James Franco to direct As I Lay Dying – sigh!

You may have noticed recently that I’ve been preoccupied with books that make it to the big screen – it just seems that book adaptations (oh, and regurgitated remakes) are all that Hollywood is capable of churning out these days!

I can see the benefits: the popular ones are huge money spinners. And as I learned from my post on The Great Gatsby movie, some folk love to see their favourite book played out on the big screen, but others see the book as a sacred experience, one not to be tampered with by Hollywood big shots. My opinion? Churn out as many Twilight, Harry Potter or Jodi Picoult movies as you like Hollywood, but don’t touch the greats!

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Review: Fantastic Mr Fox is… fantastic!

For Christmas, my boyfriend bought me Fantastic Mr Fox, a favourite by Roald Dahl, and Fantastic Mr Fox… the DVD! It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read any Roald Dahl and so I opted to watch the DVD first, with the theory that it couldn’t tarnish my already vague memory of the book.

The film is directed by Wes Anderson, who is believed to have signed up as director because of his love for Dahl, and thankfully, it shows. The stop-motion animation gives this movie an edginess that mirrors Roald Dahl’s quirky style and Quintin Blake’s iconic illustrations. The animation also has an element of storytelling to it that is difficult to articulate; it feels unusually close to the book. Of course, the plot has been subtly developed for the big screen, but the book is very much alive in it.

Don’t be fooled, this is not a U-rated movie. With its PG certificate, it’s as much for adults as it is for kids. The film flirts with darkness and terror: smoking. cider-drinking farmers with guns and blades; animals that are constantly ‘cussing’; and a sophisticated, humanized fox that wildly ravages his food. Yet, it is Continue reading

Gatsby goes to Hollywood. Again.

This week it was revealed that English actress Carey Mulligan is to play the coveted role of Daisy Buchanan, in Baz Luhrman’s forthcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby. But is this a movie that we even want to see (again!)? … Continue reading

My Sister’s Keeper… Now I’ve watched the movie

I’ve read it. I’ve reviewed it. And now I’ve watched the movie.

If you’ve read My Sister’s Keeper, I urge you not to watch the film. Cameron Diaz does put on a great performance; Sofia Vassilieva and Abigail Breslin portray Kate and Anna’s heartfelt relationship beautifully; and yes, you’ll cry from start to finish. But the movie is so far removed from the book that you’ll wish you never bothered.

Sara, played by Diaz, is way too easy-going and flippy for my liking; I had imagined her to be more uptight and a little more aged. Jesse’s fire-starting habit isn’t even alluded to, rendering him an almost completely irrelevant character. Campbell, who I had imagined as young and handsome, was played by Alec Baldwin (possibly handsome, but definitely not young). Who will play funky, heartbroken Julia, I wondered… Continue reading

A novel idea: James Cameron to pen Avatar prequel

If I can’t read ‘Avatar: The Prequel’ with a pair of 3D glasses – then maybe I’ll just wait for the film…
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Jack Kerouac: On the Road to box office losses?

With an intricately complex narrative that defies all conventional forms of book writing, the bible of the Beats, On The Road, is to be Hollywood-ised.

With an already impressive line-up (Sam Reilly of Control fame looks as though he will fit into the shoes of Sal Paradise quite nicely), and Brazilian director Walter Salles, who was selected after producer Francis Ford Cappolla watched The Motorcycle Diaries – is this too good to be true?

I am skeptical.  And not because I don’t think it will make a great movie: I can easily imagine a husky-voiced-American narrator opening the movie with that always impacting introduction:
…with the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road.
But because I think the challenge is too great. This autobiographical book demands to be read closely. And not once or twice, but several times. So complex is it, that the eagerly awaited adaptation will signal a sigh of relief for those who have tried and tried but never succeeded in reaching the depths of the plot or realising the significance of the story.
Yet aside from my reservations regarding the practical challenge of adapting a novel like On The Road – I think it will lose it’s magic. No doubt about it, On The Road is less a book for reading than it is a story for experiencing.
And the magic I speak of lies in its elegance, brilliance and unique Beat style. So unique is the writing style, Truman Capote famously accused:
That’s not writing, that’s typing.

Kerouac typed the story on what he defined as the ‘scroll’: made up of tracing paper, the continuous, 120-foot scroll was cut up and taped together. The prose was single-spaced, without margins or paragraph breaks. This, the essence of the story, and the legend behind the book, cannot be replicated on screen.
Yet many will argue that a $25 million, box office hit, is exactly the kind of experience that fans of On The Road desire – a visual feast of jazz, poetry, drugs and the journey of life.
So perhaps I judge too quickly. As Sal reflects in the conclusion:
nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old

And nobody knows what will happen with the success of this film: a cheapened, wasted effort on those who know nothing of the book or of the Beats; or a cinematic triumph.

Nobody knows.