Hitting Screens, Week of January 9, 2017

After its limited release opening on Christmas Day, Live by Night expands nationwide this Friday. Based on Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night (Harper/ Morrow; Harperluxe; HarperAudio), starring Ben Affleck who also directs. 

mv5bmtuxmjizodi0nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdk3oti2mdi-_v1_sy1000_cr007041000_al_The first Friday the 13th of the year offers an auspicious start to a beloved series best known for its unfortunateness. The long-awaited adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins, 1999 – 2006), begins streaming on Netflix.

The show stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf and Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, and Presley Smith as Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire.

Reviews thus far are good. The Chicago Tribune calls it a “weird, wonderful masterpiece.”

A.V. Club says “A fairy tale for macabre bookworms who’ve graduated from Roald Dahl but aren’t ready for Edward Gorey … This blend of tragedy and twee … [is] Kids stuff with adult sophistication, driven by two-part stories, outrageous visuals, and the scenery-chewing of big-name guest stars.”

9780143129721_33886The horror film Bye Bye Man, based on a chapter in the 2005 nonfiction book The President’s Vampire: Strange-but-True Tales of the United States of America by Robert Damon Schneck (Anomalist Books, 2005), also opens on the 13th.

The film stars Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway, Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount, and Douglas Jones and tells the supposedly true story of three friends who get into trouble when they mess around with a Ouija board.

The adaptation has had a bumpy path to the silver screen. Yahho! TV reported “the pic was first slotted in October around Halloween, then moved up to June, then back to December. Now, it’s being pushed to next year at a time when horror films traditionally have opened well.”

No reviews yet but Movie Pilot has a story about how “true” the story might be.

A tie-in edition came out in May 2016 under the title, The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-but-True Tales (PRH/TarcherPerigee; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Alone in Berlinbased on the German WWII novel, Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone (Melville House, 2010; OverDrive Sample) opens in a limited number of theaters and with no tie-in. Starring Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, and Daniel Brühl, it received a mixed review from Variety when it appeared in the Berlin film festival. 

As NPR reported at that time, Fallada was a best selling author between WWI and II, with his books picked as book-of-the-month-club selections and adapted into Hollywood films (which got him blacklisted by the Nazis).

However, Every Man Dies Alone wasn’t published in English until 2009, after Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson heard about the book from the fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg and tracked it down.

When it finally did come out here, it was a best seller and became a NYT‘s Notable Book and one of The New Yorker‘s Favorite Fiction Books of the year.

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