The bad news is that the summer is over. Sad but true. Despite the inevitable arrival of cool weather and (gasp!) evil snow, I’ve vowed to wear my flip flops for as long as possible.
The good news, however, is that this fall’s crop of blockbuster entertainment features an astounding array of classic literature. Hollywood headliners like Leonardo DiCaprio and Twilight’s Kristen Stewart star in this season’s Oscar-fishing lineup, but can they bring Fitzgerald and Kerouac to life? Well, that’s up to you.
Here are five of the most buzz-generating movies on offer:
Author of title/source material: Leo Tolstoy
Director: Joe Wright
Star power: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Emily Watson
I am a massive fan of the 1997 version starring Sophie Marceau, so I’m not sure how I’ll enjoy Knightley as the lead and, to be honest, I’m not sure if she can capture the role with similar dignity. Jude Law, on the other hand, whose performance in Contagion really impressed me, could offer this tragic story a little spice.
Also, as I think many Pride & Prejudice fans can attest to, adapting a long novel into a two hour film can be difficult. Anna Karenina is a massive book (one that I have yet to complete),an elaborate story with many characters, and can be intimidating even when it’s not on the big screen, a decidedly more digestible medium. It’ll be interesting to see how Knightley and Law fill those big shoes.
Author of title/source material: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Director: Baz Luhrmann, of Moulin Rouge fame
Star power: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan
Similar to my problem with Anna Karenina, I’m absolutely in love with the A&E version of The Great Gatsby, which stars Mira Sorvino, Paul Rudd, and the British cutie pie Toby Stephens as Jay Gatsby. Even though its reception wasn’t terribly positive, it’s one of my all-time favourite A&E productions. When I heard that DiCaprio would be playing Gatsby, I shook my head with disappointment. I just couldn’t see him as the lead, and his chemistry with Mulligan seems strained and flat. But, there’s an extra twist of uncertainty: the director. Have you seen the trailer for The Great Gatsby? It’s even in 3D!
As you can tell, Luhrmann’s interpretation is very different and die-hard traditionalists may be put off by the modern styling, score, and casting selections. But, of course, I’m still very excited to see it, because it’s the story that I love.
Author of title/source material: David Mitchell
Directors: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski
Star power: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, among others
Although I’ve never read Cloud Atlas, I was intrigued when I saw the trailer, which is a mind bending, colourful, kaleidoscope of imagination. Created by the same team who made The Matrix trilogy, Cloud Atlas promises to be visually stunning, with a story to match.
Author of source/title material: Victor Hugo
Director: Tom Hooper
Star power: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, among others
Okay, okay, okay, so I absolutely adore Liam Neeson as Valjean, and Hans Matheson as Marius. I simply cannot see those roles played by anyone else! Sigh. While the 1998 version was full of literary inaccuracies, I fell head over heels with that film. I’ve probably watched it a hundred times, and I cry like a blubbering child without fail, no matter how familiar with the plot I may be.
So, now Hugh Jackman takes over the role of Valjean. Hmmm. I enjoy Jackman as an actor, but I’m still iffy about the casting choice. Not to mention, this version is an actual musical, which I had the pleasure of seeing live in London about eight years ago. The score is amazing. I have no doubt it’ll be incredibly produced, but we’ll see…
On the Road
Author of title/source material: Jack Kerouac
Director: Walter Salles
Star power: Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams
Last year, months before I realized that a film was set to be released, I purchased a used copy of Kerouac’s classic novel. Unfortunately, it’s been sitting on my shelf along with hundreds other unread books (hence my year long book buying ban). That does not mean I am any less excited about this movie. Mortensen is one of my favourite actors, and his work always has a unique flavour that I find insanely attractive. I would prefer, however, to read the novel first, so I have a frame of reference.
What do you make of this season’s literary blockbusters? Do any casting selections make you nervous or uncertain?