Read the book – then see the film

There are a number of interesting literary adaptations coming up. Some are from bestsellers, some from well-reviewed literary novels, and some from novels that may get a second life if the screen adaptation does well.

Cover of Steve JobsAs far as nonfiction goes, timing is everything and often the interest has slackened off by the time the film is released. Will big numbers turn out for a biography of Steve Jobs? A 2013 effort with Ashton Kutcher playing him didn’t make much impact. Now Britain’s Danny Boyle is directing an adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography which may be more likely to succeed with Michael Fassbender as Jobs and a cast that includes Seth Rogen and Kate Winslet.
See IMDb record for Steve Jobs.

Cover of InfernoOn the fiction front it’s hard to get excited by more Virginia Andrews adaptations (made for TV) and the latest Dan Brown adaptation, Inferno, with Tom Hanks out to solve more theological conspiracy theories.
See IMDb record for Inferno.

There are, however, a number of very good fiction books I’ve read and can only hope that these ones translate well to the screen:

Cover of The Yellow BirdsThe excellent 2012 novel The yellow birds by Kevin Powers is a powerful depiction of war with a young veteran of the Iraq conflict who has to deal with what he has experienced. The central character is played by Will Poulter with Benedict Cumberbatch as his sergeant.
See IMDb record for The Yellow Birds.

Cover of Billy Lynn's long halftime walkWar is also the feature of Billy Lynn’s long halftime walk in which the title character is a young soldier who has to endure a victory tour with the soldiers expected to play along. A new name –  Joe Alwyn – plays Billy Lynn with Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker and Steve Martin also cast.
See IMDb record for Billy Lynn’s long halftime walk.

Cover of The revised fundamentals of caregivingThe revised fundamentals of caregiving is Jonathan Evison’s 2012 novel about a father who loses his children and his marriage and enrols in the nightclass of the title and becomes the carer for a boy with muscular dystrophy. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Ehle lead the cast.
See IMDb record for The revised fundamentals of caregiving.

Cover of HHhHLaurent Binet’s HHhH is a grim tale and who better to be doing grim but Rosamund Pike who plays an aristocratic woman who introduces her husband to Nazi ideology. The book, a Prix Goncourt winner in France, deals with the meteoric ascension of Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the ‘Final Solution’ who was assassinated by two Resistance paratroopers.
See IMDb record for HHhH.

Cover of The girl with all the giftsM.R. Carey’s The girl with all the gifts is a dystopian tale in which most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection and those left are at the mercy of zombies or “the hungries.” Colm McCarthy, who has directed a lot of recent TV such as Peaky blinders, has a cast that includes Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close. The film title will be titled She who brings gifts.
See IMDb record for She who brings gifts.

Cover of Dan Leno and the Limehouse GolemPeter Ackroyd’s Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem is an interesting tale that came out in 1994 and had Dan Leno, a celebrated music hall comedian in Victorian London, drawn into investigating a murder in the parts of the city. Alan Rickman and Olivia Cooke lead the cast of this intriguing tale which has been simply titled The Limehouse Golem.
See IMDb record for The Limehouse Golem.

Cover of Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar childrenRansom Riggs had a quite original hit with his YA novel Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children, a story about a boy who, after a family tragedy, sets out for a Welsh orphanage. The book was originally intended to be a picture book as the author had collected photographs from various archives. Who better to direct this strange tale than Tim Burton who has an interesting cast including Asa Butterfield as the boy, Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, Terence Stamp and Judi Dench.
See IMDb record for Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children.

Cover of KBOJonathan Smith’s The Churchill secret: KBO is a fascinating fictionalised fact novel about Winston Churchill in the 1950s when he suffered a serious stroke and his wife Clementine and others worked to bring him back to health. Michael Gambon plays Churchill with Lindsay Duncan as his wife. The film title will be called Churchill’s secret.
See IMDb record for Churchill’s secret.

Cover of Alone in BerlinHans Fallada’s novel Alone in Berlin originally appeared in German in 1947 and was later translated and became a bestseller. It is a fictionalised account of the lives of Otto and Elise Hampel whose son dies in France, leading them to mount a campaign against the Nazis. The film version has Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson as the couple and Daniel Bruhl as the German officer trying to track them down.
See IMDb record for Alone in Berlin.

Patricia Highsmith’s novels have been adapted to memorable psychological thrillers on the screen. Her novel Carol was a departure from the mystery genre and the film version with Cate Blanchett should be opening here soon. The latest adaptation of one of her thrillers is The blunderer being retitled for the screen as A kind of murder with Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson.
See IMDb record for A kind of murder.

Cover of A monster callsA monster calls is the Patrick Ness novel that he wrote, based on an idea by author Siobhan Dowd who was dying of cancer and unable to write the book herself. An extraordinary tale that is both dark and touching at the same time, the film, a British/Spanish production has Liam Neeson as the monster, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Geraldine Chaplin with filming done in Spain and Yorkshire.
See IMDb record for A Monster calls.

On the local market the works of Barry Crump are returning to the screen with an adaptation of his 1986 novel Wild pork and watercress. Sadly, the title is now out of print. I contacted the publishers and they said they no longer hold the rights which reverted to the Crump estate. Hoepfully the film, titled Hunt for the Wilderpeople, will be successful enough to get the book back in print. The film, directed by Taika Waititi, has a big local cast including Stan Walker, Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby and Oscar Kightley.
See IMDb record for Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Cover of Me and Earl and the dying girlMe and Earl and the dying girl by Jesse Andrews came about when the author was writing novels for adults that were going nowhere. When it was suggested to him that he might try the teenage market he gave it a go and off it went. The story, about a teenage boy pushed by his mother to befriend a girl with cancer, came out when a certain other novel about a girl with cancer was about to conquer the world. The film was a huge success at the last Sundance Festival and it is about to give John Green a run for his money.
See IMDb record for Me and Earl and the dying girl.

Philip Tew
Selection and Access Team, Content

A few of my favourite things

“Mum,” said Miss Missy, “I’ve never eaten a croissant. They look delicious, I’d like to try one.”

The Sweet Life in ParisI was shocked because, 1: she never asks to try new food, and 2: I love sharing my favourite things with my kids, so how could it be that in all her 12 years of existence, I had never suggested she try a croissant??

Sharing my favourite is one of the best things about being a parent. I love making pancakes for them on Saturday mornings (no lemon juice for Miss Missy, the gastronomic neophobe). The Young Lad and I love building Lego together.  I loved listening to him when, at age 3, he recited The Very Hungry Caterpillar as he turned the pages of my very own book.

I love watching Project Runway and Star Trek with Miss Missy. Together, she and I have read our way through The Ordinary PrincessMilly Molly Mandy, and the Little House books. Now that she is too grown up to want to be read to by Mum, I’ve started suggesting old favourites, like the Jinny at Finmory series (which she loved) and Anne of Green Gables (which she didn’t!!*).

Cover of Children's Book of CinemaWhen I saw that the library has Bugsy Malone on DVD, I just had to bring it home to watch with her. I was in a production of Bugsy when I was at high school, and loved the movie (perhaps partly because it stars Scott Baio). Miss Missy wasn’t too keen at first, but once I finally persuaded her to give it a try, she loved it. The same thing happened with My Fair Lady (I had a bit part in that too). In fact, she enjoyed that so much that she didn’t want to have to go to bed, and couldn’t wait to watch the other half the next night.

And so began our Mum and Daughter Movie Nights, complete with a yummy treat — and yes, croissants have featured on the treat menu! We very quickly (ok, instantly) ran out of high-school-productions-Mum-was-in-that-are-also-movies, and so we branched out to old favourites of mine like Back to the Future, and classics like The Sound of Music and National Velvet.

But now I’m starting to run out of ideas .  So, I’d love to know what your favourite (pre-teen appropriate) movies are? Or if you’d like some ideas of great movies to watch with the young’uns, you could check out my Movie Night List.

*I know!  I couldn’t believe it either!

Locked and loaded for the Zombie Apocalypse

Cover of Zombie SurvivalIt’s Zombie Awareness Month. Do you know where your cricket bat/lawnmower/blunt object of choice is?

No, but seriously, it IS zombie awareness month. What’s more, it’s nearly over and I haven’t even revised my evacuation plan or topped up the first aid kit in case of the Zombie Apocalypse. I deserve to get my brains munched, frankly.

But fear not! For your library is practically overflowing with zombie-related reading and viewing. So here are my picks of the best of the shambling undead.

Watch

Better check out some fight sequences and bone up on your best zombie combat moves –

  • The Walking Dead – We’re between seasons with everyone’s favourite zombie horror TV series, but why not got back and rewatch the first season before Rick went feral and facial hair took over his face? You know, back when the post-apocalyptic world was a kinder, gentler, better groomed place.
  • Warm BodiesCover of Warm bodies – A zombie as a romantic lead? Seems a bit unlikely but that’s the premise of this film starring Nicholas Hoult of TV show Skins.
  • World War Z – Where the zombies are fast and really good at climbing, the little monkeys. But are they a match for Brad Pitt in “action” mode? Well, they give it a good try at least…
  • I am Legend – Not technically zombies because they’re not dead (much like the ones in World War Z) but if you spend time quibbling about such distinctions during the apocalypse you’ll likely become someone’s afternoon tea, so just enjoy the ride (and make note of Will Smith’s survival skills and strategies).
  • Shaun of the dead (we’ve got this as a double-DVD combo with Hot Fuzz). Just the rom-zom-com to lighten the mood a touch.

Read

Board up the windows and hunker down with some reading material –

Make

No actual zombies around just at the moment? Make your own with the following crafty titles –

I think you’ll agree that’s plenty to be getting on with, but if you’ve got an hot tips for zombie reading or preparedness please do make suggestions.

Cool stuff from the Selectors: Books into film

American SniperMany of the bigger recent movies have either been original scripts or based on novels, so 2015 may be a bit different in that there are some big numbers coming up based on non-fiction work.

The reviews have been best with American sniper, based on the Chris Kyle bestseller about the man who holds the record as the deadliest sniper in American military history for his confirmed 150 killings. Clint Eastwood has directed the film version which has Bradley Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, In the heart of the sea, is a gripping read about the sinking of the Essex and its fatal encounter with a whale.  Ron Howard has directed the film version with Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy  – and Ben Whishaw as the author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is an interesting account of the author’s 1100 mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Advance reviews have been enthusiastic for the film version with Reese Witherspoon.

Reviews have been less enthusiastic for Angelina Jolie’s directorial account of another bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, about Olympic runner Louis Zamperini and some critics felt it was a gruelling slog that didn’t justify its “if you can take it, you can make it” tagline.

If you have extra Sky channels you may have seen the adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy (Rob Lowe as Kennedy) and coming up is Killing Jesus with Kelsey Grammar as King Herod.

My Life in Books

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?

Movie ticket giveaways for 12 Years a slave

Roadshow Films and Christchurch City Libraries are giving you the chance to WIN one of 20 double passes to the movie 12 Years a slave.

12 Years a slave tells the incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.  Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.
12 Years a slave in cinemas, February 6, 2014.

You can also read or listen to the book from our libraries.

View the movie trailer here
Rated:R16 – Contains graphic violence and sexual violence

How can you win? Just email and tell us the name of the slave whose story this is –  email us at competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com including your name, phone number, library card number and address. We’ll get in touch with the winners and hook you up with the tickets.

  • The competition is open to Christchurch City Libraries members.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • Competition closes on Sunday 9 February.
  • Winners contacted on 10 February.

Please note: Tickets valid from 20 February at Event, Reading, Hoyts, Berkeley, Rialto or any participating independent cinema. Not valid on Saturdays after 5pm, on public holidays or at any “La Premier”, Cinema Delux, Gold Class, D-Box, Gold Lounge, Imax or Circle Lounge screeings. This voucher must be taken as offered and is not exchangeable, transferable or redeemable for cash and does not constitute a reserved seat. Cinemas reserve the right to refuse vouchers deemed invalid or tampered with. This ticket cannot be re-sold.

Movie ticket giveaways for Mandela: long walk to freedom

Roadshow Films and Christchurch City Libraries are giving you the chance to WIN one of 20 double passes to the movie Mandela: long walk to freedom.

Based on his autobiography of the same name, this epic motion picture spans Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life, from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. Mandela: long walk to freedom is the thrilling story of an ordinary man who rose to the challenge of his times and triumphed – an intimate portrait of the making of a modern icon. Idris Elba (Prometheus) stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris (Skyfall) stars as Winnie Mandela, with Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directing.

Mandela: long walk to freedom, in cinemas on January 30, 2014.

View the movie trailer and visit www.mandelamovie.co.nz . Rated: M- Violence and offensive language

How can you win? Just email and tell us the name of the prison where Mandela served most of his time –  email us at competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com including your name, phone number, library card number and address. We’ll get in touch with the winners and hook you up with the tickets.

  • The competition is open to Christchurch City Libraries members.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • Competition closes on Friday 31 January.
  • Winners announced on 3 February.

Please note: Tickets valid from 13 February at Event, Reading, Hoyts, Berkeley, Rialto or any participating independent cinema. Not valid on Satudays after 5pm, on public holidays or at any La Premiere, Cinema Delux, Gold Class, D-Box, Gold Lounge, Imax or Circle Lounge screenings. This voucher must be taken as offered and is not exchangeable, transferable or redeemable for cash and does not constitute a reserved seat. Cinemas reserve the right to refuse vouchers deemed invalid or tampered with. This ticket cannot be resold.

Listening to movies: Motion picture music

The Golden Globes were on yesterday, and coming soon are the Oscars and Baftas. Part of the joy of movies lies in their soundtracks. Our free music download service Freegal has:

To find more, search on soundtrack, or look at Soundtrack under Genre. There are also sections for Bollywood and Tamil soundtracks.
Cover of Between a smile and a teaCover of The sound of pictures

You can find more soundtracks in our catalogue by searching for Motion Picture Music and by using other music databases in the Source.

Movie ticket giveaways for August: Osage County

Just in time for the holiday season, Roadshow Films  and Christchurch City Libraries are giving you the chance to WIN one of 20 double passes to the movie August: Osage County.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by Tracy Letts, the film looks at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family. Their paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

The large cast features Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The movie is in cinemas on January 1.

View the movie trailer and visit www.augustosagecountymovie.co.nz to check the classification

So how can you win? Just email and tell us who is your favourite actor among the names we mentioned –  email us at competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com including your name, phone number, library card number and address. We’ll get in touch with the winners and hook you up with the tickets.

  • The competition is open to Christchurch City Libraries members.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • Competition closes on Friday 20 December.
  • Winners announced on 23 December.

The Stuff of Life

Books as a single entity are all very well, but I’ve been thinking lately about the individual words that make up the things I read.

cover of Outer Dark

Cormac McCarthy will do that to you. Pick up any of his books, from The Road, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner,  to No Country For Old Men, Suttree, and the two that are coming out as movies this year, The Counsellor and Child of God and there is a wealth of wondrous words throughout.

Then the sun buckled and dark fell like a shout – Outer Dark

I’m currently reading Outer Dark, written in 1968. It is set in the last part of the 19th century, as near as I can tell, and this bleak, gut wrenching book is filled with wonderful words that fit this period and I found myself writing some unknown words on my bookmark to check later in the dictionary. He is known for making up words and I love this about him, he feels unfettered by just the English language, despite having a rich love of it.

…the house was grown with a rich velour of moss and lichen and brooded in a palpable miasma of rot. – Outer Dark

It had me thinking about how each word crafted into a piece of writing adds to the whole, some you don’t notice, but some leave you amazed or confused or thoroughly impressed. Does Mr McCarthy for example, go hunting dictionaries for words that are obscure to colour this prose, or is he just incredibly well read? His turn of phrase and the pictures he conjures in my mind are just beautiful sometimes, well, often. I often hear myself saying words like ‘cool’, or ‘awesome’ out loud to myself as I read, obviously I don’t share his breadth and depth of language.

By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp – The Road

So I’ve compiled a little list of some of the discovered words from Outer Dark:

  • moiled – whirled or churned ceaselessly; twist; eddy.
  • penduluming: what a pendulum can be caught doing when it feels inclined to.
  • palmoutward- not a new word, he must have decided to run the two words together, just because he could.
  • malediction – the utterance of a curse.
  • recrements – refuse separated from anything; dross.
  • consubstantial -of one and the same substance, essence, or nature.
  • moonwraught – another lovely combo-word.
  • revenant – a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.

My two favourite words at present would have to plinth and moist, just for the way they sound when you say them.

McCarthy is rarely interviewed, avoids book tours or signings, and said about this:

I don’t think it’s good for your head, you spend a lot of time thinking about how to write a book, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it. You probably should be doing it.

Do you have favourite words, or authors whose use of language you find inspiring?