Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Duct Tape, Severed Heads and Covered Bridges

So the rumpus has started without me, which is ten paces beyond awesome, but first a few squee-worthy things before I space out and forget to pass them along:

How MacGyver-licious is it that someone emailed me with a link for my blog readers to an article about using duct tape for, well, everything? And it wasn't spam! Yes, Amber, I will gladly link to your 100 Awesome Ways to Use Duct Tape in Your Dorm Room. What a win to craft a duct tape body to scare off intruders. Nothing screams "back off" more than a body with a severed head. And nothing says "I love you" more than a vinyl, fabric-re enforced pressure-sensitive rose. Even Mac could have scored on the ladies with that one. Da da da.

Speaking of MacGyver, someone else sent me a link to a retro shirt. Not content to merely show the t-shirt on a sour-faced model, an anatomically-correct cartoon lets the discerning buyer know exactly how their 36-C will reshape our hero.

I, apparently, am a Monday person with a sunnier disposition than a Friday person. What day are you? It all depends on your perception of time, according to the British Psychological Society, and could explain why time travelers seem so moody. At least the ones I know.

It's half-past-rumpus time. On to the topic at hand:

Do the best movies come from original screenplays or adapted movies?

I can think of only one example where the movie was infinitely better than the novel: The Bridges of Madison County. This is without a doubt, the exception. Yes, we could blame it on the pure testosterone Clint Eastwood brings to the gypsy-photography character or the sheer brilliance that is always Meryl Streep, but I think it's more a case of directors and actors filling in where simplicity left off. Reading Robert James Waller, I wasn't sitting in that beat-up old truck in a frog-strangling rainstorm, the turn indicator of Robert Kincaids's GMC barely visible through the glass. During the film, I could practically smell the groceries Francesca had just placed on the seat beside her. Maybe the music and the production set and the director's cut to Clint Eastwood's eyes as they stared in the rear view mirror conveyed what Waller failed to. Maybe it was just me, but even as a twenty-something I got all up into a romance only those who've lived life a bit should have identified with.

If you haven't weighed in, or even if you have, what are your favorite movies-from-books? Least favorite? And if we were to re-populate them with moody time travelers, would they be my favorites, too?


Pamela Cayne said...

Not to continue rousing my rabble, but when I went to my movie and book collections to really put my arms around the scope of this post, I found myself thinking of the multitude of times I watched a movie and saw "Based on the book/story by..." in the credits and never knew that this story I was about to watch was already born in somebody else's brain and put to paper long before. Also, there are so many movies I've seen where I haven't picked up the book, so my knowledge falls short on two levels. Those caveats being offered...

Some of my favorite movies based on prior stories:
-Shawshank Redemption. (So much different than the short story, but Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman give such life to that story.)
-Last of the Mohicans (As much as I adore that movie and the superb acting by Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe, I could not get into the book.)
-L.A. Confidential (Actually have never read any James Ellroy, but that screenplay and cast of actors is literally at a whole other level)
-Harry Potter series (This is actually a push. I think the movies are on equal par with the books. However, you ask me again tomorrow after I see #6 in the theater.)
-Timeline (Both movie and book are again a push. Plus, I had to put a time-travel in there to suck up to L.A.)

For as much as I can go on and on, I will say I *cannot* wait to see what Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. do to Sherlock Holmes this December!

Stewart Sternberg said...

As a former film critic, I used to force myself to block out any previous experience I might have had with a source material, such as a novel. I tried to allow the film to exist as its own entity, independent of the source. Difficult to do if the source is something so well known as "The Chronicles of Narnia" "Lord of the Rings" or "Marley and Me".

I think I can say this though, while a film may rise above or stand beyond its source, novelizations of film are almost always dreadful [apologies to Alan Dean Foster]. I'm not referring to texts inspired by a film, but those texts that are an attempt to directly transfer the cinematic experience to the printed page.

Charles Gramlich said...

Occassionally a movie will be better than a novel for me. Requiem for a dream, star Wars, and The Outlaw Josey Wales come to mind.

Todd Wheeler said...

Didn't know The Outlaw Josey Wales was a book first. I'll have to check that out.

On the F/SF genre side, I'll repeat Lord of the Rings as a success. I liked Slaughterhouse Five (time travel!) though some think it isn't true to the book. Same could be said about Blade Runner but that is a darn fine movie regardless.

Besides Blade Runner, all other adaptations of Philip K. Dick have been fair to poor. And I've always been on the fence about Dune. The movie was a good try for a book that may never be really well translated to film.

the walking man said...

*shrug* If I like a book I like the book and if I like the movie I like the movie and the twain shall only meet after Mark.

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Pamela - suck are my bff for this post, now ;) I'm not sure how I feel about Shawshank Redemption. On one hand, I loved the movie, but on the other, it's hard to beat the "King experience"

@Stewart - I had no idea you were a film critic. And you left all that for the halls of academia, huh? That's dedication. I would agree with you that the creative flow from movie back to book is a train wreck. I always wondered why anyone bothered.

@Charles - Ooohh..Outlaw Josey Wales is awesome. "Are you gonna pull those pistols or whistle dixie?" Way to tie things back to Clint Eastwood in the post.

@Todd - Okay, everyone, Todd is sucking up now with Slaughterhouse Five. He's now my bff for this post ;)

@walkingman - Me thinks you've used that line quite a bit in your life. Clever bugger, you are.

Jen FitzGerald said...

I'd have to agree with the walking man--it depends on the book and the movie.

I remember reading a Danielle Steele book and then watching the made for TV movie--I was disappointed because I had pictured the characters one way, and of course they cast them another.

Also, in terms of Gone With the Wind and A Walk to Remember, the only two that come to mind, there were things in the book that were left out of the film.

Thanks, L.A.


laughingwolf said...

most often i prefer the book to the flick, cuz [conceited i am] my imagination is by far greater than anything hollweird has yet to come up with...

but i'm siding with mark, too

Barbara Martin said...

Good-bye My Lady is one that comes to mind, and Gone With The wind.