Tag: Movie

Adaptation Smackdown: The Rum Diary

Posted July 11, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Adaptations / 0 Comments

I haven’t talked about an adaptation for a while, so I thought it was time to bring out another adaptation smackdown. The idea is to look at the book and then compare the movie and see which one was better or worth your time. I thought this time I will take a look at Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary which was made into a movie late last year. Set in the 1950’s this story involves a tangled love triangle of jealousy, treachery and alcoholism of the staff of a Puerto Rico newspaper.

The mediocre semi-biographical novel focuses on a very ill tempered, drunkard of a journalist. I was expecting something with a bit of excitement but the plot seemed to drag on and while hinting at a plot this book never really took off. So when it came to seeing the movie it was nice to see them really cut down the story to give a resemblance of a plot but like the book it still seemed to drag on way too much.

Advantages of the book

There are no advantages, this book drags on and there really isn’t any point in wasting too much time reading this book.

Advantages of the movie

Well for one, Johnny Depp plays the lead role and let’s face it, he is an expert in playing a drunk. Amber Heard is a beautiful and great actor but still she isn’t enough to pull this movie through. Other than that this movie feels a lot longer than 120 minutes.

Winner: No one’s a winner, unless you skipped them both.

Hunter S. Thompson adaptations seem to follow closely with the novels, which is good for books like Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas where you have a bizarre plot to read and watch but when you have a below average one, it really doesn’t translate well to any format. Now I’ve had a little vent about this book and movie, I might have to work on a new adaptation smackdown, so if anyone has some good suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Question Tuesday: Books are Better than the Movies; Any Exceptions?

Posted June 26, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Question Tuesday / 0 Comments

“Never judge a book by its movie” – J.W. Eagan

I’m not sure if I’ve seen a movie that I liked more than the book. I know if I read American Psycho before seeing the movie I might have enjoyed it more. I think there are plenty of examples of books I didn’t enjoy because I saw the movie first. Others include Psycho by Robert Bloch and Limitless by Alan Glynn. There are a few movies that I enjoyed more than the books, like The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver, The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson and The Hunter by Richard Stark (Payback, 1999) There are books I thought were average and I would rather invest 2 hours watching the movie than 8 or more hours reading the books. Even if the movies turned out bad, it was still less of an investment than reading the book.

Graphic novels seem to be the best at being adapted to movies. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes, Sin City by Frank Miller, Kick Ass by Mark Millar and V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchman by Alan Moore all seem to be good examples of that. While all these graphic novels are decent, I prefer the movies over the books. I’m sure many people will disagree with this but that’s my opinion. What movies do people prefer over the books?

While we are on the topic of Movie Adaptions; one of the things I hate most about them, is when the cover of the books change to match the movie posters or even the name of the book changing to match. I really hate owning a book with the movie name or cover on it but sometimes there is just no getting away from it.

The Hunger Games: The Book vs The Movie

Posted April 22, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Young Adult / 3 Comments

Normally I would stand by a simple truth; “The book is always better than the movie” but that is not always true. In the case of The Hunger Games, I’m not going to say the book is better than the movie.   I think they were both great but I can’t pick one over the other. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you would have heard of this book and the movie adaptation but just in case you haven’t, let me quickly sum it up. The Hunger Games is the story of a 16 year old girl that takes the place of her younger sister to compete in the annual televised event ‘The Hunger Games’. This is an event where a young boy and girl are called up randomly to participate in a fight to the death for survival for the entertainment of the rich and powerful.

Katniss is a strong character, with all the normal awkwardness you would expect from a teenager; having to deal with love, death and loneliness in this dystopian world that she lives in. But in the book it tends to focus a little too much on the cutesy teenage girl aspect and less on the darkness of her situation. The movie does have this same element but a lot of this has been cut down to make room for the main plot line.  When it comes to the violence, the book seems more violent and the movie felt a little anti climatic at the end. Also I’ve found in the movie the tributes were very two dimensional and very annoying but when reading the book I didn’t notice this at all. Capital’s fashion was terrible in the movie and I was glad I didn’t have to be subjected to seeing it while reading the book. In the end, the movie slightly departs from the book but it really sets up the next movie (If it gets made) really well.

While I’m talking about this movie, I want to know what was with all the racism with the twelve year old from Division 11? In the book it mentions she had dark skin but people seemed so shocked when in the movie she turned out to be an African American. It shouldn’t matter what colour her skin was all that should matter is that Amandla Stenberg played the role perfectly.

The faults I had with the movie balanced out my problems with the book. I don’t think I can pick one over the other. I’m interested in seeing how the series plays out as a movie adaptation but at the same time I don’t have much of an interest to continue the series. I think as a stand-alone book, it’s fantastic; but if I try to predict the rest of the series and all I can see are love-triangles, fighting authority and a lot more romance. If this isn’t the case, I might read the other books; but at the moment I just think it works better as a single story. Problem is, if they are making the movies I feel inclined to read the book before seeing the movie.

Remakes and Modernisations

Posted December 14, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 8 Comments

With recent rumours of another American Psycho movie adaption, I thought I might throw my two cents in about remakes and modernisations. First of all, I’ll start with American Psycho; I’ve read the book and seen the 2000 cult classic. Whether you liked it or not, there is no denying that the movie captured the essence of the book, with all its darkness and satire. Also, let’s face it; can you really imagine anyone else but Christian Bale playing Patrick Bateman? Ellis has said he would approve of the remake if Miles Fisher plays the lead (if you have seen the music video ‘This Must Be The Place’ then you will know why). But I can’t see the remake working as it is said it will also be a modernisation; I don’t see how the dark comedy will translate at all.

Apart from this movie, there have been many books that have been remade into movies and modernised but how often does it really work? With superhero and comic book franchises, it works because there are so many different avenues and story lines to explore but with a book you really are bound to the same story.

This brings me to a modernisation that I’ve actually enjoyed, two in fact, both from the same book. This Book was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel ‘The Scarlet Letter’. The first modernisation was the film Easy A, which took the concept of The Scarlet Letter and transferred into a modern high school environment. This movie took the concept of adultery and the effects of passing judgment and applied it to the high school issue of bullying. It was incredibly main-stream but I enjoyed it none-the-less.

The second was something I’ve not seen before, I modernisation in book form; this was Hillary Jordan’s young adult novel ‘When She Woke’. Like most YA novels, this is set in a dystopian society in the not so distant future. In the world, The Church governs all and the church is pretty much like Westboro church. As a form of punishment Hannah Payne has her skin altered bright red so the world will know her sins. Now she has to live in a society that will judge her without knowing her.

The concept of remake of a remake or modernisation done like When She Woke is new to me and I wonder how many books are remakes or modernisations. Which brings me to another thought; what is the difference between a remake and a homage? The lines seem to blur between the two but I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

Is The Book Always Better Than The Movie?

Posted January 11, 2011 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

Book-into film-adaptations is a tricky subject.  Sometimes it’s easier to take the hard line and say the book is always better than the movie, but this isn’t always the case. With some interesting choices for adaptations coming out this year (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Dark Tower & the upcoming TV series; Game of Thrones) as well as some classics redone (The Hobbit, Jane Eyre & The Three Musketeers), I thought that we should see if we can work out, what makes a good adaptation?

I don’t think it’s fair to say all books are better than the movie.  There have been some great examples to prove this isn’t the case such as Bridget Jones Diary & High Fidelity. In fact, one of the first blockbuster movies was adapted from a very ordinary book (Jaws).

But it doesn’t stop there; sometimes great books do make great movies. These books normally have a strong narrative drive; The Road is a really dense novel, full of ideas, very exuberant prose and great language, yet it made a great movie, surprising many, because of the narrative.

A great adaptation also needs to capture the essence of the book; we want fidelity between the book and the film but there is a problem with this. If a filmmaker does a faithful adaptation to the book the people will say you lack imagination, but if you make a movie without perfect fidelity you run the risk of been chastised by the fans of the book.

One of the major problems with adaptations is the fact that as a novel there are all these different ways of expressing character but as a film writer there is only action. A novel can have thousands of ideas and perspectives but in a film it needs to be distilled into one central idea.  There was a quote from someone who worked on the Harry Potter movies that really explained this; “We’re not trying to hit all the bases and reproduce all the favourite characters and the favourite scenes cos that, in itself, is not enough. The film has to have meaning. And you need to distill that and that’s your job as an adaptor.”

On a rare occasion there comes a movie that takes a creative spin on their adaptation and does it really well. From a modern retelling of Romeo + Juliet & the BBC series Sherlock to the ground-breaking Bladerunner which ignores the central theme of the book almost completely. Taking a completely different direction on a book is often risky but can have surprising results.

‘The book is better than the movie’ may not be a golden rule, (but I think there should be a rule that “You need to read the book before seeing the movie”) however, movie adaptations can successes or failures, and more often than not they do fail. On a side note, I think graphic novels adapt a lot better than a novel ever does, is this because it’s almost a screenplay already? I would love to know some examples of good and bad adaptations, as well as your opinions on the subject.

Bright Star; A Sonnet & A Movie

Posted February 6, 2010 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Movie-Drama, Poetry / 5 Comments

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.

Bright Star is a movie based on the last three years of John Keats life and his relationship with his muse Fanny Brawne. Though it was a Hollywood retelling of Keats romance, it was based on the biography ‘Keats’written by Andrew Motion. The highlight of the movie was really the poetry and letters by Keats. It is just nice to get this kind of insight on one of my literary heroes even in it was stylised a bit for the movie.