Book to Movie Confessions

July 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , )

As a book lover, it’s inevitable that two movies would have been on my viewing roster for 2013 – The Great Gatsby and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

As a literary snob, it’s inevitable that I’ll tell you The Great Gatsby is marvelous and rich and The Mortal Instruments are teen franchise fluff.  (Teen franchise fluff that I read and re-read.)

As someone who has worked on indie film crews with family in the not-so-indie industry, I’ll tell you that The Great Gatsby was the more phenomenal film.  Baz Luhrmann is incredible.

But here is my confession:

When the house is too quiet… when I need something on the television to pass the time between books… when I’m ruminating on the world at large – it’s not The Great Gatsby that I play on repeat.

I gave a review of the film when I first saw it. I was late to the party, I don’t rush to the theatres anymore. The crowds overwhelm me. I can muster up the energy to exist in a crowd, but I pick and choose those moments carefully. I need to be moving (like on a bike) or listening to an amazing band. Opening night at a theatre has to be for something really special and I’d prefer advance notice. I’ve aged into a curmudgeon, I suppose.

I’m not changing my initial review.  That would be unfair.  I don’t like editing much – I had those thoughts – they existed.  I still agree with them even.  But I’m not sure “fell flat” is how I would currently describe the movie.  Not after a month of having it be my go to television time.  I read 14 books in June, but when I wasn’t reading, I was watching a heck of a lot of The Mortal Instruments.

I clean my house to it.  I sort through closets with it on.  I have to take breaks from it to go teach ABCs and plan history lessons.  But still, it’s there when I come back and I find it comforting.

I think it’s because it is a story I can half be involved in while I’m doing something else… a story that is easy to relate to not because of the angels and demons and typical boy-girl romance, but because there are some things you never grow out of.  There are both beautiful and awkward memories that stay with you.  There are moments I can see so clearly in my head from my own life when I hear someone say a line a certain way.

Teen franchises are so popular because – well, we’ve all been teens before.

More than the romance, the camaraderie of a group of people so devoted to their cause is what draws me to adventure stories like this one.

And yes, I like to joke a bit and say that it’s because I can’t get enough of Jamie Campbell Bower’s face.  But obviously, when he’s there on screen, it’s Jace’s face.  And ultimately, it takes a lot more than a face to get me to watch a movie a dozen or so times – it takes talent and a true tribute to a work of art and I think they did their best.  Even if it didn’t quite live up to my lofty expectations, I think everyone involved honored Clare’s work better than anyone else could have.

I may just go to the theatre when City of Ashes comes out.

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Life of Pi

May 22, 2014 at 3:06 am (Reviews) (, , , , , )

life of pi movieIt seems I’ve been playing movie catch up this week.  Of course, I naturally lean toward choosing movies that have a literary base, which allows me to write book to movie reviews.

life-of-pi-book-coverI read Life of Pi a few years ago.  Possibly a few more than a few years ago, as I can’t remember the actual year and I know it was long before I was anywhere close to being a parent and I currently have a three year old.

I initially picked it up because I was working at a bookstore in the fiction/ literature section which included dealing with all the school reading list titles we were aware of.  Yann Martel had managed to make it to a high school English class’s required curriculum and that sparked my interest.  Someone somewhere thought you shouldn’t leave high school without reading this book and those same people were the ones that introduced me to John Steinbeck and George Orwell.

I read it quickly.  It’s a breezy read, full of riveting emotional adventure on a life raft in the open water.  I remember thinking, ‘Now this is what a book about someone stuck on a boat should be,’ after all, I was never a fan of Old Man and the Sea, despite feeling like I should.

I also remember hearing about it being made into a movie and thinking, ‘This could be really beautiful or they could really screw it up.’

Finally, I was able to discover the answer to my speculations.

It was so beautiful.

Life-of-Pi-edible-islandIt was extraordinary.

It was exactly what I imagined.

I haven’t experienced a movie so true to my experience of the book since Ian McEwan’s Atonement was tackled by Joe Wright.

Ang Lee nailed it.


life of pi whale

Which of course is apparent by the fact that at the 85th Academy Awards it won four awards, after being nominated for eleven.  I have a tendency to be a teensy oblivious to things like the Academy Awards, whether I watch them or not.  Two years later, I’m cheering for the wins.

Well done.  Well done.


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The Mortal Instruments to Film

May 16, 2014 at 2:47 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

JaceI finally watched City of Bones, the movie.  I’ve been debating writing a review for it since I first watched it and have since watched it two more times.

I’m trying to figure it out – why it seems to just fall flat.

(For the record, despite my use of the marketing, I am still opposed to book and movie covers/posters featuring shirtless men.  It seems so unnecessary and ridiculous.  I see it and all I can think is ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt’ in the most absurd voice that makes the song even more ironic than intended.)

Lily Collins did a great job.  I have a crush on Jamie Campbell Bower, have since I heard him sing – then watching him in Camelot just set it in stone.  He’s amazing, not just pretty.  I’ve been giggling at Robert Sheehan since Misfits.  Lena Heady is my hero.  When have I not loved Jonathan Rhys Meyers? – I’m 30, so pretty much never.  (The movie August Rush makes me swoon to no end.) So it’s not the cast.

The action sequences are brilliant.  Even my Kung Fu self loves them.  My I- Read-The-Book self loves them.  They are grand and epic enough.  The weapons are fantastic.

The graphics are great, the demons exciting and true to descriptions.

But something just didn’t quite work.

Then, I realized what it was:

The ending was all a muck.  We gloss over Simon becoming a rat, we skip through Valentine’s castle.  Jace is awake the whole time.  The writers just gave up halfway through and quit trying to stay true to the book.  They tried to wrap up 485 pages into a short teen flick of generic proportions when it should have been the introduction to something as grand as Harry Potter.

jace and swordIt fell flat.  It brings forth the reminder: “Don’t judge a book by its movie.”

The movie isn’t bad per se, it just makes me sad.  It could have been epic and instead it was a ‘pretty good date movie.’

Of course, Jamie Campbell Bower is still ever so pretty and makes it all worth it anyway.  He also manages to radiate that he read the book and knows who Jace is supposed to be.  Of course, I have no way of knowing if he read the books or not, but it makes me feel better thinking someone on set did.  And if he didn’t, his performance is even more impressive.

The movie is a B+

I wanted it to be so much more.

Jace with Book


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A Little Bit of Fad Reading

March 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

divergentTitle: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (An Imprint of HarperCollins)

Length: 487 pages

So I finally took that leap onto the [fad] train.

When I worked full time in the bookstore, chatting with customers, recommending books in person, I would have read this as soon as it was a thing for the sole purpose of finding something on the shelves that was similar when we were out of stock.  It was published in 2011, the year I left.  That last year was also one spent handling more inventory and displays as the store’s SIM than handling people and their whims and desires in the book world.   So though I was vaguely familiar with the title I totally missed the need to devour this title in a day and come back with a list of titles to hold over disappointed customers until we could get this one in their hands.

Somewhere along the road in my stay-at-home-mom life I discovered Hunger Games, and fell in love.  Though part of a huge fad, Hunger Games was no Twilight Saga or Vampire Diaries series.  Hunger Games was epic and beautiful and insanely well written.

So when I saw the preview for the movie Divergent, I thought, ‘What the heck? Let’s see if it will surprise me too.’

Color me surprised – again!  I really liked this one.  I read it in one day – nearly one sitting.  It tends to be easy to do that with contemporary young adult novels, no matter how long they are.

I found Hunger Games more moving, but I was able to relate more to the main character of Divergent more.  I’m nervous to see how they portray her in the movie, the book version is a person I feel very in tune to.  Katniss Everdean is someone I admire and look up to as a literary character, but whom I share very few similarities.  Tris’s story feels as though Roth dropped my mind into her version of dystopia.  Tris feels how I feel and tends to react in ways I am known to react.  (So far anyway.) Many of her fears were my fears at 16, actually I can’t think of one that is different.

For that it was incredibly enjoyable and easy to get into, and despite this being completely entertaining fluff fiction, I consider the hours spent reading it time well spent.

I’m interested to see how the  rest of the books go (it’s a series), as well as the movie adaptation in theaters this month.  Although I’m a little nervous that it might be too easy to amp up the cheese factor for the big screen – but I guess I’ll have to take a flying leap onto that fad train as well or I’ll never find out.


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Rules, Rules, Rules… are there for a reason.

June 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

PrincessBrideBookCover-e1354562433744Title: The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman

Length: 255 pages

People give me crap about it all the time, especially my fellow book clubbers: I won’t watch movies unless I’ve read the book first. There is a reason I keep this rule. A very BIG reason…

It has to do with my brain.

PrincessBrideMovieCoverThe Princess Bride reminded me why I try so hard to keep this rule, as I’ve seen the movie thousands of times, but find myself now slowly plodding through the book for what may be either the first or second time – I cannot remember.

And the characters on the pages of the book and the ones so steadfastly lodged in my brain from the movie are at constant war with each other. Robin Wright Penn viciously competing for equal stage time with The Bride of Goldman’s original imagination. Summoning up a girl who won’t bathe is extremely difficult when you have the movie raging in full sound, color, and all manners of vivid presentation in your brain. The Sicilian doesn’t quite look like the Sicilian, close but not quite… the Giant doesn’t quite look like the Andre the Giant. My image of Westley is slightly skewed. And Mandy Pantinkin and Inigo Montoya don’t quite jive the way they should, even though I wouldn’t cast Inigo Montoya by anyone but Mandy Pantinkin in a million years.

Inigo!The movie is flawless and the book is good. But for whatever reason, my brain can make the transition from this is how I imagined it to this is what made it to screen much more smoothly than this is the screen presentation, yet you may imagine it differently.

I keep these rules of book first and movie later with good reason and I do not like my system to be tampered with! Sometimes, though, it cannot be helped. Things like The Princess Bride get introduced to me long before I know it is a book, sadly enough.

So, no, I am not enjoying The Princess Bride, even though it is a great book. I am not enjoying it because I cannot get into it. I cannot get into because the characters are at war with their movie selves… and I keep hearing the voices of Fred Savage and Peter Falk at inappropriate times.  My brain likes order, and this has gone against the order of things.

Fred and PEter

Half Price Books Humble will be discussing this in the store Monday night (June 3rd, 2013) at 7:30 pm. Come join us and add your two cents.

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The Book Thief by Zusak

August 12, 2010 at 1:46 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

This is a fascinating piece of young adult World War II fiction.  Although written for a young audience, as an adult I found the story just as riveting.   I thoroughly enjoyed Zusak’s use of literary devices as he describes the life of a young German girl in Nazi Germany as she learns to read and write, adjusts to a new family and neighborhood, and grows into an adult – all under the reign of Hitler.  The Book Thief addresses the topic of humanity, love, and death and dying in a whole new way with Death as a narrator and a Jew in Nazi Germany hiding in the basement.  I would definitely utilize as a supplement to a 12 year old’s World War II studies and I think it is also a great book for Books-on-Books collectors like myself!
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