Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Club... Maybe Some Movies: 7 Word Weekend

New Movie Releases Reviewed in 7 Words Each

Hit and Run - Is that meta humor about ticket prices?

The Apparition - Sounds so stupid it's gotta be good.

Premium Rush - My Suggested Tagline: No, it's not Quicksilver.

Sleepwalk With Me (limited)- Seems like we've been here before somehow.

This is the part where I write words right? Right, write. Am I going mad again? Nay, just trying to figure out if two rights can make a wrong. Apparently the answer is yes. If it were possible to digress, when one hasn't even started, I would have thusly transgressed. 

Harry Harrison recently died, which is a major bummer. One of my favorite Science Fiction authors, he was famous for the Stainless Steel Rat series as well as Soylent Green. He also did a guest post here at TNR reviewing his last book, which was really cool. If you missed that you can check it out HERE.

It started me thinking how there hasn't been a proper adaptation of any of his novels to film. There's been many a filmmaker that's circled around bringing Slippery Jim DiGriz, to theaters, but none of it has ever materialized. There was a board game, but that's hardly the same. Naturally this train of thought led me to other authors who have never had a great adaptation done. 

Donald E. Westlake is another one. He died a few years back. The closest to a good adaptation was Payback, which just isn't the same as it's from Richard Stark, the pseudonym Westlake used for some of his hard crime novels. However Westlake's best works are when he used humor, like in his Dortmunder series. He also was incredibly killer with twists and genius gimmicks. And talk about prolific. With all the various titles the man penned under many different pseudonyms, you'd think Hollywood could get a couple right. 

He's an example of an author who's had many adaptations but few decent ones. My favorite short story writer on the other hand has had few attempts, even if you don't discount the French efforts.

In my opinion, Fredric Brown was the greatest with the twist, even crafting it into such ridiculously short flash fiction, that some stories were practically just well written jokes. He also had a way with humor that few in the golden age of Science Fiction had. To me it's a shame that he's not heralded the same way as other great SF writers are. In an era when hard science fiction reigned, he put forth character driven works. I suspect the downside with him is that his novels are just not as good. They were alright, but they really don't hold a candle to his shorter works. There's one book in particular that collects most of his short stories. It is to that I would challenge anyone to read through and not see the potential for a hundred movies. He's also credited with writing the shortest horror story ever. Here it is: 

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door...

The closest to an good adaptation is the episode in the original Star Trek entitled Arena. Though it wasn't exactly based on the story. It had some shared elements and the same title, so to avoid lawsuit, they credited him. I could continue writing pages on his works, but let's switch gears.

So far I've focused on the late great. Moving on I've always wondered when an adaptation of any of Stephen R. Lawhead's historical fantasy epics would make their way to the silver screen. Since I was little I've always been a King Arthur and Robin Hood geek. I've read so many different takes as well as non-fiction pieces I could fill a library with just those. One of the best, and most rounded stories of King Arthur and Merlin, is found in Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle. It's a sprawling series that starts well before Arthur is even born. He even manages to bring together the two different Merlins that have been documented into one man. Even aside from that series, one of my favorite trilogies hands down is The Song of Albion series, about a Celtic mythic hero in the making. I can't speak to enough how fantastic the writing is.

I suppose the reason he hasn't really transitioned is that he's a Christian writer. Now while I'm a Christian myself, I'll be the first to come down on Christian authors in general. Few of them write compelling stories, ruining it by feeling obligated to add some message to it. Those that write great stories, that just happen to be clean, are rare. He is one of those few exceptions. 

Well... Shall we do the rundown for the week?

The Apparition is the first okay looking horror film out in a few weeks so it should open. It also features Tom Felton. It'll be interesting to see how much of an audience Draco Malfoy attracts as a lead. Just about everyone I've talked to has had the same reaction to Premium Rush. Simply "I'll watch it for Joseph Gordon-Levitt".  While I feel similarly, the movie theater is not the venue for me. Hit and Run... I could care less. It looks like it has the elements for a cult film, but it just hasn't grabbed me in anyway. Sleepwalk With Me is Mike Birbiglia delivering the true comedic story of his disorder. A lot of the material from what I've heard is basically his book and standup just repackaged. I've also heard much love for it. It's a good pick if it's near ya'.

Question of the week, what book have you most wanted to see a good adaptation of?


  1. I wasn't interested in Premium Rush other than the star until I started seeing some great reviews of it.
    I'm still hoping for a big screen treatment of Terry Brooks. Sword of Shannara.
    I'm not a Christian writer, but I am a Christian and my books are clean. Probably not great either, but hey, I did my best.

    1. Alex, I know you're a Christian, and you are a great writer. I thought of you when I was writing that and wondered if I should be more specific. I'm speaking specifically to those authors who are aiming at the Christian market.

  2. I'm thinking that I won't be seeing any of these movies anytime soon. Maybe when they are free.

    I hadn't heard that Harry Harrison died. That's too bad. The book actually wasn't titled Soylent Green though. The name of it was Make Room, Make Room. I read it a looooong time ago!

  3. I love Mike Birbiglia. I've heard snippets of his 'Sleepwalk With Me' on youtube, it is really funny; I think I would be interested in it, but only because I haven't actually read the book or whatnot, if it is as repackaged as you think it is.

  4. I cannot think of a snarky comment to leave. My mind is a blank. Something about sandwiches popped into my head but it didn't make any sense. Now I want a sandwich for lunch.

  5. I have two new authors to check out now! I added a note in my phone (so I'll have it with me next time I'm at half price books) on Fredric Brown (short stories book) and The Song of Albion.

    Oh and I agree about Terry Brooks above. My brother loved his books, and at his recommendation I read them in middle school, and that's actually what first interested me in reading. I'm reading one of his right now, actually.


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