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Books heading to the Big Screen

Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 10:21 a.m. CST

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We’ve all heard the old adage that “the book is always better than the movie,” yet we continue to willingly subject ourselves to Hollywood’s interpretations of our favorite stories and characters.

Why? Because there’s always that chance that the producers, screenwriters, directors and cast might get it right. Then again, there is also always the chance that the only thing the book and movie have in common is the title. (I’m looking at you, “World War Z.”)

As disappointed as I may be in any given film based on a book, I also know I feel just a wee bit triumphant when, once again, the book is better.

2013 has seemed a particularly busy year when it comes to movies being adapted based on books. As a librarian, I always recommend giving the printed word a try prior to seeing the film, so that, in many cases, self-righteous indignation at the warping of a perfectly successful story can ensue.

With that in mind, here is a guide to some flicks to look forward to this fall, and the books they are based on, so movie goers can, at the very least, arm themselves with the knowledge of what is SUPPOSED to happen and make the necessary comparisons: 

“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare — This book is the first in a popular Young Adult Fantasy Series and presumably the first in a movie series as well. Centered around 15-year-old Clary, a seemingly normal teenage girl who witnesses a mysterious murder just prior to the disappearance of her mother, who is suddenly thrust into a world chock full of demons, humans who hunt them, and, yes, vampires. This one will be rated PG-13 and opens Aug. 21.

“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card — Another first book in a series, this futuristic tale features Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, an unusual but brilliant young man who is sent away to a breeding ground for future soldiers in the inevitable war against alien forces. Starring some heavy hitters, including Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley, this movie is slated to open Nov. 1.

“Horns” by Joe Hill — OK, I’m just going to say it. I LOVE Joe Hill and his books. He can creep me out like nobody’s business, all the while writing witty and downright funny characters and dialogue. In his second novel, “Horns,” Hill shares the story of Ig, whose high school sweetheart was brutally murdered. Although he was never charged with the crime, just about everyone he knows thinks that he is responsible. One day Ig wakes up with horns protruding from his head — and it doesn’t take him long to realize that his new appendages come with a new power as well. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, this not-yet-rated flick opens Oct. 11.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins —  Katniss and Peeta, against all odds, were both declared winners of the Hunger Games. Their victory is sparking unrest among the common man, placing both them — and their families — in danger. Can Katniss defeat the powers that be a second time? This continuing saga of Katniss, Peeta and Gale opens in theaters on Nov. 22.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” by Jordan Belfort — Jordan Belfort was the master of his domain as the head of an unethical investment firm in the 1990s. His extreme hedonistic lifestyle is what legends are made of — until it all came crashing down around him. I just saw a preview for this, and I can’t wait to see it! A Martin Scorcese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, it will open Nov. 15.

“Austenland” by Shannon Hale —  Sorry, ladies, but Fitzwilliam Darcy is my true soulmate. While reading this book a while back, I remember thinking what a fun movie it would be. And here it is! Further proof that we were meant to be! Starring Keri Russell and the always delightful Jennifer Coolidge, this movie is set for limited release on Aug. 16 and hopefully wider release thereafter.

“Carrie” by Stephen King — Just in time for Halloween, a remake of the horror classic, which originally starred Sissy Spacek as the downtrodden yet unusually gifted teenager who turns her high school prom into a night no one will forget. The new version stars up-and-coming Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore. This movie opens Oct. 18.

“The Monuments Men” by Robert S. Edsel — So, in addition to attempting world dominance, Adolf Hitler also decided to take on the added responsibility of purging the world of any works of art which he found objectionable. Who knew? A brave team of American and British art historians, museum directors and other assorted nerds embarked on a mission to save these treasures from destruction. Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett, look for this movie on Dec. 18.

“The Family,” based on the book “Malavita” by Tonino Benacquista — The Blake family, new American imports to a small Normandy town in France, is not as “normal” as they first appear … because they are a mafia family under the witness protection program. Starring Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer, this flick opens Sept. 13.

“Paranoia” by Joseph Finder — Adam Cassidy is living the dream – with a beautiful girlfriend, fancy sports car and more money than he can spend – but at a terrible cost.  When he finally grows up and tries to go straight, his dream life quickly turns into a nightmare. Look for this PG-13 thriller on Aug.16. n“Parkland” based on “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” by Vincent Bugliosi — “Reclaiming History” is prosecutor Bugliosi’s treatise on the events and facts surrounding JFK’s assassination, which is a lot of information to cram into a movie. The movie, starring Zac Efron and Paul Giamatti opens Sept. 20.

“As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner — Faulkner’s classic tale comes to life on Sept. 27. Starring James Franco and Danny McBride, it tells the tale of Bunden family matriarch Addie’s death and her family’s pilgrimage to bury her according to her last wishes.

“The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak — Although this beautiful story, which takes place in Nazi Germany, is one of my favorite all-time books, I am not sure I will be going to see the movie in theaters. Why, you may ask? Because I am such a sloppy mess from reading the book, I cannot imagine that I would be in any shape to be in public after watching this on the big screen. Either way, this tale, narrated by Death himself, opens Nov. 15.

“Captain Phillips” based on “A Captain’s Duty” by Richard Phillips — When Somali pirates boarded a ship carrying supplies for the World Health Organization, I’m sure they hadn’t counted on encountering Captain Richard Phillips, who offered himself as a hostage in an effort to spare his crew. This true story stars Tom Hanks and Catherine Keener with an opening date of Oct. 11.

“Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northrup — Originally published in 1853, this true story of a free man who was kidnapped into slavery opens with a limited release on Oct. 18. The movie stars Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Eijiofor.

“Homefront” by Chuck Logan — When a DEA agent moves his family to a small town in Minnesota, he is hoping the quiet atmosphere will lead to a healing period for them. Unfortunately, he has moved next door to trouble with a capital “T.”  Released on Nov. 27, this thriller stars James Franco and Jason Statham.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” based on  “The Mayor of McDougal Street: A Memoir” by Dave Van Ronk and Elijah Wald — Opening on Dec. 6, this is the tale of folk musician Van Ronk, who passed away in 2002, and his many adventures in the 1950s and 1960s music scene. The screenplay was written by the Coen Brothers, who also direct, and the film stars Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake. While I would love to be able to say I will not only read ALL of these books as well as see the movies, I am only human ... but I am always interested in hearing others’ impressions of both.

Feel free to drop me a line at laureno@trpld.org.

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