Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A Long Way Down adaptation gets an emotional and uplifting trailer

Nick Hornby has a talent for weaving emotional depth and humour into the same stories so it is no surprise to see that the new trailer for A Long Way Down - the latest adaptation based on one of his beloved novels - looks to follow the same path.

The story of four strangers who meet at the top of a building as they plan to commit suicide by jumping off it is an emotional and endearing one and with an impressive cast that includes Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots, this is sure to make audiences laugh and cry when it arrives in cinemas on 21st March.

Check out the trailer below and see what you think... and join the discussion with #bookvsfilmclub.

A Long Way Down synopsis
New Year’s Eve on the top of a London skyscraper. MARTIN (Brosnan) is literally on the edge. A once-beloved TV personality, he’s now desperate to jump. But he’s not alone. Single mother MAUREEN, (Collette), sassy teen JESS (Poots), and failed musician turned pizza-delivery boy JJ (Paul), have all turned up on the same roof with the same plan. Instead of jumping, these four strangers make a pact to stay alive and stay together until Valentine’s Day at least. Both funny and poignant, A LONG WAY DOWN follows this group of unlikely friends as they try to pull back from the brink.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Divergent posters and trailers - starring Shailene Woodley

Based on the book series written by Veronica Roth, the new adaptation of Divergent is set to arrive in cinemas this April. With a cast that includes Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet, could this be the new YA cinema story to watch?

I am yet to read the books but I hear great things. Could Divergent hold its own against other great YA franchises...? The film certainly looks promising!

Divergent is a thrilling action-adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities. Tris Prior (Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late.

Divergent arrives in UK cinemas April 4 2012.

Check out the images and trailers we have so far…

Thursday, 23 January 2014

New The Hunger Games: Mockingjay poster is flaming gorgeous!

There may be ten months to go until the film is released in cinemas but fans of the Hunger Games series are getting very excited, thanks to the gorgeous new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay poster (part one!) which was Tweeted from Yahoo.

With the third book being adapted into two parts, this first installment will follow on from the end of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, when Katniss Everdeen discovered there was no district 12 anymore. Though she still has her mother, sister, best friend Gale and former mentor Haymitch at her side, Peeta has been captured by the capitol and Katniss will soon find that she is needed to be the face of the revolution - a role she has no desire to take on, especially given her mental fragility after fighting her way through two games.

The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson and many many more incredible faces. Julianne Moore joins the cast to take on the role of President Coin.

What do you think of the poster? Are you excited?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

What will Brian Percival do with The Book Thief?

It's not often that I am quite this scared - and excited - to see an adaptation. It's partly because I'll be seeing it with the rest of the #bookvsfilmclub but it's basically because I am just genuinely intrigued to see what the director Brian Percival has done with this incredible story.

The casting looks incredible from the trailers alone. Sophie Nélisse looks like a new Chloe Moretz, capturing the innocence of youth but dealing with the very adult emotions her character is forced to experience. Her foster parents are both incredibly detailed characters and so very integral to the story so it is exciting to see Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson play Mama and Papa.

To write a book from the perspective of death is a bold move, to say the least, especially when the book in question takes place in Germany during World War II. Somehow, author Markus Zusak took something so dark and made it something beautiful. It is tragic and heartbreaking but there is joy and hope to be found amid the rubble. According to IMDB, there is a narrator/death to the film but will the beautiful language of the novel remain for the adaptation?

To read my 10/10 review of the book, check out Novelicious. For more information on the book vs film club, email me at filmvsbook@gmail.com.

Here's the trailer to whet your appetite for the film adaptation, out next month:

The Power of Sherlock Holmes makes fans flock to the source text

There is always the concern with adaptations that they will not do justice to the novels on which they are based. Yet somehow, irrespective of the final result (though in this case – what a result!), it can also be great just to see more fans heading for the books themselves.

With BBC’s Sherlock proving popular over the New Year and Elementary doing well Stateside, new stats from eBay show that, rather than diminish the original novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these adaptations and interpretations of the Sherlock stories have actually led many fans to the novels, with The Hound of the Baskervilles coming out on top. Since Christmas, sales of Doyle’s Sherlock novels have soared 71% and Baskervilles has risen by 62%, closely followed by The Sign of Four and A Study in Scarlet.

Of course, it’s not just the novels that fans are looking for: sales of Sherlock memorabilia have more than doubled over the last month. In particular, sales of Sherlock-inspired deerstalker hats have risen by 38% though there has been no mention of people imitating Dr Watson with a walking stick just yet...
Has the show made you read the novels... or perhaps purchase a new hat for the winter?

Monday, 20 January 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit film review

Light years away from his comedic action hero in This Means War (2012), Chris Pine takes on the dramatic role of Jack Ryan in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit as he tries to stop Russia attacking the US and causing total economic meltdown in the process. With his girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightley) back home suspecting him of having an affair and clearly getting tired of his elusive nature, Jack flies off to Moscow to investigate the origins of the attack.

Soon after he lands, all hell breaks loose and he finds his analyst desk job quickly moving into something more operational. And that's all before his girlfriend shows up to surprise him and becomes part of their attempt to find out what Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) is up to. With Kevin Costner as his mentor and Knightley at his side, Pine certainly rises to the challenge of action hero, more Jason Bourne than John McClane. The car chases and fight sequences are impressive and great fun to watch. Though trained as a marine, Jack Ryan is new at espionage. He has the skills to protect himself but manages to include that element of just ‘winging it’ a lot of the time too – something which makes his character that much more endearing.

Despite all the against-type accents (Knightley as an American and Branagh as a Russian), the film is rooted in the action, the script and the characters. As a result, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit manages to be an explosive action film with an exciting plot. Being reminded of the 9/11 attacks is a little too much realism for me in a film like this but there are enough car chases to remind you that it really is just well-made fiction.

Film - 4/5 FOBLES

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is released in cinemas on Friday 24th January 2014

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

12 Years a Slave book vs film

Solomon Northup was a free man living with his wife and two children when he was tricked into touring with a musical group, drugged and sold into slavery. Twelve years later, he was freed. But this is only a tiny part of his incredible story, as told by the man himself in his powerful and eloquent memoir 12 Years a Slave, now a major feature film.

The book is incredibly complex, as Northup details all the people he meets along the way and even the daily work the slaves were forced to endure. He talks about the violence and the horror of his life as a slave but does not fail to mention the good he sees, be it in the compassionate Master Ford or his fellow slaves who give him hope to carry on living.

Master Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) comes across very differently in both mediums. In the novel, Solomon goes to great lengths to explain to the reader how good and how smart Ford was. He was a decent man born into a world where slavery was the norm. Effectively, he didn’t know any better. Solomon clearly has great respect for him and explains that while some thought the way he treated his slaves showed weakness, Solomon insists that it served to make all of his slaves so desperate to please him. They didn’t fear him so much as revere him. In the film, he is shown to be a kind owner, impressed by Solomon’s initiative and hard work. However, the additional scene where Solomon tries to tell him the truth about his identity makes Ford quickly unlikable and weak. He has a debt to be paid and does not want to hear what Solomon has to say. In reality (or in the memoir at least) Solomon is never brave enough to tell him the truth.
Other than the story of Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) himself, it is the horrific story of Patsey (played in the film by newcomer Lupita Nyong'o) which draws the most heartbreak. As the object of Master Epps's (Michael Fassbender) attention, she is assaulted by him frequently but because his wife sees the desire he feels for her, she gets abused by her too. Though he attempts to help on occasion, the most tragic part of the whole story is that nobody can do anything to really stop the abuse. This is, after all, a true account of slavery. There is no happy ending here. That the true horror of what Patsey endures is shown in unsettling detail is a true testament to Steve McQueen’s bravery as a filmmaker.
A lot of the story is cut but this is essential as there are so many players in Solomon’s story there would be no way of including them all. The key players are rightly pushed to centre stage while the others become extraneous. The book feels like twelve years whereas the film passes by without the feel of such a lot of time passing. There is only one addition which baffled me and that is the strange sexual opening which seems entirely out of place in this story.
Both interpretations are heartbreaking, shocking and emotional. The greatest travesty and upset in both though is not so much what happens to Northup during those twelve years but what comes after. He is, after all, still a man of colour in a world where they are not deemed equal to white people.

Film – 5/5
Book – 5/5

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Book Review: Sworn Secret by Amanda Jennings

It's hard to write a book about death without making readers feel completely depressed and not want to carry on reading - yet somehow Amanda Jennings has managed it with her novel Sworn Secret.

Teenager Anna dies in a tragic accident and her sister, mother and father all deal with her death in very different ways. Jennings explores each of them by switching between perspectives to show the full extent of the family's despair. In doing so, she perfectly captures the teenage angst of Lizzie, all-consuming loss felt by their mother Kate and the many ways dad Jon is just trying to keep everything together.

By adding in the element of mystery, there is a driving force behind the story that makes readers want to continue on even when things get really emotional. And emotional the story does become. It is hard-going at the beginning but necessary. In order to fully appreciate the events that follow, the reader needs to see the extent of the family's loss and how each of them are trying to cope with it in their own way.

Once the mystery element is added, though, and young Lizzie starts to experience her first love, the pain and beauty of family bonds becomes that much more important. There is still something missing in the events of Anna's death and her family cannot really deal with her loss until they know what really happened. In the process, of course, they are destroying each other and Lizzie is being ignored in the process. By the time they realise how badly they need each other, will the damage have already been done?

A heartbreakingly real story that is full of emotion with despair and love in the extremes.


Monday, 6 January 2014

Bridget Jones's Diary book vs film

Alcohol units - 0 (it's Monday!), cigarettes - 0, calories - no idea, years it took me to read Helen Fielding's hilarious Bridget Jones's Diary - far too many!

Every now and then I do things backwards and see the film before reading the book. In the case of delving into Bridget Jones's Diary, I watched the film, the sequel and the entire 90s series of Pride and Prejudice over and over long before finally purchasing the book and seeing what all the fuss was about.

From the opening page, Bridget Jones is a brilliantly 'real' character unlike any I had ever read and the result is a book which is easy, fun and adorable to read. Unlike recent first person stories which have infuriating inner monologues, Bridget is so hilarious and so honest that even when she is moping you want to hug not hit her as she dwells on issues with family, work and of course - her love life.

What a marvellous creation!

For me, the book is an incredibly witty insight into the pressures of life in your thirties and being single - and I cannot figure out why it took me so many years to read the thing! Except perhaps that I needed to be in my thirties to fully appreciate it. 

The only let down in the book was that her happy ending involved a guy which - after a book so consumed with trying to be happy all on your own - seemed a little ridiculous. Though I hear the sequel deals with that 'happy ending' rather well...

The film, on the other hand, is a great, silly and enjoyable film which places much more emphasis on the comedic battle between Daniel and Mark - who are both vying for her attention - than the book does. It doesn't forget its star, however, and does a brilliant job of portraying an erratic, on-edge and entirely loveable Bridget Jones. 

Played by Renée Zellweger, who famously had to gain weight for the part, the film follows her ups and downs with great fun and sincerity. The mad and totally loyal friends are always on hand, as are the interfering mother and doting father. The mad boss, the embarrasment, the constant attention paid to dieting and alcohol consumption is also relentless.

Though Mark does not appear quite so often in the novel, I don't think anyone could fault the inclusion of Colin Firth and Hugh Grant and that infamous fight sequence. The only part I take issue with is why they altered Bridget's mother storyline which was far more interesting in the novel - unless they had always planned on taking a certain Mark element and plonking it in the middle of the film sequel.

Book - 4/5
Film - 3/5