September 6, 2015

So, after over a year, I finally went to the movies.

I was fated to go, as I told you last May — "I'm excited about it — even though I almost never go to the movies — because I love the book..." — and again last week — "I've listened to [Bill Bryson's] 'A Walk in the Woods' hundreds of times. And I will go out and see that movie as soon as I can, even though I haven't gone out to see one single movie in over a year."

And now, I've gone and done it. Seen a movie. Because I love the book. Because I, like millions before me, imagined that I would, through the magic of movies, really get to see what heretofore I'd only half seen — in the mind's eye. In my mind's eye, before I went to the movie, I saw the movie and it looked more vivid and real and panoramic than what the book made me see in my mind's eye. But now, I have seen that movie, and I know that what I saw on the screen was so far less than what the book made me see in my mind that I feel like a fool for not already knowing well, of course!

There are so many shots I could take at this movie. Robert Redford is too old — 79, when Bryson, in the book, is 44. The script departs from the story in the book in ways that are stupid and in ways that would might have been delightful if the movie, as originally planned, had reunited Redford with Paul Newman. There was intentional resonance with things like this:



But Newman died, and Nick Nolte took his place, and while I was amused by the I-think-intentional resonance with this...



... I was annoyed by all the forced buddy-pic humor that replaced the relationship that Bill Bryson described in the book. I expected the film to have the 2 men talking a lot, though in the book, it's quite clear that the men barely ever talk. But the banter was either boringly stupid — not the people in the theater didn't laugh on every cue — or stupidly profound — such as looking at the stars and deciding that we are very small. If only you could look at the protons, you could decide that you are quite huge. Or just read Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything:" and he'll make you see it in your mind's eye:
No matter how hard you try you will never be able to grasp just how tiny, how spatially unassuming, is a proton. It is just way too small. A proton is an infinitesimal part of an atom, which is itself of course an insubstantial thing. Protons are so small that a little dib of ink like the dot on this “i” can hold something in the region of 500,000,000,000 of them, or rather more than the number of seconds it takes to make half a million years. So protons are exceedingly microscopic, to say the very least.
"In my mind's eye" comes from Shakespeare. Here's a block of text from another Bill Bryson book, "Shakespeare":
Just a small sampling of phrases originally found in Shakespeare’s works include flesh and blood, bated breath, tower of strength, foul play, foregone conclusion, good riddance, dead as a doornail, fool’s paradise, heart of gold, Greek to me, fancy-free, devil incarnate, one fell swoop, for goodness’ sake, vanish into thin air, play fast and loose, eaten me out of house and home, elbow room, go down the primrose path, in a pickle, budge an inch, cold comfort, household word, full circle, salad days, in my heart of hearts, in my mind’s eye, laughing stock, love is blind, lie low, naked truth, neither rhyme nor reason, star-crossed lovers, pitched battle, pound of flesh, sea change, make short shrift, spotless reputation, set my teeth on edge, there’s the rub, too much of a good thing, what the dickens, and wild goose chase.
Must I get back to my list of many shots I can take at the movie "A Walk in the Woods"? They added sexual things (even though the movie is generally overly, stupidly "family friendly"). There was a sequence — completely made up — with Mary Steenburgen as the owner of a crappy motel, and she tries to put the move on Redford after he comes out of his room to the motel office to ask for towels. He's wearing a nice bathrobe and leather slippers. Who, going out on a months-long hike, would put a bathrobe and slippers in his backpack?! In the book-world of Bill Bryson, there is absolutely no chance that he would be unfaithful to his beloved wife or even that he would amuse us with the slightest thought of being unfaithful to her. The sexual temptation scene was just squicky.

The movie complicates the relationship with the wife — perhaps to give the actress Emma Thompson something to do. It has her opposing the trip and trying to scare him with gruesome information about things that could go wrong in the woods. But Bill Bryson, the author, absolutely loves to find out about terrible things that can happen and to amuse use with the details. It's almost the main thing he does, but the movie transplants that aspect of his character into his wife, making her seem like a female stereotype — fussy, fretting — and making him seem alienated from her — and like more of a male stereotype.

The movie is full of shallow references to a fear of death and even begins with a funeral — as if Bryson's reason for walking is that he's freaked out about dying and needs to act — act! — before it's too late. And Redford must act. He must act because he's an actor. We must see his face on the big screen, which is not as it appears in my mind's eye, but dominated by those awful Chicklet veneers that have replaced normal teeth among the pretty people and topped with something I want to call a "wig hat." I did not enjoy spending 2 hours surveying the landscape of his face.

I thought I was going to get to see the landscape of the Appalachian Trail — all those fine and varied views from mountaintops and within forests. Where was the detail? Where was the cinematography? What is the big screen for? As I said, there are so many shots I could take at this movie. But this is the deal breaker. Show me the Appalachian Trail!

At one point in the movie, early on, somebody disparages the idea of walking the Appalachian Trail by saying you could see the whole thing in a 4-minute video on YouTube. That's quite a taunt to us movie goers! We're stuck here for 2 hours and had to pay $10, and I bet that 4-minute video on YouTube gives us a better vision of the trail. What the hell am I doing here?

88 comments:

David said...

Hollywood is stupid. You seem surprised.

Bobby said...

"I thought I was going to get to see the landscape of the Appalachian Trail — all those fine and varied views from mountaintops and within forests. Where was the detail? Where was the cinematography?"

From Ken Kwapis? Why would you possibly think he's going to give that to you? I mean, I like some of the guy's work- "Diversity Day," "Booze Cruise," "Sexual Harassment" and "Gay Witch Hunt" are four of the best ever episodes of The Office; the one Parks and Rec epi he short- "Galentine's Day"- was very well done, and his Malcolm in the Middle episodes were all good- but there's nothing in his directorial history to suggest that he's going to give you anything resembling the cinematography that you're talking about.

mikee said...

If you want to see the Appalachians in a movie, re-watch The Last of the Mohicans.

As a native of North Carolina transplanted long ago to the aridity that is Central Texas, I cry when the Smokies are shown in that film.

And the Appalachian Trail is often referred to as a wide logging road with nice hikes located off to the sides. If you want to see pretty places to hike, the AT can get you to their trail heads.

YoungHegelian said...

At the risk of sounding like a Hollywood marketing guy, I've got to ask: "So tell me, AA, what's the target audience for this movie?"

For the life of me, I can't figure that out.

It's too male, and booringly male at that, to be a chick flick, even of the "bromance" variety. The male leads are just too old to be attractive to women that don't remember Redford in his heyday.

It won't appeal to men because 1) it's not an action picture, 2) it's not a screwball comedy & 3) hell, it isn't even a high-concept "talky", like the Perfessor's favorite "My Dinner with Andre" that appeals to your art house egghead male.

I just can't see how this movie could ever have succeeded. I suspect that this was a Redford vanity project.

Ann Althouse said...

"From Ken Kwapis? Why would you possibly think he's going to give that to you."

The name meant absolutely nothing to me. I decided I wanted to see this movie and I avoided reading anything about it. I did know it got on 43% positive reviews, so I wasn't expecting that much.

I thought the photography would be interesting based on the subject matter.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Squicky? Hmmm, Althousian...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I liked the book. In my mind's eye the movie was every bit as bad as you described.

Ann Althouse said...

"At the risk of sounding like a Hollywood marketing guy, I've got to ask: "So tell me, AA, what's the target audience for this movie?""

The movie they made or the movie they could have made? If the target audience was Bill Bryson fans, it's a terrible failure. I'd say it's Robert Redford fans or Nick Nolte fans. Or old people who want a night out at the movies that doesn't seem too different from a night in watching television. Bad television.

"For the life of me, I can't figure that out. It's too male, and booringly male at that, to be a chick flick, even of the "bromance" variety. The male leads are just too old to be attractive to women that don't remember Redford in his heyday."

The audience I saw it with was pretty much older women, so, yeah, ladies who've had a long-time feeling for Redford. If only Paul Newman could have been there. But the attitude toward women was pretty offensive, including an extended sequence that expected us to laugh at a woman for being fat.

"It won't appeal to men because 1) it's not an action picture, 2) it's not a screwball comedy & 3) hell, it isn't even a high-concept "talky", like the Perfessor's favorite "My Dinner with Andre" that appeals to your art house egghead male."

There was some low slapstick comedy — bears, a collapsing bed, falling in water and off a cliff, jumping out of a window, stepping in deep mud, burying poop with a shovel.

"I just can't see how this movie could ever have succeeded. I suspect that this was a Redford vanity project."

Yep. And we saw it at the Sundance theater, so it was Redford on Redford.

MountainMan said...

Thanks for the review. I was interested in seeing what you thought about it before I went to see it. I will not waste my time on it. I was very suspicious that it would be awful when I read in the Atlanta papers in the last few days that most of the wooded scenes were filmed in the Atlanta area and nowhere near the trail. I am very disappointed he didn't make a good movie of this. I love Bill Bryson, too, but more importantly I currently live in NE TN and the Appalachian Trail is a very important to me personally and to many people in this area, I can actually see Roan Mtn and Carver's Gap, two of the best known places on the trail, from various vantage points in town. These are spectacular areas - Roan Mtn in June has the largest concentration of blooming rhododendron in the world - which would have made beautiful scenes in the movie. I was just in wonderful little Damascus, VA, yesterday to watch my daughter finish a 30 mile trail run on the VA Creeper Trail and a significant part of what was once one of the more difficult parts of the AT (since relocated). So much interesting culture and beautiful scenery along here which would have made a great movie. What a waste.

Laslo Spatula said...

Made me wonder what movies are better than the book they are based on. Google has answers. Several articles in this vein, of which "The Godfather" and "Jaws" seem to be unanimous..

I am Laslo.

Michael K said...

A friend of mine used to hike in the Sierras' John Muir Trail in the summer when he was in law school. One summer, he was walking the trail and heard a guy yodeling ahead of him around the bend. The yodeler turned out to be one of his law school professors. They joined up and spent half the summer hiking together.

I wanted to see the movie "Gone Girl" so I read the book first. The book was awful and I never did go to the movie.

Rusty said...

Your first clue that it was a bomb was that Robert Redford was in it.

The Bergall said...

Don't you hate it when one answers their own questions?

SteveR said...

I can't imagine making a movie from a Bryson book, much less this one. Robert Redford more or less kills it for me. Not even close.

Sebastian said...

"There was a sequence — completely made up"

Now that's funny.

JPS said...

Im sorry but not really surprised to see "A Walk in the Woods" was a letdown.

Laslo Spatula,

"Made me wonder what movies are better than the book they are based on."

Interesting link. I strongly agree on Silence of the Lambs - not a bad book; the movie was better. I would add Presumed Innocent; again, decent novel, better movie.

Not long ago I read Trinity's Child, a nuclear war novel, 25 years after seeing HBO's adaptation ("By Dawn's Early Light.") Neither is great, both stuck with me, and I'd give the screen treatment a slight edge.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I would have cast Bradley Whitford as Bryson and Tom Arnold as Katz. Emma Thompson is a fine choice. Redford and Nolte put this into the buckler genre. Something to watch on video after you've finished the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Straight Outa Compton was a surprisingly good movie. That was my summer trip to the movie theater.

Zach said...

Not based on the same book, obviously, but you might try to find Reese Witherspoon's Wild. It's very well acted, and integrates the trail very well.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Bucket list genre, that is.

m stone said...

The moral is "read the reviews before going anywhere." You can learn a lot.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric the Fruit Bat said...

The most memorable part of "A Walk in the Woods" (well, barring the many parts that annoyed me) was where he gets off the trail and gets lost.

Nothing but undifferentiated green, except for maybe a little topography. Panic ensues.

Not much in that to excite a cinematographer, I should imagine.

That said, I might be remembering an entirely different book.

At this advanced point in my un-young, far too poorly administered life, it all pretty much all runs together.

rhhardin said...

Emma Thompson was good in Last Chance Harvey, a good flick to see. Get the DVD.

The Love Punch was tolerable, and I've forgotten whether they get back together or not.

Thus ends the Emma Thompson list in my romantic comedy megasurvey.

Kieth Nissen said...

I think Zach reveals the reason the movie got made; Wild was a successful production and so this Bryson book (which had probably been kicking around a few years in a studio somewhere) was resurrected. Redford guarantees box office so, with a cooperative press saying nice things (about Bryson at least) and Nolte willing they found some investors. I think I have read everything Bryson has written and the idea that his writing skills could be somehow manifested on screen is naive, maybe "stupid" as noted above. That's Hollywoood.

rhhardin said...

Movie plot forces, showing up in romantic comedies.

I object to killing off the love interest - a device for women to say that love is eternal, but guys wonder what the fuck was that, unless it's a James Bond film where they have to kill off the woman in order to have a sequel. Otherwise he'd just be a cheating married guy in the next flick.

What guys want in a romantic comedy is antagonistic opposites finding that opposites fit, an ongoing thing.

You get better romantic comedies sometimes in action films, where the woman is sucked into a partnership unwillingly to deal with the situation. There's no need to kill off the lady because it's not about love as a selling point.

Back to Ann's film, were there car chases.

Ann Althouse said...

"The most memorable part of "A Walk in the Woods" (well, barring the many parts that annoyed me) was where he gets off the trail and gets lost. Nothing but undifferentiated green, except for maybe a little topography. Panic ensues."

Yes, and that's absolutely not in the movie. Not at all. Nothing, in fact, on the entire topic of getting lost.

Another thing that I though HAD to be part of the story but wasn't was Katz's secretly buying beer and later confronting Bryson and insisting that Bryson give him money for more beer. Instead, the movie (spoiler alert) has Bryson discovering that Katz has a bottle of whiskey in his pack and then a later confrontation in which it's revealed that Katz has never opened the bottle. Then the bottle is opened -- out on the trail -- and poured out, in a ritual that signifies that Katz doesn't need the security anymore of knowing that he could drink if he really needed it.

rhhardin said...

Bond: I do hate it when religion
comes between us. Religion and a securely locked door.

Lady: Am I going to have a problem with you, Bond?

Bond: No, don't worry. You're not my type.

Lady: Smart?

Bond: Single.

wild chicken said...

I watched Wild expecting to see the Pacific rim trail scenery.


Silly me.

William said...

I read a couple of Bill Bryson's books. He seems chatty and good natured. That's not exactly Robert Redford's screen persona.......I saw Redford's last film, All Is Lost. Spoiler alert: He drowns. It's some kind of allegory about mortality.......There's not much to be said in favor death, but growing old and dying must really suck when you're a movie star like Redford. Well, he didn't get fat or bald, and, photographed with the right lighting and angles, he can still credibly play a vital man. He has retained some of his star power into old age. I wonder if that's a comfort or hindrance to coming to terms with arthritis and death.

Sam L. said...

"What the hell am I doing here? " Kicking yourself in the butt every other minute.

I've read Bryson. I find him snarky, irritating, and a waste of my time. He does not seem to like where he grew up/came from.

averagejoe said...

Laslo Spatula said...
Made me wonder what movies are better than the book they are based on.

9/6/15, 12:36 PM

The Third Man by Graham Greene. Script for the movie also by Graham Greene, with input from director Carol Reed. Greene was at first upset by some of the changes in the movie, including Reed's insistence on the final, now classic, scene. Later, Greene admitted that Reed's changes improved the story immensely, and stated that Reed was indeed a genius.

MayBee said...

"A River Runs Through It" is an absolutely beautiful movie. I don't know why, but because that movie is by Redford, and this movie has him in it, I would go thinking this was going to be an absolutely beautiful movie.

So I'm glad for the warning.

Going to see Straight Outta Compton, knowing full well it won't be beautiful.

PackerBronco said...

It should have been retitled: "Wandering aimlessly in the Woods"

It also should have starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

EMD said...

Bryson's book is simply not film-able as-is. And that's okay. I love the Bryson book although it's been years since I read it.

I understand where the Emma Thompson angle comes from. Drama is conflict, and so the writers felt they needed more conflict when they probably didn't. A romance/sex subplot seems stupid to add as well, especially if viewers know Bryson and the book. Oh well.

Similarly, filmmakers destroyed "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by focusing on the wrong points of the story.

EMD said...

"Redford guarantees box office"

Uh, no. He doesn't. He's actually box office poison. He hasn't been bankable since The Sting.

Actually, there are very few stars in H'wood who can "open" a movie. Hence, the Marvel Universe and constant book adaptations, especially YA dystopian stories.





EMD said...

"It should have been retitled: "Wandering aimlessly in the Woods"

It also should have starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost."

Helmed by Edgar Wright, it would have been really good.

Laslo Spatula said...

By the way, the movie "I Am Laslo" will be better than Laslo the Commenter. You'll see.

I am Laslo.

Carol said...

The Third Man by Graham Greene.

Now that's a GG book I've overlooked...I thought the movie of the Comedians was really good, much better than I expected. Though I do believe they changed the plot around too.

Phil 3:14 said...

Professor;
You're overthinking the movie.

"We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It's a death trap.”
― Anthony Hopkins

traditionalguy said...

The book is humor and human interest. The relationships with the locals in North Georgia and on into Cade's Cove and Gatlingburg where the need rides is amusing. But the Trail itself is as romantic as any obstacle endurance course. The people you meet are therefore half crazy masochists like the penance so of half crazy Catholics walking up a Cathedral's steps on their knees. The want to brag on their suffering.

The Trail is seldom a walk. It is a climb in the woods followed by a steep descent in the woods repeated and repeated.

Phil 3:14 said...

Mikee said:

"If you want to see the Appalachians in a movie, re-watch The Last of the Mohicans.

As a native of North Carolina transplanted long ago to the aridity that is Central Texas, I cry when the Smokies are shown in that film."

That is the "reality" of the movies right there. Enjoying the beauty of the Smokies in a movie that is portraying the Adirondacks.

I remember watching the "Deer Hunter" and thinking I didn't realize they had such large mountains in West Virginia.

Well they don't.


reelity

Jack Wayne said...

I don't give any money to certain actors no matter what. Redford is one of them.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

How did you not know from the trailers, that this was a steaming-pile-of-dog-shit-of-a-movie?

chickelit said...

No matter how hard you try you will never be able to grasp just how tiny, how spatially unassuming, is a proton.

It's perhaps ironic that the lowly proton is so easy to visualize via MRI than any other atom. The technique gives a view into the mind and the proton is becoming, in a sense, the mind's eye.

As for Redford, the last movie I liked of his was "The Horse Whisperer." He seemed a bit too old in that one and Scarlett Johannson was a bit too young to lust after. Kristin Scott Thomas was just right.

rhhardin said...

A proton is enormous compared to a Planck distance.

The Godfather said...

@Althouse: The movie wasn't meant for you; it was meant for the people who "laugh[ed] on every cue".

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Dead as a doornail dd not originate with Shakespeare

khematite@aol.com said...

Althouse wrote:
". . . and topped with something I want to call a "wig hat."


First recorded use of the phrase "wig hat" seems to have been in Tommy Tucker's 1964 Checker single, "Hi-Heel Sneakers." Just a year later, Dylan sang:

I sat with my high-heeled sneakers on
Waiting to play tennis in the noonday sun
I had my white shorts rolled up past my waist
And my wig-hat falling in my face
But they wouldn't let me on the tennis court.

Chris N said...

Maybe some people will stay at home and watch a motion-triggered camera someone left out on the trail with Robert Redford passing through it.

Patrick Wahl said...

Movies better than the book - Hud > Horseman, Pass By.

Drago said...

Forever etched: the moronic Nick Nolte thinking he was making some sort of profound statement by sitting on his hands while staring vacantly into space as Elia Kazan receives a lifetime achievement award.

MathMom said...

This is why I will never see "Life of Pi". My mental movie of that book is wonderful. Hollywood would only uproot it and give me something less to remember.

I had my personal Harry Potter movie taken from me by Hollywood. Should never have gone to any of those movies.

BN said...

I recommend "the Way", starring Martin Sheen, directed by Emilio, about the Camino del Santiago in the Pyranees. Quirky characters, beautiful scenery, and a touching story.

Ann Althouse said...

I haven't read "Red Alert," but I'm going to say that's the book that made to best transition to a movie.

Of books I've read, "The Shining."

ndspinelli said...

Here's what normal people do. They read reviews and speak w/ friends. Smart people have go to friends who they trust. If the reviews from professionals and your friends[you have to have some, of course] are bad. DON'T GO TO SEE THAT MOVIE! This movie is 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's rare that a movie lives up to the book. IMO, The Godfather was the most satisfying. Written by an Italian, directed by an Italian, many Italian actors in a movie about Italians. Finally, if Redford is in it, the movie sucks. He thinks he's still in his 40's. He's a joke. He never was an actor, just a movie star. Now he's just pathetic. Newman could act.

robother said...

Wonder what effect this movie will have on the existing problem with the multiplying party animals on the Appalachian Trail?
http://www.dailycamera.com/get-out/ci_28730587/hikers-behaving-badly

Sebastian said...

"I haven't read "Red Alert," but I'm going to say that's the book that made to best transition to a movie. Of books I've read, "The Shining.""

Here's one where book and movie are roughly equal, both masterpieces, though the movie is perhaps more obviously in the top-ten-of-all-time: Lampedusa/Visconti, The Leopard.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

I see nearly everything with any merit whatsover. This year I think that both Love and Mercy and Straight Outta Compton and two of the years best. They are my two favorites so far, anyway. Love and Mercy was so good that I didn't want to watch another movie for awhile so I could continue savoring it without distraction.

I read A Walk in the Woods about 10 years ago when a friend of mine sent me the book because my emails "remind her of this book." I saw the previews to this movie and it was obvious that they had butchered the book so gruesomely, so stupidly, that I would never consider watching it.

sydney said...

Here's one where book and movie are roughly equal, both masterpieces, though the movie is perhaps more obviously in the top-ten-of-all-time: Lampedusa/Visconti, The Leopard.

I have read that so often- both about the book and the movie, yet I can't stand either one.

sydney said...

The audience I saw it with was pretty much older women,

A Facebook friend who saw it said the same thing.....

sydney said...

Movies better than the book- Primary Colors

sydney said...

Movies as good as the book- Gone with the Wind

sydney said...

Movies worse than the book- most of them.

sydney said...

Re: Last of the Mohicans: It might give you a good view of the southern Appalachians, but it is completely inaccurate re: the Adirondaicks where it took place. It jarred me to see rhododendrons in the background. They don't survive northern New York winters in the wild.

ndspinelli said...

Mid-Life, Love and Mercy was very good. Produced and directed by a man who LOVES music. I have always been intrigued by the genius, Brian Wilson. The man makes Dylan look like a Down's Syndrome musician.

rcocean said...

Cain's books: "Postman Always Rings twice", "Double Indemnity" "Mildred Pierce" are better movies than novels.

Most of elmore Leonard stuff is the same But that's not surprising since most of his book's read like movie scripts.

Among older fiction - Verne's SF is better seen in movie form.

rcocean said...

As I've written many times before, I find Bryson a snotty little yuppie who in his books is constantly scoring off small town yokels, waitresses, and hotel clerks.

I wonder how much of his 'punching down' humor made it into the movie? Or how much of his laziness or cowardice did.

rcocean said...

Finally, my experience in movie theaters is that a film character could retell the lamest 100 year old "Why did the chicken cross the road?" joke and be met howls of laughter from the movie audience.

Don't ever forget that Ishtar was the funniest movie ever to millions of Americans.

rhhardin said...

Knock Off is the worst movie recently encountered. Bad special effects, bad English dubbing, sort of a Godzilla without the monster. Asian actors. I doubt there was a book, but if there was, it was a bad book.

It's one of eight bad movies in a collection of low budget action flicks. I hope it's the worst of them.

Marc Puckett said...

This is why I never went to see The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit in the theater-- I know the production can't touch my reading. Or Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain.

AA, and the worst thing is that when next you open up Bryson you'll be plagued by images from the awful film version.

Sebastian, I agree about Visconti's The Leopard.

Terry said...

P.D. James' novel The Children of Men was made into a film in 2006. Though both the novel and the film depict a world where mankind has become sterile, the film version barely connects with the novel. The novel was a take on the modern acceptance of abortion, though abortion was never mentioned in the novel, even obliquely. The message was that selfishness defeats hope. The selfishness of one generation resulted in universal sterility, e.g. the lack of hope, or any future at all. The message of the film version was that immigrants are okay and are the future, and hope lay in the last generation of the Europeans giving way to non-Europeans. The film version won several awards. I think the people who gave the film awards would find the message of the novel to be disquieting (though P. D. James is said to have thought it a fine film).

Theodore James said...

Professor,

You wrote about the film "The Fall" directed by Tarsem Singh almost ten years ago. With your description of it I made it a point to see it.

I have watched it multiple times since and still love it a bunch.

I respect your film opinions and so I'll avoid this one. Being an old man I really dislike old man buddy/bucket movies.

I did enjoy the book so I'll leave it at that.

chuck said...

"squicky?" Can we blame Shakespeare for that ;)

Chris N said...

Also, thanks for the pic of Nolte closer to his prime.

The lady likes Redford in Three Days Of the Condor, which has a fair amount of realism and action in it. Even with the no blood for oil, the 'People' aren't going to stand for this BS at the end, we can watch and enjoy it together.

Whatever my mind does when I read good prose, especially musical prose, I almost never want to see someone else's visuals, or see them translated into a visual medium.

William said...

The movie surpasses it, but the novel by B. Traven, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is an excellent adventure story. Some movies are so good that the novels on which they are based fall into obscurity. People will be watching The Godfather and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre long after the novels fall out of print.

William said...

Redford didn't have the worst version of The Great Gatsby.

Freeman Hunt said...

The Wizard of Oz movie is better than The Wizard of Oz book.

Freeman Hunt said...

rhhardin, you should watch the Hong Kong movie Needing You as part of your megasurvey.

Freeman Hunt said...

As I recall, Beast Cops has some romantic comedy elements, but it's a cop drama. Hong Kong makes much better cop dramas than the United States.

Patrick Wahl said...

That comment about the movie in your head versus the movie on the screen - I felt Lonesome Dove got the casting of the two leads wrong, and Blue Duck too and just in general didn't live up to the vision I formed while reading the book. The book was far superior.

Birches said...

Althouse goes "Get off my lawn!"

Priceless.

averagejoe said...

Novel and screenplay[edit]
"Stanley Kubrick started with nothing but a vague idea to make a thriller about a nuclear accident, building on the widespread Cold War fear for survival.[26] ... At Kubrick's request, Alastair Buchan (the head of the Institute for Strategic Studies) recommended the thriller novel Red Alert by Peter George.[27] Kubrick was impressed with the book, which had also been praised by game theorist and future Nobel Prize in Economics winner Thomas Schelling in an article written for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and reprinted in The Observer,[28] and immediately bought the film rights.[29] In 2006, Schelling wrote that conversations between Kubrick, Schelling, and George in late 1960 about a treatment of Red Alert updated with intercontinental missiles eventually led to the making of the film.[30]
In collaboration with George, Kubrick started writing a screenplay based on the book."

Doctor Strangelove. I don't know how good the book was, but the movie is one of the all-time greats. Once on this blog I said Sterling Hayden wasn't a good actor. I eat my words. He was terrific. They all were. Kubrick's photography and camera work was brilliant. Amazing scenes of the Army division attacking the air base; You'd swear it was actual combat footage.

Saw it today on getTV.

rhhardin said...

@freeman I'll try Needing You (mandarin with english subtitles). Beast Cops seems to be unavailable.

The rest of my 8-film collection was bad too. It must be a low budget campy bad action flick genre, enjoyable only if awfulness is the feature.

Some 8-film bad romantic comedies actually have good lines, at least. One good writer on the staff.

traditionalguy said...

Speaking of great books that were not known until a Hollywood rendering, the Empire of the Sun is a true genius writing job by J G Ballard.

It surprised me to discover the book written in 1984 and a Spielberg movie by 1988. The book is great literature by a popular sci fi author who happened to have had the childhood experience so perfectly portrayed in the book.

Both are unique experiences of survival in an insane world...like the one today.

tim in vermont said...

Maybe I will like the movie on account of the fact hat I hold neither hack writers like Bryson, nor his work, in undue high esteem.

mikee said...

"Nothing but undifferentiated green, except for maybe a little topography. Panic ensues."

I saw that scene in Fonda & Fonda's "On Golden Pond" in 1981.

Homage, or just a senile forgetful recreation of a famous scene?
Which would be hella ironic.

Richard Dolan said...

"The sexual temptation scene was just squicky."

Just squicky? Ugh.

nina said...

Great review, Ann.