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books to movies

Ann Patchett’s “Bel Canto” Now an Operatic Movie

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In Italian, “bel canto” means “beautiful singing.” Readers of Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel, Bel Canto (Harper Perennial) could only imagine the music that is so crucial to its plot. No longer. The romantic thriller now has an operatic soundtrack of classic arias. The new movie version, in wide release Sept. 14, stars Julianne Moore as world-renowned opera singer Roxane Coss, with a voice supplied by world-renowned opera singer Renee Fleming. And what an operatic plot it is. A powerful Japanese industrialist has been invited to a birthday celebration in an unnamed South American country. Because the country’s government wants him to build a large manufacturing plant there, and because he is a lover of opera, he has been lured to the…

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4 Bestselling Authors Share Thoughts On Movie Adaptations

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Dedicated readers understand the emotional connection with a book you love, and the piece of your soul that is invested long after you turn the final page. Many can relate to a paternalistic instinct of pride or defense when anyone brings up this title. Whether you are ready to effuse on its brilliance or bitterly smother out the naysayers, you have the agency to speak on this topic with authority. However, when it comes to turning books into movies, the adaptation is out of your power. While the book fan typically rejoices, there’s also trepidation over how filmmakers might alter the original goods. Readers, and the authors themselves, have strong opinions and limited if any influence on how books are…

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Waiting for Tulip Fever? Historical Novels We’d Love to See on the Big Screen

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When we heard that Tulip Fever, Deborah Moggach’s charming historical novel was going to be made into a movie, we did a little dance. And maybe even squealed out loud. Sure, it was embarrassing, but the book is just that good. Set during “tulipomania” in Amsterdam in the 1630s, it tells the story of Sophia Sandvoort, a beautiful young woman married to an older man. But when her husband commissions their portrait, Sophia ends up having an affair with the handsome painter, complicating all of their lives. Needless to say, we’ve been excited for Tulip Fever, starring Alicia Vikander and Dane DeHaan, all year long. Then we saw the trailer and we may have done another little dance. Romantic and moody…

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The Haunting of Sunshine Girl–a metaphor for a media-savvy world

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As both a reviewer and an author, sometimes I wonder: are books ever just books anymore? There’s a huge trend lately to create multimedia works, turning novels interactive, or creating books out of blogs. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. As a lover of all things pop culture, I’ll take my stories served to me any way I can get them. Which is why I was so intrigued when I discovered Paige McKenzie’s The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (Weinstein Books, 2015). Even just as a book it sounds intriguing: the tight bond between sixteen-year-old Sunshine and her mother, Kat, is tested when they move across the country and into a house that Sunshine is sure is haunted. Kat doesn’t…

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From Insurgent to Fallen — Do you know your heroines?

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As a hardcore fan of young adult novels, I’m pretty well versed in my YA heroines. But the other day I was talking to a friend about the new Insurgent movie coming out this week, and how I can’t wait to see it. “Wait, isn’t that the one with the deadly games?” he asked. “That’s The Hunger Games,” I answered. “Oh, so this is the one with the maze?” “No,” I told him, “you’re thinking of the Maze Runner.” “Then what about that one where the girl has cancer?” This is about where I gave up on the conversation. I get it. There are a lot of YA books out there, and lately tons of them are getting made into…

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End Black History Month with some great lit-inspired movies

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It is no secret that this Bookish Diva (as well as her fellow members of the Nerd Squad) loves a good book-to-movie adaptation. And with Black History Month coming to a close, what better time to watch some great films highlighting portions of the black experience. But don’t limit them to one month a year—they’re great entertainment anytime. Lady Sings the Blues (1972; R; 144 min) based on Lady Sings the Blues by Billie Holliday and William Duffy Glamorous tragedy doggedly followed Billie Holiday, as played by Diana Ross. Not afraid to put the demons that haunted her on display, Lady Sings the Blues captured the triumphs and calamities of one of Black America’s most revered icons.   Cotton Comes…

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How novels have scored with Oscar voters since the beginning

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With Oscar night fast approaching, the usual questions fill the air as film junkies scramble to fill out their mock ballots. Will Boy(hood) or Bird(man) triumph on Sunday? The real votes are already cast so only the Academy (and those people with the steel briefcases from Price Waterhouse Cooper) know for sure. But sometimes it’s fun to look back at Oscar history to try to gauge trends, particularly for people who, when they’re not watching movies, can usually be found reading books. Since the Oscars began in 1927, 36 Best Picture winners have been adapted from novels, short stories, or novellas. Now, before you start arguing about specifics, here’s how that count was determined: plays (sorry, Shakespeare), musicals, and any…

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Is Gone with the Wind a classic or a chestnut from a more prejudiced time?

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This February marks the 75th anniversary of Gone with the Wind’s 1940 all-out Oscars grab. That year, the film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography in Color, and Best Writing/Screenplay. Additionally, Victor Fleming took an Oscar home for Best Director. Vivien Leigh, who played Scarlett O’Hara, won Best Actress in a Leading Role. And, most importantly, given the film’s backdrop of America’s Civil War and Reconstruction eras, Hattie McDaniel took home an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, making her the first African American to be nominated for and win an Academy Award. With the 2015 Oscars right around the corner, Gone with the Wind—a film often categorized as…

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Best Adapted Screenplay: From the printed page to the silver screen

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Oscar may be all about the movies, but he’s got a soft spot for writers as well. Every year, as Hollywood’s favorite statuettes are handed out, there’s a moment when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honors the writers upon whom the entire film industry depends. After all, every movie starts with a writer tapping out a screenplay, without which the screens in your local theater would remain forever blank. Some of these scripts are written directly for the big screen. Many films, however, have their roots in other sources, including books. Some of the most important books ever written by some of the greatest writers of all time have been adapted into films. In fact, the minds…

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When the printed word inspired Best Visual Effects Oscars

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The act of reading, it’s been said, is like a vivid and continuous dream. As the reader’s eyes scan the page (or the computer screen), the words disappear, and the imagination constructs the world being conveyed by the author. Wondrous settings, fantastic beings and acts that are impossible to achieve in the real world unfold before the mind’s eye. How, then, are these flights of fancy recreated on the movie screen? For generations, that task has fallen to motion picture visual effects artists. These artisans and technicians, working in concert with directors, have been responsible for bringing that which can only be imagined to life. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have been handing out Oscars for Best…

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Oscar loves to read! Movies based on books score big

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I went to bed in my tux Wednesday night just so I’d be ready for Thursday morning’s announcements of the Academy Award nominations. And while I woke up a little rumpled, I was happy to see that a host of movies adapted from books will be looking to go home with Hollywood’s favorite golden boy when the Oscars are handed out on February 22. Clearly, Oscar’s big favorite this year is Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which garnered nine nominations, including nods for Best Picture, Best Actor (Golden Globe award winner Michael Keaton), and Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton). While not based on a book per se, Birdman owes much of its plot to the wave of comic…

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From Into the Woods to Grimm, fairy tales get real

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The term “realistic fairy tale” gets thrown around a lot these days, used to describe gritty books or movies that take a Disney-style fairy tale and un-Disney it. For an example, look no further than the soon-to-be-released movie musical Into the Woods. The first act is all traditional fantasy tales, told as you expect them to be told. But, by the second act, reality has taken hold and fairy tale characters are learning to deal with loss and betrayal. Or take a movie like Ever After, which tells the “realistic” story of Cinderella. There’s no magic here, only a poor girl who meets a rich prince and falls in love. She has mud on her hem and ideas about social…

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Your favorite classic holiday movies started as books

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Holiday practices such as the Christmas tree, caroling, and exchanging gifts are rooted in traditions that go back generations. But for people of the modern age, there’s a new tradition without which the holiday season would be incomplete: gathering the family around the television and watching our favorite Christmas movies. Most of these beloved stories have their roots on the printed page. So this year, instead of switching on the cable box or firing up the DVD player, how about enjoying some Christmas the old school way? Pour some eggnog for your family, light a fire in the fireplace, and read from these holiday classics. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (Various editions) The undisputed king of Christmas stories, Dickens’…

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The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies says farewell to Middle Earth

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Aloha, hobbits. Arrivaderci, elves. Au revoir, orcs. Auf wiedersehen, wizards. Sayonara, Shire. Hasta Manana, Middle-Earth. I guess what we’re trying to say is — ta-ta, Tolkien films. It’s with heavy hearts that we make the long and perilous journey to the local megaplex theater in the heart of the Shopping Mall of Doom, all the while battling malevolent Hordes of Holiday Shoppers, so that we can bear witness to Peter Jackson’s final J.R.R. Tolkien film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which opens Wednesday. “Final?” you say. “It can’t be the final Tolkien film. What about The Silmarillion? Or other, less well-known Tolkien works, like The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, or The Fall of Arthur? Surely, Jackson…

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Harry Potter: The Creature Vault reveals the origins of J.K. Rowling’s fantastic beasts

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(Beware: Ahead spoilers be!) Ladies and gents, it’s honesty hour. I am a fraud of a Potterhead. Dobby forgive me, I watched the movies before I read the books. In fact, I did not see the light until very late, like Deathly Hallows Part I late. Do not judge me. I did not endure the heartbreak that was the Battle of the Department of Mysteries for you to judge me. A great part of the allure of the world of Harry Potter is its mystical, majestic and sometimes menacing creatures. Dame J.K. Rowling painted vivid images of creatures like the grindylows and their fellow lake dwellers the merpeople.  The books’ illustrations gave us just a glimpse into the magnificence of…

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10 Pop culture things to be thankful for this year

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Thanksgiving is this week and most of us will spend the next few days stuffing our faces, watching football, and trying to avoid that weird great aunt who’s always asking about your love life. But this is also the holiday where we have a chance to look back over the past year and reflect on what we’re thankful for. Sure, that list includes family and friends and all that, but what about those pop culture moments that we still can’t stop obsessing over? From marriages to movies, here are 10 pop culture things to be thankful for this year: 1. Jamie’s Abs Some of us have been waiting years, and I mean years, for Outlander to make it to the…

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