Category Archives: movies

Blurby

Time and Goodreads each talk to Audrey Niffenegger about her new novel Her Fearful Symmetry.

NPR’s All Things Considered explores William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch 50 years after publication.

I’m a big fan of the comic series Fables. Bill Willingham, creator of the series, has written a novel set in the universe called Peter & Max: A Fables Novel. io9 reviews the new book.

An anti-prostitution group in Mexico is seeking to halt production on the movie adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Memories of My Melancholy Whores.

The New York Times profiles A.S. Byatt, whose newest novel The Children’s Book was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.

Margaret Atwood is interviewed by the LA Times’ Jacket Copy blog.

The Times Online unveils the best books of the past 60 years as named by their readers.

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Filed under Books, British Literature, comic books, movies

Closing tabs on a Sunday morning

Aleksandar Hemon, whose book The Lazarus Project I reviewed earlier, is interviewed at Deutsche Welle.

Prospect interviews Nick Hornby, whose Juliet, Naked
is only nine days from hitting bookstands.

Joe Hill’s awesome Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
was awarded Best Comic Book/Graphic Novel by the British Fantasy Society. We’re big fans of Joe around these parts, and wish our heartiest congratulations to him.

Paste looks at eight books that will be translated to the big screen before the end of 2009.

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Filed under Books, comic books, Graphic Novels, movies

Odds and Ends

According to The Telegraph, JRR Tolkien trained as a spy for the British government in the years leading up to World War II.

Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, has obtained the rights to his memoir A Moveable Feast and will produce a film adaptation, per Variety.

Oprah Winfrey has announced her latest book club selection. It’s the debut short story collection from Uwem Akpan, titled Say You’re One of Them
.

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Filed under Books, movies

Book to Film: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

cloudy

Here’s a case where screenwriters have taken extreme liberty with source material, but if reviews and buzz are any indication, the 3-D animated Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs appears to have succeeded.

Originally published in 1978, the children’s book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs featured a grandfather telling his grandchildren a story about a town where there is weather three times a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. As you might imagine, all of this weather comes in the form of food. Weather can be a tricky thing, though, and just like in the real world, the inhabitants of the town experience some “severe” weather that causes havoc – particularly since the massive events have food items at their center (i.e. a tomato sauce tornado).

The movie takes things a step further. At the center of the story is an inventor named Flint Lockwood, a guy who creates stuff that is either unwanted or simply doesn’t work. When his town begins to struggle, with the denizens eating nothing but sardines, he invents a machine that converts water into food – and effectively changes the weather so that it produces, well, produce. Hunger is eliminated, but soon Lockwood’s machine goes rogue and starts to create similar severe weather events to those seen in the book. Flint must stop the machine, and save the world in the process.

In both cases, the story is simple. A lot of people who remember loving the book as children have expressed dismay that the film is stretching the premise, but there’s reason for hope. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. You may not know the names. Actually, you probably don’t know their masterpiece of a TV series, either. Clone High was an animated show that aired on MTV for one short season in 2002-2003. The show was genius. Famous historical figures have been cloned, and we pop in on the high school versions of characters like Abe Lincoln, Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra and John F. Kennedy. It was subversive and hilarious, and sadly is out of print.

Because I loved that show so well, I’m pretty excited about Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. As I write this, it’s 87% Fresh at RottenTomatoes, which means that it is the beneficiary of plenty of positive reviews. One critics comment that it’s “Laughing-my-ass-off, it’s-raining-steak-and-gumballs, I-want-Steve-the-monkey-for-my-very-own fun” has me totally excited to see the film.

Sure, it might be an adaptation in concept only, but someone out there had to come up with the concept that set things in motion.

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Filed under animation, Books, Children's Books, movies

Book to Film: Whiteout

whiteout

We all know that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. Just look at all of the various “re-imaginings”, remakes, and movies based on toys if you have any doubt. Another source for Hollywood inspiration is books of all sorts – novels, non-fiction, graphic novels, kid-lit and comic books. Sometimes, these adaptations work extraordinarily well (The Lord of the Rings, Silence of the Lambs, No Country for Old Men), but more often, people find themselves disappointed that the movie desecrated a book they loved. As they’re about to enter theaters, I’ll take a quick look at these book-to-film projects, starting today with Whiteout.

Whiteout is a thriller/murder mystery set in Antarctica and is based on a limited-run comic book series written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Steve Lieber. The main character is a female US Marshal who struggles against a sinister killer as well as some bitter cold as she attempts to uncover the secrets behind the murders.

I’ve actually read Whiteout, and though its my understanding that it’s fairly highly regarded, it left me a little cold (get it? Ha ha!). I liked that the central character was female and drawn realistically, but that’s about as far as it went. I never found myself particularly invested in their stories, which made it difficult for me to care whether she solved the mystery or if something terrible happened to her. It’s one of those books that I basically forgot about five minutes after I finished it.

It’s surprising, then, that someone thought there was enough mileage in Whiteout to expand to a full-length feature film. (I’d guess that the entire book takes about 40 minutes to read.) Sure, the challenges of filming a story set in Antarctica might be interesting visually, but as far as having a truly gripping story or engaging characters, there would have to be some significant work done. Considering that Kate Beckinsale was cast in the lead role – and she looks more like most “typical” female comic book characters than the one in Whiteout – it seems like the primary redeeming aspect of the book was left behind anyway.

If reviews are any indication, it looks like critics would have you steer clear of the movie, too. As I write this, Whiteout is 2% Fresh (thats *one* out of 50 reviews) at RottenTomatoes, the film review aggregator site. I suppose that’s what comes from choosing to adapt such average material in the first place.

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