Archive for the ‘Adaptations’ Category

  • Book Review: The Man Who Seduced Hollywood


    Title: The Man Who Seduced Hollywood: The Life and Loves of Greg Bautzer, Tinseltown’s Most Powerful Lawyer
    Written by: B. James Gladstone
    Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2013)
    Page Count: 352 (hardcover)


    Google his name and there are nearly 200,000 results. That’s a significant amount of modern interest for a Hollywood lawyer who died before the internet, as we now know it, spread across America.

    Then again, when a lawyer had connections to Hollywood elite such as Howard Hughes, Ingrid Bergman, Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, Kirk Kerkorian, and Bugsy Siegel, as well being as a Hollywood ladies man confirmed or rumored to be involved with beautiful actresses as diverse as Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, and Peggy Lee, maybe it’s not much of a surprise.

    So goes to story of Hollywood lawyer Greg Bautzer. The biography is written by B. James Gladstone, who is the executive vice president of business and legal affairs for Lionsgate Entertainment. He is a talented and technical writer who likely used his connections to research and weave together the extraordinary tale of this extraordinary attorney.

    Like much of the Hollywood lifestyle, the story of Bautzer appears glamorous on the surface and is portrayed as such in the biography. There is the Brown Derby and Hollywood stars. Sex and alcohol. Gangsters and courtrooms. Yet, whether intentional or not, there is a sadness to the story of Bautzer, whose relationships, both romantic and platonic, are more often than not centered around money, greed, ego, and self-interest.

    In many ways, this books seems a perfect fit for a film adaptation. One can imagine Martin Scorsese behind the camera capturing the romanticized life of Bautzer while not shying away from his complexity while recreating all the glamorous highs and tragic lows of his life. I think DiCaprio resembles him enough that it could work. Clear your schedule, Leo. And hey, if this happens, Mr. Scorsese, all I ask for is a Special Thanks in the credits.

    If you’re interested at all in old-school Hollywood, this book was written with you in mind.

    You can purchase the hardback or e-book on Amazon or, as always, check your local library.

  • Guy Ritchie Merges Indie with Hollywood Again


    In recent years Guy Ritchie has swapped his indie film making roots for mainstream. With a successful slew of Sherlock films in the bag, he has somehow managed to not be too heavily influenced by Hollywood and continues to bring his own unique brand of directing and producing to the big screen. Now it seems that Ritchie’s relationship with Hollywood big guns, Warner Bros, is ongoing as it has been announced that he will produce the film adaptation of Thomas Kelly’s 2006 novel, “Empire Rising.”

    Once famous for being married to Madonna, Ritchie struck gold when he released Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels followed by Snatch, both of which became cult classics and were met with rave reviews. His subsequent attempts at shifting his filmmaking to focus on his then-wife failed dismally and the feature film, Swept Away was panned globally by critics. Subsequent movies RocknRolla and film work on prestigious ad campaigns with “Nike” helped rebuild his reputation and his smash, 2009, box office hit Sherlock Holmes saw him regain some good press. Since 2009, Warner Bros. has released every movie Ritchie has made, successfully combining his gritty indie style with a more glam Hollywood production angle.

    For Ritchie, this latest Warner Bros. collaboration is like hitting the jackpot at as it features an epically staged love triangle set during the construction of New York’s Empire State Building in the depression era of 1930’s. It’s exactly the fodder Ritchie loves to sink his teeth into and it’s made even more attractive by the fact that the novels writer, Thomas Kelly will provide the screenplay.

    Ritchie’s current project is also a Warner Bros. feature and filming for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has yet to commence. It looks like filming for Empire Rising will begin only after the spy series hits theatres next year. Warner Bros. obviously has a lot of faith in Ritchie’s ability and his talent at keeping the box office hits coming.

    The transition from indie producer to relevant Hollywood film maker is not an easy one and I think Ritchie has managed to find an ideal balance whilst still staying semi-true to his roots. He’s creating solid films which offer a great cinematic experience and he keeps the indie buzz going whilst capturing the mainstream audience’s attention.

  • Trailer: The Monuments Men


    Dare I say instant classic?

    I know, I know. Sometimes I get a little carried away. I get a little swept up in the moment. It’s a bad habit. But the evidence here just might support my case. With The Monuments Men, director, writer, and star George Clooney decided to focus on a less glamorous aspect of World War II: the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program enacted by the Allied Powers. It’s likely a story that left studio heads shrugging and asking, “But where are the battles?” (See Clooney’s epic rant from earlier in this week). In more ways than one, this seems like an updated take on John Frankenheimer’s 1964 The Train, starring Burt Lancaster.

    Clooney has brought together a top-rate cast that includes himself, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, and Jean Dujardin. Lest we forget, he has a pretty good track record behind the camera: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night and Good Luck were near masterpieces and Leatherheads and The Ideas of March both were solid.

    And the trailer has me sold. The Monuments Men looks downright awesome and appears to be a really fun movie, which is not usually something that can be said about a movie set in WWII.

    The film hits theaters on December 18, 2013. Check out the trailer below!

  • Trailer: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


    What a remarkable trailer. That was my first thought after watching the preview for Ben Stiller’s adaptation of the 1939 short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Evoking plenty of emotion with its not-so-subtle use of the song “Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men, the trailer does an excellent job of showing, rather than using a bunch of dissected and rearranged dialogue and cheesy voiceovers as a means of telling. Perhaps like Walter Mitty’s story, this film will be more about the journey than anything.

    Ben Stiller has also stepped behind the camera for this one. From Reality Bites to The Cable Guy to Zoolander and Tropic Thunder, Stiller has never disappointed me as a director. He has a unique eye, with a deliberate blend of humor, drama, and the absurd – which admittedly rubs some people the wrong way, but has always worked for me.

    The movie’s screenplay was adapted by Steve Conrad (The Weather Man, The Pursuit of Happyness), of which the seems to have the same sort of melancholy, introspective tone. It also co-stars Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Patton Oswalt, Sean Penn, Shirley MacLaine.

    The Secret Life of Walter Mitty hits North American theaters on December 25, 2013.

    What do you think of the trailer? Does it work for you?

  • Trailer: Romeo and Juliet



    Romeo and Juliet, written by some dude named Shakespeare (from my in-depth research for writing this article, I’ve discovered that this Shakespeare cat was actually a guy named Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, according to a 2011 movie by Roland Emmerich), has been adapted for the big screen so many times, it actually has its own Wikipedia page describing them all.

    The 1968 version directed by Franco Zeffirelli is probably the best known, followed by the ultra-zany 1996 version from director Baz Luhrmann (where he replaced the “and” with a “+”), but there are countless others for those who just can get enough of these two naive and, frankly, stupid teenagers who thought they were in love because they couldn’t get their raging hormones under control.

    For those who have been turned off by the complex sentence structure in Shakespeare’s writing, there are plenty of films that draw their inspiration from it, including West Side Story, Romeo Must Die, Tromeo and Juliet, Warm Bodies, and High School Musical. A personal favorite is the animated 1979 Romie-0 and Julie-8, about two androids from rival robotics firms who fall in love (you can watch this masterpiece of animation right here – no need to thank me).

    With all that said, do we need a new adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Well, nobody cares what you think anyway, as long as the masses pay the ticket price to see it and high school English teachers purchase the DVD to show their classes. Either way, frankly, it’s been quite some time since a traditional take on the story has been made.

    I don’t really have much interest in the movie itself, but I am extremely interested in seeing Hailee Steinfeld in her first role since True Grit, in which she gave an astonishing performance which secured her an Oscar nomination. The rest of the cast is worth noting also: Paul Giamatti, Stellan Skarsgård, Damian Lewis, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natascha McElhone, and plenty of young fresh faces round it out.

    So while I have very little interest in a story that I’ve seen played out over and over and over (and I think the 1968 version holds up very well), I am eager to see Steinfeld back on the screen. By the looks of the trailer, she will continue to impress.

    The movie hit theaters on July 26, 2013 in the UK with a September 6, 2013 release in the states.

    Which version of this classic tale of young and dumb love is your favorite? Are you looking forward to this new version?

  • Chuck Palahniuk writing a sequel to Fight Club.



    This isn’t really movie news, but it could eventually lead to some. Today, Chuck Palahniuk announced at ComicCon (and on his Twitter) that he is writing a sequel to what is probably his most popular novel: Fight Club. He also announced that it will be a graphic novel, rather than a traditional one, and he has been meeting with artists from Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse.

    Here is how Palahniuk described the story of this surprising sequel:

    It will likely be a series of books that update the story ten years after the seeming end of Tyler Durden. Nowadays, Tyler is telling the story, lurking inside Jack, and ready to launch a come-back. Jack is oblivious. Marla is bored. Their marriage has run aground on the rocky coastline of middle-aged suburban boredom. It’s only when their little boy disappears, kidnapped by Tyler, that Jack is dragged back into the world of Mayhem. It will, of course, be dark and messy.

    Love it or hate it, Fight Club is a massively important American film of the 90s. In 2008, Empire Magazine ranked Fight Club as the tenth Greatest Movie of All-Time. While that’s a stretch, it was an enjoyable movie and a particularly important one to me as a teenager.

    Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, the film grossed over $100 million dollars worldwide, was adored by critics, and in the years since it’s initial release, it’s gained quite the cult following. Frat boys all around the U.S. started telling their friends to hit them as hard as they could and rednecks around the world started their own fight clubs which the subsequently told everyone about. Both groups, of course, seemingly missed the not-so-subtle messages of the film.

    It will be interesting to see where Mr. Palahniuk takes the story of the Narrator and Tyler Durden with this graphic novel and if there will be talks of adapting it for the big screen, especially considering Fight Club’s success. I’m not personally excited for this story. While there was a time that I enjoyed Palahniuk’s writing, mostly when I was a teenager, the older that I get, the less that I care for his stories and writing style. The last book of his that I read, 2011′s Damned, was infuriatingly awful.

    What do you think of this news? Are you excited for a sequel? What do you think of the choice of making it a graphic novel? Would you like to see a Fincher-Norton-Pitt reunion? Chime in!

  • Ron Howard in talks to adapt Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.


    Back in April, it was reported that Disney acquired the rights to Neil Gaiman’s fantastic children’s novel The Graveyard Book. When it was announced, Henry Selick – the stop-motion director behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Coraline – was set to direct what would be another stop-motion film. Somewhere along the way, the project fell apart or Disney lost confidence.

    But the project is seeing new life, according to the Hollywood Reporter, this time with Ron Howard in negotiations to direct what will be a live-action adaptation.

    This is great news, of course. The Graveyard Book is the best children’s novel I’ve read since Harry Potter – and in many ways, it was a much more enjoyable read for me. The book follows a young boy named Nobody Owens who is taken in and raised by the inhabitants of an old graveyard after his family is brutally murdered by a man named Jack. Ghosts from all centuries, vampires, werewolves, and a variety of ghouls make up the rich cast of characters where it is the supernatural who fear the humans – not the other way around. It’s thrilling and scary and genuinely touching, hitting on some very mature themes and beautifully exploring the trials and tribulations that come with growing up.

    The book also won both the Carnegie and Newbery medals for best children’s book.

    Have you read the book? If so, what do you think of Howard behind the camera? And are you relieved or bummed that the film will be live-action rather than stop-motion?

  • Looney Tunes to be rebooted as ‘a hybrid live-action/CG film’


    According to Hollywood Reporter, Looney Tunes is set to be “rebooted” by Warner Bros. with former SNL scribe Jenny Slate and some Harry Potter producer on board to make it happen.

    For many of us who are 25+, Looney Tunes is sacred. Still, we can already admit that they were shit on in 2003′s Back in Action and whatever Cartoon Network tried to do with its recent Looney Tunes Show, which was like a Friends version of Bugs, Daffy, and pals, but hell, if Warner Bros. further shits on these characters and makes the next Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, well… well… I’ll probably Tweet something very angrily about it. So, take that Warner Bros.

  • Five (Additional) Novels Hollywood Needs to Adapt


    Back in 2007, when the third row was just in it’s infancy, I wrote an article titled Five Novels I Want to See Adapted. So far, the only one actually filmed and coming to theaters is The Great Gatsby and I can only assume Baz Luhrman decided to pursue such an ambitious project because he read it (he even took on my suggestion of casting Leonardo DiCaprio, although I had him more in mind for Nick Carraway at the time). Adaptations of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian have been discussed in the years since, but nothing has actually come to life. A couple of years later, I decided on six more books that I wanted to see adapted. Again, due to my influence, Hollywood took note and has moved forward in the production of The Graveyard Book, based on Neil Gaiman’s bestselling young adult novel.

    Now, dear readers (and Hollywood producers), I have come to you with five more novels that must make their way onto the big screen in the coming years. Like before, I don’t ask for much, only a “Special Thanks” in the credits.

    Gun, With Occasional Music
    by Jonathan Lethem

    I think it’s best described as Blade Runner meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit? written by Raymond Chandler. In a near dystopian future, evolution therapy has made it possible to skip childhood – but it’s also provided animals with advanced intelligence. Populations are controlled with mind-altering drugs and it’s illegal to ask questions to anyone without a proper (and nearly impossible to get) inquisition license. In this world, Private Inquisitor Conrad Metcalf finds himself being trailed by a trigger-happy kangaroo after a solemn rabbit makes a case to Metcalf that he has been framed for murder. The book is a pulpy, goofy noir that was made to be adapted for the big screen. It’d be ambitious. It’d be weird. But in the right hands (someone like Duncan Jones), it could be pulled off.

    While reading, I couldn’t help but picture Bogart in the role of Metcalf, but I could easily picture someone like Daniel Craig or Michael Fassbender in the role. Get Doug Jones to don some suits created by the minds behind Pan’s Labyrinth and we’d have ourselves an instant classic. With witticisms like “Tell him next time he wants to talk to me, don’t send a marsupial,” I don’t know how any filmmaker could resist.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Gorgeous first trailer for Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina”


    It’s no secret that I love Joe Wright’s work and as much as I loved Hanna, it’s going to take more than on really great action thriller to convince me that period dramas, and more specifically period dramas based on acclaimed novels, aren’t Wright’s calling. He can take all the time he needs and test any waters he might as long as he comes back to the period drama because few directors today seem to handle the material quite as well as Wright does.

    It remains to be seen if Anna Karenina, an adaptation of of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel no less, will be just as wonderful as most of Wright’s previous projects but the first trailer certainly suggests as much. The project is adapted by Oscar winner Tom Stoppard and re-unites Wright’s muse Keira Knightley with Matthew Macfadyen and adds the likes of Kelly Macdonald, Jude Law, Emily Watson and Aaron Johnson (the Kick-Ass star seems the odd-man out until you consider his filmography and realise that actually Kick-Ass seemed less in line with his other work though it is what most people know him for).

    It’s lush, it’s gorgeous, the music soars, the costumes shine, Knightley looks beaten, Law looks angry and Johnson seems to be filling the role of heartbreaker to a tee. Even more so than Wright’s previous projects, watching this trailer I was reminded of the old romantic epics I love so much. Yes, I thought of Gone with the Wind but what it mostly reminds me of is David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (interesting bit of useless trivia: in 2002, Knightley starred in a TV adaptation of “Doctor Zhivago.”). Basically, this looks glorious.

    Anna Karenina will break our hearts on November 9th.

  • Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book to be adapted by Disney.


    A while back, I wrote a post about six novels that I wanted to see adapted. One of my choices was Neil Gaiman’s 2008 fantasy children’s novel The Graveyard Book, in which I said it was “only a matter of time before somebody gets this thing made for the big screen” and when it did it would be “huge.” Now, as Disney has finally acquired the rights to adapt what is an absolute classic in children’s fiction, I am convinced that it will be even bigger than I initially imagined.

    Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman’s story follows a young boy named Nobody who is taken in and raised by the inhabitants of an old graveyard after the brutal murder of his family. Ghosts from all centuries, vampires, werewolves, and a variety of ghouls make up the rich cast of characters where it is the supernatural who fear the humans – not the other way around. It’s thrilling and scary and genuinely touching, hitting on some very mature themes and beautifully exploring the trials and tribulations that come with growing up.

    The adaptation will be directed by Henry Selick, who is primarily a stop motion director having directed The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and a prior adaptation of Gaiman’s work with Coraline – so it’s pretty safe to assume that this will also follow that trend. All I can say is that I am really looking forward to this one.

    Have you read The Graveyard Book? What are your thoughts on an adaptation? Would it translate better as live-action rather than stop motion? Chime in below!

  • Six (More) Novels I’d Like to See Adapted


    Back in 2007, I wrote up a little something discussing five novels that I would love to see adapted for the big screen. Despite the influence of my opinion in Hollywood, not one of those has made it to the big screen yet – although two of them (Blood Meridian, The Dark Tower) are in the works and one was, but fizzled out (East of Eden). Here is my latest batch of recommendations. Studios, all I ask for is a “Special Thanks” and a producer credit. Maybe a lead role.

    As always, leave your own thoughts and recommendations in the comments.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

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