Read any good books lately? For this week’s Roundtable, we’re continuing on the dream project theme we started last week. This time, we’d like to know which books you’d most like to see adapted into movies.
Obviously, we’re looking mainly for books that haven’t yet been made into movies. However, if a particular book was adapted badly in the past, we’ll accept the request for a remake.
When I find a book that I really love, I’ll usually read it a few times. I’ve read ‘Ender’s Game‘ no less than ten times, and I’ve found something new to love each time. Say what you want to about Orson Scott Card’s political leanings, the man can write some damn good science fiction. I feel like we’re finally at the point where an ‘Ender’s Game’ movie is achievable without poor special effects that might ruin it. The only question would be how to portray the protagonist. Ender is incredibly young, and has to stay that way for the story to work. He’s also incredibly violent at times, which could draw quite a lot of criticism. Still, made by the right director (Neill Blomkamp?) and with the right cast, ‘Ender’s Game’ could be brilliant.
The book I would most like to see turned into a feature film is David Bowker’s overlooked masterpiece ‘I Love My Smith & Wesson‘. The novel is a Frankenstein’s monster of Gothic horror and modern British noir, about a failed writer named Billy Dye, newly married. A former childhood friend who has grown up to be a ghoulish, hulking villain calling himself Rawhead menaces Billy, who also falls into the crosshairs of a criminal organization called The Priesthood. This all happens on the streets of present day Manchester. It would be easy to suggest a director like Guy Ritchie for this, since he’s so good at capturing jaunty English crime. But I’d suggest someone more nuanced, and able to handle the novel’s darker elements. Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn would probably be up to the task. He’s proven himself to be a singular, impressionistic talent, and he handled the Ritchie territory well with ‘Bronson‘. People would probably have to know/read the book before that could happen – so get to it!
I’d like a remake of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original film. I love Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, and Patricia Neal. (I could probably live without Mickey Rooney’s performance, though). I enjoy the storyline of the movie, and love Audrey’s wardrobe. Everything about it is classic. The problem is that it takes some rather large departures from Truman Capote’s novella, and I think his original story deserves a shot.
In the book, there’s no romance with Paul, the writer upstairs. There’s no Patricia Neal part. Signs point to Paul being gay. Miss Holly-Go-Lightly is more complicated, and there’s no happy ending. It’s a really good story, just perhaps not as Hollywood friendly as the original movie. As for casting in the remake, that’s a tough call. I’m sure a lot of Hollywood would want Audrey’s part, but I’m not sure who could pull it off and give it the depth required. Natalie Portman (though she’d need the right director)? Scarlett Johansson? Lindsay Lohan comeback? (Yikes!) And for Paul, that’s another tough call. Perhaps Ed Norton?
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Tributes, homages, and post-modern re-envisionings of film noir are a dime a dozen. Unless you’re strolling into a repertory house, it’s been ages since a true example of the genre last splashed across the big screen. Reading ‘You Have Killed Me‘, a graphic novel by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones, is quite a lot like holding a couple nitrate prints of a classic hardboiled detective story in my hand. Rich’s dialogue crackles with the same flair as Raymond Chandler. As so much of the storytelling unfolds visually courtesy of Jones’ breathtakingly gorgeous artwork, every word connects with that much more of an impact. Jones’ art is wonderfully cinematic, seeking out compelling compositions and deftly playing with light and shadow in the finest noir tradition. Though there’s certainly a part of me that thinks ‘You Have Killed Me’ is already a flawless execution of everything I love about film noir, I can’t help but be curious if there’s someone ambitious enough to translate what works so wonderfully on the page over to the silver screen.
Many great authors have explored the craziness of Florida life. Authors like Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry have had their works of zany Floridian fiction turned into movies. However, there’s another author based in Florida that has yet to make a movie out of hilarious books. Tim Dorsey is that man, and he’s now written twelve books all starring a lovable serial killer named Serge that would be perfect for dark comedy. His snappy dialogue would work wonders in a screenplay. He’s also got a great feel for how to put together a plot that with an endless array of nutty characters, all the while leading them to his signature endings that usually wind up with all the characters converging into a heap of chaos and laughter.
There isn’t a specific book of his that I’d like made into a movie, because I’d love to see them all made. If I had to pick just one, it would be his book ‘Triggerfish Twist‘, which sets out the chronological beginning of Serge’s tale of mayhem, and the mischief he spreads throughout the Sunshine State. Truthfully, any of Dorsey’s books would be perfect for a Tarantino-type movie. Now, search him out and read his books. You won’t regret it.
Speaking of Carl Hiaasen (thanks for the reminder, Aaron!), the popular Floridian author has had a pretty lousy track record for movies based on his books. That adaptation of ‘Strip Tease’ with Demi Moore was a notorious bomb. While the movie based on his Young Adult novel ‘Hoot’ wasn’t quite as disastrous (who even remembers it?), it mostly came out as a well-intentioned but poorly-executed dud. There’s something about the author’s way of mixing the crime thriller genre with goofy comedy that’s really hard to capture in live action. Still, I think it can be done with the right director and a strong script.
My vote for the Hiaasen book with the best chance at movie success is his first novel, ‘Tourist Season‘. It’s a cracking good mystery with environmental themes that are still plenty relevant, if not more so now. It’s also a really funny book laced with Hiaasen’s sharp wit throughout. However, this one is played a bit straighter than his subsequent novels, which tend to go overboard with the goofball characters and slapstick antics. I think a smart director might stand a good chance of capturing the tone of this one better than the way ‘Strip Tease’ was handled.
Why must Katherine Heigl ruin everything? Despite being married to a man who likes his movies subtitled, I admit to having moments of pop culture weakness. My all time favorite guilty pleasure book series is Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. If you’re not familiar with the series, they follow a spunky New Jersey bounty hunter. She has a sassy former ‘ho sidekick Lula, and a serious flirtation with both hunky Italian cop Joe Morelli and the mysterious Cuban-American bounty hunter Ranger. I know it’s cheese, and the series has gone on a bit long (she’s currently on book 16), but it’s really fun, laugh out loud cheese.
Like many fans, I’ve been anticipating/dreading a movie adaptation of this series since reading the first book. Who should play Stephanie has always been a hot topic of conversation among my friends. Sandra Bullock? Debbie Mazur? Lauren Graham? Then we got our answer: It was announced last year that ‘One for the Money‘ was finally being made with Katherine Heigl in the lead.
The movie is scheduled for release later this year, but even without seeing it, I’m already wishing for a do-over. It’s directed by Julie Anne Robinson, the auteur behind ‘The Last Song‘. Never heard of it? That’s because it starred Miley Cyrus. The writing team adapting the book also brought us the Katherine Heigl flop ‘The Ugly Truth‘. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to put these people together again?!
I know it’s probably not good form to ask for a remake before actually seeing the movie, so I will say that there are a few flickers of hope that it might not be a total bust. Sherri Shepard seems perfectly cast as Lula. While I would not have picked Jason O’Mara for Morelli or Daniel Sunjata as Ranger, they’re well suited for the tasks. And Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur is a great choice. According to IMDb, the writers of the Ugly Truth also wrote ‘10 Things I Hate About You‘ (a movie I must watch every time I run across it on cable – It’s based on Shakespeare, honey!). The third credited writer on the screenplay is the creator of ‘Nurse Jackie’. Hey, maybe it won’t be so bad after all! Nope. It stars Katherine Heigl and she ruins everything. (See: ‘Gray’s Anatomy’).
Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)
As a sci-fi fan (but not fanatic), I’ve come across a few books and stories from fairly obscure authors that I think would make excellent adaptations to the large screen. So when Hollywood is finally done mining the major and minor works of Philip K. Dick, I hope someone notices F. Paul Wilson. He published a few interesting sci-fi and fantasy novels in the late ’70s and early ’80s, one of which (‘The Keep’) was made into a fairly terrible movie. My favorite of his works was his first novel, ‘Healer‘.
‘Healer’ deals with an intergalactic traveler named Steven Dalt who, after an accident in a cave on a less developed world, has his DNA fused with an alien being that is conscious down to the cellular level. This little symbiotic invader allows our hero to effectively become immortal. The alien consciousness is able to repair any damage within its host’s body, making him immune to aging and disease. As the centuries pass, Dalt’s legend grows. He seems to be the only one capable of healing a mysterious psychological illness spreading throughout the galaxy.
Although Wilson’s alien worlds are firmly grounded in a libertarian philosophy, they never become preachy. Instead, ‘Healer’ is a well-told tale, set in a nicely fleshed-out universe with a satisfying story arc and climax. I imagine that the alien worlds, technology and beings could be fantastically rendered using modern CG techniques. I’d love to see a good director’s handling of the story.
Those are our choices. Now tell us which books you want to see made into movies.