BTT ~ Books or Movies?

May 22, 2008 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Books, Film, LIfe, Reading | 6 Comments
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BTTBooks and films both tell stories, but what we want from a book can be different from what we want from a movie. Is this true for you? If so, what’s the difference between a book and a movie?

My first thought is that books and movies are entirely different things, but that’s not true.  Both tell stories.  Both can entertain and educate.  They can both move you at a very deep level and stay with you for a long time.  They can both make you scream and want the part of your life that you spent with it back (Talented Mr. Ripley and The Emperor’s Children are my cases in point).  They both stem from someone’s desire to communicate with the rest of humanity.  I’m glad to be living in a day and age that has both mediums.

Still, they should not be judged on the same level.  I most definitely read for different reasons than I watch a movie.  I wish that I could fully explain the way that I feel while I’m reading a good book.  All at the same time I am outside my body and experiencing another reality while I’m sitting (hopefully) someplace comfortable consciously feeling the texture of the book cover and pages and breathing in the scent of a book’s pages, which is the most calming scent on the earth to me.  When I’m in this place, I feel the most connected to myself, this world, and all that it contains.  I wouldn’t call it sacred necessarily, but it is a positive force in my life.

Movies, when they are good, also take me someplace new.  It’s not the same type of experience.  It’s more purely entertainment.  It is no less an art than writing, but it doesn’t reach me in the same manner.  This is entirely personal, though.  I believe what I experience with reading my husband experiences with movies.  What is wonderful about a movie is that the experience of seeing it can change based upon who you see it with.  For example, I love Gone With the Wind.  I’ve seen in countless times alone or with a few extra people.  It wasn’t until it was re-released maybe about 10 years or so ago that I belly laughed as I watched Mamie on screen.  The group dynamic added to the experience of the movie.  For me with books, reading in a large audience would be distracting and detract from my experience.  It wouldn’t enhance it in that way.

Long story short, I love both books and movies, but I approach them in much different ways.  How about you?

Seriously, WTF?

May 7, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Posted in Adoption, Books, Culture, entertainment, Film, Gothic Fiction | 10 Comments
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I am not a fan of Ellen Page.  Although I’m in the minority, I didn’t find her performance in Juno very realistic or endearing (I hate that I have even just linked to it’s Wikipedia page…).  People at work have attributed this to my age.  I thought perhaps my experience of adoption colored my views of the movie as well.  Certainly my experience is just that, my experience.  Still, even though Emma’s first mother firmly made her adoption plan early in the pregnancy, this was an emotional experience for her, her family, and for us.  There was no sarcasm or flippant jokes about her being irresponsible.  The only aspects of that movie I found close to ringing true were the scenes where she had to decide whether to continue her adoption plan and after the baby is born – and those were noteworthy only because she was actually acting, not just being herself.  They weren’t Oscar worthy.

Imagine my surprise when I ventured on to Pop Candy this evening before leaving work to discover that Ellen Page, who essentially played the same sarcastic young female character in Smart People, has been cast as Jane Eyre for a BBC Films production of all things!  Whitney, who loves Page, can’t even see her in this role.  Seriously, what are they thinking over there at BBC Films?  Jane Eyre doesn’t have a sarcastic bone in her body.  Do they have any expectation that Page can pull off ‘mousy’ or, more importantly, sincere?

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a film or TV adaptation of Jane Eyre, but look at what is already out there.  What reason could there possibly be to cast Ellen Page in this role?  There is a 1944 version that stars Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, and Elizabeth Taylor.  A&E produced a television starring Samantha Morton as Jane.  Who could really be more perfect than that?

I have no idea what really makes the film business tick.  I’m sure that I’ve misspent many an entertainment dollar in my life and am reaping this as my reward.  I would rather be struck blind like Mr. Rochester than even watch the trailer.

Patrick Swayze Cancer Scare A Sad Reality

March 5, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Film | 4 Comments
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I just read some terrible news about Patrick Swayze. It’s possible that he is dying of pancreatic cancer. As much as I was hoping to not be true, Patrick’s publicist, according to PageSix.com has confirmed the news:

“Actor Patrick Swayze has been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. Patrick’s physician Dr. George Fisher states, ‘Patrick has a very limited amount of disease and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far. All of the reports stating the timeframe of his prognosis and his physical side effects are absolutely untrue. We are considerably more optimistic.’ Patrick is continuing his normal schedule during this time, which includes working on upcoming projects. The outpouring of support and concern he has already received from the public is deeply appreciated by Patrick and his family.”

Patrick Swayze has been a major pop culture influence on me. Although I fell in love with him in Dirty Dancing and the affair continued with Ghost, I first noticed him in The Outsiders. Who wouldn’t have wanted a big brother like Darry?

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He even earned some acting credibility with my husband for his role as Jim Cunningham in Donnie Darko. I have also respected the fact that he has been married to the same woman for over 30 years. That just doesn’t happen in Hollywood.

God bless you, Patrick Swayze!

The Rape of Anne Boleyn

March 4, 2008 at 6:21 pm | Posted in entertainment, Film, Henry VIII, Historical Fiction | 33 Comments
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Having had the better part of five days to think about the film adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl and the time to read the reviews of other bloggers and movie critics, I feel that there needs to be some discussion about the rape scene.  The more I think about it, the more appalled I become.  I don’t believe it ever happened and portraying such an act is a disservice to those who had no previous knowledge of Tudor History.

In reality, Henry and Anne’s courtship was about 6 years old before they were married and it was only several months beforehand that they were sexually intimate. While I’m certain that there was something about Anne that fueled Henry’s fire, for her to have kept his interest for that long before the relationship was consummated, there had to be something else there for his desire, there was more to their relationship than just sexual attraction.  If his primary goal was to have her, he would not have waited a minute let alone five plus years.  Anne was an intelligent and astute woman.  She knew that the chase is what kept Henry interested.  Still, she knew exactly when the opposite was true.  Anne was many things, but she was not a victim.  She desired the throne of England and she worked and manipulated her way to just that spot.  What she did not take into account was the difficulty in keeping Henry without a male heir.  This was a difficulty she created for herself.  Had she not gone to the lengths to support the separation of England from the Roman Catholic Church she may never have been Queen of England, but she probably would have kept her head.  There is no way to be sure, but I can’t imagine her not being aware of that.  I think that Natalie Portman did an excellent job portraying how quickly Anne Boleyn went from having it all to constantly worrying about losing it all.

So why did the movie choose rape as the vehicle for the consummation of Henry and Anne’s relationship?  The only rational explanation I can come up with is that the film did not deal with the length of their courtship.  It wasn’t just washed over, either.  At the end of the movie when Mary‘s children were frolicking in the fields with Elizabeth, Elizabeth was very close in age to Henry Carey.  Since they eliminated the time and struggle involved with breaking with the Roman Catholic Church, they needed another device to explain Anne’s pregnancy at the time of their marriage and her coronation. This bothers me.  Henry was no saint, but he still deserves honest treatment.

24 Hour Countdown

February 28, 2008 at 3:58 pm | Posted in Film | 1 Comment
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24 hours from now I will be sitting in the theater watching the film adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl. Despite my reservations, I’m starting to get excited. I’ve even talked a co-worker of mine into taking a half day off with me. Lunch at Red Robin followed by nearly two hours of Henry. Who could ask for anything more?

I will post my thoughts tomorrow evening as soon as possible.

Gregory Discusses the Differences between Fiction and Film

February 21, 2008 at 5:52 pm | Posted in Books, entertainment, Film, Historical Fiction, Philippa Gregory, Reading | 4 Comments
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Here is an interesting article that Philippa Gregory wrote about writing and reading historical fiction and the differences between her novel and the upcoming film rendition of The Other Boleyn Girl.  If I gain nothing else from seeing the movie, I really enjoyed reading this article.

A big thank you to Butterflylady from HistoricalFiction.org for posting about this.

Interview with the New Boleyn Girls

February 20, 2008 at 7:30 am | Posted in entertainment, Film | Leave a comment
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USA Today printed an interview with Scarlett Johannson and Natalie Portman. It’s not terribly enlightening, but you might want to check it out. No mention of the kiss…

A Royal Disaster?

February 17, 2008 at 11:38 am | Posted in Books, Film, Henry VIII, Historical Fiction, Philippa Gregory | 4 Comments
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The Other Boleyn Girl was my introduction to modern historical fiction, Philippa Gregory, and my beloved Tudors.  When I heard the news that a film based on TOBG was in the works, I was thrilled.  It was a such a powerful read and I was hopeful that it would make a wonderful movie.

It didn’t take long for people to start crying foul.  Simon & Schuster released a mass market paperback version of the novel featuring the cast of the movie and people started arguing that Philippa Gregory was a sell out for allowing this to happen to her novel.  I don’t have any strong opinions about book covers.  I’m not sure how much control Gregory would have had over this publication as I would think that was part of the movie rights deal.  If I were an author, I don’t think I’d turn down movie rights just because of any associated mass market paperback.  Besides, it really is a great book.  If throwing Scarlett, Natalie, and boob-grabbing Eric on the front cover encourages others to read it, what difference does it make? The grumbling about the book cover didn’t affect my anticipation.  When the trailer was released, I got even more excited.

Recently, the first review of the movie has been posted on Rotten Tomatoes.  I’m not familiar with Emanuel Levy‘s movie criticism, but his review touched on the fears many have had since the movie was announced:

British TV helmer Justin Chadwick makes a disappointing feature debut in “The Other Boleyn Girl,” a hybrid of a trashy period melodrama and a stately Masterpiece Theater episode, resulting in a kitschy film that can’t decide how much to exploit its juicy text about King Henry VIII and the various women in his life.

…Indeed, due to its plot’s twists and turns, this costume meller might have benefited from a longer treatment, a mini-series, rather than a saga that rushes from one preposterous event and climax to another.

Still, there are plenty of movies that I loved that didn’t catch on with the critics.  While I’d prefer the movie to be a success with the critics, I’ll hold my judgment until after I’ve seen the movie.  It’s very possible that Mr. Levy and I will disagree with each other.

What is truly concerning me is the latest news from the red carpet.  On Fox News this morning I was greeted with the following sensational headline:

Portman, Johansson Share Steamy Red Carpet Kiss

Ladies and Gentlemen, has it ever been a good sign when stunts like this pop up while promoting a film?  Perhaps I’m jaded, but these types of kisses are not spontaneous when done in front of cameras.  It also doesn’t fly with me that this happened because Natalie is tired of being seen as boring.  My guess is that people are panicking.  If the movie is horrible, historical fiction fans will not be stampeding to the box office.  They’ll need to pull in the young male audience.  How better to do that than to have photos of Scarlett Johannson kissing another woman?

My heart is heavy, but I will still go and see the movie on Leap Day.  My hopes and expectations are now very low.  Maybe this will prevent me from feeling as disappointed when I leave the theater as I did after seeing Elizabeth: The Golden Age.  I didn’t write a follow up to that post because I was hoping that my utter disappointment was due to lack of sleep.  That won’t be the case with TOBG.  I’ll post my review as soon as I’ve seen it.

LiterateHousewife,

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your loyal historical fiction and film guinea pig…

#50 ~ Fight Club

November 26, 2007 at 2:23 am | Posted in Books, Childhood Memories, Culture, Film, Free, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | Leave a comment
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Fight Club: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Throughout the year I’ve been talking with people at work about the books I’ve been reading. Two of my co-workers mentioned Fight Club. I’ve never had a desire to read this book or see the movie. They are six and 13 years younger than me respectively and I reasoned that I was too old. I missed the boat for this book. After arguing that I was not, in deed, too old to read this book, I asked if either of them had a copy of the book that I could borrow. I figured that would be the end of the story. Not so fast. The very next morning, I was handed a nearly pristine copy in paperback.

After finishing Love in the Time of Cholera, I wanted something quick to read. Thumbing through this book, it seemed the obvious choice. Well, maybe it wasn’t such a good next choice. Given the lack of hope, kindness, and charity of the characters, it wasn’t the best book with which to start off the holiday season. Additionally, where there was too much personal hygiene-type information in Cholera, that was amplified and modernized in Fight Club. Had I not made a promise to myself that I would finish every book I started this year, I would have tossed this book as soon as I found out that the main character, who is never named (what’s up with that type of thing happening all at the same time with my book choices?), does not kill the wanna be veterinarian. I can not stand torture in art (or life – but I thought that should go without saying – although I am saying it here). I threw up because my date wouldn’t let me leave The Silence of the Lambs. Reading that scene in Fight Club wasn’t much better for me.

Now that I’ve finished the book, it’s good that I didn’t simply toss it during the torture scene. It gave a very interesting insight into human nature – especially when not everything is fitting together as it should. I can’t say that I would ever read it again, but I’m glad that I read it the first time. If for no other reason, knowing what happens will save me from ever having to watch the movie. I can now report back to my co-workers that no, I’m not too old for this book (or the movie). I just don’t have the stomach, and that’s been true since I was in college.

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To buy this book, click here.

The Other Boleyn Girl: The Trailer

November 16, 2007 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Books, Film, Henry VIII, Philippa Gregory | 2 Comments
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I am excited to share that the trailer for The Other Boleyn Girl is now available online. I’ve just watched it and cannot wait for the movie! I recently won a half-vacation day at work for making my United Way donation. It’s a certainty now that I’ll be saving that for the afternoon of Leap Day, February 29. I hope to see you there!

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This leads back to the conversation we had earlier about what makes a movie based upon a movie good. I agree that to do any book worthy of a movie justice that it has to be longer than two to three hours. Based on the trailer, the movie will not be 100% faithful to the book; but is that necessary for the movie to be enjoyable? I loved this book so much, but I’m not a purest when it comes to film renditions – at least not all the time. Now that I’ve seen the actors in motion, I’m excited about the casting. I had thought that Scarlett Johannson would make a better Anne than Mary, but I like what I see of her here. I also see that Natalie Portman can be an effective bitch when she needs to be. :)

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