Saturday, October 4, 2008

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

You've found your way to the third and final segment of a three part series featuring upcoming movies based on books. This time we have a young adult adventure novel turned movie, an infinitely successful drama by Sue Monk Kidd that we can only hope will be as beloved on film as it as in print, a story of inspiration, an immediate classic by Cormac McCarthy and last but not least the latest James Bond installment based every so loosely on the original short story of 007 creator Ian Fleming.

By Jeanne DuPrau
Published May, 2003 by Random House

Ember, a 241-year-old, ruined domed city surrounded by a dark unknown, was built to ensure that humans would continue to exist on Earth, and the instructions for getting out have been lost and forgotten. On Assignment Day, 12-year-olds leave school and receive their lifetime job assignments. Lina Mayfleet becomes a messenger, and her friend Doon Harrow ends up in the Pipeworks beneath the city, where the failing electric generator has been ineffectually patched together. Both Lina and Doon are convinced that their survival means finding a way out of the city, and after Lina discovers pieces of the instructions, she and Doon work together to interpret the fragmented document. Life in this post-holocaust city is well limned--the frequent blackouts, the food shortage, the public panic, the search for answers, and the actions of the powerful, who are taking selfish advantage of the situation. Readers will relate to Lina and Doon's resourcefulness and courage in the face of ominous odds.

The Movie: City of Ember

Release Date: October 10th, 2008 Starring: Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Saoirse Ronan, Toby Jones, Harry Treadaway, Miles Thompson, Rachel Morton, Eoin McAndrew Director:Gil Kenan

By Sue Monk Kidd
Published January, 2002 by Viking Adult

In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, 14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their South Carolina peach farm, spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. These consoling fantasies are her heart's answer to the family story that as a child, in unclear circumstances, Lily accidentally shot and killed her mother. All Lily has left of Deborah is a strange image of a Black Madonna, with the words "Tiburon, South Carolina" scrawled on the back. The search for a mother, and the need to mother oneself, are crucial elements in this well-written coming-of-age story set in the early 1960s against a background of racial violence and unrest. When Lily's beloved nanny, Rosaleen, manages to insult a group of angry white men on her way to register to vote and has to skip town, Lily takes the opportunity to go with her, fleeing to the only place she can think of--Tiburon, South Carolina--determined to find out more about her dead mother. Although the plot threads are too neatly trimmed, The Secret Life of Bees is a carefully crafted novel with an inspired depiction of character. The legend of the Black Madonna and the brave, kind, peculiar women who perpetuate Lily's story dominate the second half of the book, placing Kidd's debut novel squarely in the honored tradition of the Southern Gothic.

The Movie: The Secret Life of Bees

Release Date: October 17th, 2008
Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Paul Bettany, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Tristan Wilds
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

By Ian Fleming
Republished August, 2008 by Penguin

Quantum of Solace, originally a short story written by James Bond creator, features the famous spy not in the role of adventurous super agent. Rather, James appears as a supporting character attending a dinner party. A anecdotal story told at the dinner party about love and adventure spurs Bond to think about his own travels and the lives of those whom he has encountered on his way.

The Movie:
Quantum of Solace

Release Date: November 7th, 2008 Starring: Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Gemma Arterton, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini
Director: Mark Forster

Cormac McCarthy
Published September, 2006 by Knopf

Violence, in McCarthy's postapocalyptic tour de force, has been visited worldwide in the form of a "long shear of light and then a series of low concussions" that leaves cities and forests burned, birds and fish dead and the earth shrouded in gray clouds of ash. In this landscape, an unnamed man and his young son journey down a road to get to the sea. (The man's wife, who gave birth to the boy after calamity struck, has killed herself.) They carry blankets and scavenged food in a shopping cart, and the man is armed with a revolver loaded with his last two bullets. Beyond the ever-present possibility of starvation lies the threat of roving bands of cannibalistic thugs. The man assures the boy that the two of them are "good guys," but from the way his father treats other stray survivors the boy sees that his father has turned into an amoral survivalist, tenuously attached to the morality of the past by his fierce love for his son. McCarthy establishes himself here as the closest thing in American literature to an Old Testament prophet, trolling the blackest registers of human emotion to create a haunting and grim novel about civilization's slow death after the power goes out.

The Movie: The Road

Release Date: November 14th, 2008
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron
Director: John Hillcoat

By Steve Lopez
Published Apirl, 2008 by Putnam

Scurrying back to his office one day, Lopez, a columnist for the L.A. Times, is stopped short by the ethereal strains of a violin. Searching for the sound, he spots a homeless man coaxing those beautiful sounds from a battered two-string violin. When the man finishes, Lopez compliments him briefly and rushes off to write about his new found subject, Nathaniel Ayers, the homeless violinist. Over the next few days, Lopez discovers that Nathaniel was once a promising classical bass student at Juilliard, but that various pressures—including being one of a few African-American students and mounting schizophrenia—caused him to drop out. Enlisting the help of doctors, mental health professionals and professional musicians, Lopez attempts to help Nathaniel move off Skid Row, regain his dignity, develop his musical talent and free himself of the demons induced by the schizophrenia (at one point, Lopez arranges to have Ayers take cello lessons with a cellist from the L.A. Symphony). Throughout, Lopez endures disappointments and setbacks with Nathaniel's case, questions his own motives for helping his friend and acknowledges that Nathaniel has taught him about courage and humanity. With self-effacing humor, fast-paced yet elegant prose and unsparing honesty, Lopez tells an inspiring story of heartbreak and hope.

The Movie: The Soloist

Release Date: November 21st, 2008 Starring: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener Director: Joe Wright


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