For those of us who covet films with strong, smart, and compelling stories with well-developed characters, the summer movie season is an obstacle.
So, what summer titles will besiege us? According to “The Wall Street Journal,” “Hollywood is turning out more derivatives than a Wall Street bank.” We agree on this. Among the dozen titles that the Journal highlights are “Toy Story 3,” “Iron Man 2,” “Shrek Forever After,” and “Sex and the City 2.” So, at least one-third will be derived, sequels.
Of these 12, only one boasts someone with color in his face, Javier Bardem – in “Eat, Pray, Love.” It’s interesting that this one was adapted from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book.
Film industry veterans often declare, “oh, we don’t make anything we haven’t seen before,” while betraying no irony on their faces.
If you enjoy the blockbuster junk food and define your entertainment more broadly than other film snobs do, revel in the summer season. There’ll be plenty of pyrotechnic and escapist fun. As an alternative, you could catch up on prior years’ cinema that you missed or forgot about. Or how about the books on which some of them were based?
My personal and selfish problem is that the summer is my off-season for cinema. Summer is great. I love cinema. But those blockbusters consistently irk me. Again, I covet films with strong, smart, and compelling stories with well-developed characters. Now, I strive to either pay even more attention to the independent cinemas or concentrate on reading. Since people already have a surprising impression of me as being very well read… well I want to start feeling that way, myself.
I want to recommend only titles that I, myself, have already read, but…again, I am not as current in my reading as I yearn to be. I haven’t even read the Western Classics yet. There’s a stupendous line in “Die Hard” about “the benefits of a classical education.”
Let’s consider some of the films, from the last few years, that were adapted from books:
John Godey’s “The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3”: Actually, after having watched that on Hulu.com, and not yet read it, I must “say” that the original adaptation, with Walter Matthau, is great. It’s a smart, compelling, and dramatic thrill. So, partake of either the original adaptation or the book.
James McBride’s “Miracle at St. Anna.” While Spike Lee’s adaptation was around three hours, I suspect that the book from which it came would make for a nice evening or even beachside read.
The film adaptation of Richard Schlink’s “The Reader” was an exceptional and smart take on a coming-of-age story…gone cracked. Judging from the novella’s description, it boasts, of course, the nuance that contemporary films will no longer afford.
Robert Kaplow’s “Me and Orson Welles” looks like it was a compelling film. I infer that the book would be at least doubly compelling. Michael Phillips and Anthony Scott of “At the Movies,” recommended it.
To boot, I anticipate that “In My Father’s Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles” might be just as worthwhile.