Movie Adaptation: Dark Places

I haven’t done a movie adaptation in awhile, but I got to see a free pre-screening of Dark Places Tuesday night, so I felt I owed a review.

First things first, before I even get into the meat of it, I want to give a warning to those who need it, because there wasn’t one on-screen:  IF STROBE LIGHTS BOTHER YOU, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. Or at least proceed with caution. There is a huge scene about a quarter of the way through, when she goes to The Kill Club with EXTREME strobing, so just be aware of it. Also, a lot of the flashbacks aren’t strobe, but they are a really funky black, white, sepiaish coloring. Almost negative filmy type effect, but whatever it was, it really hurt my eyes. I don’t have seizures but we were pretty close to the screen and I definitely left with a headache.

Ok, on with the review:

From what I understand, Dark Places was actually a French production, made before Gone Girl. But, even with the superb casting, they weren’t completely sure how it would go over in the US, so they held off on the release. Then, when Gone Girl became a smash hit, of COURSE they had to bring it out. I’ve seen nary a trailer for it though, which is sad because while I don’t think it would make near as big of a smash, I think a lot of people would go see this if they knew about it.

It’s a much different film than Gone Girl is, however. Instead of being so high impact drama, it’s more slow and steady. You get the present day plot mixed with the flash backs. Sort of a look this way while I show you something else, make you think one thing and actually the reality is something else entirely. Gillian Flynn is fantastic at this. Her sociopaths never look like sociopaths until the very end.

As I said before, the casting here, at least for the main characters, is superb. Charlize Theron was excellent…but, is she ever bad in anything? How can she be so goddamn gorgeous in greasy short hair and the same dirty shirt all movie long? Oh. Right. She’s Charlize freaking Theron. I did alter my vision of what adult Libby’s life looked like in my previous book review. I think the movie nailed what Flynn was going for–and not at all what I had imagined. It fits much more with who she would have been.

Christina Hendricks as Patty Day? I mean…yes. My friend, as we were walking out, made a comment similar to what I said about Theron. “I didn’t know they could make Christina Hendricks look so good dirty!”

But, in the end, it’s not about the beauty, it’s about the acting, and these two both got their characters down perfectly. We’ve seen them in extremely sophisticated roles, but here they are both in very raw, emotional ones, and the performances were really powerful.

At first, I wasn’t sure Nicholas Hoult was the right choice for Lyle. He’s very young next to Theron, and I balked a bit because in the book, she’s only 30. But, they expanded the time gap a bit in the movie, so it made more sense. Also, for once in, well, EVER, the writers did not make this movie about romance at all. There were plenty of openings for them to do that, and yet they refrained, and I was grateful they didn’t change that part of the story, especially in one where there was so much PTSD, pain, and recovery happening.

This movie is going to be released tomorrow, August 7. I’m unsure how broad of a release it will get, but if it’s showing near you, go see it, especially if you like brain twisters and thrillers. This one isn’t so much on the racing plot thriller type, but more of a plot twist type. Definitely worth a showing.

 

Disclaimer:  My friend got free tickets to see this screening at Angelika Theater Dallas from her work and was kind enough to share one with me.

Book to Movie And Back Again

For the longest time, I never let myself reread a book. Once I was done with it, I’d trade it in, move down the list, and never look back.

Why would I waste time reading something that I’ve already read? There are so many other books on my list, and that list is constantly growing.

But then…I started branching out from the Nora Roberts’ romance novel pattern, and read Jane Austen for the first time. I had read The Thorn Birds before, but I READ IT AGAIN. *gasp* I got my hands on a copy of The Secret Garden, which was my favorite book growing up. Other wonderful books started jumping out at me that I had to read more than once because once was just not enough.

Now, my shelves are full. I buy books because I want to keep them, not for trade in value. I am constantly staring at them, loving them, making lists of what I want to read next.


The Hubs got me The Hunger Games Trilogy for my birthday, and shortly after we saw the third movie in theaters. If you saw the movie, you know exactly why I was so anxious to reread the books. THAT MOVIE WAS…WHOA.

I just finished Mockingjay last night. And I know I was keeping R awake because I was breathing so hard. Even though I had seen the movies, there’s so much in the books that I didn’t remember reading. They were just so incredibly powerful.

And I find that happens often when I reread books, especially books that have been translated into screen. I always try to read the book first–because the books are so detailed, there are often pieces of the puzzle I’d miss if I didn’t read the book first. And then I watch the movie, and see the story put together in such a strong visual way. I get to see the characters cast (sometimes great, sometimes not, and sometimes…inconsistent…*cough Daario Naharis cough*), I get to see settings like the arenas from the Hunger Games and the Pit from Divergent.

And almost always, after watching the show or movie, I immediately want to reread the book it is based on. When I do, I find a million things I’ve missed or forgotten, or in the case of The Hunger Games, I start to wonder if I even read the books at all!

It’s what I’m wondering about The Divergent Trilogy now too. But I don’t think I’m alone there. These new Insurgent trailers are so weird. The end of the last movie had us all wondering where they were going with it, and obviously the new trailer is just so different from the book. I have no idea where they are going with this series but I’m going to have to reread the books soon, I think.

Where do you stand on rereading books? Any favorites?

Can we remake this movie?

You guys have heard me talk about The Thorn Birds about a million times since I’ve started this blog. Have you gone and read it yet? Because you totally should. It’s my favorite.

The Thorn Birds (1983) Poster

They did make a mini series on ABC back in the 80s of it…but the only person I really recognize on the cast is Christopher Plummer. Maybe the rest of the people were more recognizable back then, but there’s few I know. The acting is pretty terrible, and the costuming….well, it was the 80s.

As for the cinematography, there is a whole lot of soap opera soft focus, and dramatic camera shifting. You know what I mean. It IS a romance novel, but all just very General Hospital.

The hair is gigantic and poufy, the makeup is way overdone. I know I keep saying it….but it’s just…the 80s! The book is set in the Australian Outback and spread over a period of time from 1915 to 1969 and I just feel that there could be a much better job done to show the changes that the family went through. It is a romance, but there was also war, drought, extreme poverty, and the list goes on and on.  This is one of those books, like Gone with the Wind, that really shows a nation’s history…and I don’t feel the series did a very good job of showing that.

I’d love to see this book get redone on screen. It deserves more of a showing than it got.

Movie Adaptation: The Maze Runner

We finally went to see The Maze Runner this afternoon. This is probably my favorite of the big dystopian action trilogies, so I was pumped when I found out they were making a movie out of it. It’s so much different than the others–violence is not the main component. It’s rough in the Glade, sure. But the guys work together as a team, not to save their own skin. And yes, Dashner did include some females, but romance really doesn’t take much of a role. The goals are teamwork and problem solving and thinking outside the box. All really good things to have in a series about a broken world.

The movie did not disappoint. The casting, first of all, was dead on. I’m not even talking about Dylan O’Brien. He made a great Thomas, yeah. But can we talk about Blake Cooper? A more perfect Chuck could not exist in this world. He was sweet and chubby, just like he was supposed to be. And he had the balls he needed to have to back up the rest of the crew. He was one of those best friends every guy needs. I loved him.

Will Pouter as Gally–Yep. If you’ve read the book before you watch this, you know exactly who he is as soon as the box opens. He’s the absolute hard ass he needs to be. Done. Those eyebrows are scary, man.

And Newt? Um. I feel really dirty about much I liked watching Sam from Love Actually run around with leather packs and spears. Who told him he was allowed to grow up and be this fantastic actor? Couldn’t he at least look a LITTLE different than he did as a kid? All jokes aside, Thomas Brodie-Sangster was a perfect fit for the role, and he did a great job.

The landscaping and set up was really interesting. The maze looked amazing–so complex and industrial. The grievers were so freaking scary, and they really nailed the sound effects to go with them. Everything was right on pointe with how I had imagined it, only better.

I had listened to the soundtrack before seeing the movie, so I already knew it was brilliant. It was hard not to be revved up about it though…James Dashner had been talking about it for weeks on Twitter. If you thought John Green was an author excited about his movie–you should follow Dashner. That guy doesn’t stop. He’s absolutely giddy about this series coming out, and for very good reasons.

Movie Adaptation: This is Where I Leave You

When it’s my turn to choose the movie on date night, I will almost always pick a movie that originated in a book. And I will almost always read the book before I go to the theater. I don’t think I need an award for it, but I think you get way more out of a movie if you have read all the little details first.

And so, I’m going to start another segment on the blog that isn’t strictly book related, but I want to discuss the book-based movies that are popping up with regularity. I’ll mark them, so you know it’s not the book I’m referring to. I’ll post the differences, the similarities. Note that I’m writing this with the assumption that you’ve read the book….so these will contain spoilers. Still, I’ll post a spoiler alert at the top. If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read the post.

And, on we go.

 

I’ll be honest, when I saw the cast line up for This is Where I Leave You, I was displeased. My interpretation of the book was more dark and depressing than dramadey. Jason Batemen…ok. He can be awkward and dry, but I was skeptical. The entire time I was reading, I heard John Cusack in my head and it was going to be really hard to follow that up. He was the perfect image of awkwardly cute and sad in my mind. Batemen was just a little to…I dunno…clean?

Jane Fonda. Perfect mom. I wasn’t worried about her at all. That casting was dead on.

But then there was Tina Fey for Wendy. WHAT?! Noooooooooo. Wendy is not a funny character. She’s a depressed alcoholic with an asshole husband. Don’t get me wrong. I love Tina Fey. I think she’s a brilliant comedienne. But I just knew she was going to ruin this character. I wasn’t going to be able to take the movie seriously with her in that role. It was going to be awful.

I was so doubtful that I told my husband that I wanted to skip it and just wait until it came out to DVD. I really wanted to see Maze Runner last night.

But, we really wanted to try out the 21+ recliner theater last night, and Maze Runner is a young adult movie. So, we saw This instead. And I was way wrong. It was really great.

Now, it definitely is a dramadey. It’s not as depressing as I interpreted the book. But, it’s not, by any means, a romcom. There’s a lot of family turmoil in this movie, as you’d expect. And Tina Fey? She nails it.

I still don’t see Jason Batemen as my Judd, but he did a good job. I dug the beard.

They did really downplay Horry’s role, which I was upset about. He was much more of a part of the book, and he was almost background noise in the movie. He’s there, but you hardly see him.

Overall, though, I think this was a pretty good movie adaptation. Is it a good date movie? Maybe…if you’ve been together awhile. Not so much for a first or second. It’s a little hard on relationships. I probably won’t rush out to buy it, but might rent it on Redbox when it comes out.