Friday, 18 April 2014

New clip and images for The Fault in Our Stars

A first clip from the next #bookvsfilmclub story The Fault in Our Stars has been released entitled 'It's a Metaphor', along with some new images.

Hazel and Gus are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them -- and us – on an unforgettable journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, based upon the number-one bestselling novel by John Green, explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

The film will star Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Ansel Elgort as Augustus alongside Willem Dafoe, Sam Trammel and Laura Dern.  

To join the discussion of both book and film, use the hashtag #bookvsfilmclub.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Once: Film vs Play

Once was a small film that may have passed a lot of people by, yet those who saw it adored it and with good reason. The two leads, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, acted, sung and performed the music they had also written with such apparent ease and emotion it was hard not to fall in love with their story. This was obviously a labour of love for the pair of them.

Once follows a guy and girl who meet randomly while the guy is busking on the streets of Ireland. When the girl finds he has a job repairing vacuum cleaners, she manages to get him to fix her broken one and the two soon discover a shared passion for music.

As the days pass, they learn more about each other's lives and start to realise that by being together and playing music together, they are slowly bringing each other back to life.

Ultimately, their music is cathartic. It voices their inner concerns, their past demons and all that they have tried to overcome. Everything they have felt in life is poured into it, resulting in an incredibly emotional soundtrack that speaks volumes when they cannot.

The play in London - which currently stars Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who) and Zrinka Cvitešić - takes all the elements which made the film such a beautiful story to watch and adds even more passion. The songs remain, as does the story, albeit with a few tweaks to suit the production. There is also an added layer of humour which only serves to heighten the darker emotional scenes as the two musicians realise the extent of their feelings for one another. Cvitešić will sing with the voice of an angel, break your heart and then make you laugh.

Overall, the beautiful simplicity of the film, which is lovely and a joy to watch, is surpassed in the play adaptation by the extra layer of intensity. The play is such an immersive production that it really does pull you in. 

See it! Then get the soundtrack and check out the film so you can keep appreciating (or singing!) the enchanting songs. This is a story to be enjoyed more than just Once.

Film - 4/5 FOBLES
Play - 5/5 FOBLES

Next #bookvsfilmclub will find The Fault in Our Stars

The next #bookvsfilmclub has been chosen and it will be The Fault in Our Stars.

Based on the book by John Green, the film is set to arrive in June. So if you've read the book or are excited by the film then get tweeting using the hashtag or tweet me at @filmvsbook for more info.

Hazel and Gus are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them -- and us – on an unforgettable journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, based upon the number-one bestselling novel by John Green, explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

According to this new featurette, it seems Green was delighted with the chemistry between the two stars, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.

Alongside Woodley and Elgort, The Fault in Our Stars also stars Willem Dafoe, Sam Trammel and Laura Dern.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels set to make Londoners cry laughing!

This week I was fortunate enough to see the hilarious Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which has now arrived in London’s West End and it was HILARIOUS. Such an enjoyable night and the cast - which include Rufus Hound, Robert Lindsay and Samantha Bond - are all spectacular! But I hadn’t seen the film on which the play is based. Of course, as soon as I got home I headed to YouTube to see Steve Martin as Ruprecht and Michael Caine oozing all that charm he possesses.

Sometimes adapting from one medium to another can be a disaster and other times it can be magical. In this instance, it has certainly sent me to the original. Having so thoroughly enjoyed the play I certainly now need to see the film!

Check out my review of the play over at Live For Films.
For more info, check out
Here's a snippet of Robert Lindsay in action to whet your appetite...

Monday, 17 March 2014

Divergent adaptation and the YA phenomenon

Guest post by Elizabeth Eckhart @elizeckhart

On April 4th (March 22nd for US viewers), the much anticipated Divergent will finally premiere in theaters. Like many of its predecessors, the YA book has provoked passionate responses from fans who love the series, and those who hate to see another another sci-fi/dystopian trilogy be given the Hollywood treatment, while many other excellent books are ignored by major film studios. Still, based on the latest theatrical previews, Divergent is not a film you will want to miss - especially with the star casting of Shailene Woodley as Tris, Theo James as Four, and the Oscar winning Kate Winslet as villainess Jeanine Matthews. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, it follows the heroine, Tris, on her journey to fit into a world where the authoritarian government rules with an iron fist and anyone deviating from the norm is harshly punished. During a placement test to determine which area of the city she should live, as is required of all residents her age, Tris discovers that she is Divergent, or unable to fit neatly into one of the five factions of her world. Being a Divergent is not only unsafe, but is also a result of much bigger events and government cover-ups than she could have ever imagined. The story is also interesting since it takes place in a dystopian future based off our own world. Author Veronica Roth, who attended Northwestern University directly outside of Chicago, Illinois, wrote her series within the setting of her beloved city - changing well-known landmarks such as Navy Pier, Michigan Avenue, and the famous John Hancock skyscraper into decaying remnants of their earlier selves.

The film crew went through great lengths to transform Chicago into the decrepit scenes Roth had originally imagined. In fact, massive areas of the city were shut down this previous summer in order to film certain scenes. Entire housing projects were created in the downtown area, and rumor has it that an incredible aerial stunt on the John Hancock will be featured in the film. Add the hopefully awe-inspiring set with Neil Burger’s directing skills, and it becomes no surprise that many are predicting a positive response toward the movie. For those unfamiliar with Burger’s previous work, he previously directed the visually stunning films Limitless and The Illusionist.

As mentioned before, Divergent is a series that has drawn both praise and critique from readers. While many enjoyed the original setting for the plot, others believed it to be too similar to The Hunger Games with its strong female lead, dystopian world, and eventual war against a controlling government. Personally, I believe that if every book was criticized for having the same gender lead, era, and basic major plot point, there would be far fewer books in the world. Also, The Hunger Games begins in a world where only a few people (those living in the Capitol) are content, whereas Tris’s world is filled with generally happy people that are well-fed, clothed, and living in factions with people of similar interests and abilities. The minority groups, such as the Factionless and Divergent, are the people who reveal the darker aspects of Tris’s society, whereas within Katniss’s Panem, only the minority had even their basic human rights fulfilled. This setup leads to a very different story, with very different consequences when revolution becomes an option.

However, it could be said that the Divergent series is lacking in depth, regarding many characters, and that the world-building isn’t done to the detailed perfection of the great sci-fi books before it. On the other hand, the Divergent series is quick, entertaining, and very plot-driven, which is excellent groundwork for a film to develop from. Plus, for those readers irked by the younger reading level of Roth’s books, the film could possibly provide a different outlet for the story beyond the author’s narrating voice. 

Divergent arrives in UK cinemas April 4 2014.

Friday, 28 February 2014

The Book Thief #bookvsfilmclub reactions

The third #bookvsfilmclub met this week to see The Book Thief, the adaptation based on the Markus Zusak novel set in Germany during World War II and narrated by death. The film stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and Sophie Nélisse.

So what did the club think of the adaptation?

@GroylefinGirl had the following to say:

Death. The sonorous voice of was perfect, but Death is personal, so see for yourself

The acting was superb; the love, kindness and bravery contrasting with the increasing brutality of the Nazis.
Happy to say I really enjoyed . A few of the subplots were missing, but the heart of the story remained intact

@MandaJJennings was in two minds about the adaptation with many positive and some less positive thoughts, tweeting:

yes, the acting was superb. And I'd like to give a special shoutout for the superb Emily Watson, who shone as Rosa.

The Book Thief is the book I'd wish I'd written, and I missed the poetry and twists of magic.

As a film it is extremely good but the book, for me, could not be matched, however this is not a reason not to see the film. It is a beautiful film and you will love it. It will make your heart sing with it's love, warmth and appreciation of books and the power of words. And that, alone, is worth seeing it for.

@Abby_Chandler wasn't as moved, tweeting:
The Book Thief - lacked the power of the book and didn't make me cry. But Geoffrey Rush IS Papa.

@emzfinn had this to say:

The Book Thief was a great film but it definitely lacked the magic that was in the book. The actors played their parts fantastically though.
@LouiseReviews tweeted her own review, saying 'The Book Thief isn’t a bad film, it’s not a travesty and I’m sure it will act as a suitable introduction to the Holocaust for younger viewers but it (probably inadvertently) proves the message of the novel. Books are the most powerful force in the world.'

So what did you think of the film?

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Book Thief book vs film

With a book as beloved as Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, an adaptation was always going to be a challenge. The story, narrated by death himself, follows a young girl as she arrives in a small town in Germany to live with her new foster parents – as WW2 looms.

The casting, first of all, is sublime, with Geoffrey Rush in particular on hand to warm and break your heart in equal measure. Hans is an adorable, loving father to Liesel but he is also incredibly brave and compassionate - traits which often lead him into trouble. Rush personifies this duality flawlessly, showing both the softer and more courageous elements to the character. Emily Watson does a brilliant job of showing the really harsh side to mother Rosa along with the caring, big-hearted side not everyone gets to see. She shouts and scowls a lot but there is love there too.

Young Sophie Nélisse shines as Liesel, showing the maturity the role requires, much like Liesel herself. You feel her pain and her joy and her struggle to stay close to people when she has been abandoned by those she holds dearest in the world. Nélisse captures this maturity alongside the innocence of youth and the desperation for human connection – all traits which make Liesel such a compelling character.

Though the story is undoubtedly Liesel’s, there is time to look further afield, at Kristallnacht, the climate of fear and supremacy, and the propaganda. Knowing the extent of the atrocities of the Holocaust only makes these scenes all the more tragic and real and there is something so horrifying about seeing it through the eyes not just of Liesel but of her school friends. While some struggle to come to terms with the society in which they live, hiding their true feelings for fear of inviting danger, others relish it and become genuinely terrifying. Perhaps to cope with the 12A certificate, much of the horror itself is left out, with the concentration camps ignored and not much seen of the Jews being marched through the town. The film largely hides away from the atrocities of war, only facing it when it lands on its doorstep – much like the characters themselves.
The overwhelming theme of words and their power is there in the film much like it is in the book, from Liesel’s struggle to learn to read to Max’s thoughts on books and writing. Words are everywhere, from the books Liesel reads with her papa, to the speeches made at rallies. They are powerful and important and hard to ignore. Words are life, Liesel, after all.

The biggest difference between book and film seems to be the general order of things. What is explained early on in the book is left to shock you later in the film. Though much of the story is cut to fit into the film's running time, some elements of it are developed further in the film, leaving certain revelations more obvious for viewers - the relationships between Liesel and Rudy, and Liesel and Ilsa, especially. The cuts, overall, make sense, but the additions add little. There is a sense that things are being spelled out for viewers rather than having things left to find out on their own. One scene in particular simply was not necessary. There was the feeling that it was trying to force the audience to cry – which is ridiculous for a film which already has such emotional subject matter.

The real challenge here was to convert the tone of the novel onto the big screen, to make it joyous, heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. Overall, The Book Thief film manages to capture the heartache and humour of the Zusak novel but loses much of the magic and poetic beauty of the original. The narration, the part of the book which gave The Book Thief its magic, is only really there for the opening and closing sequences of the film. Without it, the film lacks that magic that the book manages. It’s possible that the film makers realised they would not be able to match the original in this aspect and so opted to make the focus more on Liesel's story. To be honest, I'm not sure any voice could have made the narrator work as well as it did in the book. Not even Morgan Freeman!
When viewed as an adaptation, there are holes. The overall lack of narration and absence of the beautiful images from the book are sorely missed. However, as a standalone film, it is truly beautiful to watch with a breathtaking cast and stunning shots throughout. Heaven Street really does come to life on the big screen.

I only wonder how much of the emotion I felt was thanks to the film and not thanks to the memories of the book the film triggered.

Film – 3.5/5
Book – 5/5

Did the adaptation work for you? Share your thoughts on either the book or film on Twitter using #bookvsfilmclub and join the debate.

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