Archive for the ‘Books & Movies’ Category

Alone And Adrift

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

CBS Sunday Morning featured A Speck in the Sea: A Story of Survival and Rescue by John Aldridge and Anthony Sosinski (Hachette/Weinstein Books; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) as their cover story this week.

In this harrowing but ultimately triumphant story, John Aldridge falls off his boat in the early hours of the morning while fishing in the Atlantic. After surviving sharks, cold, and twelve hours in the open ocean, the Coast Guard spotted him clinging to a rope. The rescue pilot told him they never find men alive, they just find bodies.

The story was widely reported, most notably in a 2014 NYT Magazine cover story. The Weinstein company bought both the book and the film rights.

The book came out in late May. Publishers Weekly calls it “hair-raising” and a “page turner.”

No word yet on when the film will premiere but it has some big names attached on the production side, including the producers behind Moneyball and Paranormal Activity.

Hitting Screens, Week of June 12, 2017

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

    

Amazingly, no new adaptations open either on TV or in theaters this week.

Over the weekend, My Cousin Rachel, based on the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier was considered a disappointment, drawing just $954K in 523 theaters, as well as mixed reviews.

In its second week, Wonder Woman, considered “amazing,” is still at #1 in 4,165 theaters. In movie speak, it’s exhibits “a very rare hold for any superhero tentpole movie which typically ease between 50%-60% in their second weekends.” In another form of super-hero, Captain Underpants came in a distant third, but, given it’s low production costs, is still considered a relative success.

To Screen: DRAGON RIDER

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Cornelia Funke’s middle-grade novel about a boy who joins a young dragon named Firedrake on a quest for a magical place is headed to the movies.

The animated adaptation of Dragon Rider (Scholastic/Chicken House; Listening Library; OverDrive Sample) will be created byGerman studio , according to  The Hollywood Reporter, and directed by an award-wining German animator (Funke is also German).

The book has seen strong success in the US. It was #1 on the NYT Children’s Best Sellers list for over twenty nonconsecutive weeks and spent two years on the list overall. Booklist‘s starred review called it “a good, old-fashioned ensemble-cast quest in the style of Lloyd Alexander, with a bit of Puff the Magic Dragon added to the mix.”

Other titles by Funke have made their way to the screen. Both Inkheart and The Thief Lord have been made into films, although neither received glowing reviews.

No word yet on when the film will premiere.

The Dark Tower Teasers, Video Cliff Notes

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Three new teasers for The Dark Tower have been released, sending the first book in the series, The Gunslinger, rising on Amazon.

The A.V. Club. reports that each teaser helps orient viewers to the complicated world of the novels and the film.

The first, titled “Earth,” provides story background on how Roland Deschain, a knight, played by Idris Elba, is charged with defending the two universes of the movie (ours and his) that are threatened by the Man In Black,played by Matthew McConaughey.

In the second, titled “Knight,” Roland demonstrates his skills with a gun, illustrating why he is also called the “gunslinger.”

The third, titled “Man in Black,” shows that figure holding forth about his power and his certainty that he will win.

The movie premieres on August 4.

New mass market paperback editions of the first four books in series were published in 2016, when the movie had an earlier release date. New tie-ins have been announced for The Gunslinger in several formats:

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
Stephen King, S&S
Trade Paperback , June 13, 2017
Mass Market, June 27, 2017
Hardcover, July 11, 2017

Hitting Screens, Week of June 5, 2017

Monday, June 5th, 2017

At the box office this weekend, Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins hit  a new milestone, becoming the highest ever US opening for a film by a female director.  As Deadline notes, this follows on the heels of Sofia Coppola winning as Best Director in the history of the Cannes Film Festival.

Coming in a distant second, the kids movie Captain Underpants, was considered an underperformer.

Only one adaptation opens this week, My Cousin Rachel, based on the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier.

Director Robert Michell (Notting Hill) tells The Telegraph that his version, starring Rachel Weisz (The Mummy) and Sam Claflin (Hunger Games), is “detailed, dark, sexy, cinematic and full of surprises.”

Reviews so far delve into that claim.

The Hollywood Reporter, while saying it lags in places, calls it “A deliciously dark mystery … Handsome and richly atmospheric … [with] a disquieting shiver of a conclusion.”

The Wrap is less enthusiastic, writing that the story “lives on the corner of Jane Austen Avenue and James M. Cain Boulevard [but] For all the will-changing and bodice-ripping and skulking about [it] lands in a bland zone better suited for Masterpiece Theatre season-filler than for the big screen.”

In addition to the trailer, a featurette examines du Maurier’s “extreme tales told subtly.”

Tie-in: My Cousin Rachel (Sourcebooks Landmark; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, First Trailer

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

The first trailer has been released for Kenneth Branagh’s star-studded film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

It quickly became the #1 Tending video YouTube (it is now #2) and also gave the book a boost, sending it roaring up the Amazon charts.

Entertainment Weekly quotes Branagh calling the film darker than other adaptations: “I think what I found in the book … was that it unleashed something very primal, very kind of grisly. I realized that we could find a way to have the fun of Agatha Christie, but have the absolutely deadly intention behind it … I think we’re making a scarier film than people might imagine.” The blood red smoke of the train, revealed in the newly released film poster, echoes that tone.

The movie premieres on November 10. Branagh stars as Hercule Poirot and is joined by Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer and Daisy Ridley, playing suspects and murder victim.

HarperCollins is publishing mass market and trade paperback tie-ins on Oct. 31st.

 

Hitting Screens, Week of May 29, 2017

Monday, May 29th, 2017

After a long slog to the screen, the Amazonian Princess finally premieres on June 2 in Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious franchise) as the newest DC Superhero. Star Trek‘s Chris Pine plays her romantic interest and ally and Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lucy Davis, and Danny Huston round out the cast.

Early takes are glowing. Entertainment Weekly reports that the film is “being hailed as a ‘blast,’ ‘so good,’ … the best to date from the DC Extended Universe. Also receiving widespread praise is Wonder Woman herself, with Gadot described as ‘absolutely phenomenal’ and ‘a legit movie star.'”

Collider writes, “Full reviews are still under embargo for the time being, but the lucky few in the first screening audiences were given permission to post reactions to social media … with the most common refrain being that Wonder Woman is the best DCEU movie thus far.”
Tie-ins include:

Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization by Nancy Holder (PRH/Titan Books; OverDrive Sample)

Wonder Woman: The Deluxe Junior Novel by Steve Korte (HarperCollins/HarperFestival; OverDrive Sample; also in a pbk. edition)

Wonder Woman: I Am an Amazon Warrior, Steve Korte, Lee Ferguson (HarperCollins; OverDrive Sample)

Wonder Woman: Meet the Heroes, Steve Korte, Lee Ferguson, Jeremy Roberts (HarperCollins; OverDrive Sample)

It’s also a good time to pull out the 2014 title, The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Fourth graders Harold Hutchins and George Beard, along with Captain Underpants himself, fly into movie theaters on June 2, when the animated film version of Captain Underpants premieres. It is based on the best selling 12-book series by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic) and stars Kevin Hart, Jordan Peele, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, and Kristen Schaal.

PW offers a feature on the series and its path to the movies. No reviews are available yet but there has been plenty of media attention for the theme song by “Weird Al” Yankovic.

In addition to the many books in the series, the Official Handbook (Captain Underpants Movie) by Kate Howard (Scholastic; OverDrive Sample) was recently released.

On the small screen, Still Star-Crossed premieres on ABC Monday, May 29. A new Shonda Rhimes project, it is a costume historical set in the world of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The story picks up after the deaths of the two lovers, as their families continue to battle one another and is a departure for the hitmaker behind such very contemporary shows as Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy.

It is based on the novel Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub (PRH/Delacorte, 2013 – currently listed as OP). Kirkus gave the YA novel a starred review, calling it “A perfect blend of the intimate and the epic, the story both honors its origin and works in its own right … [a] spectacular sequel.”

Critics have not been as kind to the TV version.

Entertainment Weekly gives it a C, calling it “a sluggish, stilted mess.”

Variety says it is “too wispy and indistinct to make much of an impression … The show has all the earnest energy — and stilted moments —you’d expect to find in a high-school play, albeit one with a uniformly swoon-worthy cast and an exceptional budget for candles and corsets.”

CNN has already written it off, saying it “feels like an over-reach, a show for English lit majors whose parting won’t evoke much sorrow, sweet or otherwise.”

No tie-in has been announced.

Liane Moriarty Back to Screen

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Competing with speculation that Reese Witherspoon is planning a sequel to HBO’s runaway hit Big Little Lies, is the news that an adaptation of another Liane Moriarty novel, The Husband’s Secret (PRH/Berkley, 2013) is moving forward. Blake Lively will star and also serve as executive producer, reports Variety.

CBS Films bought the rights to the novel in 2013 reports Glamour but “the success of Big Little Lies has reignited interest in Moriarty properties —and now with Lively signed on to star, it’s being fast-tracked.”

The plot of the novel should appeal to Moriarty’s new fan-base. As summarized in the press release, “Lively will play Cecilia Fitzpatrick, a chronic perfectionist whose suburban bubble is burst when she finds a note from her husband addressed to her with instructions to open it in the event of his death. But he’s still alive. She then discovers a secret that her husband has been keeping from her for years, which leads her to realize that her life is built on a foundation of lies and murder. ”

Vanity Fair writes Lively is “the perfect blond star to continue the seedy underworld that Big Little Lies created. She’s played variations of Cecilia in a number of other projects, crafting a youthful archetype of this character in Gossip Girl (Serena van der Woodsen had her secrets), and bringing her out again in movies like The Age of Adeline and Cafe Society.”

The novel did very well and published to glowing reviews. Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-, calling it “a sharp, thoughtful read — a sneaky sort of wolf in chick-lit clothing.” USA Today praised “Moriarty’s pulsing pace and engaging characters” and said, “Amid three intertwined story lines and terrific plot twists, Moriarty presents a nuanced and moving portrait of the meaning of love, both marital and familial, and how life can hinge on a misunderstanding or a decision made in haste. The Husband’s Secret is so good, you won’t be able to keep it to yourself.”

A new mass market edition is forthcoming on June 27th, with a burst added to the cover connecting it to HBO’s hit.

THE NIGHTINGALE Set for Debut

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

In an unusual vote of confidence for a film with no stars attached so far, Sony has announced a release date for Tri-Star’s adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s NYT bestseller, The Nightingale (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio, OverDrive Sample). Deadline Hollywood reports that it is set to debut on August 10, 2018.

The movie also features a first-time film director, Michelle McLaren. However, she has had wide-ranging experience in television, directing episodes of hit shows such as Game of Thrones and Modern Family.

The book also represents a first for author Kristin Hannah. Her first historical novel, after several best selling contemporary romances, the change in genre brought her to a new level of sales. The Nightingale was on the NYT best seller for almost two years, much longer than any of her previous novels. After its paperback release, it went immediately onto the NYT Paperback Trade Fiction list where it is currently #7.

WONDER, Film Trailer

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Auggie gets a face in the just released first full trailer for the film adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder (RH/Knopf Young Readers, 2012; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Directed by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), the film stars Jacob Tremblay (Room) as Auggie, a young boy with a facial deformity who enters a new school. Julia Roberts plays his mom, Owen Wilson, his dad, and Daveed Diggs (Hamilton), his classroom teacher.

The novel has spent 92 weeks on the NYT Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover list, where it is currently #2.

A tie-in comes out November 7, 2017, Wonder Movie Tie-In Edition by R. J. Palacio (PRH/Knopf Books for Young Readers). The cover is not yet finalized.

The film premieres November 17.

THE BEGUILED Takes Its Bow

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled got its moment in a screening at Cannes Wednesday morning. Entertainment Weekly calls it “a film that radiates with thrilling, deliciously dark southern gothic flair.” Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Elle Fanning, and Kirsten Dunst, it is based on the 1966 Thomas Cullinan novel, A Painted Devil (see our earlier post for a more on the novel and its adaptations).

The Guardian writes “With its hilariously fraught psychodynamic, the film has hints of Black Narcissus and the famous Diet Coke ad about office workers admiring a perspiring worker slaking his thirst” and continues, “Coppola tells the story with terrific gusto and insouciant wit.”

On Twitter, New York Magazine’s senior editor wrote that the film was “ravishingly shot, with a ‘damn she’s good’ MVP performance from Kirsten Dunst

Others were not as impressed. Variety misses the pulp aspects of the 1971 adaption and writes “If you’re the sort of moviegoer who favors good taste over sensation, restraint over decadence, and decorous drama over porno leering, then you may actually like Coppola’s coolly pensive and sober new version of The Beguiled. But anyone else may wonder what, exactly, the movie thinks it’s doing.”

The Independent says it is Coppola’s “worst work.

Set during the Civil War, the plot involves a group of women sequestered in a girls boarding school in the South, whose lives are turned upside down by the appearance of a wounded Union soldier. The movie is scheduled to debut in theaters on June 30th. A tie-in will be published on June 6, The Beguiled: A Novel (Movie Tie-In) by Thomas Cullinan (PRH/Penguin Books, Trade Paperback; OverDrive).

IndieWire explores Coppola’s adaptation and her jitters about appearing at Cannes for the first time since 2006, when her movie Marie Antoinette was poorly received.

Cannes Goes Punk

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Neil Gaiman’s short story, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” which John Cameron Mitchell adapted into a feature film of the same name, has had its moment at the Cannes Film Festival, including a spectacular runway and spectacularly bad reviews.

Mitchell describes his adaptation to The Hollywood Reporter as “a Romeo and Juliet story between a punk and an alien.” He says he filled in the very short story with his own stance: “We brought in the punk element, because it wasn’t really in the story. Then I kind of plumped up the Romeo and Juliet story. The punks and the aliens are fighting to keep the lovers apart.”

The few reviews so far are withering. Variety calls the “lifeless punk-meets-alien romance … the biggest dud I’ve seen at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.”

The Guardian writes ” What an extravagantly muddled, borderline incontinent film this is … If you only see one gritty punk-rock coming-of-age sci-fi kids fantasy caper in this lifetime, maybe double-check the listings before you alight on this one.”

The Hollywood Reporter calls it “Close encounters of the absurd kind … there’s too little narrative cohesion or persuasive subtext to make this much more than a low-budget folly that’s outre without always being terribly interesting.”

However, there was still some fun to be had. The film’s stars, Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning, lead a dramatic runway show when the cast showed up in their movie outfits, made of colorful latex (starting at :56):

Below is the trailer:

Gaiman’s story was nominated for the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Short Story and won the Locus Award in that category. It is collected in Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders (HC/Harper, 2010) and is posted on Gaiman’s websiteThe audio is there as well, read by Gaiman. It has also been adapted as a comic, Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman, Gabriel Bá, and Fábio Moon (PRH/Dark Horse, 2016). There is no US release date yet for the movie.

Hitting Screens, Week of May 22, 2017

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

At the box office over the weekend, the YA adaptation Everything Everything brought in $12 million, outpacing the fourth in the established childrens franchise, Wimpy Kid, a disappointment with just $7.2 million.

A single adaptation airs this week. Netflix’s War Machine starring Brad Pitt begins streaming on May 26.

The film fictionalizes  Michael Hastings’s The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan (PRH/Plume; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample). Pitt’s character is based on General Stanley McChrystal who was fired after Hastings’s exposé ran in  Rolling Stone.

The movie details how the fictional general, Glen McMahon, is given command of the coalition forces in Afghanistan and, because of his ego and hubris is wildly unpredictable. Written and directed by David Michôd (Animal Kingdom), it is produced by the team that created the Oscar-nominated The Big Short. Tilda Swinton, Sir Ben Kingsley, Anthony Michael Hall, and Topher Grace star alongside Pitt.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that Neflix paid $60 million to finance the film after its original supporters backed out, fearful the movie’s arch black comedy slant might anger conservative audiences.

The single review to date is a rave. The Star-Telegram says “Brad Pitt, we salute you” and goes on to say “Pitt chews scenery in this dark comedy, a spiritual cousin to such films as Dr. Strangelove and Catch-22.”

To qualify for awards, in addition to streaming on Netflix, the film will also play in a few theaters in Los Angeles and New York.

Back Together: The DOWNTON Gang

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Golly Gumdrop! Julian Fellowes, Downton director Michael Engler, and Elizabeth McGovern are teaming up again in Masterpiece’s production of The Chaperone, based on Laura Moriarty’s 2012 novel of the same name (PRH/Riverhead; Thorndike Large Print; Blackstone Audio; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The novel was a hit, landing on the NYT Best Seller list, getting strong coverage, and triggering hold queues that topped 10:1.

It is a historical set in the 1920s that traces the story of a Kansas woman named Cora (played by McGovern and coincidentally the name of the character she played on Downton), who acts as the chaperone of Louise Brooks, a 15-year-old girl who becomes the famous 1920’s movie star (played by Julia Goldani Telles, The Affair).

The movie is set to open first in theaters and then will be aired on PBS stations nationwide. Deadline Hollywood notes this will be the first time Masterpiece has produced a feature film.

McGovern is very familiar with the novel. She read the audiobook version, getting an AudioFile Earphones Award in the process. In their review, Audifile writes, “McGovern’s soft-spoken performance is utterly entrancing. Her careful use of emotion and mastery of expression pull listeners into this period piece about a young woman on the road to self-discovery and a girl on the brink of fame … an outstanding audio experience.”

A premiere date has not been announced.

Moriarty talked about the book at 2012’s BEA:

THE GLASS CASTLE, First Trailer

Friday, May 19th, 2017

The first trailer was just released for the film adaptation of the bestselling memoir by Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle (S&S/Scribner, 2005):

Starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson as Walls with Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts as her dysfunctional, sometimes homeless parents, Rex and Rose Mary, the film opens in wide release on August 11.

The author approves, telling People magazine, “They did a spectacular job bringing to life a complicated story, there’s so many nuances … I wanted Brie Larson to play this role even before I knew who she was. She understands how to be strong and vulnerable at the same time, how you can fight and be scared at the same time … The first time that I saw Woody in makeup and in character, I started trembling and crying … the degree to which he captured my father was breathtaking.”

The memoir spent over 250 weeks on NYT best seller lists, in both hardcover and the trade paperback, where it had its most enduring success. Also a constant in book groups, the memoir is assigned reading in schools, and even has its own Cliff Notes.

A tie-in is forthcoming:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (S&S/Scribner)