Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pages to screens

I'm sure a million people have written about this topic before, but originality isn't necessarily my goal when I write a blog. At least not anymore considering I've written over 170 entries on this thing and am having enough trouble not repeating myself. But for some reason I decided today that I wanted to find out what books being adapted into movies I could expect to hit theaters within the coming months. Considering some of my favorite films are based on literary figures (Bright Star) or novels themselves (Pride & Prejudice), I have a vested interest in how books are adapted to the screen, since often times I find myself in the not-so-respected role of the spectator who has never actually read the book.

Such was the case of both of those movies I mentioned a second ago, the first which introduced me to the poetry of John Keats and the second which introduced me to Jane Austen as a writer. But it speaks to the power of film that these two understated films were able to capture my attention in such a way that they convinced me their subjects were worth looking into with a lot more vigor.

So my premise is mainly regarding films based on books that I haven't seen. I apologize if that means I have loose, uninteresting commentary, but I'm using this as an excuse to do some research on upcoming movies I'd like to pay $12 to see (side note: why are movie tickets so expensive now? I'd like to file a complaint).

On the Road

We've all heard about this book about a beatnik traveling across the country, largely based off the story of Jack Kerouac himself. But unless we've sat down to read this book - and admittedly I haven't gotten past the first few chapters due to my ridiculously short attention span - it is something that could thrive from being translated to the screen, to be presented to a whole new generation of hipsters who are societal reactionaries, and perhaps a bit too stubborn to pick up a well-received novel.

That being said, after reading a bit of commentary on Kristen Stewart's performance in the film, it might be difficult to stomach this movie. With her previous appearances in virtually undistinguishable roles in Into the Wild, The Yellow Handkerchief and perhaps even Twilight (as if this is news to anyone - all anyone says about Kristen Stewart is her lack of diversity as an actress), I well expect that this film will prove once again why some actors are renowned for being versatile and others...well, others just aren't renowned at all.

The Bell Jar

I hadn't known that this film was being made until doing a quick bit of searching and finding out that Julia Stiles was starring in the adaptation. Considering Julia Stiles' role in 10 Things I Hate About You, as well as her roles in pretty much every movie she's ever been in, I can see this working - if only because it's probably quite a pet project for her.

Julia Stiles, in what I've seen of her at least, has a penchant for roles as a tomboy, or at least an overly simplified version of a feminist leading lady, which makes anything Sylvia Plath absolutely applicable to her signature method.

While, again, I haven't read The Bell Jar, I have read a bit of Sylvia Plath's poetry and found it very moving, however disturbing and haunting her story and her writing was. This is an adaptation that, unlike On the Road, I can see being very worth the watch - enough perhaps to get me to sit down and pick up the book.

The Great Gatsby

Now this is a film I can actually speak to with some authority. I have read The Great Gatsby and hold it in quite a bit of esteem. Though it was a class assignment, I became very enamored with the characters - particularly he whom the book was named after.

Gatsby is a fascinating tale about class divisions and society in 1920s New York. It's the kind of book that defined an era, painting a picture in minds of millions of readers for generations (many of whom were forced to read the book in school like I was, but were likewise enthusiastic about it) about a time that they perhaps never got to live through.

What I've seen of the trailer for the film adaptation seems promising. Not because it seems all that true to the spirit of the novel, but because it provides a spectacle that perhaps isn't full present in the novel or in its previous film adaptations. With Baz Luhrmann directing the film, it's bound to be interesting - if nothing else.

Anna Karenina

Of the books that I've been needing to pick up for quite a while now, Anna Karenina really tops the list. Since watching Gilmore Girls and hearing Rory reference the book in her high school valedictorian speech, I've wanted to try my hand at this monster of a novel (monster because it's big, not because it's ominous).

And after seeing some stills from the movie and learning that Joe Wright (director of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, two beautiful films adapted from novels) was directing, I couldn't want to see this film more than I already do. There's something so strong about Wright's adaptations of books - even when he cuts corners, he replaces them with pregnant pauses and scenes rife with turmoil and emotional tension. What he loses might seem irreplaceable, but when you watch Joe Wright you get such a strong feeling for a novel that you can't even begin to complain about what's been lost.

Cloud Atlas

Finally we have Cloud Atlas, a film that I'm sure most haven't heard of. Also a book that I'm sure most haven't heard of. And admittedly, neither had I. But because of my passion for the film Bright Star and the star of the film, Ben Whishaw, I learned about this little gem a few months ago.

While I'm not fully sure of what the plot of the story is, having been a lazy reader I know that the IMDb synopsis says it's "Six stories set in a different time and place become intricately related to each other." While this alone might not spark interest, the cast includes Tom Hanks, Jim Sturgess (of Across the Universe and 21), Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent and, as I mentioned, Ben Whishaw. If I was going to create a fantasy cast, a few of those actors would definitely make the list.

So in conclusion, though I haven't really given you a ton of information on these films - partly because I am too tired and lazy to research in depth and partly because I want to leave some mystery in the film-viewing process for myself and anyone else who happens to be reading this - I hope that this concept has sparked your interest. Because the point of nerding out on IMDb like I do so often is to find little diamonds amid all the roughage that exists on the pages of a compendium of all films ever made. If I did all the work for you, then you wouldn't go searching for your own diamonds would you?

No comments:

Post a Comment