Readersforum's Blog

January 23, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action: Library Scenes in Film

Filed under: Libraries — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 9:18 pm
The Philadelphia Story

The Philadelphia Story

From thrillers to epic romances to teen comedies, the library is cinema’s go-to location when it wants somewhere with history and gravitas. Characters can find the meaning of life and death in them, clues to help solve cases in them, or just have a big old sing song in them.

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October 31, 2012

Book vs. Film: Cloud Atlas

Stories cross mediums like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a story.

By Joshua Chaplinsky

Back in July when the glorious six-minute trailer for Cloud Atlas came out, I wrote about how I had written about the unfilmable nature of the source material back in February. In said article– which I had initially planned for LitReactor’s October 2011 launch, but postponed so I could wait for a producer’s quote which never materialized– I promised to revisit the matter once the film had been released. It was set to hit theaters this past October, which it did, but luckily I got to see the film early, at a Fantastic Fest secret screening this past September. At the time of this reading (but not of this writing), some of you have no doubt seen the film, and the column idea I hatched over a year ago has finally come to fruition. It will now spread across the consciousness of the internet, and be transformed in the minds of those who read it, before being passed on in some form or another, verbal or electronic, while hopefully retaining its true essence.

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July 12, 2012

Final “Hunger Games” film to be split in two parts

Filed under: film adaptations — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:15 pm

“Mockingjay,” the final film installment of the blockbuster book series, “The Hunger Games,” will be split into two parts, with the movies to be released in 2014 and 2015, the Lionsgate studio said on Tuesday.

Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment, said “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” will hit theaters on November 21, 2014, and “Part 2” on November 20, 2015.

“The Hunger Games” film franchise is based on a best-selling science-fiction trilogy by author Suzanne Collins and follows the story of rebel heroine Katniss Everdeen, who tries to fight the oppressive regime ruling the nation of Panem.

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June 6, 2012

Top 10 YA Books That Should Be Adapted for Film

  By Sarah Pitre

There seems to be a flaw in the human brain when it comes to film adaptations of books. I say this because movies rarely, if ever, turn out to be better than their literary source material. And yet, every time I finish an amazing novel, I immediately start praying that it will be made into a film. Seriously, brain, what’s up with that?

Well, when it comes to love, I guess I can’t be rational, and I’m smitten with these books. The idea of getting to experience them again, in a different if inferior way, still ridiculously excites me, so Hollywood, I hope you’re paying attention.

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February 11, 2012

Behold! The Unfilmable: David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’

Column by Joshua Chaplinsky

I can picture Don LaFontaine doing voice-over from the big vocal booth in the sky:

In a world of undiscovered countries and high seas adventure, a Dickensian composer living in Belgium… Wait a minute, that can’t be right, can it? Are you sure? Ok, then… An intrepid journalist investigates improprieties at a nuclear power plant… Am I missing a page here? Is this even the same movie? An aging publisher on the run from the mob, trapped in a nursing home against his will– Alright, is this someone’s idea of a joke? In the not too distant future, a clone working at a fast food restaurant contemplates rebellion, but is actually the subject of a holographic film being watched in a post apocalyptic future where the last surviving members of an advanced civilization watch over a group of primitives– Seriously, how can this be one movie? It doesn’t make any sense. In the not too distant future, a clone working– dammit, we’ve done this part. An aging publisher… an investigative journalist… What the hell? Why are we going backwards? A Dickensian composer– That’s it! I’m out of here! Good luck with your ridiculous movie.


That’s right, David Mitchell’s unfilmable opus, Cloud Atlas, is coming to a theater near you, courtesy of the Wachoswski siblings (nee brothers) and (run) Tom Twyker (run). The purported (though denied) $150 million epic stars Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent, and Susan Sarandon, to name an illustrious few. It also stars Halle Berry.

From the Hollywood Reporter:

…the film will see the actors playing multiple roles in the various storylines. Twyker and the Wachowskis will shoot parallel to each other using two separate film crews. It’s expected Tykwer, whose credits include the 18th century-set Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, will handle Cloud Atlas‘ period era plotlines while the Wachowskis apply their Matrix mojo to the novel’s sci-fi settings.

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is, how the hell are they going to pull this off? For those of you who don’t know (and couldn’t discern the ramblings of the theoretical trailer), Cloud Atlas is comprised of a sextet of stories structured like a Russian nesting doll. A Russian nesting doll starring at its own reflection. You get the first half of each story- except for the sixth, which sits complete at the center- followed by their conclusion, in reverse order. Each section is presented as a historical or fictional document in the one that follows (or the one preceding, if you’re on the back end), acting as a thematic through line. It is a pastiche of genres, encompassing everything from high seas adventure to post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

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December 16, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone heads to screen

Filed under: film adaptations — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:33 am

Laini Taylor

| By Katie Allen

Fantasy novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone is set to made into a film after Universal Pictures acquired the worldwide rights.

Written by Oregon-based author Laini Taylor, the Hodder title is the first of a YA trilogy and has been picked as one of Amazon.com’s Top Ten Books of 2011. The novels follow an ancient battle between angels and devils and a forbidden romance.

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November 22, 2011

Choosing to Die: Sir Terry Pratchett Comes to Terms with His Death

By Maria Popova

Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die

Befriending the Grim Reaper, or what Swiss sunshine has to do with the ultimate personal freedom.

In 2008, having just turned 62, beloved fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s. Three years later, he began the process to take his own life. Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die is a powerful and fascinating film, in which Pratchett explores the cultural controversies and private paradoxes surrounding the issue of assisted suicide, which remains illegal in most countries. From the “small but imbalancing inconveniences” of the disease’s earlier stages to the loss of his ability to type to witnessing a terminally ill man peacefully choreograph his own last breath in Switzerland, Pratchett explores what it would be like to be helped to die, and what it would mean for a society to make assisted death a safe refuge for the dying.

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September 8, 2010

Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

Early on in “Eat, Pray, Love,” her travelogue of spiritual seeking, the novelist and journalist Elizabeth Gilbert gives a characteristically frank rundown of her traveling skills: tall and blond, she doesn’t blend well physically in most places; she’s lazy about research and prone to digestive woes. “But my one mighty travel talent is that I can make friends with anybody,” she writes. “I can make friends with the dead. . . . If there isn’t anyone else around to talk to, I could probably make friends with a four-foot-tall pile of Sheetrock.”

This is easy to believe. If a more likable writer than Gilbert is currently in print, I haven’t found him or her. And I don’t mean this as consolation prize, along the lines of: but she’s really, really nice. I mean that Gilbert’s prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible, and makes the reader only too glad to join the posse of friends and devotees who have the pleasure of listening in. Her previous work of nonfiction, “The Last American Man” (she’s also the author of a fine story collection and a novel), was a portrait of a modern-day wilderness expert that became an evocative meditation on the American frontier, and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002.

Here, Gilbert’s subject is herself. Reeling from a contentious divorce, a volatile rebound romance and a bout of depression, she decided at 34 to spend a year traveling in Italy, India and Indonesia. “I wanted to explore one aspect of myself set against the backdrop of each country, in a place that has traditionally done that one thing very well,” she writes. “I wanted to explore the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India and, in Indonesia, the art of balancing the two.” Her trip was financed by an advance on the book she already planned to write, and “Eat, Pray, Love” is the mixed result.

At its best, the book provides an occasion for Gilbert to unleash her fresh, oddball sensibility on an international stage. She describes Messina, Italy, as “a scary and suspicious Sicilian port town that seems to howl from behind barricaded doors, ‘It’s not my fault that I’m ugly! I’ve been earthquaked and carpet-bombed and raped by the Mafia, too!’ ” Later, she sees a Balinese mother “balancing on her head a three-tiered basket filled with fruit and flowers and a roasted duck — a headgear so magnificent and impressive that Carmen Miranda would have bowed down in humility before it.” Gilbert also takes pleasure in poking fun at herself. At an Indian ashram, she winningly narrates the play of her thoughts while she tries to meditate: “I was wondering where I should live once this year of traveling has ended. . . . If I lived somewhere cheaper than New York, maybe I could afford an extra bedroom and then I could have a special meditation room! That’d be nice. I could paint it gold. Or maybe a rich blue. No, gold. No, blue. . . . Finally noticing this train of thought, I was aghast. I thought: . . . How about this, you spastic fool — how about you try to meditate right here, right now, right where you actually are?”

“Eat, Pray, Love” is built on the notion of a woman trying to heal herself from a severe emotional and spiritual crisis; Gilbert suggests more than once that she was at risk for suicide. But where she movingly rendered up the tortured inner life of Eustace Conway, the gigantically flawed subject of “The Last American Man,” Gilbert has a harder time when it comes to Gilbert. Often she short shrifts her own emotional state for the sake of keeping the reader entertained: “They come upon me all silent and menacing like Pinkerton detectives,” she writes of feeling depressed and lonely in Italy, “and they flank me — Depression on my left, Loneliness on my right. They don’t need to show me their badges. I know these guys very well. We’ve been playing a cat-and-mouse game for years now. . . . Then Loneliness starts interrogating me. . . . He asks why I can’t get my act together, and why I’m not at home living in a nice house and raising nice children like any respectable woman my age should be.”

But wait a second — Gilbert is a New York journalist who has spent the prior several years traveling the world on assignment. In her chosen milieu, it would be unusual if she were married and raising kids in a house at age 34 — by her own account, she left her husband precisely to avoid those things. I’m willing to believe that Gilbert despaired over having failed at a more conventional life even as she sought out its opposite — complications like these are what make us human. But she doesn’t tell that story here, or even acknowledge the paradox. As a result, her crisis remains a shadowy thing, a mere platform for the actions she takes to alleviate it.

What comes through much more strongly is her charisma. On a trip to Indonesia well before her year of travel, she visited a Balinese medicine man who read her palm and proclaimed: “You have more good luck than anyone I’ve ever met. You will live a long time, have many friends, many experiences. . . . You only have one problem in your life. You worry too much.” He then invited her to spend several months in Bali as his protégé. At another point, Gilbert petitions God to move her husband to sign their divorce agreement and gets a nearly instant result; later she devotes a love hymn to her nephew, whose sleep problems, she learns the next week, have abruptly ceased. Putting aside questions of credibility, the problem with these testaments to Gilbert’s good luck and personal power is that they undercut any sense of urgency about her future. “Eat, Pray, Love” suffers from a case of low stakes; one reads for the small vicissitudes of Gilbert’s journey — her struggle to accept the end of her failed rebound relationship; her ultimately successful efforts to meditate; her campaign to help a Balinese woman and her daughter buy a home — never really doubting that things will come right. But even Gilbert’s sassy prose is flattened by the task of describing her approach to the divine, and the midsection of the book, at the ashram, drags.

By the time she reaches Indonesia, Gilbert herself admits that the stated purpose of the visit has already been accomplished. “The task in Indonesia was to search for balance,” she writes, “but . . . the balance has somehow naturally come into place.” There would seem to be only one thing missing — romance — and she soon finds that with a Brazilian man 18 years her senior who calls her “darling” and says things like, “You can decide to feel how you want to, but I love you and I will always love you.” Gilbert acknowledges the “almost ludicrously fairy-tale ending to this story,” but reminds us, “I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.”

Rescue from what? The reader has never been sure. Lacking a ballast of gravitas or grit, the book lists into the realm of magical thinking: nothing Gilbert touches seems to turn out wrong; not a single wish goes unfulfilled. What’s missing are the textures and confusion and unfinished business of real life, as if Gilbert were pushing these out of sight so as not to come off as dull or equivocal or downbeat. When, after too much lovemaking, she is stricken with a urinary tract infection, she forgoes antibiotics and allows her friend, a Balinese healer, to treat the infection with noxious herbs. “I suffered it down,” Gilbert writes. “Well, we all know how the story ends. In less than two hours I was fine, totally healed.” The same could be said about “Eat, Pray, Love”: we know how the story ends pretty much from the beginning. And while I wouldn’t begrudge this massively talented writer a single iota of joy or peace, I found myself more interested, finally, in the awkward, unresolved stuff she must have chosen to leave out.

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