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.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

New The Book Thief featurette is A Story Unlike Any Other

With one week left in the UK until the cinematic release of the adaptation of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, a new featurette has been released which takes a closer look at how Liesel Meminger steals words and makes her own story. It also takes a look at her journey with learning the read and write, which begins with her kind-hearted foster father and continues with Max, the Jew hiding in their basement.

This beautiful story is a flawless novel which finds joy in the horrors of the Holocaust thanks to incredible storytelling. The film adaptation stars Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush, Academy Award nominee Emily Watson and young Sophie Nélisse as Liesel.

The Book vs Film club will be meeting to discuss both the book and film on Wednesday 26th February. To join the discussion on Twitter, simply use the #bookvsfilmclub hashtag.

Happy viewing/reading!

Check out the featurette below:

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Getting back into baking: My 2014 baking challenges

Yahoo asked if I'd be interested in a series on baking and I jumped at the chance as I get to of course eat the produce afterwards! I bake a mean limoncello cupcake but I thought it was about time to expand my horizons beyond the cupcakes and try a few new things ... courtesy of The Great British Book of Baking.

First up was something simple: Rock Cakes. Then it was over to the flapjacks and chocolate shortbread. More soon...

What do you love to bake?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

SDAs (Social Displays of Affection) set to take over this Valentine's Day

It’s that time of year! There are flowers everywhere, the adverts on TV are telling you to buy cards, restaurants are running special promotions and chocolates are coming in heart-shaped boxes. Welcome to Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day may be known to singletons as a day to avoid but it seems even those in couples are getting annoyed with the ever-growing trend of SDAs (Social Displays of Affection). Gone are the days when PDAs were the thing to turn our noses up to. Now, it seems, the desire to post your Valentine’s Day presents or treats on social media is the most annoying thing you can do about it.

Though 1 in 5 of us admit to being SDA offenders, bragging about gifts online, just over a quarter of us admit that seeing their friends gush about how much they love their partners on social media is top of the annoying list this Valentine’s Day.

Research from eBay suggests that 38% of Brits feel the pressure of showing off their gifts online and 24% of women admit that they hint for thoughtful presents simply for bragging rights. That doesn’t, though, mean that sending flowers to someone at work is a good way to go! Second only to receiving a present from an unwanted admirer, receiving flowers at work is the most embarrassing thing you can have happen on this romance-filled day.

So what does all this mean for those contemplating what to buy their significant others this Valentine’s Day? Be thoughtful and romantic. If you want to please your lady, get her something she can show off with pride. If you want to keep your friends, perhaps try keeping it to yourself...

Sunday, 9 February 2014

New dramatic Divergent trailer arrives

"All my life I've lived by your rules. Not any more…"

The final UK trailer for Divergent has arrived and it shows more of Natalie Prior (Ashley Judd) and her daughter Tris Prior's general badassery!

Able to conquer her fears, Tris cannot be controlled, which means she must go into hiding.

The film, based on the Veronica Roth novel, stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller and Kate Winslet.

Divergent Synopsis
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 2014.

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion film rights bought

‘I’m not good at understanding what other people want’
‘Tell me something I don’t know…’
Love isn’t an exact science – but no-one told Don Tillman. A thirty-nine year old geneticist, Don has never had a second date. So he devises the wife project, a scientific test to find the perfect partner. Enter Rosie – ‘the world’s most incompatible woman’ – throwing Don’s safe ordered life into chaos. But what is this unsettling, alien emotion he’s feeling?
The Rosie Project had been out for a while before it reached my to-read pile but having devoured the delightful, refreshingly honest novel about a man with undiagnosed Aspergers Syndrome in only a few days, I am delighted to discover that the film rights have long been bought by Sony Pictures.
The Australian setting, the journey to New York and the two great lead characters of Don and Rosie would make an excellent film. Of course, it looks like Simsion already realised this - the book was written as a script before he adapted it into a novel.
The film will be produced by Sony-based Matt Tolmach and Michael Costigan and the deal was closed by Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad and production president Hannah Minghella. Simsion will write the script.
I know it's the obvious Ozzie answer but I'd love to see Hugh Jackman play Don. Or perhaps Guy Pearce with Teresa Palmer as Rosie?
Did you love The Rosie Project? Who would make an excellent Don and Rosie?
Follow Don Tillman @ProfDonTillman . .. Follow Graeme Simsion @Graemesimsion

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Fault in our Stars adaptation gets its first trailer

'I'm a grenade. One day I'm gonna blow up and I'm gonna obliterate everything in my wake...'

The Fault in Our Stars is clearly no average teen romance, as teenagers Hazel and Gus meet at a cancer support group. The film, based on the novel by John Green, stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and looks to pack an emotional and endearing punch in a film sure to bring the cuteness as well as the tears.

Check out the trailer below. The Fault in Our Stars arrives in cinemas this summer.

The Fault in Our Stars synopsis

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. Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Mike Birbiglia, and Emily Peachey.