Thursday Movie Picks: ADAPTATIONS

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… film adaptations.

Now, it’s not specified what sort of adaptations we’re supposed to pick. So I’ve decided to select a couple of different adaptations, from books and play/stage work. I was going to do one based on video games, but there isn’t really one I’d even recommend, ahah.

In any case, here are my three picks:

Little Women (2019)

Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms.

Ok so I have not read Louisa May Alcott‘s autobiographical novel, but based on this article, Greta Gerwig adds a simple twist to the story by imagining that Jo is actually the author of the novel Little Women. This transforms the story into one about creative passion and achievement, and in one stroke makes a classic feel fresh without betraying its essential nature.’

Now, I think the film itself has much to be admired. The performances, especially Saoirse Ronan as Jo is simply marvelous. Her passionate speech that ‘she’s so sick of people saying love is a woman is fit for’ is so emotional and indelible. It’s a film with an inspiring message for girls and women alike, and a good one for boys as well to serve as a reminder that the journey for women equality still continues. The production values, set pieces, costumes, cinematography and music are all excellent, so it’s definitely one of the best literary adaptations in recent memory.


Sense & Sensibility (1995)

After the death of Mr. Dashwood, the Dashwood family takes a step down in society and faces hardship as they are four women virtually penniless. Elinor and Marianne, two sisters with different perspectives on life and interests, keep one another in line and support one another through death, hardship, love, and friendship.

I can’t possibly have a list of literary adaptation and not mention a Jane Austen film, especially one of my all time favorites!

Confession: Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, but when it comes to Sense & Sensibility, I actually like the film version by Ang Lee a bit more than the book. Emma Thompson made some changes to the script, which won her an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, but she kept the essence of the story and its um, sensibilities.

In the book, there’s no Shakespeare connection between Willoughby and Marianne, thus no scene of Marianne crying in the rain, citing the poem as she looks upon Willoughy’s estate. But it’s no doubt one of the most emotional scenes of the film…

… and of course, who doesn’t love the heroic scene of Col. Brandon rescuing Marianne, which is another beautiful and emotional moment.

The casting alone is outstanding, particularly Emma Thompson herself as Elinor and Kate Winslet as Marianne (who’s far less irritating than how she’s portrayed in the book). Alan Rickman will forever be my favorite Austen hero despite being much older than what the character is supposed to be in the book.


My Fair Lady (1964)

Snobbish phonetics Professor Henry Higgins agrees to a wager that he can make flower girl Eliza Doolittle presentable in high society.

So for the movie-based-on-a-play, I’d have to go with one of the first three films my late mother bought when I was in my early teens that introduced me to big Hollywood classics. The 1964 film was adapted from the Lerner and Loewe Broadway musical starring original Broadway and London shows starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, which was originally based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. It was quite a controversy that Audrey Hepburn was cast as Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who learns manners from a phonetics professor named Henry Higgins (Harrison).

I loved this movie and as someone still learning English at the time, it was a lot of fun watching Eliza trying to pronounce things properly. There are sooo many memorable scenes, the Ascot horse-race scene still makes me grin every time I remember it “Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin’ arse!” [tee-hee!] The eternally classy and elegant Hepburn is so marvelously convincing as someone from a lower class, and she’s got such a delightful chemistry with the pompous Prof. Higgins. Of course the music is absolutely wonderful. To this day, I’d still hum or sing the songs from time to time.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

FlixChatter Review – The Secret: Dare to Dream (2020)

I have to admit that prior to seeing this film, I had never heard of the self-help book series called The Secret, which apparently was born out of a 2006 documentary film about the great mystery of the universe by Rhonda Byrne. The books, also written by Byrne, have become such huge best-sellers, endorsed by Oprah and translated into 50 languages. Evidently I don’t really Oprah, nor do I subscribe to the Law of Attraction way of thinking, which claims that thoughts can change a person’s life directly.

When I saw the trailer, I was more curious than intrigued, but I decided to give it a shot. The movie centers on a down-on-her-luck young-ish widow Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes) with three kids under the age of 16. Though she’s dating her wealthy store-owner boss (Jerry O’Connell, playing an unmemorable stock character), Miranda is broke, so broke that she can’t afford to fix her leaking roof or even pizza for dinner.

As luck would have it, one fateful afternoon she runs into (literally!) a mysterious guy during a fender-bender incident. Instead of being upset, Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas) offers to fix her front bumper AND her roof! Let’s just say his sheer positivity, and his way of dealing with her kids, pretty much charm his way into the Wells’ family. With a title called The Secret, naturally you expect that there’s something that connects Miranda and Bray, and the movie is far from subtle in its eventual revelation.

While watching the movie, I strive to suppress my cynicism and really enjoy the film for what it is. One thing I appreciate from the start is Miranda’s relationship with her three kids–they actually flow quite naturally and doesn’t make me cringe. I often find these kinds of Lifetime or Hallmark-inspired dramas to be chock full of cringe-worthy acting, now it’s not entirely devoid of it, mind you, but the kids are actually rather charming. Sarah Hoffmeister as Missy, Aidan Brennan as Greg, and especially Chloe Lee as Bess the youngest all have some cute moments in the movie. Veteran actress Celia Weston is truly the comic relief here as Miranda’s mother in law.

I haven’t seen Katie Holmes in anything memorable since oh I dunno, Batman Begins? To be fair though, she’s actually pretty decent here and believable as a caring mom who’s trying to make ends meet. It’s Josh Lucas that I have the biggest issue with, in regards to how his character’s written and his smarmy acting. He started off okay and I was even willing to go with his robust positive energy, dimpled smile and aw-shucks grin, but it was like eating candy when you’ve got a horrible cavity (you’ll know why I use this analogy when you’ve seen the movie). He’s like Mr. Perfect and even after a sliver of his past and the big secret was revealed, his character stays pretty much the same from beginning to end. Speaking of the ending, the saccharine sweet level was through the roof!

I think I’d have liked it a bit a lot more if the movie hadn’t been so predictable. My husband sat down with his laptop for the last half of the movie and he guessed who the character was that showed up towards the end, even though he wasn’t really following it closely. There are certain sincere moments, such as between Bray and Miranda’s son, but those are too few and far between to balance the plot contrivances and cheesy bits. This is far from being Andy Tennant‘s best work. He’s done much more memorable romantic dramas and rom-coms–Ever After, Hitch, even Sweet Home Alabama (which stars a less smarmy Josh Lucas). Ok so this one is slightly more watchable than The Bounty Hunter, but I blame Gerry Butler for that, ha!

I guess if you’re into Nicholas Sparks movies or those Hallmark rom-coms, this might be the movie for you. In the time of uncertainties amidst a pandemic, I welcome a film with a hopeful and uplifting message, sadly this one is pretty much drowned out by its own schmaltz.


Have you seen The Secret: Dare to Dream or read the books? I’d love to hear what you think!

///

Five for the Fifth: OCTOBER 2015 Edition

FiveForFifthAutumn2015

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. I feel like I just did my Five for the Fifth not too long ago, September practically ran away from me. But Autumn is my all time favorite season. Not only is the crisp, cool weather is just perfect and refreshing, I also love Fall fashion and the fact that there’s TCFF to anticipate in October as well as a slew of great Fall films to look forward to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It made me think of films set in Autumn. Right off the bat I think of When Harry Met Sally, but films like Dead Poets Society, St Elmos Fire, Class, The Village, and another one starring Meg Ryan You’ve Got Mail all have scenes involving gorgeous foliage that put me in an Autumn mood.

So what’s your favorite movie(s) set in the Autumn season?

2. I haven’t done a spotlight on an actor in my FFTF in a while but since yesterday is Liev Schreiber‘s birthday, I thought I’d highlight this underrated but talented actor. I actually haven’t seen too many of his work, to be honest, but of the ones I have seen, I enjoyed his performance, i.e. The Manchurian CandidateThe Painted Veil, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and The Butler. I even saw his directorial debut Everything is Illuminated at TIFF in 2005, which I thought was very good.

LievSchreiber

When I checked on his Wiki page, I was surprised to learn he has won a Tony in 2005 for his performance in the play Glengarry Glen Ross. Right now he’s juggling film roles as well as his Showtime series Ray Donovan. Wow, talk about a versatile talent who can wear many hats. He apparently can speak Russian, too, as he’s playing Russian chess grandmaster Boris Spassky in the upcoming film Pawn Sacrifice. Check out this clip:

What’s your thoughts on Liev Schreiber? Which of his performance(s) is your favorite?

….

3. I gotta include some new trailers and I thought I’d highlight two very different films just to keep things interesting. First off, we’ve got the latest one from SPECTRE that finally puts Daniel Craig face to face and bantering with Christoph Waltz.

Well I wasn’t enthused with the new Bond theme song Writing on the Wall which sounds more like writhing against the wall from the excruciating pain of having to listen to Sam Smith’s whiny voice. But I sure hope that the film will be much better!

Now, the second trailer that caught my eye recently is A Bigger Splash that has a rather intriguing premise: The vacation of a famous rock star and a filmmaker is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter. It also has quite a cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson.

It looks like a lot of fun but things are likely about to turn real ugly real fast. But hey, Fiennes looks like he’s relishing in his comedic side again.

So what are your thoughts on either one of these films?


4.
I was going to do a separate post on this and I still might do that later in the year. Having just seen ROOM last night and was very impressed by Brie Larson‘s performance, it made me think of other strong female performances of the year so far.

On the top of my head, I immediately thought of these fine ladies…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina
  • Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Karidja Touré in Girlhood
  • Carey Mulligan in Far From the Madding Crowd
  • Juliette Binoche + Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria
  • Rebecca Ferguson in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Now, I haven’t seen Sicario nor Brooklyn yet, but I’ve heard lots of great things about the performance of Emily Blunt and Saoirse Ronan, respectively.

If you had to pick just three, who would make YOUR list of best 2015 female performers?

>>>
5. 
This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Anna from Defiant Success Blog!

BooksToFilms

There are so many movies (and potential award candidates) based on books being released in the coming months, i.e. Carol, Brooklyn, The Revenant, The Martian, Macbeth, In the Heart of the Sea, among others. would you read the books as well as seeing the movies?

So would you read the books as well as seeing the movies? If so which one(s)?


Well, that’s it for the October 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

FlixChatter Review: The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

AshleyBanner FaultInOurStarsPoster

I read The Fault in Our Stars and absolutely adored it. You can read my full review here! The dialogue was witty, sharp and fun and the characters were well developed. I’m also a huge fan of the television show “Friends.” Each friend lends a different perspective and balances each other out. Without all six friends, the show wouldn’t work. After digesting the novel in one sitting, this is precisely how I felt about each character. So, when I discovered TFIOS was destined for the big screen, I’ll admit I had my reservations. With that said, the film happily exceeded my expectations. 

Forget what you might’ve heard, but this is not a film about cancer. It’s about relationships; more specifically, two teenagers who experience real love for the first time. Cancer just happens to be their particular obstacle. Fun fact, the title is actually borrowed from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar:” 

“Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is battling Stage IV thyroid cancer, forcing her to wear a nasal cannula and carry an oxygen tank. Augustus (Gus) Waters (Ansel Elgort) has osteosarcoma (bone cancer) which caused him to lose part of his leg. The two meet in a cancer support group and they bond over ‘An Imperial Affliction,’ which just so happens to be a novel about a woman dealing with cancer.

  FaultInOurStarsShailene

For being so young, their relationship is so mature yet innocent at the same time.  

Both Woodley and Elgort were believable as romantic interests, and, in my opinion, captured the sarcastic and clever nature of their respective characters. More importantly, not only did they portray the fear of living with cancer as teenagers, but also showed they are more than just their cancer. Even with death close on their heels, they demonstrated compassion and wisdom beyond their years. Woodley and Elgort perfected the boldness and insecurities of their characters. 

Woodley and Elgort actually appeared in another blockbuster YA film adaptation as brother and sister in Divergent! Admittedly, Elgort’s role was somewhat forgettable. However, to be fair, he isn’t integral to the plot of the first story; whereas, I was blown away by my introduction to Woodley. I can pleasantly say Elgort’s performance in TFIOS will not be so readily forgotten. He was gentle, sweet, caring, and was surprisingly confident for one so young. 

FaultInOurStarsAnsel

There was one character I was particularly looking forward to seeing encapsulated on-screen. Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) is the author of ‘An Imperial Affliction,’ but abruptly ended his novel in an unorthodox manner. Questions on what happens to the characters have plagued Hazel, and now Gus. Even though his novel was a vast success, Van Houten became a recluse and moved to Amsterdam. Needless to say, Van Houten is a quirky, bitter and cantankerous character, who also happens to be an alcoholic. I purposely avoided watching too many trailers and monitoring casting, as I wanted to be, for the most part, uninformed. So, I won’t spoil the surprise for you. I will say I loved the casting choice, and I think you will too. After seeing the film, I don’t think there was anyone else who could’ve pulled this character off (without being too showy or typecast).  

FaultInOurStarsShaileneAnsel

Also, I was relieved to see a majority of the novel remained the tone and plot remained intact. There were a few tweaks and edited scenes I would like to have seen fully, but as a whole it really works. Director Josh Boone (Stuck in Love) has created an accurate, beautiful and humorous interpretation of a most beloved novel. I think in large, this is due to the fact author John Green was consulted and marginally involved with the production. Nevertheless, he has given his stamp of approval.

I highly recommend seeing this film; although, be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster. If crying in a dark movie theatre surrounded by strangers doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe save this one for the privacy of your own home. However, if you are bold enough, go see this film! It’ll make you laugh, cry and swoon all at the same time. 

4.5 out of 5 reels


PostByAshley


What do you think of The Fault in Our Stars? 

5 Films That Are Better Than the Books They Are Based On

TedSaydalavongBanner

Every time Hollywood studios turn popular books into films, most fans of the books will always coin the term “The book is better”. I’m quite sure fans of The Hobbit and Jack Reacher books are already saying that. Most of the time they’re right, as an avid reader myself, I used that term many times after I saw a film based on a book that I read and liked. I believe some books just aren’t meant for the big screen, for example Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was an excellent novel but the film version was average at best. I think the story just fit better in the written form and just didn’t transfer well onto the big screen. Then there are Stephen King’s epic The Dark Tower books which Ron Howard is still trying to get off the ground. I’m a huge fan of the books but I just don’t know if it will translate well into films.

Once in a while though, Hollywood actually made films that ended up being better than its original source. Below are the films I thought were better than the book version.

 

5. The Hunt For Red October

HuntforRedOctober

This film was based on Tom Clancy’s popular book was one of the biggest hits of 1990. I have to confess that I saw the film version first before reading the novel, but usually I ended up loving the book more. But for this one I firmly believe the film version is superior. To me the book has too much going on with introduction to so many characters while the film only focuses on the hunt for the submarine, Red October. Also, with the excellent performances by Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, Scott Glenn, Sam Neil and James Earl Jones and a tight direction by John McTiernan, it’s a great thriller.

4. Misery

Misery

Stephen King was one of my favorite writers growing up, I think I’ve read most of his novels, even the bad ones. So when it was announced that the film version of Misery was coming out, I decided to read the book before seeing the film. I thought it’s an excellent novel but I had second thought about seeing the film version. If you read the book then you know how gruesome it was. To my surprise when I finally saw the film, most of the gruesome stuff was never shown and I think that made the film much better than the book. Kathy Bates was perfectly cast as the crazy Annie and James Caan was excellent as the helpless Paul Sheldon. Rob Reiner decided to turn it into a psychological thriller instead of horror worked perfectly in my opinion. Yes he showed us the infamous leg smashing scene but in the book, Annie chopped off one of Paul’s legs with an axe, so yeah I did not want to see that on the screen.

3. Children of Men

ChildrenOfMen

Based on P.D. James’ 1992 novel The Children of Men, director Alfonso Cuarón did a wonderful job of capturing what James wrote on the pages and also injected his own interpretation to the story. The book start out kind of slow but once the plot kicked in, it’s very similar to the film version. Of course the film cut out a few things from the book, for example in the book, all young people was viewed as celebrities because of their youth and that old people were forced into committing suicide. I was hoping to see that get a mention in the film. But the main reason I thought the film version was better is because it didn’t have a clichéd Hollywood ending, while the book’s ending has this sort of high noon standoff shootout that I didn’t think fit the story whatsoever. I’m glad Cuaron changed it and made it into sort of open to interpretation as to what’s going to happen to that society.

2. No Country for Old Men

NoCountryForOldMen

I’m a big fan of Cormac McCarthy and I’ve never thought that anyone could ever turn one of his books into a great film, let alone made it better than his written words. But that’s what happened here. The Coen Brothers’ film version is to me a near masterpiece, they were able to translate McCarthy’s beautiful written words into an almost flawless motion picture. The casting of Tommy Lee Jones as the old man who can’t seem to grasp the ever-changing violence in modern day society is pitch perfect. Then of course the performance by Javier Bardem as the unstoppable killer Anton Chigurh was pretty incredible. I can watch that scene where he picked on the clerk at a gas station over and over again. I went back and read the book again after seeing the film and I still believe the film’s better.

1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? a.k.a Blade Runner

BladeRunner

I’ve read a lot of Phillip K. Dick’s work and this book may have been his most straightforward story. In the film, Ridley Scott was able to expand some of the concepts in Dick’s book and made them even better in my opinion. I think one of the main reasons why I prefer the film version is because the book has too much religious theme for my liking. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; just that I’m not a religious person. Also, in the book the Replicants or robots that Deckard was hunting for didn’t have a personality, while in the film they acted and talked like humans. But the main reason why I prefer the film is because I believe it has a deeper meaning than the book. What I got out of the film was that we as human takes life for granted while these Replicants would do anything, including murder, to live longer. The tears in rain speech Roy gave to Deckard near the end sums up nicely of why he saved Deckard’s life, a beautiful scene.

[rtm note: Check out my related Blade Runner musings… What Does It Mean to Be Humans?
///
– Post by Ted S.
///


If you like this post, would you be so kind as to use one of the buttons below and share away? Thanks in advance!



So those are some films I thought were better than their original source, do you have other films you’d like to add to the list?