Tag Archives: adaptation

Exclusive… Twentieth Century Fox reveal first poster for #TheBookThief #film #book #poster #news

11 Sep

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For any of you desperate to find out what’s happening with the film adaptation of the multi-award winning novel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, yesterday, they took the first steps towards publicity by tweeting out a poster for the film.

When it is released at the end of January 2014, the film will  star Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, alongside newcomer Sophie Nelisse as Liesel Meminger, it will also be directed by Downton Abbey’s Brian Percival.

Here’s a quick low-down on the story….

Based on the beloved international bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, an extraordinary and courageous young girl sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.  She learns to read with encouragement from her new family and Max, a Jewish refugee who they are hiding under the stairs.  For Liesel and Max, the power of words and imagination become the only escape from the tumultuous events happening around them.  The Book Thief is a life-affirming story of survival and of the resilience of the human spirit.

As soon as more news  becomes available, I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Les Miserable – Film Review

18 Dec

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“Can you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men?” no? Well neither did I at this screening… as it was indeed more about jubilation as Les Miserables took from stage to screen in Tom Hoopers bold production.

The all singing story follows prisoner 24601 aka Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) ,imprisoned for stealing some bread for his sister, as he breaks parole and becomes a better man thanks to the compassion of a priest and a promise to young mother Fantine (Anne Hathaway) as she lays on her deathbed. The only problem being that persistent and law obsessive Javert is on a manhunt and nothing will stop him bringing this convict to justice.

Les Miserables is the longest running musical in history and its success is a testament to the story and the incredible musical numbers that expertly guide the audience through this complex tale. Tom Hooper has embraced this and done a valiant job in making it more widely available through the Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 11.26.17silver screen. To this I’m grateful, but as a Les Miserable fan, I can’t help but be a little nit-picking. After all, some of the wonders of the theatre production can never really have the same impact on screen, but it was interesting to see where the balance shifted and what surprised me the most.

First, lets look at the casting. By far the standout performance is from Anne Hathaway, in fact her portrayal as Fantine is Oscar worthy. She managed to reduce me to a quivering wreck throughout I Dreamed a Dream. The raw desperation in her performance will move even the biggest sceptic. I have seen the stage show six times and I have never seen a performance quite like this and I challenge anyone to not shed a tear throughout this song. The power that Hathaway possesses in this is also balanced with the simplicity of the shot which remains in a medium close up following her intimately.

Hugh Jackman is incredibly competent as Jean Valjean, he guides the audience with ease, and delivers some impressive vocals, however you can’t help but think that Alfie Boe would have delivered a far more commanding version and be able to hit the correct register as intended (and is the challenge) for numbers such as Bring Him Home. Never the less, out of Hollywood’s hot pickings, there is none more suitable than Jackson who, we must not forget has his roots firmly planted in Musical Theatre.

Pleasant surprises come also from baby faced Eddie Redmayne, who, bar an occasionally distracting “jiggly jaw” as I like to call it, demonstrates that his choir boy days at Eton have served him well, and he embodies Marius with ease and sends an exemplary chill down the spines of the audience throughout Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Samantha Barks also shines as Eponine, however does not manage to provoke quite as much emotion from the audience throughout On My Own. However this may be down to the uncomfortable shot position given by Hooper throughout this song. Regardless, who would have thought that a spot on BBC’s I’d Do Anything, would have seen her just a few short years later be part of a major Hollywood film.

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen delight as Monsieur and Madame Thenadier, and provide the light relief necessary throughout the Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 11.23.59film. Cohen is particularly standout with his ad-hoc one liners and surprisingly good singing voice. For Carter, although good, you can’t help but think you’ve seen her character multiple times before, as she dons a Tim Burton esq portrayal which is delivered like clockwork. Their biggest number Master of the House, is played for laughs as it should be, but is slightly drowned by the background noise and ambience that some of the particularly funny one liners are somewhat lost on occasions as it could have been one of the most memorable numbers.

The biggest surprise has to be Russell Crowe. Huge skepticism surrounded his casting as Javert, however, although clunky at times, he delivers an impressive performance.

Overall this film rests, as it should, on the ability of its cast members, but Director Tom Hooper brings to life a convincing 19th Century France. Some of the settings, particularly the rounding up of revolutionaries (shot in Greenwich) is visually spectacular, and you feel the excitement building for the big barracade showdown. However, when the time comes to see this spectacle, which on stage is one of the biggest wonders and ores of the production, you are left slightly underwhelmed. The enclosed area of streets in which this is set, very much look like part of a set and takes away from the marvel of the scene we have just seen, this is a shame, because it makes viewing inconsistent and those Les Mis fans who are very familiar with the stage production will be particularly observant in these parts.

Hoopers’ camera angles at times are also interesting. He mixes some of the most simple shots with some which more feel like he’s puffing up his peacock feathers to show his dominance in the film world. Ironically, it is the more simplistic work, which demonstrates his talent more effectively, Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 11.25.01rather than the more auteuristic attempts. It’s interesting however, seeing what works better on stage than on film. The magic of the theatre is about pushing peoples imagination, and scenes like the sewer are not as impactful in the film version. On the flipside, the visual portrayals in Master of the House really help elevate the song and the comedic element to the scene.

Overall this is a strong attempt at taking this concept to a cinematic audience. The faults are highlighted but are in no way damning to this pleasing production. Never before has anyone brought this musical version of the Victor Hugo novel to the cinema successfully before, and although I think there are far too many strong contenders for best picture at the Oscars this year, I think Les Miserable will have a considerable run at the awards ceremonies.

But whilst we wait for the award based outcome of this film, we can check out some interviews from the New York premiere…which aren’t quite what they seem…

BFI Day 5 – Coriolanus – Ralph Fiennes sits in the directors chair for this Shakespeare Adaptation

17 Oct

Lining up a stellar cast for not the easiest of Shakespearean adaptations must have been daunting for Ralph Fiennes, but as he put it at  the press conference, he was obsessed with this character and how relevant the play is to our modern society. That is the beauty of Shakespeare, its adaptability and ability to impact audiences around the world year after year and in so many different forms.

I wonder how difficult it must have been for Fiennes to pitch this to the financiers though, as on paper its not a well known play, its dark, aggressive and political. However when you know that Vanessa Redgrave is on board as well as Brian Cox and the then unknown Jessica Chastain – you must be on to a winner. Gerard Butler may have been somewhat of a wildcard in the first instance due to his action and rom-com notoriety however if you watch the film, you’ll notice how he holds his own just fine amongst these distinguished thesps!

The setting is Serbia, Belgrade in the midst of political turmoil and uprising against Coriolanus. The Serbian actors in the film adapt to the prose expertly and provide small but valuable parts in the film. The action, particularly at the beginning of the film is electrifying – particularly in a cinema surrounding and you feel like you are a part of the warfare yourself. You get inside the skin of Coriolanus, brilliantly portrayed by Fiennes.

However, it may have been the time of day in which the film was shown, but there was a considerable lull in the middle of the film. For wider audiences this is no Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, it was never an easy play to take to, and despite Ralph Fiennes valiant attempt – it just misses the mark. The real star of the show is Vanessa Redgrave, there have to be Oscar bells ringing, this performance is one all actors should watch and aspire to emulate in their careers, a real master at work – particularly in her closing speech. This film has all the right tools to make it magical but is just a very near miss. Die Hard Shakespeare fans may love it, I’m not sure, but for the wider cinema going public, I’m not so sure.

It still however managed to successfully pull in the crowds at the premiere and hopefully thats a reflection of the same level of people that will support this film. We’ll have to wait and see. Its out on UK general release on the 20th January 2012.