Blast from the Past–Bridget Jones’ Diary

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
4/19/2007-4/27/2007–271 pages–fiction (England, relationships, being single)
Bought April 7, 2007 from Half-Price Books
★★★★★

I have, today, accomplished a great feat. I bought this book just 20 days ago and have already finished. This would be a feat no matter what book it’d been to have bought the book and then actually read it within months of that day. So, having read this book within 20 days of purchase is a great feat. But, why did I like this book.

Obviously I like Jane Austen, and this is a witty modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. That is reason #1 why I like it. It is also very funny, hilarious, amusing, etc. (reason #2). It has a great movie adaptation to go along with it, even if it’s missing the Wickham/Julio fiasco there should be (#3) and in that movie is Colin Firth (#4). I did find it amusing how both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth were mentioned in the book and then were cast in the film 🙂 And I also found it interesting how Bridget discussed the, at that time, new BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries because she hinted at the similarities between Messrs Fitzwilliam and Mark Darcy (subtle, I think not). This book is amazing and is on my list of favourites 🙂

Sunday Salon {4/15/2012}

The biggest news of the week is that I’ve started to run/jog. I’ve only been going for the past ten days and I could barely go an entire minute without loosing my breath. But I was clearly just not trying hard enough, because a week into it, I made it an entire mile without walking. This is big for me! Even though I only made it at 4 mph, I never really thought I’d be able to go a mile. Oh, but you know what’s been best? I’ve lost 3.5 pounds the past week and a half (helped by eating a bit better, too).

My younger sister had her second bridal shower yesterday. Her wedding is in three weeks. (I started running so I could get in some sort of shape by then 🙂 ) I get to do a reading for the wedding.

In other news, Nick and I got our new couch and chair this weekend. That’s pretty much the only thing we’ve done for the house all week 😦 We worked on it so much harder when we weren’t living in it. It seems like we hardly do anything at all now that we’re living here…

Here are some of the movies I’ve seen lately and haven’t written about:

I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011; Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear)
SJP’s character, Kate, is a wife, mother of two, and a successful businesswoman. She already has a hectic schedule and her family is beginning to dislike taking a backseat when an amazing project comes up at work. By the end of the film, she realizes what is most important is her family in a very cliche-type revelation. Ya know, you can get another job, but you only have one family!
I found the story interesting–I’d never seen a movie with that exact plot before. But the cliche ending made me feel I’d seen that sort of thing before. I like how she wasn’t portrayed as a cold, heartless bitch as very successful and busy businesswoman are often portrayed–like in Devil Wears Prada. They made her seem real, and I liked that.

Contagion (2011; Kate Winslet, Matt Damon)
This was really gripping!! I found myself at points completely engrossed. Basically this movie is about epidemics in the modern world. One character, returning to Minneapolis from Hong Kong dies of a mysterious disease that she unbeknownst to herself spread. Millions of people die before a vaccine can be found and then produced. I admit, I hardly got scared of the anthrax, bird or swine flus, or H1N1 scares. I guess I didn’t worry because the population density where I live isn’t very high. But this movie did scare me a little. Interesting that they made this movie so close to the doomsday year of 2012, eh? I do admit that this reminded me a lot of Blindness from a few years ago.

The Muppets (2011; Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Kermit the Frog)
I love the Muppets, so this movie was just awesome. I have a bunch of Muppet movies, and I might just have to add this one to my collection. Segel plays Gary, older brother to Walter (a puppet), who loves the Muppets. When Gary plans to take Mary, his longtime girlfriend to L.A. for their tenth anniversary, he takes Walter, too, so he can visit the Muppet Show studio. An oil tycoon plans to tear down the studio and Walter gathers up the Muppets for a reunion to save their old studio. Gary and Walter each find who they are and finally follow their own paths, after decades of being practically inseparable.
There was a lot of cheesy in this movie, but it was intentional and made the somewhat sad parts of the story a bit comical. As with Muppet movies, the Muppets weren’t supposed to be any different from the live actors–this is something I have always loved about the movies. But I wonder how strange it is for the actors :o)

The Adventures of Tintin (2011; Daniel Craig)
I was a little confused by this, to be honest. How old is Tintin supposed to be? He looks to be a boy of 14 or so, but he speaks of having his journalist job. Is it one of those more endearing stories from decades ago in which children and teens became writers because of their amazing adventures? Aside from that, I rather enjoyed the movie. Animated movies aren’t like they used to be, which sometimes I like and other times I don’t. The story was adventurous, like Tintin is a young Indiana Jones 🙂

Young Adult (2011; Charlize Theron)
I have to admit there was not a thing about this movie I liked. I’m not saying it was bad, but it definitely wasn’t anything great. I just kept wondering to myself, “What person, ten years removed from high school, wants to create and live in the middle of a bunch of high school drama?” Well, the answer was pretty much a pathetic woman who peaked in high school, only to have her adult life suck. The whole movie focuses on her trying to get back her high school sweetheart, who is married and a new dad. So clear why this was an MTV movie…

The Hunger Games (2012; Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth)
I saw this at midnight, opening day. Harry Potter isn’t coming out and there’s only one more Twilight movie to see at midnight (and Twilights are more just a habit than actually wanting to see them opening night)–so I’m glad I have another set of movies to see at their midnight showings.
For those that don’t really know the synopsis of the first Hunger Games, the series takes place in a future USA, called Panem. The thirteen “districts” (larger regions rather than our current states) send a young man and a young woman every year to participate in the Hunger Games, where only one survives. Having 23 young people die is supposed to show the districts their place, ever since the districts rebelled in a civil war against the Capital. Reminds the people how gracious the government was to them after they’d done wrong. Anyways, Katniss volunteers to go to the Games when her young sister Prim was chosen. She befriends her male counterpart from District 12, Peeta, even though they are enemies. In the end, Katniss and Peeta display a big act of defiance against the Capital together, which creates the backdrop for the next book, Catching Fire.
There were a lot of things I’d forgotten about the story since I read it last summer. For the most part, stuff wasn’t how I pictured it in my mind. But things often don’t match up to my imagination when it comes to beloved books turned into movies. But just because things don’t look like I imagined them doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. I really liked it, but it was long to watch at midnight–I had to be to work four hours after it ended, which didn’t leave much sleeping time.

Oh, and if we are going the same way as Twilight, I am TEAM GALE 😀

The Big Year (2011; Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Jack Black)
Wilson plays Bostick, a guy who achieved a record Big Year, seeing as many species of birds in North America in a calendar year. But a couple years latter Stu (Martin) and Brad (Black) try to break his record. The three compete and continually see each other as they attempt to become the greatest birder.
I thought this was pretty funny. I’m a huge fan of Steve Martin and I like the other two, too. There were a couple parts where I laughed out loud, but even now I can’t really remember what they were. It’s not all that boring, as you might think a story about birding would be.

The Seven Year Itch (1955; Marilyn Monroe)
A married, middle-aged man sends his wife and son off to Newark to spend the summer outside of the city (that’s NYC), as apparently every family man does. He’s resolved to be good while he’s on his own: eating right, no drinking, no smoking, and, of course, not spending time with those sexy singles that are still in the city (that one is an unwritten rule). But he discovers a summertime renter above his place is a sexy young woman, unattached. He lets his imagination run away with him, thinking of all the times he could’ve had an affair in the past and imaging his wife coming home to find him out.
I haven’t seen a Marilyn Monroe film, ever. And I don’t recall ever hearing her speak at all. So I was a little surprised by her voice. It could’ve been her character, I suppose, but she sounded like such an airhead. And I thought she would’ve had a sultrier, sexier voice. Other than that, I thought the movie was a little funny. Its 1950s sexism kind of got to me in places. But its obvious ridiculousness in other places reminded me of Paris When it Sizzles (with Audrey Hepburn and William Holden).

From Prada to Nada — a Hispanic Sense & Sensibility [movie review]

From Prada to Nada (2011) is a modern film, using Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (book, 1811) as it’s basis.

I say that it is a Hispanic S&S because in this version of the story, the characters are all Hispanic. (Please forgive me if I am using the wrong term. I don’t know which is currently correct, Hispanic or Latino.) Nora and Mary learn to embrace their Mexican-American heritage when their father dies and they leave Beverly Hills to go live with their aunt in East LA. There is some Spanish thrown into the story and even the celebration of a Mexican holiday.

In all respects, I quite enjoyed the movie. I think it was very well adapted for a modern audience. There is no equivalent to Mrs. Dashwood in the movie, but, honestly, she doesn’t have a very important role in the book either. And there are a few other minor changes in the timeline of events, which make the flow of the movie better. The only thing I didn’t quite like is the part when Marianne/Mary finds out about Willoughby/Rodrigo’s “badness”. I admit that, when I read the book, I feel a TINY bit sorry for Willoughby–he truly loves Marianne, but he made his bed, so he has to lie in it.  But there was not even the smallest of redeeming qualities about Rodrigo–he is just made out to be a complete jackass. Oh, and I feel that Edward and Nora’s relationship in the movie was a tad rushed. I mean, when you look at how little time they spent together and then the very end you may think, “Wait a minute. How do they even know anything about each other?” Austen at least addressed this when Edward and Elinor spent a lot of time together before the Dashwood women left Norland.

I think that if you like S&S (book or other film versions), you should give this one a try. It may not go very deep, but I don’t think it’s the shallowest of movies either. It deserves a fair chance.

PS- One last thing I didn’t like (and this has nothing to do with the quality of the film or actors or anything), was that Camilla Belle (Nora) was orange. I mean, I believe that both she and Alexa Vega (Mary) may have honest Hispanic blood in their families. But either Camilla on her own or Camilla directed by people in charge of the film clearly tanned (whether for the role or herself). It honestly bugged me that it was so blatant that she is not naturally that color. At times I also thought Alexa looked like she tanned a bit, too. But she must have a better salon she goes to! Just look at the evidence for yourself and tell me that Camilla isn’t orange/yellow!!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

“Adventures are all very well in their place, he thought,
but there’s a lot to be said for regular meals and freedom from pain.”

TitleStardust
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: fantasy
ISBN: 9780061142024
Length: 248 pages
Published: 1999
Source: personal collection
Rating: n/a
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: Been wanting to reread it lately to see exactly what the film changed about it. And I had forgotten about just how much was left out/added to the movie.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Stardust is an utterly charming fairy tale in the tradition of The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story. Neil Gaiman…tells the story of young Tristran Thorn and his adventures in the land of Faerie. One fateful night, Tristran promises his beloved that he will retrieve a fallen star for her from beyond the Wall that stands between their rural English town (called, appropriately, Wall) and the Faerie realm. No one ever ventures beyond the Wall except to attend an enchanted flea market that is held every nine years (and during which, unbeknownst to him, Tristran was conceived). But Tristran bravely sets out to fetch the fallen star and thus win the hand of his love. His adventures in the magical land will keep you turning pages as fast as you can–he and the star escape evil old witches, deadly clutching trees, goblin press-gangs, and the scheming sons of the dead Lord of Stormhold. The story is by turns thrillingly scary and very funny. You’ll love goofy, earnest Tristran and the talking animals, gnomes, magic trees, and other irresistible denizens of Faerie that he encounters in his travels. Stardust is a perfect read-aloud book, a brand-new fairy tale you’ll want to share with a kid, or maybe hoard for yourself. (If you read it to kids, watch out for a couple of spicy sex bits and one epithet.) –Therese Littleton

My Thoughts: It is so hard for me to decide how much  I like this book, because I’ve grown to love the movie so much. And this is an instance when great liberties were taken to create the movie. I think this has made me realize–even more than other rereads–I need to go about rereads differently. In the case of books I read once and then saw the movie countless times, I think I might just NOT review the book, especially to give it a rating. I’ll try very hard to read it as a completely different story, regarding the movie. Maybe I should even go so far as to try to look for similarities between the book and movie, so that the differences don’t take such a leading role in my mind.

After trying very hard to put from my mind the movie, I’ve decided I still really enjoy the book. Parts that get lots of attention in the film get little in the book and vice versa. But that doesn’t change the fact that Gaiman is amazing at creating worlds. (I love Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, and Coraline.)

Quotes I Liked:

“…every lover is in his heart a madman, and in his head a minstrel.” (p78)

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“Tristran and Yvaine were happy together. Not forever-after, for Time, the thief, eventually takes all things into his dusty storehouse, but they were happy as these things go, for a long while.” (p247)

I just liked how real that is. But it’s still happy and “romantic”.

Bliss: Book-Film Comparison

Comparing
Bliss by OZ Livaneli (2002)
and
Mutluluk directed by Abdullah Oguz (2007)

(Here is my review post on Bliss by OZ Livaneli)

This film has made me realize something. I simply don’t like movies if they change too much from the book, even if I didn’t love the book itself.

And believe me, I tried to ignore the book and focus only on the story as the film presents. But there were some BIG changes I just couldn’t let go of.

For instance, the first two-thirds of the book was condensed into the first 30-40 minutes of the film. That’s because anything concerning Irfan (the professor) before he meets Meryem and Cemal is completely cut out. Now, this I didn’t mind so much because he whined a lot and I got a little annoyed with him. And there isn’t really any background on Cemal–in the book he finishes his time as a commando in the Turkish Army before he goes home, but the film just references it a little. I would’ve liked to see some nightmares or other background. As for these two things, they are not imperative to the story, so I can’t really complain about them being left out.

But there was another thing that I really didn’t like. Meryem’s rapist is Cemal’s father–this the reader knows going into the book, if he/she read the book jacket. He is a sheikh in their small village and simply commands Cemal to “take her away”. And it’s left at that. But in the film, for some reason the rapist feels Cemal hasn’t done his job and sends his “thugs” after them to make sure the job is done. First of all, the fact that the sheikh had “thugs” as would a mafia boss is completely out of tune with the rest of the story, as the film presents it. It seems this was added to create a fast-paced climax. Oh, and then Meryem’s father kills his cousin (brother in book) the rapist when he finds out what he did–*how dramatic!*

So, if I’m trying to be completely uninfluenced by the book, the film Mutluluk (which is in Turkish, fyi) was alright. I felt it wasn’t fast-paced, but rather the characters were rushed around. (I did miss the slow travels from the village on the shores of Lake Van to Istanbul–in the book, it wasn’t so slow that it was tedious. But it was when Meryem learned about and absorbed the world outside her village.)

One last thing. It didn’t matter in the film, but it was such a strange change to make in the adaptation that I have to point out what I disliked the most. Cemal fell in love with Meryem in the film. He has an odd sort of loathing for her in the whole book until he finds out just who raped her, but even then he doesn’t all of the sudden love her or anything. So I didn’t like this at all. But, again, it didn’t really affect the film in any way.

Books I’d Like to See as Movies

On Tuesday, I missed probably one of the Top Ten Tuesday posts for which I was waiting most anxiously: the top ten books I’d like to see be made into movies. (Here is the host post at the Broke and the Bookish for that TTT theme.) So I decided I would still answer the question of what books I’d like to see as movies, even if it’s a little late for the meme.

Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George
This would just be a really interesting movie. I think it would be a little controversial.

Idlewild by Nick Sagan
I haven’t read the second two books in this series, and I read this first installment more than five years ago. But it was a dystopic-ish book and I think it’s different than the rest I’ve read, so it’d make for a really interesting movie.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Yes, it’d be another vampire movie. But not at all Twilight/Vampire Diaries/True Blood-esque. It would be a great thriller, but it’d have to be aimed towards adults.

the Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L’Engle
Yes, there already is a movie for the first one in this series. But it was poorly done (made-for-TV-movie) and is aimed at children.

any of the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig
I love these books and I think they could make really interesting and thrilling/mysterious/sexy movies.

Peony in Love and/or Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (Snow Flower… is coming out this year 🙂 )
I have loved every Lisa See book I’ve ever read, so of course I’d love to see them made into movies.

Birth House by Ami McKay
No reason other than that I loved the book.

the Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Steward
They’d make a great series for children.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
I know this isn’t a book by an English author, but I would love this to be  BBC miniseries so that it can remain true to the novel.

MOVIES I’M ANXIOUSLY AWAITING IN THE NEXT COUPLE YEARS:

  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan out July 15, 2011 (the same day HP7 Pt. 2) (Lisa See)
  • The Hunger Games out March 23, 2012 (Suzanne Collins)
  • Wicked out in 2012 (Gregory Maguire)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 out July 15, 2011 (JK Rowling)
  • The Host out in 2012 (Stephenie Meyer)
  • The Help out August 12, 2011 (Kathryn Stockett)
MOVIES I LOVED (AS FAR AS THE ADAPTATION GOES)
  • Stardust (Neil Gaiman)
  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Patrick Sueskind)
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (John Boyne)
  • The Reader (Bernhard Schlink)

Thrillers/Mysteries: Read Book or Watch Film First??

I have a question for you fellow avid readers out there:

What is your opinion about reading “thrillers” (and by that I mean fast-paced books with little mysterious twists and turns) after having viewed film adaptations of said “thrillers”?

I ask because recently I have watched the three films based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (after awhile I didn’t even really notice the Swedish with English subtitles 🙂 ) While I found the movies to be great and loved them, I have very little desire to read the books. And I think that is due to the fact that I know everything already. In the past I have loved thrillers, like the DaVinci Code books. I read the books and then viewed the movies and there was no problem. But I think I would have more interest in reading the Millennium trilogy if I didn’t know who would try to kill whom and when certain people would die.

What are your opinions or thoughts on first reading or movie-watching thrillers (or even just mysteries)?

I think, in the future, I’ll read first. (It probably would’ve helped if I had known going into the books/movies that they were of the thriller nature 🙂 Should’ve done more looking into them…)