Olive Kitteridge – Pulitzer Prize to HBO

Watching Olive Kitteridge starring the magnificent Frances McDormand (most famous for her Oscar winning performance in Fargo but don’t forget her in Almost Famous)  and the even more lovely Richard Jenkins (unfortunately totally overlooked for what should have been an Oscar winning performance in The Visitor – Netflix it today!) is a testament to television to bring back the mini-series, but further proves that network television will never go that route. Continue reading “Olive Kitteridge – Pulitzer Prize to HBO”

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Funny & Dark

Hello faithful readers – all three of you!

I know. I’ve been away. So much for my declaration that I’m going to diligently post to my little ‘ol blog. All I can say is…I’ll try. Enough of that.

I might not be posting. But I have been reading. And the latest from my local book store – actually I picked it up in the Phoenix Airport because my flight was delayed two hours – is Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Front Cover

Why? Well, I wanted to read something funny and the cover art was engaging. But mostly because I was intrigued that the author used to write for Mad About You and Arrested Development (the very same that has reappeared on Netflix to mixed reviews – including mine – check back later on that one).

The book tells the story of Bernadette Fox, a once brilliant architect that has well…lost it. And I don’t mean the lost it that she’s walking around half naked with a long blond wig Amanda Bynes-like lost it, but lost…IT. She’s pretty crazy – funny but pretty crazy and it’s never really dealt with. The narration is chocked full of pithy, smart, and enviable comments and observations. The plot is propelled forward nicely and the characters are fully formed. But all along you know the title character has some serious issues. Issues that are briefly acknowledged but never solved. And that is…annoying.

I guess I’m just a tie up all the loose ends kind of reader – especially when I’ve got a couple of hours to kill at the airport.

Beautiful Creatures – Another Book to Movie

Time for yet another YA novel to be adapted to a movie.  Those who loved the Twilight books (great premise, bad execution – said it before) will like this book and will probably like the movie. Unlike the Twilight novels, the writing duo of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl do a much better job of rich character building and are not afraid to have their characters look bad or do bad things. Unfortunately, the book is written in the overused device of first person – this time from the point of view of a very horny sixteen-year-old body. But at least it’s not the slow, desperate, voice of Bella and is a funny, optimistic, bright voice of Ethan. It provides a much better platform for the world the authors build.

The fantasy aspect is developed from a great premise – the girl of Ethan’s dreams (literally and figuratively) comes from a family of witches (they prefer the name Casters) and has until her sixteenth birthday where she will be “claimed” by either the dark (evil) or the light (good). On top of that, she craves a normal life and finds herself dealing with the ordinary dark and light of high school. Who hasn’t dealt with that? Her family – a cast of characters each possessing a very unique way of manifesting their powers – are interesting and well developed.

There are a couple of plot lines resulting in some later conflict that is really contrived. The same thing happened in the Twilight books. But overall the novel provides an entertaining story – so entertaining that it goes on for three more books.  So, if the movie is remotely successful, plan to see the next three made.

Oh, wait! Plan for the last book to be split into two movies. So plan for four. Isn’t that the way it works?

Breaking Dawn Part 2 – Okay…I Saw It

So, like the rest of the country I have been fighting through this weird flu that seems to NEVER go away. My nose has been stuffed up, my voice has dropped in register making me sound scratchy and little bit like Demi Moore (I know…not such a bad thing), and my head has ached. I also have been housebound.

Needless to say, I got myself out of the house and went to…the mall. Walking around I got tired and found myself near the movie theaters. The only one playing that I could see beginning to end was BREAKING DAWN PART 2. My vow of never paying for a movie ticket to see any film in the TWILIGHT franchise quickly faded in place of a deep desire to sit down.

What can I say? BREAKING DAWN PART 2, aka, the creepy CGI baby movie, is a terrible waste of film. But again, the books – loved by tween girls around the world – are terribly written (I have said this before) and therefore it is difficult to adapt a shitty book into an enjoyable film. But the problem with this movie is way beyond the source material.  Like I stated, it is the creepy CGI baby movie. For some reason the director (Bill Condon –  DREAMGIRLS) applies a weird treatment to the famous half-human, half-vampire child Renesme. It’s just…creepy. And worse it’s badly executed. In the time of AVATAR, to have a special effect so poorly applied makes the movie even more laughable.  Plus, the original story was so lacking in conflict (the author Stephanie Meyers refuses to have anything bad happen to her characters to elicit growth or true crisis) that the ending is be majorly tweaked by the screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (who is now developing her own show for TV – look what adapting shitty books can do for you) in order for a film audience to sit the 90 or so minutes and not be bored out their minds.

I’m still sorry I spent the money for a theater ticket for this movie. I should have waited until I could Netflix it like I’ve done with all the others, but like in the movie CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE ( a fabulous script written by Dan Fogelman, Netflix it today) “I went and saw the latest Twilight movie – and it was sooooo bad.” That about sums it up.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – A Great Read

So I’m a little late on The Perks train, but better late than never. This book written by the screenwriter and novelist Stephen Chbosky is a mix between the novels The Catcher in The Rye and Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret and the play Driving Lessons.

The novel is epistolary (told through letters) and the main character Charlie shares information about his family, his love life, and his occasional drug use. Throughout the book he grows and learns more about himself, as does the reader.

There is a very nice balance of the delicate art of reveal within the book. Charlie tells his anonymous friend about himself that is not so obvious that the reader has already guessed what has or what is going to happen to him. The plot is solid and well structured, as well as the characters. Also the depiction of high school life is pretty spot on.

Like a lot of good books, this one has been adapted to screen and is currently out in local theaters. The author is also a screenwriter and took it upon himself to write and direct the movie, which I’m sure makes it a very interesting show. But again, this is a first person story, difficult to adapt to screen. Fine personality nuances are harder to articulate to a viewing audience when the are written or told in first person (unless you use voice over – for example all the horrific TWILIGHT movies – definitely another post). But the author adapted the book himself and when an author truly knows his characters he can avoid the trappings that can come along with adaptation.

Have you seen the movie? What do think? In the meantime, go. Go ahead. Read the book.  It’s a great read.