In Theaters Today; Movies Based on Books

Three of today’s four major movie debuts are based on books (although two of them probably fall into the category of “Who knew?” for most movie goers). Click on the movie titles to watch the trailers.

I Don’t Know How She Does It — The movie has brought renewed attention to Allison Pearson’s 2002 best seller (a chick lit title from Knopf, of all houses); the tie-in is now at #75 on USA Today’s best seller list and #14 on the NYT Trade Paperback list. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, it looks like Sex and the City with day care (the L.A. Times‘ review bears out this suspicion). Too bad; when the book first came out, it was regarded as fresh and new. Considered similar to, but better than Bridget Jones Diary, it was a hit in both the author’s native England and in the U.S. — Tie-in, Anchor, 9780307948564.

Drive — Here’s a twist; a Danish filmmaker directing a movie based on a noir thriller by an American writer. Nicolas Winding Refnbest won the Cannes best director award for this adaptation of James Sallis’s novel of the same title. PW describes the author’s audience as a “small but fiercely devoted readership,” One wonders how faithful the movie is to the book, his first to be adapted to the screen. Reviews emphasize the violence while, as PW describes the author, he is ” best known for his literate, exquisitely crafted crime novels [and] impressive body of work over the past 40 years, with more than two dozen volumes of fiction, poetry, translation, essays, and criticism.” Sallis’s latest, The Killer Is Dying, (Walker) was just released in August. — Tie-in, Mariner/HMH, 9780547791098.

Straw Dogs — Reviews focus on whether this version is better than Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 thriller, starring Dustin Hoffman. Few realize that both are based on a novel, The Siege of Trencher’s Farm, by Gordon Williams. The Peckinpah original was so sexually violent, that the British censors blocked its release in video until 2003. That brought new attention to the once-prominent author (The Guardian‘s profile was headlined, “Gordon Who?“), even though the objectionable scenes were not in the book. — Tie-in, Titan Books, 9780857681195

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