Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Copeland links to a site where writers discuss their favorite book-to-film adaptations. "Out of Sight" and "1984" are two of my favorites.

My opinions of film adaptations often depend on whether I've first read the book and then seen the film, or vice versa. I'm convinced that first reading "A Civil Action", which was a superb book, spoiled my appreciation for an otherwise good film. On the other hand, I loved the film "Sideways", which I saw before I read the novel upon which it is based. The film captured the spirit of the book and its characters, but it made some significant departures that were probably necessary to adapt the story from one medium to another. However, I might have quibbled with those changes had I read the book first.

Worst adaptation? For my money, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

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I think the film Quick Change is extremely clever (I believe Bill Murray’s only directorial effort – yes, thank you, imdb), but the book was awful. I did read it second (didn’t finish it), precisely because I had enjoyed the movie so much. I don’t know how Bill Murray coaxed that film out of that book.

I’ve read that the best book for a movie is a novella, maybe a hundred pages, and I think maybe that’s true. So many movies feel like a visual Cliffs Notes for whatever book. One of the few movies I enjoyed equally with the book is Silence of the Lambs. I think the movie and cast richly deserved their Oscars.

On a personal note, I read The Paper Chase at a particular time in my life where I happened to identify with situation, so it is one of my favorite books and favorite movies. There is that personal experience of a book that sometimes transcends the actual quality of the writing. Or maybe I just like trash.
You know, I've never read the Stephen King novellas "The Body" or "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption", but it seems like both made more successful adaptations of films than many of the movies and miniseries based on King's novels. I really enjoy King's writing, but there have been some awful adaptations of his work.

I never read "Quick Change" but I'm glad to encounter someone else who liked that movie. I've always felt it was underrated.
Bank Guard (Bob Elliott): What the hell kind of a clown are you?

Grimm (Bill Murray): The cryin' on the inside kind, I guess.

One of my favorite all-time pieces of movie dialogue. And Randy Quaid's nervous breakdown ("We need a cab, God!") is priceless.

Highly underrated.
Here, here on Midnight. The book was fabulous, but unfortunately, the subtleties (i.e. the most ridiculous part of the book, how many times the guy was brought to trial) were lost in translation.
I saw L.A. Confidential first. The book paled in comparison...the movie distilled the best elements of the book into a 2 1/2-hour movie.
I saw The Godfather. The movie was art. The book had more sex and violence, but it's not in the pantheon of great literature.
And that's my two cents.
I liked "The Godfather" but I read it after seeing the film about 25 times. Francis Ford Coppola (and Maria Puzo) was definitely wise in dropping some of the subplots for the film.

I never read "L.A. Confidential" but I did read "The Black Dahlia". Most of the reviews indicated that it was not a great adaptation. As for the book, it could have ended about 50 pages sooner, but was otherwise a great crime novel.
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