Thursday, February 27, 2014

Guest post by Spencer Blohm - From the Pages to the Pictures.

Hollywood turning to literature for stories is no new phenomenon. As long as film has existed, so has the movie adaptation of novels. Some of Hollywood’s adaptations have been fantastic, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Godfather, and Schindler’s List to name a few. 

Unfortunately, it seems the bad ones are frequently the ones people remember most (who can forget the weird attempt to sex up 1995’s The Scarlet Letter?). Well, as per usual, there are a slew of book-to-film adaptations preparing for premiere in 2014. It’s only the end of February and already Vampire Academy, Labor Day, and The Monuments Men have all been released in theaters. That being said, there are some that look promising, so let’s take a look at a few of the films that are already showing potential.

            Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are teaming up, yet again, for his gritty adaptation of the book of the same name by Ron Rash. The team play Serena and George Pemberton, a couple attempting to create a lumber empire in North Carolina during the Great Depression. The film documents Serena’s personal and mental struggles after she learns of her inability to have children and the couple becomes increasingly ruthless in their quest to make a fortune.

            The film was actually shot in 2012, right after Silver Linings Playbook finished, but director Susanne Bier was so meticulous about the editing that it was only just shopped around to distributors late last year. The anticipation for this film seems to come from both Cooper’s and Lawrence’s fan bases, and should surely pick up even more soon, since the film is set to be released in April. I would expect it to be a successful film, given both actors’ past successes as well as the fact that Bier has previously been awarded an Oscar for her work.

The Fault in Our Stars
            Based on the 2012 novel by John Green, this film will tell the story of Hazel, a sixteen-year-old cancer patient. While undergoing treatment for her Stage 4 thyroid cancer, her parents force her to participate in a support group for other teenages fighting the disease. It’s there she meets Augustus Waters, who lost a leg to osteosarcoma and is currently in remission. The two of them develop a friendship, which eventually evolves into a romance. Hazel fights her urge to pull away from Augustus to spare him any future pain if she loses her fight to cancer.

            Star-on-the-rise Shailene Woodley (who is no stranger to film adaptations after starring in both The Spectacular Now and the soon to be released Divergent) will perform the role of Hazel and Ansel Elgort (also starring in Divergent) will play Augustus. In addition to these two, Laura Dern will take the role of Hazel’s mother and Willem Dafoe will join the cast as Peter Van Houten, a Dutch author who befriends the duo.

            Fans have been incredibly enthusiastic about the upcoming film as evidenced by these tweets compiled by ViralHeat. At least these fans know exactly what kind of tearjerker they’re in for when it arrives in theaters, and will hopefully come prepared with some extra tissues to share.

The Giver
            It’s taken an incredible 20 years to get Lois Lowry’s The Giver from the page to the screen. After its 1993 publication, film rights to the young adult novel were purchased by, of all people, Bill Cosby. As things in Hollywood go the production was bogged down by pre-production issues that delayed the making for two decades. Luckily, the film is set to be released in August with a superstar cast and heavy anticipation.

            The now almost-classic book tells the story of a dystopian society called the “Community” where residents give up basic human rights, like choosing your spouse or procreation, in exchange for never having to feel any negative emotions. While it may seem like a utopia of sorts, the dark truth comes out when Jonas, a youngster in the community, is assigned the role of Receiver of Memory during his Ceremony of Twelve. What he discovers while working with his mentor, the Giver, will change both him and the Community forever.

            The role of Jonas was given to Australian actor Brenton Thwaites, who is an emerging talent in Hollywood and has already gained fame in his native Australia. His parents are played by Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes, while the role of Rosemary, the former Receiver of Memory, was surprisingly given to Taylor Swift. Oscar winners Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep pack the real punch in this cast, as they will be playing the Giver and Chief Elder, respectively.

            The reaction online has been both positive and negative. Many people have expressed their excitement at the decision to have Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges playing two of the most important characters in the book, while many others have voiced their grievances at Taylor Swift being cast in such a titular role.

Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.


Bark At The Ghouls said...

I'm afraid I'll have to wait for DVD release for The Fault In Our Stars. I can't bring myself to face that heartache in a theater full of strangers. I cried all the way through Marley and Me so this one will probably do me in.

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