The Hunger Games: Book vs Movie

I, like most bookish people, saw The Hunger Games this weekend. So I thought it was time to resurrect the old Book vs Movie post.

I’ve talked about the books many times and you can find my thoughts on the first book here. I am a big fan of the series so I was both excited and nervous for the movie. Turns out there was no reason for me to be nervous. They did an excellent job with the movie. There was very little I didn’t like about it. I thought the casting and the acting were fantastic, the cinematography was captivating, and the move remains pretty true to the story (I accept that some changes are necessary and my only complaint is that the District 11 signal was introduced so early by District 12).

The movie gives us more of a look at what is coming in the series than I remember in the book. For example, we see discussions between President Snow and the head Seneca Crane about quieting district rebellion and controlling the population. We have a broader perspective in the movie than in the books where the reader is tied to Katniss and her limited knowledge the entire time.

Overall, I was really impressed with the movie. Now, when can I see Catching Fire?

Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think?

Never Let Me Go [Book vs Movie]

Wow. I just finished watching Never Let Me Go. And wow. You might remember that I didn’t LOVE the book as much as everyone else. I don’t know what it was about the movie – the actors, the scenery, the score – that triggered what I think most people feel upon reading the book but I am SOLD. Kazuo Ishiguro, I take back any doubts I had about your storytelling ability. I want to read all of your books right now.

Carey Mulligan was wonderful. I was a little afraid Keira Knightly would outshine her but Keira Knightly did a surprisingly good job staying within her supporting character role. And Andrew Garfield was a perfect Tommy. The younger actors were just as good as their older counterparts. The music and the setting were both beautiful and haunting.

The movie followed the book very closely. I am glad that I read the book but I am even more glad that I watched the movie so that I could finally experience the Never Let Me Go that everyone told me about. This is a rare instance where I want to say the movie was better than the book. But  I really think the movie just enhanced the book for me.

Has anyone else seen Never Let Me Go? Thoughts?

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier [Book v. Movie]

Summary:

Our unnamed narrator, alone in the world and doomed to a life as a “companion” to a string of rich, older women, quickly allows herself to be swept off her feet by Maxim de Winter. However, her new life at the beautiful Manderley is haunted by the memory of the previous Mrs. de Winter – Rebecca – who died at sea a year earlier. With a little help from the housekeeper, Ms. Danvers, our narrator becomes obsessed with Rebecca and the seemingly endless adoration everyone has for her. But are things exactly as they seem?

The Book [5/5]:

I adored Rebecca. I listened to the audio and I found myself stealing every moment I could to listen to more. If someone were to tell me what it was about, I think my first reaction would be one of boredom. But de Maurier manages to put so much into every little action.  Every appearance by Mrs. Danvers set me on edge. Every mention of how Rebecca used to do things made me anxious. I wanted to urge our narrator on, but I also wanted to see how the story would unfold. It was so fascinating to watch how Rebecca, this important character who is never actually there, shapes the story, leaving our narrator to simply cry, “I could fight the living but I could not fight the dead.”

du Maurier’s talent is evident in her descriptive writing. Instead of telling you about it, let me just show you a couple of examples:

“I know I cried that night, bitter youthful tears that could not come from me to-day. That kind of crying, deep into a pillow, does not happen after we are twenty-one. The throbbing head, the swollen eyes, the tight, contracted throat. And the wild anxiety in the morning to hide all traces from the world, sponging with cold water, dabbing eau-de-Cologne, the furtive dash of powder that is significant in itself. The panic, too, that one might cry again, the tears swelling without control, and a fatal trembling of the mouth lead one to disaster.” Chapter 6.

Tell me ladies, who can’t relate to that one?

And finally, because we are book lovers, her description of Manderley’s library:

“There was an old quiet smell about the room, as though the air in it was little changed, for all the sweet lilac scent and the roses brought to it throughout the early summer. Whatever air came to this room, whether form the garden or from the sea, would lose its first freshness, becoming part of the unchanging room itself, one with the books, musty and never read, one with the scrolled ceiling, the dark panelling, the heavy curtains.” Chapter 7.

Please ignore the “books…never read” statement when judging Ms. du Maurier’s writing please. I am normally not one for overly descriptive writing. I don’t care for great pastoral novels. Give me Hemingway, please. But I found the descriptions in Rebecca simply enchanting. And perhaps listening to it helped as well.

Thursday Next fans: I admit that I half expected 1000 Mrs. Danvers to show up at some point.

The Movie:

At Dominique from Coffee Stained Pages’ suggestion, I watched the 1940 Rebecca directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Lawrence Olivier as Maxim and Joan Fontaine as the narrator. I don’t think  could have asked for more in an adaptation.  It was the perfect amount of suspense, stellar acting, and creepiness. If you aren’t going to read the book, at least see the movie. It’s almost as good as the book.

Book: 5/5
Movie: 5/5

Stardust [Book v. Movie]

Time to reprise this feature. I actually listened to the audio of this one so perhaps it doesn’t quite fit the Book v. Movie feature but it’s my blog and I can make the rules.

Book: Absolutely adored it. I figured I would like it because it’s Neil Gaiman and he is basically a genius but I did not expect to fall in love with it like I did. Stardust is a fairy tale for adults, full of witches, faeries, kings, love, and magic. Tristran Thorne, half-faerie, goes in search of a fallen star to bring back to the girl he wants to marry. When he reaches the star, he encounters an unexpected surprise and the journey back to his village is full of adventure, passion, and deceit. This was the fantasy novel I was hoping The Eye of the World would be (plus it’s significantly shorter). The writing was beautiful and the language flowed. I was absolutely enchanted.

Movie: I really enjoyed the movie as well. There were some changes, as there usually are, but I think they worked. I loved the addition of the Captain Shakespeare storyline. I thought the casting was great and I loved being back in the land of Faerie. The book was definitely better, but I’d certainly recommend the movie as well.

Book: 5/5
Movie: 4/5

Julie and Julia [Book v. Movie]

I may be the last person on earth (or at least the blogosphere) to read Julie and Julia by Julie Powell despite the fact that I’ve been meaning to read it for quite some time. While I’m not a foodie like many of you, I did read My Life in France (for law school – weird, right?) and I adored it. But I was disappointed by Julie and Julia.  I didn’t like Julie. At all. I thought she was selfish and whiney and almost stopped reading about a third of the way through. I couldn’t imagine being Eric, her poor husband that had to put up with all of it. I know that people do like her because people read her blog and she must have been just as annoying then, but this book just wasn’t for me.

I did, however, enjoy the movie. The movie feels more like a mash-up of Julie and Julia and My Life in France. I thoroughly enjoyed the Julia scenes (how could you not love this woman?) and I like the movie version of Julie much better than the book (or rather the real life) version. This is one of those rare occasions where the movie is better than the book. See also, Charlie/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Quick thoughts this morning, but I really don’t have much to say except that I disliked the book and liked the movie.

Alice in Wonderland [Book v. Movie]

This is not the version I have. Mine is from 1960 and therefore impossible to find an image of.

I thought I would start a new category of “reviews” for when I discuss both the book and its movie. Here is the inaugural post.

As I’ve previously mentioned, my book club read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass this month in anticipation for the new movie. On Sunday, we all met at the movie theater, watched the movie (the 3D-Imax version), and then headed over to Panera to discuss.

I have never read Alice in Wonderland before. Which surprises me a little considering how much I read when I was a kid. And I wish I had read this when I was younger because I think 9-year-old Michelle would have really enjoyed it. But 27-year-old Michelle is glad she finally did read it.

Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are nonsense books that contain quirky characters, witty wordplay, and, although it may not seem so at first glance, an underlying theme about growing up. I actually enjoyed Through the Looking Glass more – even though I was the only one in my book club who felt that way. It’s hard to describe these books and they are better experienced than reviewed.

On to the movie. Tim Burton’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland was in fact wonderful. The movie takes place years after the events in the books when Alice is a young adult on the verge of being married. Once again she follows a rabbit through the rabbit hole and is thrust into the role of savior of Underland (what she called Wonderland as a child). The film is visually stunning and the characters are marvelously imagined. There is some artistic license given – the red queen from TTLG and the queen of hearts from AIW are combined into one and the mad hatter (how can you not love Johnny Depp?) is given a prominent role despite his relatively brief scene in the book. Oh, and the costumes are fantastic.

I’ve heard some negative opinions of the film and I don’t entirely know why. It isn’t like the books, so maybe that’s what people were expecting, but I was thoroughly entertained. It reminded me a lot of Hook (one of my favorite movies). Both feature the grown-up version of the main character from the book who must return to the fairytale land of their childhood. Neither remember their earlier adventures and both must take on a role they don’t think they want yet clearly destined for.

I definitely recommend the movie.