Friday, 24 February 2012

Vulture: I Sleep on Books: Book to Movie Challenge

David Ashley and I were chatting yesterday (see below) and it led to a brief discussion about films that are better than the books which inspired them.
Not original I know, but interesting stuff.
Any thoughts?

TJ: "You turned me on to 'One Day' a while back; once I engaged I really liked the characters; thought she was very funny.
Sad to report that I watched the film last night and (for me) it was... pants! I felt nothing for the two protagonists and can't remember laughing once. Anne Hathaway's northern accent was almost as bad as Russell Crowe's in Robin Hood; Dick Van Dyke's got a lot to answer for. The denouement is as shocking as in the book; but not as heartbreaking because at that point... you don't really care. 

The film also lingers too long (like the book) after the... incident. I thought that it was a strangely extended epilogue at the time of reading. 
Any thoughts on the Oscars? 

I haven't seen The Artist or Hugo yet; but am surprised that 'Drive' doesn't feature..."

DA: I'll probably end up watching 'One Day' but haven't heard a good word said about it especially from people who love the book.
I've not seen 'The Artist' yet but like you thought it a shame that 'Drive' didn't get more of a mention especially as 'Extremely Loud' got a nod but i havent seen a good review of that yet either.
I really hope Gary Oldman wins although I think The Artist will clean up.
The whole film /book thing is a funny one the book is almost always better (I can only think of Betty Blue where the opposite is true for me) and so I try and read the book before seeing the film. Also once you've seen the film when you read the book it is difficult to put that actor out of your mind. This really hit home when I read Get Shorty recently. I've not seen the film and yet such is the power that everytime Chilli Palmer appears I couldnt shake John Travoltas cheesy grin out of my head!
If you can it is worth tracking down the book that 'Hugo' is based on. 

It is a beautiful hardback with minimal words and a story told through fantastic drawings with one image per page.

TJ: I'll take a look at the literal Hugo. 
Currently salivating over the luxury edition of 'The Hare with Amber Eyes'.
Back to film; I've heard that Oldman's sustained (yet subtle) performance is the thread that holds the film together. Sounds like it's not 'grandstanding' enough to catch the Academy's eye. 
Surely not Hanks?

So, 'Film Better than Book'?
Sounds like the subject for a blog (or a pub fight)...
I'll kick things off by nabbing all of the obvious ones:
The Godfather (classic atmospheric cinema; my word/book inspired imagination couldn't come close to those visuals.)
American Physco (easier to digest and the soundtrack's a hoot.) 
Once Upon a Time in America (originally a so so novel 'The Hoods'; Ennio's masterly score and De Niro's melancholic detachment clinch it.)
Winter's Bone (close call, as the book is great too.)
No Country For Old Men (I love Cormac McCarthy, but lived with the fleshy characters of the film.)
LA Confidential: I watched this again recently and the convolutions all started to make sense; Ellroy always bombards with names and riffy verbiage that I initially loved (Blue Dahlia) but eventually got a bit weary of...
Blade Runner (Betters Dick's, 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by making real that dystopian vision. And I love Rutger Hauer's 'Tears in the Rain' speech at the end; guarantees a wobble.)
The Shining (scarier than the book)
Jaws ("we need a bigger boat")
And... (maybe controversial) 
Where the Wild Things Are
The Iron Man

DA: Good call on 'The Godfather'.
I've not read 'Winter's Bone' but loved the film so the book whould have to go some to top it.
'La Confidential' I'd make that a tie
I'm going to seatch the bookshelves when I get home now
Thinking about it I like 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' better as a film, and 'The Commitments'.
Although both of these the films were better than great books, whereas with 'Betty Blue' i just thought the book was a bit crap.

TJ: See, once you start...
I googled 'Films Better than Books' and the different offerings seem to note the usual suspects (the cliche, not the film); seems that I don't have a singular pallet...
'Children of Men' is an interesting one that oft appears; haven't read the book but I loved the film (that also appears in some 'Worst adaptations ever' lists)  found it profoundly moving. 
I even gulped a bit when Michael Caine got his bloody doors blown off...  


  1. I loved reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I bit my lip in anticipation when queuing up to see the film, directed by Marc Forster, Those were the days when you had to queue! However, I was pleasantly surprised. Of course there were details left out, but the film would be 3 weeks long if it included everything.

  2. to the ones I've already mentioned I'd add Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me. I've not read much Stepehn King but as I love these 2 films I thought I'd give the short stories they came from a go and neither got close to teh film version even if alot of dialogue was lifted virtually straight from the book

  3. I'm looking forward to the Ridley Scott movie of the novel "Before I go to Sleep" - a very unusual story. And I too thought the Children of Men movie was pants compared to the book. Would love to see a movie made of the book "Behind the Scenes at the Museum".
    Susan R

  4. Yes I agree... 'Before I go to Sleep' was hard to put down. I blocked off my ears to all talk about who was to play the leading role. I need to read with my own vision of the characters. I did the same for 'The Help'... another great read. Having watched The Grammy's... the casting of Minny was spot on!

  5. What is it that makes 'Children of Men' 'pants' Sue?
    It's lumpy Owen's best (crumpled) performance by a mile... the book must be great.
    Is that 'R' as in 'Reagan'?
    If so, how's your wrist?