Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday 13 #8 (123rd ed.)--Favorite Movies Based on Books

(or, in a few cases, short stories)

Now, many of these movies have not won awards nor received critical acclaim; they make my list because they told a good story, as presented. Since I’ve read only 6 of the original books, I can’t really speak to the authenticity of the screenplay in most of these cases.

1. Green Mile--I watched this at a friends’ house, and had to fight off ferret attacks to my feet throughout. I don’t believe the varmints colored my opinion of the movie, but they definitely added a surreal atmosphere to Stephen King’s storytelling. The books were originally published as serials, but have since been compiled into one volume. I have a copy of the latter on Mt. TBR, but have no immediate plans for it on the schedule.

2. Practical Magic--Bullock and Kidman were wonderful in this, and Stockard Channing was icing on the cake. Great soundtrack, too. I believe this was my first Hoffman movie; I’ve since read this and several more of her books, and I enjoy her style of magical realism.

3. Princess Bride--From what I’ve heard in my circles, this movie became a cult classic almost immediately after its release. I’m not one of “those people” who have memorized the dialogue, but I think I’m about due for another viewing. I know people who hunt down multiple copies of the book in order to infect/introduce it to their friends.

4. Stardust--I really enjoyed this one (especially Clare Danes’ performance), but it didn’t do as well at the theaters as I’d hoped. I think that, while it was released around the time of the Plieades (a nice tie-in to nature), it was otherwise poor timing. If they’d waited for the Geminids (going on now), however, I think it would have gotten better turnouts. Well, there’s always DVD sales. I first encountered this as a serial graphic novel (I can’t call this genre a comic book with a straight face, or without worrying about a trouncing from a friend in the industry), then as a standard novel, of which I desperately need my own copy.

5. Contact--Jodie Foster really picks some winners to be in, and she’s smart about waiting years between films for the right script to come along. Matthew McConaughey has a supporting role, but I sure don’t remember his being on-screen all that much. The original book was by the popular and controversial scientist Carl Sagan.

6. What Dreams May Come--Funny this is the only favorited movie starring Robin Williams. His body of work is vast and varied, but this was the best one that fits this category. I thought the movie was an extremely interesting discourse on how we affect our afterlife (or next stage following death, however you lean philosophically), not to mention the almost calorific use of color. Haven’t read the book yet.

7. Stand By Me--Based on King’s short story “The Body”, this movie touched me for its quest theme (even though the quest itself was pretty danged morbid), and for its portrayal of friendship dynamics. Oh, and this one also has a great soundtrack. True to the King style, it had just enough grossness to make me go “ew!” without actually putting me off my popcorn.

8. Carrie--I really tried to avoid repeat authors here, but I couldn’t manage it; here’s the third King on this list. Now I don’t know if this says more about my taste in movies, or if this would happen anyway, as the statistics are simply high in King’s favor. I can’t remember which I did first (read or watch), but I know they were very close together. I was one of the outcasts in high school, and this movie made me realize that eventually, the mean kids would get their karmic due.

9. October Sky--This movie, based on “Rocket Boys”, was one of the better inspirational-type films I’ve seen; not too sappy, not too far down the downtrodden path. It was also one of the few that my husband and I could fully agree on, without compromising.

10. The Hours--I read this one a few years before the Streep/Moore/Kidman film was released, and I found the movie to be reasonably true to the original story. The performances were good, and pretty equal to each other. With a story like this, it was important that none of the main characters make their piece stand out too far from the others.

11. Charlotte's Web--I am, of course, referring to the original (1973) animated film from my childhood. I’m not certain I’m ready to see a live-action/CGI version when I still have such fond memories of the first. I hope I still have a copy of the Garth Williams-illustrated version of the book (he also illustrated the Little House series by Laura Ingalls-Wilder).

12. Brokeback Mountain--Wow. What a story! I’ll confess that I prepared myself for a few good crying bouts; mostly silliness over seeing one of my favorite actors batting for the other team. I instead managed to bawl myself stupid during certain scenes, not because of the original imagined reason, but because I realized that NO ONE was EVER going to love me like THAT. And then I cried because denying people the right to love who they will is so many kinds of wrong, I can’t see straight to think about it. I am actually going to have to watch it again because I was crying so hard, I missed parts of some important scenes. I’m planning to read my copy of the book sometime next month.

13. Apollo 13--OK, I really did not put this one here to be cute. It simply worked out this way, as I was going through my search results in reverse alphabetical order. Multiple outstanding performances from the cast, riveting true story, and great effects re: setting in the craft.


Samantha_K said...

I am a huge, huge Alice Hoffman fan, and I have to keep the book and movie of Practical Magic completely separate.
I love them both, in very different ways.
Great list, btw!

damozel said...

Great post---and I'm glad to see a review of "Practical Magic." I really enjoyed the film but I didn't know till the other day that it WAS a book. I'm definitely going to buy it and read it. I enjoy "magical realism."

I liked the film "The Hours" but I have a feeling that I might enjoy the book more. The Flatland Almanack --Damozel (adorable animals)

Wakela Runen said...

Practical Magic is one of my favorites from your list.

I just recently found out that the guy who wrote I Am Legend is also the one who wrote What Dreams May Come.

Great TT!

Mine is up at

Linda R. Moore said...

Brokeback Mountain was heart-wrenching. That scene at the end when he picked up his jacket was just...painful. So much yearning.

I have you on my feed reader now, so you might get a few more comments. ;)

Btw, the Charlotte's Web one was a cool movie. They didn't set it in the original England, and modified it just enough for it to work. I was surprised at how much I liked it.


I have two TT13s this week:

Better decluttering through TT13
Calistoga, California for RVers

Tina K said...

Wonderful list. I may have to steal your theme for a future post of my own.

My TT this week is all Newberry Award winners:

Sassy Lucy said...

We just watched "October Sky" this year and loved it, and I cannot wait to see Stardust which is coming to dvd very soon if I remember what I saw at the store. Great list, and you picked the Stephen King books that also played best into the movies that were made...that doesn't alays happen with his works. I am out visiting late this week but hope you will stop in:

Tiffany Aller said...

Hi, there! :-) Fabulous list this week - I found some to add to my own TBR pile where I somehow didn't realize that a book preceeded a movie - aka Practical Magic! You definitely have to get the Green Mile off Mt. TBR and READ IT - it's fabulous. If you're looking for screenplays in the future that are pretty true to their books, I've almost never been disappointed in Grisham...there are a few where he released editorial control and the movies became stupid (Runaway Jury comes to mind), but many follow nearly word for word, like A Time to Kill. Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read or seen many of these, but Stand By Me is great as is Brokeback Mountain. LOVE THEM! :) Happy late TT!

Thea said...

This is an awesome list!

Anonymous said...

Hey girl, thanks for stopping by. Your list is a perfect example of why I love TT13s. Who doesn't have Midnight Margaritas after seeing Practical Magic. I've yet to see "The Hours or October Sky. They're at the top of my list now. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.
Toodles, Maryanne

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Happy TT, fellow BookCrosser! Great list, too. I might need to hang out here more... which means you should feel free to raid my TBR pile and I'll read anything you'd like and send it on its merry way for ya.

Nicholas said...

I enjoyed very much the three Stephen King movies you mention. So much of his stuff was ruined when they films it but those three were exccellent.

Sarah said...

I so wanted to see Stardust in the theater, and you know how it is as a mom. I never got to. I'll have to wait till it's out on video. :(

Wish I could have gotten out last summer though...