Books at Cannes

Jurors for the Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped on Sunday, tend to subscribe to the “auteur” theory of film making, so adaptations don’t often make the cut. But this year, a few snuck in, beginning with the premiere of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of  The BFG by Roald Dahl It won a standing ovation.

runawayIn competition was Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta, based on three of the short stories in Alice Munro’s collection  Runaway (PRH/Knopf), about a Vancouver woman named Juliet Henderson. Almodovar switches the setting to Madrid and the character’s name to Julieta Diaz. The industry site The Wrap calls the result “downright decorous” for the often over-the-top director, but adds, “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and a subdued Almodovar is still a far sight weirder and more intriguing than most directors.” Reviews from Cannes were mixed and it did not win any awards.

the-dinnerThe real business of Cannes is not the red carpet or the premieres, but the deals being made outside the screening rooms. Making headlines, the film adaptation of Herman Koch’s book The Dinner was acquired for distribution, with plans to release it this fall. Directed by Oren Overman it stars Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall, and Chloë Sevigny. A hit in Europe, the novel arrived in the U.S. in 2013 to predictions that it would be the next Gone Girl. Although it didn’t achieve that level of popularity, it sold well and was on the NYT Hardcover Fiction list for seven weeks, reaching a high of #7.

9781586420895Bidding was fierce for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, set to star Robert DeNiro. STX entertainment emerged the winner, for a mere $50 million. Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brand (Steerforth, 2005), it’s about famed hit man Frank Sheeran (DeNiro), The title comes from the first words union leader Jimmy Hoffa spoke to Sheeran. He wasn’t being ironic. “Paint houses” is code for killing people, resulting in blood stains on the walls. The movie has not yet begun production. Scorsese already has several irons in the fire, including  his long-gestating adaptation of Eric Larson’s The Devil in the White City (RH/Crown, 2003) starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Further afield, the L.A. Times reports that even French economic theorist Thomas Piketty, author of the unexpected best seller, Capital in the 21st Century, was enthusiastically pitching the book’s potential as movie at the show.

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