Tomorrow is another day

Cover of Gone with the windOne of my favourite books has a poor reputation in some quarters. I read this book in my teens and it contains a story and a character that has stayed with me. Due to this I have decided not to reread it as an adult as I fear I would view it very differently. The book was Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Many now think of Gone with the Wind as is a romance which was reinforced by the movie that concentrated on the Rhett Butler/ Ashley Wilkes/ Scarlett O’Hara angle.

The book is actually much darker. In the book you get to access the selfish thoughts and obsessions of Scarlett’s mind. For example the Scarlett O’Hara of the novel refuses Rhett Butler access to her bedroom as she wants to maintain her 17inch waist. She largely ignores the three children she has (one to each husband which is left out of the movie) and fixates on the husband of one of her closest friends. So what is it about this book and more importantly the book’s heroine that stays with me?

When I look back as an adult I can see her as a manipulative, racist, wannabe adulteress who betrays both friends and family. Yet to my teenage self all I could see was a woman who lived through an awful reversal of fortune to become a successful business woman having refused to conform to behavioral restraints. She was a survivor in the face of every opposition. What could be more appealing to a teenage girl or to me even now?

In the end she may or may not have lost the man of her dreams but despite this she picks herself up again and fights on. People may only remember the lines of Rhett Butler at the end of the movie as “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” but I prefer to remember the book where the emphasis is on Scarlett when she stands up and declares “Tomorrow is another day”.

She remains determined despite everything she has endured. The fact she is flawed on so many levels makes her relatable and the fact she remains undefeated makes her inspirational. In all she is not a bad heroine for a teenage girl or a grown woman to have.

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

The power of forgiveness

A few years ago in another job I had the task of cataloguing a collection of about 100 Far East Prisoner of War memoirs. These stories of the terrible hardship suffered by military and civilian prisoners at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Forces during the Second World War were difficult – and humbling – to read, but truly showed how strong the human survival instinct is.

One book that wasn’t part of this collection was Eric Lomax’s The Railway Man. I always wanted to read it, but was hesitant. I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to read another FEPOW story. The other week I watched the recent film adaptation starring Colin Firth. It was a perfectly okay film, yet I knew there must be more in the book.

I requested the book, and am glad I did. Many aspects were familiar to me – capture at Singapore, time in Changi, being moved into the jungle to work on the Burma-Siam railway – but this book was different and not just because of the torture that Lomax endured. The story does not end at the end of the war; it goes on into great detail about the effects of his wartime experiences on his life and ultimately ends with forgiveness and friendship.

It is these aspects that set this book apart and make it a classic. If you’ve only seen the film, do read the book. If you haven’t seen the film, do read the book. But whatever you do be prepared to be appalled, astonished and deeply moved.

Read the book – then see the film

I thought I’d slaughter two birds with one pebble by bringing this part of the CCL webpage to your attention. The idea behind it is to appeal to film buffs who also read and may want to try the book before they see the film. As well, it is intended to make librarians au fait with what is coming up and even maybe a half step ahead of their customers so they don’t get a surprise when they hear that there’s a new version of Brideshead revisited coming up. Here’s a sample from the latest:

CheriCheri
Here’s a new adaptation of the classic novel by Colette which tells the story of the end of a six year affair between an aging retired courtesan, Léa, and a pampered young man, Chéri. This has been filmed a number of times before and is also a staple on stage as it offers a terrific role for the older actress. In this version Michelle Pfeiffer plays the main role and she reunites with director Stephen Frears and playwright/scriptwriter Christopher Hampton with whom she made Dangerous liaisons some years back. This time her dangerous liaison is with Rupert Friend who plays Cheri with Kathy Bates, Anita Pallenberg, Harriet Walter and Felicity Jones supporting.
Read the Book ~ About the Film

Damned UtdThe damned Utd
David Peace’s excellent 2006 novel is a fictionalised account of Brian Clough’s 44 days in charge of Leeds United Football Club in 1974. It will be interesting to see if a movie about football will do well at the box office since sports movies have not traditionally brought in the crowds. Peter Morgan, who has written most of the recent documentary dramas (The Queen, Longford, Frost/Nixon,etc), has adapted the novel and Michael Sheen, who has done excellent impersonations of Tony Blair, Kenneth Williams, David Frost and others, plays the controversial football manager Clough, with Timothy Spall as his right hand man Peter Taylor, Colm Meaney playing Clough’s bitter rival Don Revie and Jim Broadbent as Derby Chairman Sam Longson.
Read the Book ~ About the Film

Easy virtue
Noel Coward’s 13th play, first produced in 1925, is regarded as a precursor of his much more well known drawing room comedy Private lives. It’s set in the usual setting of the English country house and is about what happens when the prodigal son of the family returns with a glamorous trophy wife in tow. Ben Barnes, from the current Narnia film, and Jessica Biel are the couple and the disapproving parents are played by Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas. It has been filmed at Engelfield House in Berkshire and in Oxfordshire and is directed by Stephan Elliott, the Australian born director of Priscilla, Queen of the desert.
Read the Book ~ About the Film

To read the rest of the latest additions to this go to our web page.

Read the book – See the movie

MoviesThe International Film Festival has just kicked off in Christchurch.

One of our many movie related assets is Read the book – See the movie. This is your one stop shop if you want to know the story before seeing the film.

Here is a sample of what you’ll find on this helpful list:

How to lose friends and alienate people
Toby Young’s 2001 autobiography is his account of the five years he spent as an expatriate journalist in New York in the late 1990s. He had a job with Vanity Fair magazine and he was hoping to take Manhattan by storm but his “negative charisma” meant that it was Manhattan taking him instead. Robert B. Weide, who directed the cult TV series Curb your enthusiasm is behind the camera and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the dead) plays Young. Others in the cast include Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges (playing Graydon Carter, the famous editor of Vanity Fair), Gillian Anderson and Danny Huston.
Read the Book ~ About the Film

Nick ParisIn related film news, we recently interviewed Nick Paris, who works at that treasure trove for Christchurch movie lovers Alice in Videoland. He is also the publicist for the the Telecom 31st International Film Festival. He gives a heads up on film festival fare, very helpful for those of us who find it hard to decide what movies to see.

For more film related information: