, miserably mired in melancholy, and profoundly apocalyptic, the first novel of László Krasznahorkai - now available in English for the first time, thanks to a dedicated translation by George Szirtes - inspired Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr's seven-hour, black-and-white epic by the same title.

Structured like a tango, the chapters of the novel are numbered one to six, and then six to one. A complex story line that defies summarising follows a group of people living in an unnamed and seriously decaying village in what strongly resembles late Soviet-era Hungary as they alternately wait for and pursue some ominous, inexplicable reckoning.

Is  theirs a dance with the devil, Satantango, or a dance to keep the devil at bay?

Books Into Movies: Satantango
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Friday, March 23, 2012

More Time for the Game Maker: Hunger Games

"The book is told in first-person and the movie is a third-person narrative, readers didn't get to meet some of the characters featured more prominently in the movie.

"For instance, the game maker - who plays a very limited role in the book - gets a lot of screen time. Wes Bentley plays Seneca Crane as an overconfident genius who takes pleasure in setting up the games themselves.

"His game, however, falls apart in both the book and the movie, leading to a conclusion that has two tributes emerging from the battlefield, not one. Very little is made of this in the (first) book, but in the film, the game maker faces a great punishment for his failures.

The Hunger Games: 10 Differences Between the Movie & the Book
by John Hanlon 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen added to See the Movie Read the Book Directory under Comedy.

Based on the novel of the same title by Paul Torday, this movie opens March 9.

In the book, a middle-aged man from London takes on the ill-fated task of introducing the sport of salmon fishing into the Yemen River at the request of a mysterious sheikh. The satirical novel pokes fun at many aspects of British society.

Movie: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

Monday, February 27, 2012

Really a Godmother?: The Godfather

A new book by Eamon Evans, The Godfather Was a Girl: . . . And Blanche Dubois Was a Guy, reveals the real-life inspirations for famous characters of book and screen.

Evan claims that Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, used his mother as the inspiration for his main character, played to perfection by Marlon Brando in the classic mafia movie.

An Italian immigrant, Puzo's mother raised her 12 children by herself in a New York slum. She was a 'wonderful, handsome woman... but a fairly ruthless person', Evans quotes Puzo as saying. "Whenever the Godfather opened his mouth, in my mind I heard the voice of my mother."

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The Godfather Was a Girl: . . . And Blanche Dubois Was a Guy
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Movie: The Godfather

Monday, February 20, 2012

Best Picture Nominations Based on Books

Based on the novel, The Descendants, by Kaui Hart Hemmings, the motion picture by the same title is one of nine movies nominated for Best Picture at the 84th annual Academy Awards next Sunday, February 26.

Other motion pictures nominated for the Best Picture Oscar that were adapted from a novel or non-fiction book include:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer.

The Help , based on the novel of that title by Kathryn Stockett.

Hugo, adapted from the Caldecott Medal winning-novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Moneyball, based on the non-fiction book,  Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis .

War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and the stage adaptation.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Falls Short of Expectations: The Joy Luck Club

"The Joy Luck Club was an amazing book. Amy Tan painted pictures with words using imagery and other literary devices. I watched the movie right after I read the book.

As much as I enjoyed both the movie and the book, the movie couldn’t portray the stylistic devices that filled the pages of the book."

Andrea Bridges

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Movie: The Joy Luck Club

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rare Adaptation: Norwegian Wood

"The work of popular Japanese author Haruki Murakami has only been adapted to film on a few occasions, and none of those adaptations have achieved significant international success. Perhaps it’s the surreal qualities that make them resistant to easy adaptation, or the fact that so much in Murakami’s stories rests between the lines: Simple translations of the plot elements can’t necessarily capture the tone of his work.

"French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung has taken on one of Murakami’s most accessible works in Norwegian Wood, likely the highest-profile of those adaptations to date. That accessibility might make it a more likely candidate for adaptation, but given the popularity of the book, which skyrocketed the author to fame, it also probably subjects it to greater scrutiny from fans."

Ian Buckwalter

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and Jay Rubin
Movie: Norwegian Wood

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