Friday, February 22, 2013

A Few More Flicks for Oscar Week

Some other book-to-film quick hits:

The Sound and the Fury, 1959

Starring Yule Brynner and Joanne Woodward, this may be one of the worst adaptations known to man. It’s been a long, long time since I waded through Faulkner’s masterpiece, but even after almost twenty years I could immediately see that the film version bears little resemblance to the book. Remember that Stream of Consciousness section told from the perspective of Benjy that you hated in high school? Good news! None of it made it onto the silver screen. The section about Quentin away at school? That’s not there either. The section about Dilsey, the black servant? Nope. The only portion of the book they even tried to cover was the drama between Jason and Quentin (Caddy’s daughter, not her brother.) And it’s a pretty boring movie to boot.

Tender is the Night, 1962

Jason Robards and Jennifer Jones play Dick and Nicole Diver in this so-so adaptation of Fitzgerald’s famous novel. The film gets kudos for following the main arc of the story, from meeting Rosemary Hoyt on the beach and the Divers’ many parties to the couple’s eventual break-up and the slow doling out of their backstory. But there was so much left out, that will really bother readers who wanted a faithful adaptation. And you don’t get a full sense of the “fall” of Dick Diver as his wife gains mental health and independence. That dynamic is what makes the story so interesting in the first place. Psychiatrist saves/marries his patient, then descends into a kind of madness himself.

Atlas Shrugged (Part I), 2011

I’ll say up front that I liked the idea of bringing this story into the modern day (as a reader I was always a little thrown by clunky terms like “inter-office communicator” that hadn’t yet been shortened to “intercom” when Ayn Rand wrote her book. But the fact railroads still remain the focus of Dagny’s struggle kind of defeats the purpose of modernizing it. I generally liked the casting of Taylor Schilling as Dagny and Grant Bowler as Hank Reardon (pictured above), but this thing is low-budget, and you can tell. It got slammed by critics, though I think that was bound to happen even if Martin Scorsese had been behind the project. It was generally pretty true to the first part of the book, and I’d probably check out parts II and III if I ever got the chance.

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