Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Tag: Film Adaptations (31-40 of 46)

Reading the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar category: The book isn't always better

Winters-BoneImage Credit: Sebastian MlynarskiAs a huge nerd, the Oscar category I anticipate most each year is Best Adapted Screenplay. There’s something uniquely creative and scholarly about deconstructing a book line-by-line, condensing several scenes into one, inventing devices to lend greater truth to the narrative, and building with images the unspoken words that authors have the luxury of telling readers outright. I like imagining how beaten, dog-eared, and annotated the screenwriter’s copy of the source material must be, and the adapter’s inevitable hours of turmoil of having to sacrifice beautiful scenes for the ruthless economy required of a good film.

It bothers me when people say, “The book is always better than the movie.” It’s a blanket statement I think people say to sound smart, but it’s simply not true (unless you’re talking about Harry Potter). The Devil Wears Prada the movie was leagues better than the charmless book by Lauren Weisberger. The Godfather films will long outlast Mario Puzo’s pulpy potboiler. In the hands of screenwriters and directors who aren’t afraid to take risks, a film adaptation can elevate the source material into a new stratosphere. READ FULL STORY

'Red Riding Hood' director Catherine Hardwicke and novelist discuss the film and book - EXCLUSIVE video

Red-Riding-HoodImage Credit: Kimberly FrenchThe upcoming cinematic reinvention of the classic fairy tale, starring Amanda Seyfried as the crimson-caped protagonist, looks to be a long, long way from Grandma’s house and a lot closer to the violent psycho-sexuality of those fraternal creeps, the Brothers Grimm. While the script was written for the screen, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is releasing a novelized adaptation in advance of the film — today, in fact — written by first-time author Sarah Blakley-Cartwright. Blakley-Cartwright, Red Riding Hood director Catherine Hardwicke, and screenwriter David Johnson discuss the film and the writing process in some exclusive clips, featured in the enhanced e-book edition of the novel. Check them out below. READ FULL STORY

'Pariah' author Bob Fingerman reveals his five favorite tomes of terror

bob-fingermanImage Credit: Jeff WongBob Fingerman says that during his spell dwelling on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in the mid-’90s he came to the conclusion the area was not exactly the liveliest place on earth. “It felt zombie-like in a lot of ways,” says the writer and artist. “You’d see lots of old women eating alone in diners. There seemed to be a quality of just waiting for death.” Way to big the burg up, dude! “This is why I don’t work for the Upper East Side Board of Tourism,” laughs the now Upper West Side-dwelling Fingerman.  “‘Come and see the living dead!’”

The author’s old neighborhood provides the setting for his new book Pariah, in which the inhabitants of an apartment block attempt to survive a zombie apocalypse. While the novel is not short of gore—the very first page finds the driver of a colliding taxi cab bursting through his windshield “like a meat torpedo”—the result is as much social satire as it is splatterfest. “The living grow accustomed to the zombies,” says Fingerman. “I think New Yorkers are very resilient and that carried through to these characters. The other thing is that I figured, ‘The ones who weren’t resilient? They’re all dead.’ They got eaten!”

Fingerman has considerable experience in the horror genre. Pariah is actually an unofficial sequel to Zombie World: Winter’s Dregs, a comic book miniseries he wrote in the late ‘90s, “back before zombies were cool.”  He also penned the 2007 vampire novel Bottom Feeder and has a short story featured in the new collection The Living Dead 2, alongside contributions from Max Brooks and Walking Dead scribe Robert Kirkman.

Who better then, as we drag our zombie-infected carcasses towards Halloween season, to recommend five horror novels? You can check out Fingerman’s picks after the jump.


Harvey Pekar, a great writer, comics innovator: His splendid American life is over

Harvey Pekar was one of the most important, idiosyncratic, and eccentric writers that the comics medium has ever produced. He ushered in a new age of autobiographical realism to comic books and graphic novels, writing scripts that were illustrated by artists such as R. Crumb, Gary Dumm, Dean Haspiel, Drew Friedman, and Rick Geary. He enjoyed a brief period of TV stardom as an occasional guest on David Letterman’s NBC talk show, and his READ FULL STORY

Brad Pitt buys rights to 'The Imperfectionists'

Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, has reportedly bought the movie rights to Tom Rachman’s much-buzzed-about novel The Imperfectionists. Published in April, the book is an endearing comedy of manners set at a fictional English-language newspaper in Rome. Though some early reviews were mixed, Janet Maslin of the New York Times loved it, saying the novel was “a splendid original, filled with wit and structured so ingeniously that figuring out where the author is headed is half the reader’s fun.” Fueled by word-of-mouth praise, The Imperfectionists is beginning to take off; it’s now showing up on some best-seller lists.

R.I.P. Erich Segal: Love of books means never having to say you're sorry for the schlock you've read

Books come in all forms, from high to low. And few writers were more aware of that high-low divide than Erich Segal, who died Sunday in London at age 72. A classics professor at some of the world’s finest universities (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford), Segal also happened to produce a number of best-selling pot-boilers.

Most notably, he wrote the 1970 novel Love Story, the sappy and sentimental story of a star-crossed romance between a well-to-do Harvard student and a Radcliffe scholarship student that ends in tragedy shortly after their marriage. (Depending on the account you read, the Oliver Barrett character may have been based in part on former Vice President Al Gore, who was a golden-boy Harvard undergrad when Segal was a visiting professor in the ’60s.)

Love Story‘s phenomenal success was bolstered by an equally maudlin hit movie starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw that was released just 10 months after the book’s Valentine’s Day publication (and based on a script by Segal himself). Likewise, both versions of the story were boosted by a catchphrase — “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” — that became a signature expression of a distinctly ’70s-style approach to romance. The phrase was widely quoted — and perhaps even more widely parodied, in everything from Peter Bogdanovich’s 1972 film What’s Up, Doc? (when O’Neal himself dismisses the line as “the dumbest thing I ever heard” to costar Barbra Streisand) to The Simpsons to Rugrats to a Cobra Starship song (“Being From Jersey Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry”). The line was also tweaked by John Lennon — “Love means never having to say you’re sorry every 15 minutes” — which is fitting, since Segal also co-wrote the famed 1968 Beatles movie Yellow Submarine.

Still, it is for Love Story that Segal is most likely to be remembered. Segal later wrote a sequel, Oliver’s Story, as well as other melodramatic best-sellers like The Class (about five Harvard classmates from the ’50s) and Doctors (about med school classmates). For a while, Segal established himself as the Nicholas Sparks of his era — all while maintaining his credibility in the academic world and churning out scholarly volumes on Caesar Augustus and the Roman playwright Plautus. (To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Sparks is not moonlighting as an expert in astrophysics.) Like Sparks, et al, Segal’s fiction may not have ranked as great literature, and yet his books were compelling page-turners with the tug of the familiar narrative forms.

The book-loving moviegoer's dilemma: Should I read 'The Lovely Bones' before seeing the film?

Peter Jackson’s big-screen adaptation of The Lovely Bones lands in theaters this Friday, which presents me with a dilemma. You see, I’m one of those folks who really, truly intended to read Alice Sebold’s 2002 novel. (My colleague Karen Valby gave the book one of its very first raves and it’s been on my to-read list ever since.) But now I worry that I won’t have the time to do so before I see Jackson’s film adaptation, which stars Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), Rachel Weisz, and Mark Walhberg.

Sure, there have been plenty of movies I’ve seen without having read the book first. And many instances when I’ve gone back and read the source material afterwards (Sideways, The Sweet Hereafter). But seldom have I done so with a book as popular as The Lovely Bones. I know that there will doubtless be plotlines (and perhaps even characters) who will be missing from the movie. I know, too, that the book will invariably be better (as the book almost always is in these book vs. film showdowns). But I fret about all the other ways that the movie might color my impression of Sebold’s work. Will I envision the characters as the actors who play them — despite how Sebold might describe them? I know that I couldn’t help but picture Daniel Radcliffe when I was reading the later Harry Potter titles.

What about you? On book-based movies like The Lovely Bones, do you prefer to read the book first or let the movie serve as a long trailer for the story’s truest form, on paper (or Kindle screen)?

Amazon Kindle's popularity fires up

Looks like readers are hoping to save some trees this season. According to Amazon, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the company has sold a whopping 48 Kindle books for every 100 physical books it has sold this season. That number has risen significantly since May. Just six months ago, Amazon was selling just 35 Kindles for every 100 physical books sold.

It’s an impressive number, especially when you consider the price of the product. Consumers are expected to pony up $489 for the latest Kindle model.

But it looks like the Kindle’s power might extend beyond the publishing industry. The subscription-only publishing biz site Publishers Marketplace reported last week that Karen McQuestion’s A Scattered Life has apparently become the first self-published Kindle book to be acquired by a production company. (Producer Eric Lake optioned the rights for the L.A.-based outfit Hiding In Bed.) Though Hiding In Bed has yet to return EW’s calls regarding specifics of its plans for a film adaptation, McQuestion’s Life follows a restless Wisconsin housewife who befriends a psychic and a harried mother of five.

John Hillcoat, director of 'The Road,' on adapting the Pulitzer-winning novel

T.S. Eliot predicted that the world would end with a whimper rather than a bang, but this month it will have ended with both onscreen. Just weeks after the release of the destruct-o-thon 2012, John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s grim and muted postapocalyptic novel The Road hits theaters Nov. 25. And where the former revels in the anonymity of pulverized cities and massive explosions, Hillcoat’s film faithfully relates the very personal tale of a father and son wandering the barren landscape of earth’s postscript. The book garnered nearly every accolade under the sun when it came out in 2006 and has topped a number of greatest books lists, including our own. Shelf Life spoke with the director about his experience adapting such formidable source material.

When I saw your first film, The Proposition, the first thing that came to my mind was that it was semi-apocalyptic. So you seemed like a good choice to adapt The Road.

Well, The Proposition was influenced by [McCarthy's] Blood Meridian, which is somewhat apocalyptic itself.

So I guess you were a big fan of Cormac McCarthy from the start.

Oh, yes. Definitely.

How did you get involved with The Road?

Well, it was because of that connection. I wanted to do a film in L.A. and I was talking about what authors I liked, and this was before No Country for Old Men, and I said that I loved McCarthy. So then I was very fortunate when I managed to get my hands on the manuscript of The Road before it was published. READ FULL STORY

Modernizing Shakespeare

strange-brew-shakespeare_lIf William Shakespeare were around today it’s unclear whether he’d have made it as a playwright. My guess is that he’d probably be credited as “Will Shakes,” and would be penning Off-Off-Broadway plays about the Iraq War and submitting spec scripts to Mad Men. So it’s lucky for us that he lived when he lived.

But that doesn’t stop filmmakers from bringing his work into the present day. The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Gerard Butler will be joining Ralph Fiennes in a contemporary adaptation of one of the lesser-produced Shakespearean tragedies, Coriolanus.

This isn’t the first time Shakespeare’s works have gotten a modern makeover. In fact it’s more like the 12,486th. So let’s take this opportunity to look back at the slew of attempts to bring the Bard up to date:

There is, of course, Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo & Juliet featuring the PYTs of the MTV generation: Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. It’s a good thing this was made in 1996 before cell phones were so ubiquitous. READ FULL STORY

Latest Videos in Books


TV Recaps

Powered by VIP