Monday, December 21, 2009


Welcome to another new feature on Keep the Wisdom. I find it interesting to watch movies made from books I have read. Usually they disappoint me but I have decided that in this visual age, it is probably good for authors that their stories get made as movies. It might, just might, promote reading. Not since the 1940s have so many books, even literary novels, been made into movies.

I do hate it when the mental pictures I already have for a story are trashed by the movie, but lately I think even that has been less a problem for me. The trick for the screenwriter and the director is staying true to the ideas that underlie the story, which is my main criterion for whether or not the movie is a success.

Here are the ones I watched this month:

SNOW ANGELS is from the 1994 first novel by Stewart O'Nan. While it was extremely sad and dark, I liked the book and always intended to read more by that author, though I haven't yet. I liked the movie because it brought the story back for me with all of the considerable emotion I felt while reading the book. A teenage boy is getting through the first months of his parents' separation. Looking perhaps for a mother figure, he gets involved with the babysitter he had as a young child, but tragedy strikes her life. The characters are dysfunctional, small-town people, similar to those in Richard Russo's books, though without the hope. The movie came out in 2006, from an indie studio (Warner Independent.) Kate Beckinsale, who plays the baby sitter, gives a stunning performance. Not recommended if you are prone to depression.

MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY was saved by Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew. If this book had not been made into a movie, I would not have had to read the book for a reading group. I was not as charmed by it as most readers seem to have been. Amy Adams drove me completely crazy and the story was changed (unnecessarily, I thought) to the point where it lost what charm it may have had. But Frances: there is nothing she can't do as an actress. And the clothes were fabulous.

ELECTION: The book was OK. The movie was entertaining but poor Reese Witherspoon, whom I love, had to play that horrible Tracy Flick. I realize that it is something of a cult flick, it is a great spoof on high school life, but it just did not do it for me.

What movies made from books have you seen lately and how did they match up to your reading experience?

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