Movies


How many times do you read a book and like it, then hear that it is being made into a movie? It seems that a really good book may have qualities that don’t translate to a good movie.

Cover of Gone GirlIt was said once – and I can’t remember who said it – that more bad books make good films rather than the other way round. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is a good yarn, but a long way from being a great piece of literature. The film version, however, is one of the great American movies of all time with the bad bits – especially the sex scenes that even Harold Robbins might laugh at – jettisoned.

What can make a book fall over when it hits the screen? Reviews have been less than enthusiastic for the film version of S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and it may be that gimmick-style revelations at the end can’t work when the many readers of the novel know them. Will this make the film version of Gone Girl, expected soon, go the same way?

Cover of Z for ZachariahThere are, however, some interesting adaptations coming up and they may work well on the screen. The film of Z for Zachariah, the classic YA novel by Robert C. O’Brien, may be the first major movie filmed on location in Port Levy and a cast that includes Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Margot Robbie sounds promising.

Further up the island, in the Marlborough Sounds, filming has begun on an adaptation of the excellent novel by M. L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans, the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a boat washed ashore with a dead man and an infant on board. Their decision to raise the child as their own drives the plot of the novel which is actually set in Australia. The film has Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander in the cast.

Cover of A Hologram for the KingOne of my favourite writers –if you like state of the nation novels – is Dave Eggers and the film version of A Hologram for the King is an interesting choice for a big American film in that it’s about a middle class man trying to hold himself and his family together as the world economy falters by trying to sell himself and his ideas to the burgeoning Arabian world. Tom Hanks is in the lead.

The dystopian world of J. G. Ballard is perfectly captured in his High Rise which is set in a luxury high rise building where things start to go wrong, leading to a major social breakdown. The novel, firmly set in the Thatcher era, has been on the cards for decades and is only now coming to film with Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans and Sienna Miller in the cast.

Cover of The Family FangNicole Kidman’s career may be faltering at the moment, but good on her for buying the rights to one of the most outrageous and funny novels, around, Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang, featuring the worst parents imaginable, a couple of performance artists and their children who live in permanent embarrassment at the idiotic performances their parents dream up. Kidman and Jason Bateman play the parents with Bateman directing. (more…)

I was busy, as librarians often are, returning items one day and to my surprise, I noticed I had returned three DVDs, one right after the other, in the right order, which uncannily mirrored a pretty large chunk of my life so far – all in three movie titles!

We Bought a Zoo encapsulated the child raising years, where at times my kids were monkeys, other times brainless chickens, and the teenage years were more like herding rabid hyenas into a bag.

Look Back in Anger were the divorce years. Bitter and twisted times, I was a wronged woman who wasn’t always kind, nor brimming with forgiveness.

The Spectacular Now is my present life. Well, not always spectacular, but often filled with much fun, love, laughter and music and more than a little dollop of gratitude.

Book cover of the grapes of wrathIt made me think of other movies or book whose titles could encapsulate a life.

The Grapes of Wrath could document the mornings after when I should have known better, and perhaps Someday, Someday Maybe, would aptly sum up my exercise regimen. What I Know for Sure, is that I know very little, and The Hunger Games covers that time period between morning tea and lunch.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is what I will tell you over Three Cups of Tea.

So, are there books or movies that remind you of your life, or parts of it? Can you encapsulate your life so far in three titles?

Gerard SmythOne of the most successful films at the New Zealand International Film Festival had a New Zealand author as its focus: Jean WatsonAunty and the star people explores the “fascinating double life” of Jean Watson (author of Stand in the rain) who started a children’s home in Southern India. It was completely sold out during the Festival and will be released in cinemas very soon.

Gerard Smyth (the director of Aunty and the star people) and Jean discussed her life and work in India as part of WORD Christchurch.

28 years ago, Joy Cowley invited Jean to accompany her to India to explore her interest in religion. During the trip, Joy had to rush home but Jean decided to stay. She says she’s been there “ever since, emotionally when not physically”.

For the last 27 years, Jean has set up, funded and run Karunai Illam, a Children’s home in India where children from dysfunctional or destitute homes live and attend school. They now also have a school and vocational training community college. There are currently 43 children in the home and 269 attending the day school. Jean spends about three months a year in India. She says “When I’m there, I forget about here. When I’m here, I can’t forget about there.”

Jean first found literary success with Stand in the Rain, a fictionalised account of her life with Barry Crump. Gerard described this novel as meeting “with huge acclaim”. Jean countered with “Not huge acclaim.” “Some acclaim.” Gerard compromised, Jean clarified with “Well, there weren’t many writers then…” Needless to say, Jean is very humble. She said “my ordinary life seems described as extraordinary in the media, to me it is an ordinary life, maybe I should make it more extraordinary.”

Throughout her career, Jean has met many New Zealand literary luminaries:

  • Bob Lowry: He gave Jean a job after he inadvertently got her fired from the Salvation Army by showing up to visit her in an inebriated state. Jean said he was renowned as the best typographer in New Zealand and taught her how to set up type.
  • Dennis Glover: “Very sort of sarcastic, open person. You could never take offence at him. I remember him calling me a middle aged Ophelia. Whatever that means.”
  • Janet Frame: Jean met her when she was trying to get a reference to get into University from Frank Sargeson. Janet eventually wrote her a reference as well. “Just a young lady with red hair who seemed to me extremely nice and empathetic.”
  • Joy Cowley, long-time friend and Patron of Karunai Illam, said “Unwrapping Jean’s writing takes you to  place beyond words.” Jean now wants to focus on her existential writing, similar to Address to a King, complete her autobiography and write a follow-up chapter for Karunai Illam, her book describing the establishment and running of Karunai Illam. Although her goals may change; when Gerard reminded her that “55 [her age when she started the Illam - ed.] is quite old to start a new life.” She countered with “I don’t know, maybe I’ll start a new one tomorrow. Time is an illusion.”

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Hillmorton Network news (HNN) have been busy on location at Washington Way Skatepark.

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Lego Animation was a big hit during the holidays. Look out for more film & animation programmes.

P1040397 P1040398 P1040399

 

Scratch is a coding programme. Horizons students created their own Maths Games then had fun creating their projects using the skills they had learned.

Scratch Lucy

 

In our Learning Centre, students experience e-learning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or  Learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz

The New Zealand International Film Festival is coming to Christchurch in August and we recently chatted to the Festival Director, Bill Gosden about cinematic books that inspired him.

Book cover of The new biographical dictionary of filmBill said he was indebted to Dunedin Public Libraries where he had his unofficial film education while at high school. Titles that helped spur his interest in film included:

Take a look at our collection of movie related resources to get some inspiration for your future-film-festival-directing endeavours. If you are more interested in watching films than curating them however, there are a bunch of films in the Festival that have literary connections. We’ve got a list of them on our website, as well as a list of upcoming film and TV adaptations  and a huge list of books that have previously been filmed. Here are some of the highlights:

There are a lot more titles on our list. Let us know in the comments if we have missed any literary connections in this years Festival.

 

Cover of the Film Festival brochureThe New Zealand International Film Festival programme has been released and we caught up with its Director, Bill Gosden, to discuss what Christchurch audiences should head out to see.

Bill says this year is the biggest so far for Christchurch Film Festival audiences with over 90 films screening at Hoyts cinemas. Nick Paris (Christchurch publicist for the Festival) described the programme as being filled with “contagious cinematic bling”.

The Festival has films for all ages, including children. The NZIFF received a harsh letter from some 7 year old festival-goers a few years ago who deemed the “Animation for Kids” programme “Animation for BABIES”. In light of that stinging criticism, the festival now provides two animated programmes for kids, one aimed at 3 – 6 year olds: Toons for Tots, and the other aimed at 7 – 10 year olds: Animation for Kids 2014Toons for Tots features adaptations of two popular children’s books: The legend of the golden snail by Australian master Graeme Base and the hilarious I want my hat back by Jon Klassen.

If you’ve been enjoying your movies for longer than 3 – 10 years though, Bill pointed out two movies that star modern cinema legends: Isabelle Huppert in Folies Bergère and Catherine Deneuve in In The Courtyard. If you like your stars more local or literary, here are some films that strike a literary or local chord include:

Book Cover of Selected Works of TS SpivetBill encourages Christchurch cinephiles to take on the Film Festival films. He and his team have spent months viewing over 800 films across the world in order to bring Film Festival audiences “the most interesting films of the year. One effect of being able to bring films digitally to the Festival is that there are quite a few films that viewers haven’t heard much about as they are so new.” Festival attendees have the opportunity to be the first in the world to check them out.

Tickets go on sale Friday 18 July and the Festival runs from 7 – 24 August. On the Film Festival website you can timetable in your viewing pleasures and make sure you don’t double-book yourself. Programmes are also available from our Libraries.

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Cover of Best Poems on the UndergroundGerard Benson, 1931-2014
    Poet who brought Hardy and Milton, Auden and Yeats to the London Underground
  • Patsy Byrne, 1933-2014
    Actress with the RSC who later played the dim-witted Nursie in Blackadder
  • Felix Dennis, 1947-2014
    Hedonistic publisher behind Oz and The Week who dreamed of being a great poet but found his true forte was making money
  • James Douglas-Home, 1952-2014
    Racehorse trainer and writer who castigated the new Ascot racecourse as one of the ‘world’s worst dumps’
  • Cover of Night Night Spot!Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, 1933-2014
    Spanish-born conductor of German parentage who blended Teutonic precision with Iberian sensuality
  • Peter Matthiessen, 1927-2014
    Author, naturalist and reluctant CIA agent who gave up espionage to champion a different kind of wild life in his bestseller The snow leopard
  • Rik Mayall, 1958-2014
    Anarchic comedian who took on the British Establishment in The young ones, and The new statesman
  • Josephine Pullein-Thompson, 1924-2014
    Author whose pony club novels thrilled a generation of girls with the jolly adventures of the gymkhana set
  • Cover of Regal Records Live in New OrleansJimmy Scott, 1925-2014
    Jazz singer who was later in Twin Peaks
  • Horace Silver, 1928-2014
    Jazz pianist and composer behind Latin and hard-bop tunes that became post-war standards
  • Eli Wallach, 1915-2014
    Masterly and versatile actor of stage and screen who particularly delighted in playing villains
  • Bobby Womack, 1944-2014
    ‘Soul survivor’ of an astonishingly lurid lifestyle who fused passionate gospel and dulcet crooning

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