Friday, October 3, 2008

Upcoming Movies Based on Books -- Fall Edition, Part Two

Welcome to the second of three installments featuring movies released in the next few months that are based on literary counterparts. As mentioned previously, this fall has a huge number of movies based on books, making for a reader's delight or nightmare in which books from ever genre have been remade on the silver screen. The first installment included a historical fiction, a Nicholas Spark's love story, a foreign military drama, and a sci-fi thriller that even I am looking forward to.

Part two is not to be outdone, featuring a teenage love story, a comedy with a less than savory character, a thriller and a movie and an unconventional romance.

By Toby Young
Published July, 2002 by Da Capo Press

The appeal of journalist Young's memoir is his willingness to skewer himself as savagely as he does his acquaintances and colleagues. The self-portrait is rarely flattering and sometimes repellent, but carries a startling ring of truth. Young targets Manhattan's superficial social scene and gives a slashing insider's view of Vanity Fair and its parent company, Cond‚ Nast. Consumed with the desire to be "somebody," Young is hired by editor Graydon Carter and unwittingly offends everyone he seeks to impress. He learns that journalists must have "a plausible manner, rat-like cunning and a little literary ability," and he encounters a caste system so rigid that if an important editor trips and falls, etiquette dictates to leave her on the floor and walk on, rather than offer assistance or directly address her. Young's description of his efforts to crash Oscar parties is an appallingly accurate picture of wannabes whose identity depends on the celebrities they cultivate. He's amusingly perceptive in his analysis of women whose motive for marrying prominent men is to impress other women; this jealousy is brilliantly summed up by Gore Vidal's comment, "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little." British-born Young, who has also been fired from the Times of London and the Guardian, paints Carter as a fascinatingly complex individual, capable of devastating employees or helping them face dire health problems. He also includes intriguing profiles of power couple Tina Brown and Harry Evans, and Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell. What keeps readers on Young's side is his courage to keep fighting, even when confronted by publicist Peggy Siegal's withering line, "I have no respect for writers. They never make money. They're like poor people looking in the windows."

The Movie:

Release Date: October 3rd, 2008
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, Danny Huston, Gillian Anderson, Megan Fox
Director: Robert B. Weide

By Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
Published May, 2006 by Knopf Books

What happens when two witty, wise, but vulnerable teens meet by accident at a chaotic punk rock club? They fall in love, of course. While both are dealing with the fallout of failed relationships and the infinite hurt that accompanies them, they are questioning everything about themselves, their friends, and their future paths. The passion and intelligence of these characters, along with the authors' intimate knowledge of and complete respect for their audience, make this novel unique. Told in alternating chapters over the course of a single night, the narratives create a fully fleshed-out picture of both teens, informed by their love of music, their devotion to their friends, and their clear-eyed view of the world. These kids don't drink or do drugs and it's solely their obsession with music that takes them to these clubs. One of Norah's relatives calls her a potty mouth, and that's no exaggeration. Throughout the book, the expletives fly fast and furious, but they are more about personal expression and in-your-face attitude than about strong emotions. Yet, there is also considerable depth and sensitivity. Norah explains the Jewish concept of tikkun olam the responsibility to heal a fractured world and Nick comes up with an original spin on it. There are many heart-stopping, insightful moments in this supremely satisfying story.

The Movie:

Release Date: October 3rd, 2008
Starring: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings
Director: Peter Stollett

By Art Linson
Published May, 2002 by Bloomsbury USA

In this latest addition to the spate of Hollywood tell-alls, the producer of The Untouchables and Fight Club details the planning, handholding and power games involved in making movies. Each film brings its own problems, which Linson recounts in sardonic discussions of his own less-than-boffo features, including Pushing Tin and Great Expectations (the 1998 remake). His account of The Edge is particularly remarkable, as it demonstrates the difficulties of putting together a deal (De Niro had a problem with fighting a fake bear), placating the stars (Alec Baldwin didn't want to shave his beard) and finding a title (The Bear and the Brain was a contender, as was the screenwriter's choice, Bookworm). Linson's insights into why some movies fail are revealing: no one wants to see John Cusack naked (which explains Pushing Tin), for one, and you don't stand a chance if an earlier, bigger release (Titanic) uses the same erotic scene as your movie (Great Expectations). To hear Linson tell it, it's a jungle out there, withloads of fussy, naive, brazen and unlucky monkeys swinging from the trees. He reels out one conversation after another, unearthing the bar banter, telephone exchanges and studio tˆte-…-tˆtes that reveal just how much quibbling goes on behind the scenes. Although Linson's book lacks the polish of William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade or the all-around savvy of Peter Bart and Peter Guber's Shoot Out, it provides a decent bird's-eye view on what a producer actually does and the pressures it involves.

The Movie

Released Date: October 3rd, 2008
Starring: Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Stanley Tucci, Bruce Willis, John Turturro, Kristen Stewart, Robin Wright Penn
Director: Barry Levinson

By David Ignatius
Published April, 2007 by W.W. Norton

Displaying his trademark expertise and writing skill, Washington Post columnist Ignatius (Agents of Innocence) has crafted one of the best post-9/11 spy thrillers yet. Subtly framing a highly elaborate plot, Ignatius tells the story of idealistic CIA agent Roger Ferris, newly stationed in Jordan after being wounded in Iraq. After a failed initiative to flush out a terrorist mastermind known as Suleiman, Ferris, who's dedicated to forestalling further al-Qaeda attacks, develops an intricate scheme modeled after a British plan used successfully against the Nazis. Ferris's plot to turn the terrorists against each other by sowing seeds of suspicion that their leaders are collaborating with the Americans puts his personal life in turmoil and threatens his professional relationship with the head of Jordanian intelligence. Few readers will anticipate the jaw-dropping conclusion

The Movie:

Release Date: October 10th, 2008
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Golshifteh Farahani, Carice van Houten
Director: Ridley Scott

By Michael Downing
Published November, 1999 by Counterpoint

Two gay men, one a New Age chiropractor, the other an editor at an ultra-hip Italian art magazine, live happily together in Cambridge, not too far from Harvard. Sam, the chiropractor, learns that his brother's ex-girlfriend has suddenly died and named Sam legal guardian of her 11-year-old son, Scot. What follows is a wry look at how Sam and Ed adjust to surrogate parenthood, which they had politely, drunkenly and hypothetically agreed to years before. When Scot arrives at their home, these two generous, good-hearted men discover that they have a prepubescent Quentin Crisp on their hands. Scot's flamboyant, androgynous flair makes for some school yard and neighborhood crises, but the boy's innate sweetness and open-mindedness endear him to several youngsters and most adults. The action centers around the adjustments everyone is forced to make during the first semester of Scot's fifth grade at Parker Elementary School, where Scot learns that he must stop wearing pantyhose, eyeliner and perfume. Narrated by Ed, both the action and the asides are loaded with wit and emotion. By the time Sam's brother, Billy, unexpectedly returns from South America, readers know that Scot, Sam and Ed are a real family, and that the two men, patiently immersed in the joys and pains of parenting, are the boy's heroes. The prose in Downing's (Perfect Agreement) fourth novel is melodious and lucid. This heartwarming tale nobly defines and describes a potent, realistic new configuration of contemporary American family values.

The Movie:

Release Date: October 10th, 2008 Starring: Thomas Cavanagh, Ben Shenkman Director: Laurie Lynd


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