Friday, March 27, 2015

Books about to be movies, books I wish were movies (but aren't), and a few movies that just didn't get the book right

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who think the book is always better than the movie, and those who didn't read the book. I love movies. I love them almost as much as I love books, so it is always thrilling to find out that a favorite book will be coming to a theater near me. So often the adaptations are disappointing though. If only David Fincher could adapt ALL my favorite books to films. Imagine Lauren Beukes' genre bending sci-fi noir thrillers set against her haunting backdrops of Midwestern urban decay done by the director of good books to great movies such as Gone Girl, Fight Club, and The Social Network.

A few books I would love to see adapted to film:

The psychological thriller A Pleasure and a Calling

How perfect would Phil Hogan's prim and proper vigilante sociopath/real estate agent (with the keys to everybody's house) be if played by Jude Law? Or maybe Joseph Fiennes? Definitely Joseph Fiennes.

They would probably end up casting James Franco and spinning it as a screwball hi-jinx comedy though.

The Tusk That Did the Damage byTania James

This book is a strong contender for my "favorite book of 2015" and it's only March. Complicated, graphic and intense, James' second novel is the story of Gravedigger, a vengeful elephant, and Dr. Ravi Varma, a man dedicated to reuniting abandoned elephant calves with their mothers and rescuing orphaned elephants, told through the alternating narratives of a two-person American documentary film crew, a poacher's brother, and Gravedigger. Check out a review here. And go read the book! Here's hoping for a CGI elephant that will do this book justice someday.

A few more from my wish list in brief: Zone One by Colson Whitehead, Night Film by Marissha Pessl, How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, and The Dog Stars by Peter Heller all need to be movies NOW please.

Now for the failures:
This is Where I Leave You, the movie version of Jonathan Tropper's hysterically funny and deeply touching portrayal of a family at odds sitting shiva for their deceased father was a massive disappointment for me. The cast was so promising too! Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Adam Driver, in the right director's hands, should have been perfect as the siblings. But they just weren't. Most of the actual humor in the book was completely ignored, and the tenderness felt maudlin and insincere. Maybe if I hadn't read the book I could have enjoyed the film? I suppose that sometimes a book is just too good in your own head to see it cast in another person's vision.

And I defy anyone who read Max Brooks' World War Z to say they liked that ridiculous film. I imagined it as the slightly tongue in cheek History Channel style reenactment program with oral history that it was in the book. What a perfect response to the excess of zombie zeitgeist and cable television history programming that would have been! Instead, Brad Pitt got in there and made it into piles of fast running CGI corpses and ludicrous action sequences. Where was the Otaku narrative? The Queen of England's touching story? Madness.

Anyway, get ready to feel superior to everyone else in the theater for having already read these books BEFORE you see the movie this year:

Are you as excited as I am that The Martian by Andy Weir is going to be a movie starring MATT DAMON and directed by RIDLEY SCOTT this year?


And Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer is also going to be a movie? 

And Dark Places, my favorite of Gillian Flynn's novels, will be starring Charlize Theron?

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers as a movie?! I loved that book!
But with Tom Hanks? 

Sigh. I don't know about that. Tom Hanks apparently has some kind of deal going with Dave Eggers. It has been reported that he will also be producing a film version of The Circle. No word yet on Your Fathers, Where are They [...etc] but I have my fingers crossed for that one.

Also hitting the big screen this year:

Into the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick directed by Ron Howard will be in theaters this December.

Serena by Ron Rash will be released (apparently this weekend) starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, so that should be pretty good, right?

Classics Madame Bovary will star Mia Wasikowska this Summer, and Frankenstein will inexplicably feature Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe (of the regrettable Horns) as Igor, Viktor F's assistant. Really?
True Story Starring Jonah Hill and the guy who is in everything, James Franco will be out soonish. I just saw a trailer for this and it actually looks really good.

The insanely popular Me Before You by Jojo Moyes will be out this year and The Longest Ride, another Nicholas Sparks adaptation, is on its way this April.

Of course Tim Burton is directing the adaptation of Ransom Riggs' creepy YA novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children!

I am also pleased to report that allegedly Richard Linklater, of the (go ahead and hate me for saying) DISAPPOINTING Boyhood fame, among other, better films, will be handling one of my recent favorites, Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette. That one could go either way.

And who's ready for the inevitable continuation of 4 OR 5 different teen dystopian novel adaptations in theaters this summer? DIVERGENT HUNGER MAZES PART X?!

See you at the movies!

1 comment:

Clay Dishon said...

The one that I’m anticipating with the most trepidation this year, is James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour. An adaptation of David Lipsky’s David Foster Wallace interview book _Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself_, the apprehension relates primarily to my experience of the book, but the casting of Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg doesn’t exactly ease the mind either. I found the book interesting in that there’s much insight into Wallace’s personality. Perhaps most notably, it conveys a very real and compassionate side of the late author. In the adjacent seat of the car, airplane, etc., Lipsky comes off more often than not in rather annoying fashion, mainly because of his hyper self-consciousness and revisionist parenthetical asides. Here’s a few examples of the latter for consideration: “[Hiss of another Diet Pepsi can being cracked: little carbon dioxide sigh]”; “[Road quiet now. Just the rush of tires over cement, that slightly sibilant, airplane-y sound of the air we’re cutting through with the fender and windshield.]”; and “[I walk to the garage. Dave has reverted to Illinois Dave, the Mid-westerner who has a relationship with his scraper. He’s chipping an entire Antarctica off his car. It’s encased in ice, like something that’s come packed that way from the manufacturer. I mean, it’s total.]” Obviously, the exasperation still lingers. It was upon on arrival at several of these rich tidbits that [the reader (Clay), with a certain unhinged Punch Drunk Philip Seymour Hoffman-esque rage, dashed the paperback upon the floor, the opposite wall, and once, into the yard.] Ponsoldt’s excellent directing (as in Smashed and The Spectacular Now), may create an altogether different experience however.