biff blog

Bermuda Film Blog

Books to Film (or Aideen’s irreverent musings)

As always, filmmakers look to bestseller lists for inspiration and 2011 is no exception. In this post I highlight some films to look out for, either on DVD or on a big screen near you (for Bermudians that means when you’re visiting NYC!). First, the upcoming DVD releases include Jane Eyre, The Lincoln Lawyer and Water for Elephants.

Generally, the critics gave a “thumbs up” to Jane Eyre, adapted from the novel by Charlotte Bronte and with lead performances by Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Not being a huge fan of the Bronte sisters (true confession: I once failed an English test on Jane Eyre because I never finished the book), I will leave it to you to seek out the DVD and draw your own conclusions regarding the faithfulness of the adaptation. USA box office of $10.3M may disappoint but it is a period piece without the ‘brand names’ American audiences seem to prefer.

The Lincoln Lawyer is adapted from the book of the same name by Michael Connelly and stars Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillipe and Marisa Tomei. I did finish this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. A fast-paced thriller, I look forward to the DVD release sometime in July. Matthew McConaughey has starred in some lamentable, though box office gold, movies, so it will be good to see him in something more worthy of his talents. The critics liked him in this and, with a USA box office of $56.5M, it seems audiences did too…although they could have liked him much more.

Water for Elephants, adapted from the bestseller by Sara Gruen, stars Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christopher Waltz. Critics were underwhelmed with this film adaptation. I must admit I have picked up the book several times but just cannot get excited about a sad love story set in a circus (admittedly, a far too brief and unfair synopsis of the book). However, I will make a commitment to read the book and check out the DVD to see for myself whether the critics were right or wrong.

Turning to the books to film adaptations that are not yet released, I am keeping an eye on One Day, The Help, Moneyball, We Need To Talk About Kevin and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

One Day, book by David Nicholls and film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, is a story of love and friendship over the course of 20 years. Naturally, I’m curious as to whether Anne Hathaway can hold an English accent for that long (in the book her character, Emma, is actually from Yorkshire). Sharp dialogue from the book should end up in the movie and, hopefully, the chemistry between Hathaway and Sturgess works. Let’s wait and see for the movie release set for August 19.

In The Help (book by Kathryn Stockett and film leads including Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer), we are in the world of the southern USA during the nascent days of the civil rights movement. As we now know it is a strange history and the film adaptation, done well, will be strong and stirring. The movie’s release is due August 12 and, given the book, it will be well worth the effort to seek it out.

Moneyball, authored by Michael Lewis and starring Brad Pitt, is about baseball; specifically, the Oakland A’s in 2002, who are trying to play with the big boys but without big boy money. I include this in my list, not because I am that much of a baseball fan (or a Brad Pitt fan) but because I am a Michael Lewis fan. He writes good books. You learn things from his books. (For me, author John Feinstein is similar in that respect.) I’m not sure how this will play as a movie but baseball enthusiasts should check it out; it’s release date is September 23.

We Need To Talk About Kevin fascinates me. It is adapted from the book by Lionel Shriver, directed by Lynne Ramsey and stars Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller. A compelling story of a mother coping with her sociopath teenage son’s actions, the film premiered at Cannes to a less than stellar reception. That will not stop me (although I will need to pop over to the UK as there doesn’t appear to be a USA release date set yet). Viewpoints are key in the book, so the film adaptation will be interesting and challenging.

Finally, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. What is left to say? We all know Stieg Larsson wrote a brilliant book and, now, the story is being made over – without subtitles – for a western audience. The film will star Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgard, Rooney Mara and Robin Wright and is due for release in December. Can you name another movie where the original language was not English and an English language version was made?

Anyway, I have my homework: read and watch Water for Elephants. (No, I will not read Jane Eyre.)

Your homework: read the eight books mentioned above and see as many of the movies as you can!

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