Some autism movies on my to-watch list

In the last few weeks, I’ve come across two movie trailers, where the main protagonist is autistic. I’m always curious to see how people with autism spectrum disorders are portrayed in the cinema. So I’ll definitely try and watch them. I’ll post reviews if I get to see them!

Here are the trailers, let me know what you think:

  1. Jack of the Red Hearts
  1. Janes Wants a Boyfriend

Jane Wants a Boyfriend | Official Trailer from William Sullivan on Vimeo.

 

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May the Fourth be with you, always

IT’S STAR WARS DAY!!!

And right on time, I got an awesome press release drop in my inbox the other day… if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll like this one.

Rdio has put together a playlist to “make you feel like a Jedi” (YEAH I WANNA FEEL LIKE A JEDI!).  You can click on the direct link below to get to the music list.

May the Fourth be with you, and happy listening!

Star Wars Day Playlist by Rdio:  Direct link:  http://rd.io/x/QXgPYDPTcZk/

Track Listing:

  1. Main Title from Star Wars – John Williams – John Williams – Greatest Hits 1969-1999
  2. The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) – John Williams – The Music Of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
  3. Princess Leia’s Theme – John Williams – The Music Of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
  4. Yoda’s Theme – John Williams – The Music Of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
  5. Binary Sunset (Alternate) (Medley) – London Symphony Orchestra;John Williams – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  6. Han Solo and the Princess – John Williams – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  7. The Asteroid Field – John Williams – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  8. The Throne Room/End Title (Medley) – John Williams – The Music Of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
  9. Duel Of The Fates from Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace – John Williams;London Voices – Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  10. The Emperor Arrives/The Death of Yoda/Obi-Wan’s Revelation (Medley) – John Williams – Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  11. Anakin’s Betrayal (Episode III – Revenge of the Sith) – Global Stage Orchestra – Star Wars – The Story Continues
  12. Cantina Band – John Williams – The Music Of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
  13. The Forest Battle (Concert Suite) – John Williams – Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  14. Victory Celebration/End Title (Medley) – John Williams – The Music Of Star Wars: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

 

Movie review: Man of Steel

Minor spoilers, none give away plot but refer to elements within the movie.

Man of Steel follows the story of baby Kal-El from the planet Krypton who is jettisoned into space by his parents Jor-El and Lara when General Zod attempts to take over the planet, which is rapidly dying. Kal-El crashes into Earth and is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent who take him in and raise him as their own son – Clark Kent. Thirty three years later … General Zod arrives to find Kal-El … and something else…

The character of Superman is meant to be perfect – how do screenwriters show perfection on screen? Thankfully, in this version, they scratch away that veneer and break it down. Make him real. Make us believe that he can exist. They manage to show that even Superman can struggle.

One of the small things that the writers do to aid this perception is strip away the use of the word “Superman” as much as possible. You hear it only three or four times at best. This is a coming of age movie. We don’t start off with Clark Kent as a reporter on the Daily Planet. We start with him struggling to accept who he is, wondering if the world will.

In this movie, the first thing that struck me was that the origins of Kal-El was explained very well. Why does Superman have a cape? We now know. Why does Superman wear a lycra-esque outfit? We now know. Why does he get affected by Kryptonite? WE NOW KNOW. Was Superman that egotistical to wear a massive “S” for Superman emblazoned on his mighty chest? Actually he wasn’t. A minor spoiler if you will: the “S” isn’t actually an S but it means “hope” on Krypton. Fair enough.

Krypton itself is detailed exquisitely. We learn a bit more about its society, about its people, and its fauna. We learn that the planet has indulged in breeding babies – with Kal-El being the first naturally born baby on Krypton in centuries. Fleshing his back story out has allowed the movie to take the story in a slightly different path yet stay true to the character.

Special mention to Kevin Costner for a fantastic performance as Jonathan Kent; there was a scene in the movie where Costner’s single hand gesture to Clark left me in tears. Absolutely loved him. Russell Crowe was excellent (as Jor-El) as well, delivering a measured performance as he is prone to do. Two absolutely moving appearances by these formidable thespians.

Michael Shannon as General Zod was a pretty good villain and thankfully doesn’t follow the cheesy villain pattern we’ve seen so far in this series. Although in terms of character development, I didn’t understand why he was doing what he did on Krypton or on Earth for that matter. What were his motivations? Did he really need to attack Earth? I suppose it’s sort of explained when he says he was bred to do all he could for his planet but it didn’t feel like a satisfactory enough explanation for me.

Amy Adams as Lois Lane? I wasn’t convinced. She doesn’t make the character very interesting and her pouty rendition of the line, “I’m a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist” served me to be put off by her more than anything else. And I’m sorry, but in the movie, HOW did she manage to follow Clark into that gaping hole in the mountain with no special equipment or skills? I’m sorry, what? How come she was the only one to figure out who he was?

Henry Cavill … aaah. I “discovered” him in the British TV series The Tudors, so when I found out he would be the next Clark Kent, I must admit I squealed a little. He tackled the role well, stayed restrained most of the time, letting his stolid demeanour rip where needed. A bit of it admittedly felt stiff, but by the end, I would imagine most audiences would accept him as the new Superman.

One of the gripes I had with the movie was its ending – oddly enough there was far too much action. At the end, it felt long and drawn out. I unfortunately reached a stage where I just wanted the movie to end. And that’s not a good thing. I’m no movie editor, and I’m sure the filmmakers had their reasons, but I do wish they had found a way to make the last few action scenes more concise.

Random mini-spoiler: the line at the end of the movie where someone asks Superman whether they can trust him not go against the “interests of America” made me laugh a little. What about making sure he doesn’t go against the world? Politicisation much?

Definitely a better Superman movie than the last reboot, Man of Steel packs a mighty punch. Expect no cheesy one-liners or red underpants outside the tight outfit. Expect a fast-paced tale to start off a potentially absorbing super-hero series.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures in Middle Earth. I read the book after I read, and saw, the Lord of the Rings series. I remember when I read the books thinking that The Hobbit was an easier and quicker read than LOTR. So when the news broke that it would be broken up into three movies, I was fairly confused. The movie did diminish that confusion somewhat, for which I am glad.

Peter Jackson, who did a marvellous job on LOTR, is back at the helm. This helps as it keeps the Middle Earth universe looking consistent. That said, I did not get the whole argument between 24fps and 48fps – perhaps I’m far too ignorant of film-making to understand what kind of difference this is meant to create.

I was a little surprised though – there were one or two points in the movie where…I can’t believe I’m saying this…it was painfully obvious some things on screen were CGI. One was when you see Smaug’s tail disappearing into Erebor, and another when the Eagles were flying over the mountains. I was not expecting that. Was this a result of the fps issue? Anyone more well-versed in these matters, please clue me in!

Anyway, the book, if you’ve read it, is meant for a younger audience but I’m not sure I was necessarily take children to this movie. Some action sequences, especially with the Wargs and Orcs might scare the young ones.

The acting is fantastic. Ian McKellen makes a fitting return as Gandalf, even though he inexplicably seems older than the LOTR movies (well yes, he’s obviously older, but bear in mind, the events of this movie are meant to take place well over half-a-century before LOTR). Martin Freeman does well as Bilbo Baggins, bringing a charming sense of humour and reality to the character – you forget he is Watson. He IS the hobbit. Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarf company, is magnificent. His kingly behaviour makes me think of Aragorn a lot. Excellent stuff right there.

The other dwarves are cast well, although it’s hard to say more since they don’t have, obviously, as much screentime as Thorin and Bilbo. I did get to see Aidan Turner’s Kili quite a bit, which is awesome (for me) since I’ve been a fan since watching BBC’s Being Human.

The villains…what have we got here? A fire-breathing dragon Smaug, whom we don’t really see (imagine my surprise when I found out Sherlock‘s and Star Trek‘s Benedict Cumberbatch is voicing the deadly dragon – AND another villain…coming up). A necromancer (Cumberbatch too apparently!) who is causing havoc in the forests of Mirkwood. Azog, the pale-skinned Orc, who has sworn revenge on Thorin for chopping off his hand (this isn’t in the book either). There’s even Saruman who makes a quick appearance, potentially to tie in this movie with LOTR – although those who will not have seen LOTR or read the books will not know the importance of his character, or the consequences/import of his appearance.

Gollum, however, is a star. Andy Serkis returns to his inspiring motion-capture performance as the schizophrenic creature, and it is his scene with Freeman/Baggins that makes The Hobbit worth the watch. Highly commendable part of the movie.

Purists might object, and they have. Why? LOTR, while making changes in the story with cinematic license, largely stuck to the books. The Hobbit definitely has the basic premise down pat: the dwarves wanting to reclaim their home and wealth along with the help of an unlikely ally, a hobbit. But what it doesn’t have is utter loyalty to the book.

Many changes have been brought on the script, including licenses taken with timelines as well as what was in the book. Who is Azog? Why is the necromancer in the movie at all? A Morgul blade? Where did Galadriel come from? I’ve read a lot of articles and listened to podcasts, and what I’ve taken away is this: using additional texts, appendices and unfinished works of Tolkien, the screenplay has encompassed parts of Middle Earth lore that relate to the tale in this book/movie, and which the makers thought would add to the entire storytelling. It does.

So my advice to the purists: buzz off. The movie is done well. Yes, cinematic license has been taken. Get over it. Or make the movie yourself and see if you can do it better.

Anyway, it may, at some times, seem slow. There were certain points where I did think: COME ON, MOVE ON! Some additions may seem stilted – for example, when the movie suddenly moved to Radagast the Brown (again, not there in the book AT ALL) in Mirkwood, it was beyond, beyond confusing for a few minutes. Who is he? Why is he there? Why are porcupines important, and … WHAT’S GOING ON?! I’m hoping all three movies will help put it all together, more neatly than this one felt.

Quick nod to the musical score…absolutely brilliant. Loved, loved, loved it.

While I do like the backstory and emphasis on motives and cause-and-effect that has been created in this movie, I’m wondering whether three movies were necessary. I’m hoping the next two installments will resoundingly tell me: Yes, we were.

My final verdict is that the movie was good – not as brilliant as I’d hoped, but I’ve a feeling the next two movies will more than make up for it. I’d say 3.75/5.

Note: This first installment of the trilogy spans the first six chapters of the book, along with more additions than I’d care to count.

The Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, Leavesden

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Around 10 days before I was due to fly out to the UK, I saw a tweet from @DaddyBird about a Hogwarts castle being built as part of a Harry Potter studio tour in the UK. Quickly looking it up, I was excited to find the attraction was opening up on March 31, 2012. And I’d be in the UK till April 6. Perfect.

Hey, not so fast missy. Things are rarely perfect.

To my utter dismay, when I looked at the official website, tickets were sold out till the end of April. What? I fired off an email to the customer service contact asking how I could overcome this obstacle, and they replied rather promptly (I think all their CS reps have been trained in the art of dealing with rabid Harry Potter fans). I was told I could either keep trying on the official website because sometimes slots do open up, or he pointed me to third-party operators that have a certain number of tickets for each day allocated to them already.

I decided to wait for the official website for a variety of reasons, and for 5-6 days I kept clicking, refreshing and shaking my fist at my laptop until…tickets were available on April 2!

I bought myself tickets faster than a motorist in Dubai can honk after a traffic light turns green.

On that day, I was so excited you’d think I was going to study at Hogwarts myself. Watford Junction is only 20 minutes away from Euston (and I think it’s £6 return with a 16-25 railcard), and there’s a bus that stops outside Watford Junction that takes people to the tour site (it’s a £2 return for that).

I won’t say much though, other than I’d advise you to buy the tickets for the earlier time slot during the day. I had the 3:30pm ones, and because I was listening to the audio guide narrated by Tom Felton (highly recommended btw) and taking so many photographs, I had to rush through the end bits, which I was very disappointed about.

But it was an absolutely amazing experience, and I ended up spending nearly £100 in the souvenir shop at the end of the tour. Absolutely amazeballs.

View all the photographs I took at the tour here!

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Movie review: Avengers Assemble

When Loki decides to attack Earth, it’s up to the superheroes, Captain American, Iron Man, Thor, and Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, along with the Black Widow, to step in and fight alongside Nick Fury.

That’s quite a few massive egos in one team. How does that work out?

Quite well actually, and one of the main reasons for this is that Joss Whedon, who was at the director’s helm, is a genius. 

It’s not easy to bring together four big guns into one ensemble, and then mix them with equally important supporting characters, and make it a success. But that’s exactly what Whedon does. Creator of the hit TV show Buffy along with Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse, Whedon has spun together a believable and strong tale of action, adventure, and lots of humour thrown in generously. And to no one’s surprise, every character has their own part to play, with no one cutting in to another’s role.

Robert Downey Jr.’s deprecating charm and wit is out there as always, and he’s managed to deliver his role as Iron Man/Tony Stark with an ease many would envy. Not just a comic element, his role portrays emotional power as well. Chris Evans does well as Captain America, although his perfection can seem annoying at some times. Chris Hemsworth is still rocking the Asgardian armour as Thor, delivering a strong and stable performance. Mark Ruffalo is perhaps the surprise as Bruce Banner. In his Banner role, he seems vulnerable, yet sweet, making a great contrast with his angry green half. And their chemistry together is amazing, which makes it all the more exciting to watch.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is evil to the core, making it great fun to watch them try to defeat him. His complicated, twisted mind has been shown well. 

Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D. is suitably dangerous. Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Black Widow perhaps echoes more to those familiar with the Whedonverse of strong, intelligent women who have an emotional side. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye had a smaller role but did it well, although a backstory there would’ve been more interesting. 

There are many scenes that lend themselves to a laughing audience, or one gripping their seats. I shall not, however, spoil it for you. There are alien races apart from the Asgardians, there are some absolutely hilarious comic moments – even during the climax action scenes – and there are some losses.

I saw the movie in 3D, and after the initial discomfort that sets in, I actually forgot I was watching it in 3D. I think though, that that’s what one needs: watching 3D and forgetting it’s in that format and immersing in the movie and how good it looks, without worrying whether the alien is going to fly straight towards your nose or not.

The movie may be slightly longer than most, at just over two hours, but is a fine amount of time to develop the story well and leave the audience waiting for more. And it’s not the CGI that dictates the flow of the movie, and for that I’m extremely thankful.

It’s a dysfunctional motley of heroes we’ve got, but they put on a show. And what a show it is, conducted by the ring leader, Joss Whedon, who must really take a bow for his accomplishment.

A super-hero film that relies on great acting, fine direction and a whole lot of gritty pizzazz. Watch this movie, because it’s one of those rare gems that really does live up to your expectations.

 

How to cosplay like Princess Leia

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Photograph courtesy Muzammil Majeed

A historic event happened just two weeks ago – the first Middle East Film and Comic Con took place in Dubai, UAE.

See all the pictures from the two-day event here.

I won’t go into detail about what happened; I’m hoping the pictures are sufficient. I will say though, that if you like John Rhys-Davies, Luciana Carro, Jason Momoa, Mark Sheppard and Max Landis, you WILL enjoy those photographs.

The second day of the event, I’d decided to cosplay as Princess Leia from Star Wars.

After months of being asked the same question over and over again when…wait, just read:

XYZ-person: “Oh are you cosplaying for MEFCC?”
Me: “Yes! As Princess Leia.”
*pause*
XYZ-person: “The…uhh…gold bikini?”

I quickly learned my answer needed to be this: “Yes! As Princess Leia from A New Hope, NOT the Jabba’s lair version.”

I still got gold bikini comments though. 

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Photograph courtesy Carlin Gerbich

So HOW does one get the Princess Leia look?

First, don’t do what I did, which was make my Mom run around Dubai’s shops looking for a white dress that could work. For one, that can make your Mom slightly annoyed (mine wasn’t thank goodness, but I could sense through the Force she was soon to be), and second, you will not find it even if you do look. Honestly, we looked and looked and looked, and NOTHING looked right.

What you should do instead is this:

  • Google Image Search “Princess Leia white dress” and print off images that look closest to the look you want and as large as possible
  • Procure a mother like mine who, without me asking her, comes up to me and hands me her 6-yard white sari and says, “Make your dress from this.” Alternatively, go to Meena Bazaar or Satwa and find white cloth. Coz let’s face it, my Mom is something awesome.
  • Also buy “butter crepe” the same colour as your dress material, for lining.

AND NOW FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT BIT:

  • Call this number 050 349 2209 or email bhambra.preeti@gmail.com. Save this number because it is the single most important thing this blog post is giving you. That number will lead you to Mrs Rani Kaur, who is my friend Gurvinder aka Preeti Bhambra’s mother, who stitches like something out of a dream. Her fitting is perfect, her ability to sense what you want and how you want it is impeccable, and it doesn’t cost you a bomb.

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Photograph courtesy Carlin Gerbich

She took one look at the photographs, and I could see her creative brain whirring away. I came back a few days later and the dress was ready! Also, the belt I used is Gurvinder’s, so having cool friends with awesome accessories also helps.

Now for the hair.

  • Find a friend like Shruti who, like my mother, just comes up to me and says, “Find me a YouTube tutorial and I’ll do your hair.”
  • Find one that involves socks. Like this:
  • Realize that while it takes three minutes in the video, it will actually take close to an hour.
  • Find clean socks.
  • Become the Princess when the buns are done!

It was a lot of fun cosplaying; also because so many people recognized who I was meant to be, and came up to me. I took pictures with Yoda, Chewbacca, along with random visitors at the event who asked if they could click my picture, if I could stand in a picture alongside their kids (yes, really!), and the best part was when two people came up to me at different times and said, “Your costume is the best we’ve seen throughout the event.”

And for that, I shall thank (in Oscar-acceptance speech style): my Mom for the white sari and introducing me to Star Wars, my friend Gurvinder and her Mom for the awesome work on creating the dress, and Shruti for completing the final piece of the Leia puzzle and making me rock my buns.

In other news, Star Wars day is coming up… May The Fourth…and there’s an event to celebrate it. Click this link for more info on NerdyCon DXB 2012. I’ll be there, though not in costume. I’ll be in one of my awesome MEFCC t-shirts I bought: “Luke Habibi I am your father” or “Shou Droids?”

See you there, and may the Force be with you. Always.

Flying towards my Star Wars obsession…

When I was a little girl, watching movies about something called the Force, and a black-clad man who breathed as if through a ventilator, and watched a little green thing mix up his sentence construction, little did I know my passion obsession for it would leave me on a plane on a journey 7-8 hours away just to attend a weekend dedicated to the world of Star Wars.

When this post publishes, I’ll probably be near London, or already landed.
This is another birthday present to myself: a long trip to the UK. But I never would’ve taken the initiative to organize this trip for myself had a little newsletter not popped up in my inbox. I don’t often subscribe to them; I find many of them annoying. Indeed, when I signed up for the Guardian Masterclass newsletter, I had no idea where it would take me. I sometimes don’t even read the newsletters that come winging my way; the ‘delete’ button is my friend. But I did click on a particular one that arrived on November 29, 2011 and was titled: “Enrol now for Star Wars weekend in Scotland”.
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Since then I was hooked. I kept thinking about whether I could make it happen. Could I afford it? Was it worth it? But I missed UK far too much… I left the country on January 27, 2011 (that date is embedded in my mind), with a heavy heart. I fell in love with the UK and after not having seen my friends or been there for months, I knew this was a reason to go back on holiday. Plane tickets booked, friends informed, and visa in hand … I was ready.
But why would I go for a Star Wars weekend? Simply because I love the Star Wars ‘verse. Here’s a quick glimpse of the things I have or the places I’ve been or the events I’ve gone for that fill the geeky me with glee:
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  • My second Star Wars poster, which I got for a cool 99p at the most awesome store ever, Forbidden Planet
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  • My third Star Wars poster…can’t even remember when I got this!
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  • A magic Star Wars cube, which I picked up while rummaging through the dusty labyrinths of Camden (no picture, sorry!)
  • My McDs Happy Meal toy: double-sided lightsaber

 

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  • I even have the book of the movies!
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  • My re-mastered Star Wars DVD set
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  • My old Star Wars re-mastered VHS tapes, and…
  • My even older Star Wars VHS tapes…and…
  • Revenge of the Sith on DVD
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  • My Star Wars t-shirt from Camden
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  • My other Star Wars t-shirt from a travelling sci-fi fair in Sheffield
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  • Yoda
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  • Star Wars Monopoly set
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  • Star Wars bumper sticker: “My other ride is an X-Wing”
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  • Star Wars iPad decal…ON MY iPad!
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  • My customised Empire Darth Vader notebook (btw if anyone can get me a copy of that iconic breathing cover, PLEASE let me know…would really appreciate it!)
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I probably have some more things about somewhere, but this is all that comes to mind right now. Here’s to an awesome weekend, and learning a lot more about the movies that have such an ingrained part of my life.
May the Force be with us all

– Darth Devina (as Ayub called me when he saw the engraving on my iPad)

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Book-to-movie adaptations; what do authors think about it? An @EmiratesLitFest panel.

An author, whom I must admit I hadn’t heard of before this year’s LitFest*, said something I whole-heartedly agreed with:

“It’s almost blasphemous to say this in a panel of writers, but a bad adaptation is when the movie is literal.” – Tom Rob Smith

*I shall add, Tom Rob Smith, that I’ve since purchased your book Child 44 and hope to dive into it soon.

He was speaking amidst the film panel at the Emirates Litfest 2012, on Friday, March 9. This was also my first session this year, and I’m happy to say I felt the weekend would go well with such a cracking start.

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The panel consisted of Smith, Mark Billingham, Nicholas Sparks (whose solo session I already blogged about) and Chan Koonchung, and was chaired by Paul Blezard.

Movies and TV shows are such an integral part of my life; I’ve got rows and rows of (original) DVDs lining the shelves in my living room, and I’ve been known to maniacally click on Amazon.co.uk’s Black Friday deals two years in a row now – the first year I came away with the entire boxed collection of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and the second time got Star Trek: The Original Series.

Poirot is perhaps a good starting point. Based on the books by whodunnit writer extraordinaire Agatha Christie, the TV-movies are mostly excellent adaptations of her stories. But not all movies get it right.

My friends know I quite love the Harry Potter series. But I’ve no qualms in admitting the first two movies in the franchise were, to me, absolutely awful. Why? One massive reason stood out amongst others: it was too literal. Which is what Smith said.

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He went on to add that, in his opinion, the novel was the product, whereas the screenplay of the movie was the template. Sparks agreed with Smith and said as an author, one should be willing to see the movie “can be different from the novel”.

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And while movies that strike a chord with people leads them to seek the inspiration behind the story, for example the book it was based on, Blezard posed a question on whether the reverse was true…whether bad movies reflected badly on the authors of the book.

Sparks said not. “No one associates the movie with the book if the movie is bad, but if the film is good you get a bump. They are like commercials for your book-writing career if they are done well.” Sparks has three of his books in various stages of movie production at present.
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The problem with getting a movie to be an excellent adaptation is the essence of time. Blezard put it well; he conducted an experiment of sorts with a friend and here’s what he got out of it: “The average novel is about 120,000 words and it contains 700-800 events. The average movie is 120 minutes long and has 70-80 events and that’s why you lose so much of the essence of the book.”

Billingham had a similar point of view, I imagine, when he said short stories make better movies than novels, “because often great movies are the best of the heart of the novel than anything else.”

The authors agreed that getting to the essence of the book was important for getting a good movie; Sparks even commented on how the movie version of The Notebook was different from the book in treatment, that is, the life of the lead characters when they were young was given more air time than it was present in the book. Yet, he liked the movie because the essence of the book was captured.

I’m really glad the authors had to say this, because I’ve often had to deal with loyalists of books like Harry Potter, for example, who rant and rail about how the movie took liberty with the story, but from the third movie onwards, I’m so glad they did because clearly making it literal was just plain bad (an exception to this is in the last movie when I was actually really upset about how Voldemort was killed, but a minor quiffle after eight movies is not too bad, innit?).

When asked to pick their favourite book-to-movie adaptations, here’s what we got:
  • Smith – Jurassic Park
  • Billingham – Jaws and the Godfather series
  • Koonchung: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Sparks: Forrest Gump
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There was a bit of a hilarious discussion on how important an author on a movie set really is. Billingham said the writer probably comes below the caterer in the grand scheme of things. He added that most movie production teams ask if the writer wants to get involved and secretly hope they won’t get involved at all.

Even another session with YA horror author Darren Shan, later in the day, brought up the topic of movies. I haven’t seen the film myself, but Shan seemed surprised he was happy with it. He said: “I didn’t think I would like it (the movie), but I did. It wasn’t perfect but it was a nice freaky film. But I really liked the manga adaptation.”

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Going back to the film panel, I really enjoyed the discussion that morning – along with discussing what the authors think of their books being brought to life, there was a lot of insight on how the film industry works and the lack of 100% control these authors have over the screenplay.

A lively session, which I’m glad, as a movie-buff and bookworm, I attended.

Movie Review – Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

Many who have grown up reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes may not recognize the character in the movie version. Holmes in the movie is snappier, more prone to action, and so much more debonair.

When the first installment in the series came out in 2009, it enthralled. The second one is interesting, but in a different way. Game of Shadows has no substantial story to speak of (the movie’s storylines have nearly nothing to do with the ones we have read in the books). It’s basic: Professor Moriarty is unleashing himself on the world, with the dastardly plan of causing the first World War before its time and Holmes takes it on himself to stop him.

The actors slip into their roles easily. Robert Downey Jr is still the rogue-ish Holmes, and his banter with Jude Law’s Watson still making us chuckle. Rachel McAdams is wasted in her miniscule appearance as Irene Adler. Stephen Fry steps in to Mycroft Holmes feet and has his moments. Noomi Rapace is cast as a gypsy whom Moriarty is trying to kill for various reasons but fails to impress. Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) appears…but you blink and he’s gone. Kelly Reilly rounds up Holmes’ supporters as Watson’s wife. Which brings us to Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty. When you see the trailers, he does not look like he can be menacing at all. He’s not. I was yearning for Mark Strong’s eerie and chilling portrayal of Lord Blackwood. Don’t get me wrong; Harris does his job well…but I’m not scared of him. And I want to be.

Guy Ritchie picks up the pace from the first movie and runs faster. The slow-motion sequences are aplenty, but the most eye-catching and attention-grabbing being a chase sequence set in a forest. Its direction lends a different viewpoint and indeed, a clearer idea, of what happens when the guns are blazing and people are running for their lives. By one point though, the amount of slow-motion shots in the movie make you want to close your eyes and wait for it to be over.

It’s not really a detective story by this point, but more an action adventure. There is a quick nod to The Final Problem but that’s as close to the books as you’re going to get.

As Holmes himself said: “It’s so overt, it’s covert.”