Books Into Movies at Upcoming Film Festivals

One consolation of seeing leaves turn yellow (yes, I’m seeing it already) is the kick-off of fall Film Festivals. This year at TIFF and NYFF, there are several movie adaptations of books and stage plays. The following are some titles announced so far. (Images below are book covers. For film images click on links.)

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF Sept. 4 – 14)


hector and the search for happinessHector And the Search for Happiness by François Lelord

I don’t like to compare, but for this one, the film version may just be better than the book which I found disappointing considering the appealing title. With a globe-trotting storyline, what better way to experience it than to see the sights and hear the sounds on the big screen. But of course, how it’s adapted is crucial. Considering the cast, I hope the film can bring at least a couple hours of happiness: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Plummer.


The HumblingThe Humbling by Philip Roth

In this adaptation of Roth’s 30th book (published 2009), Al Pacino plays the older man attempting to experience a total rejuvenation via an affair with a much younger woman, played by Greta Gerwig. Directed by Barry Levinson (Oscar Best Director for Rain Man, 1988). I’d read several of Roth’s previous books and learned not to be shocked by what he described. However, would I be interested to explore what’s in store in The Humbling? TIFF has about 300 films screening, I think I’ll let the diehard Roth or Pacino fans rush in for this one, albeit I’m quite fond of Greta Gerwig. BTW, a film adaptation of his Pulitzer Prize (1998) winning American Pastoral had been announced.


The Prophet

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

If Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past can be turned into graphic novels, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet can be visualized in an animated film. Animations are not my usual movie choice in recent years but this time at TIFF I’d like to catch this one. The adaptation is a collaboration of international animation artists, voiced by Beasts of the Southern Wild‘s child star Quvenzhané Wallis, with Liam Neeson voicing the poet. Directed by Roger Allers, who is the writer and/or director of some memorable Disney collection such as The Little Matchgirl (2006), The Lion King (1994), Aladdin (1992), Beauty and the Beast (1991).


Plays of StrindbergMiss Julie (Play) by August Strindberg

Newest film version of the 1888 play by Swedish playwright August Strindberg. Adapted and directed by Liv Ullmann, the famous Ingmar Bergman actress; maybe relevant here is her role in Persona (1966). Apparently, or maybe not so, Strindberg was exploring the psychological make-up of ‘womanhood’ and the complex interplay of nature, nurture, and circumstance. I finished reading the play with an apprehensive sigh… will this be a good role for Jessica Chastain? This is not a sympathetic character, Miss Julie, a confused, flirtatious mistress seducing her valet. A film that would rest mainly on character and acting. So maybe Chastain is a good choice. The valet? Colin Farrell, not too sure about that one. Samantha Morton’s the cook, thus forms the triangle of power play.


My Old LadyMy Old Lady (Play) by Israel Horowitz

American playwright Israel Horowitz adapted his own 1996 stage play onto screen and directed it, with three prominent actors performing. This one is on my must-see list at TIFF. An American inherited from his late father a Paris apartment which to his surprise, is occupied by an old lady who, according to the legal arrangement, has the right to live there till she dies. Her daughter forms the invincible alliance. This entangled threesome: Two-time Oscar winner Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, California Suite), who will turn 80 later this year, her equally formidable daughter, Kristin Scott Thomas (Oscar nom for The English Patient), and the unlucky (or maybe not) American, Kevin Kline (Oscar winner for A Fish Called Wanda). Whether a stage play or film, these three would make a dream cast.


Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Julianne Moore plays an accomplished academic, Columbia (Harvard in book) University professor battling early onset Alzheimer’s disease, based on the novel by neuroscientist turned writer Lisa Genova. Genova first self-published her book, later Simon and Schuster picked it up and the rest is history. It’s now selling in 30 countries and translated into more than 20 languages. Genova, a Ph.D in neuroscience, gives much credibility to her book. How will the film pan out? Julianne Moore would be one who can deliver a nuanced performance. Cast includes Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin.



WildWild by Cheryl Strayed 

On the heels of his Oscar nominated Dallas Buyers Club last year, Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée brings out a totally different kind of production. Wild is based on the NYT #1 Bestseller memoir by Cheryl Strayed. Screenplay by the reliable Nick Hornby (Oscar Best Adapted Screenplay nom for An Education, 2009). Following the death of her mother, Strayed, then 26, divorced, devastated, drugged, went on a long-distance hike, 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail through California and Oregon. ‘Wild’ has a double inference here: the nature trail and the character walking on it. The journey could well be redemptive and perilous at the same time. The books in Strayed’s backpack included Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. Reese Witherspoon and Gaby Hoffmann star.






Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
To open NYFF is the premiere of this highly anticipated film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s popular suspense novel. Two-time Oscar Best Director nominee David Fincher (The Social Network, 2010; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2009) helms. Yes, the buzz is also due to Ben Affleck (Oscar winner, Argo, 2012) playing the husband who finds his wife missing one day and thus begins the extraordinary sequence of events down the rabbit hole. Rosamund Pike plays the mysteriously gone girl. Yes, I’ve read the book. And just because of that, knowing the twists and ending, will I still be interested in watching this ‘suspense thriller’?



Inherent ViceInherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
Five-time Academy Award nominee, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s works include The Master (2012) and There Will Be Blood (2007) for which Daniel Day-Lewis won one of his three Best Actor Oscars. But the film I like best is his Punch-Drunk Love (2002). Author Pynchon’s most famous book probably is Gravity’s Rainbow, which I’ve only heard of but not read. Actually, I haven’t read any of Pynchon’s noir detective novels. Pot seems to be the motif. Anderson directs Joaquin Phoenix again after The Master, cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Jena Malone.




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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

22 thoughts on “Books Into Movies at Upcoming Film Festivals”

  1. I’m looking forward to Miss Julie, mostly due to the presence of the wonderful Samantha Morton, but I’m also iffy about Colin Farrell. Anything Paul Thomas Anderson does is worth checking out, so thanks for highlighting that one for me!


    1. Cathy,

      JC is one versatile actor, I’m sure she can deliver. SM too. We’ll have to see how CF fares. Anyway, since Liv Ullmann is directing, I want to see this. As for Anderson’s, I just might skip it. There are so many other choices. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. 😉


  2. Maggie, Kristin and Kevin? I’d be there in a heartbeat, just to hear them read the phone book. That’s a good start to a line-up.

    I meant to email you this — and it’s almost over, I think. But take a look at the link for the Traverse City Film Festival — held about an hour away from me up at the lake. I have never been, though it’s in its tenth year (it takes a lot to get me to Traverse City, which is beautiful but crowded!). MIchael Moore founded it and it’s a mix of lots of indies, docs, a few old classics, workshops and talkbacks. I know travel can get complicated — there are lots of festivals, family things, life in general — but someday come to this one — we could commute from the lake or head back there after.


    1. Jeanie,

      This sounds like a fun summer festival. Yes I’ve heard of the TCFF, but didn’t know it’s so close to where you are, or your lake. Hope you’ve had the time to hop over there and soak in some sights and sounds. And yes, My Old Lady is on my list, imagine the whole film with just these three talents performing, up-close and not from afar like in a stage play. I don’t mind leaves turning yellow really. 😉


    1. JoAnn,

      I’m on wait list for the audiobook of this, planning to finish it before heading to TIFF. Yes, I’ve heard about it, and have been delaying experiencing it.


  3. You already saw some yellow leaves, goodness! We’ve had a cooler than usual summer in the NYC area so it feels like summer is just starting in a way. Looking froward to seeing these movies.


    1. Letizia,

      Yes, summer is short here. But I don’t mind that much because fall is beautiful. No red leaves, but many golden moments. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. Have a wonderful rest of summer. 😉


  4. My husband and I used to frequent Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival, which is held in March. Otherwise, the only ones we’ve attended are local ones. One of our theaters shows classic old movies every summer and another hosts a weekend of the Oscar nominees.

    Of the books you listed which are being brought to movies, the only one I’ve read is Still Alice. It’s been a few years, but I still remember the impact. I’d like to see a well-done screen version of it.


    1. Allison,

      My experience of ‘Eastern’ Canada is TIFF in September. One of these days, I’d like to go further than that… I know, lots to see. But I never expected icebergs though. Your photos are magnificent. I’m on hold of the Still Alice audiobook at the library. So hopefully I can finish that before I head out to TO. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.


  5. My walnut tree is already dropping yellow leaves. It always does this in August, but it’s still a depressing reminder that summer days are limited.

    My book club had a spirited discussion about Gone Girl and the ending. We’re planning an outing to see and discuss the movie. I know they’ve made some plot changes so I suppose some people will be happy!


    1. That’s exactly what I was thinking… They must have to change something, create new twists and turns, even the ending, in order to attract those who have read the book. I’d be interested to see what you and your book club think of the film. As for me, I don’t think I’ll have the chance to see it anytime soon.


  6. I am not sure whether it is better to read the book first or see the movie. I did read 12 Years a Slave last summer and then saw the movie – and I liked both, but was pleased I read the book first as it gave extra information that provided me with more understanding. Of the books you mention I have read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet but decades ago.
    I did buy Still Alice at the book sale last year but have not read it – or rather, put it off as I have heard it is a strong book. I know it is about Alzheimer disease and having to deal with it at home I am a bit apprehensive about reading it. My husband does not talk about his illness – does not want to believe it, so it would be hard to read it in front of him, and I try to forget that he has the disease, even though he only has short term memory problems right now I know it is not curable, so I am afraid to read about it in a way.
    I am intrigued by My Old Lady – I have never heard of it but now will look for it, as the subject sounds fun.


    1. VB,

      I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through a difficult time with a first-hand experience of what it’s like to live with and take care of an Alzheimer’s sufferer. My heart goes out to you, especially if it’s ‘early onset’. My mom has dementia, and I know what it’s like. But she’s in her 90’s. I can understand why you’d avoided reading the book. In a way, I had too. I’m waiting for the audiobook now after so many years. And, I just might not be seeing the film; with Julianne Moore playing the role, I know it’s going to be very real and poignant.
      Yes, My Old Lady, isn’t that a dream cast? I can’t wait to see that one. Have i told you, or maybe you know by now, I’m a fan of Kristin Scott Thomas, and greatly admire that she can act in both English and French films.


  7. Yellow leaves? My heart is breaking. It’s hot and humid over here, and all life here is frankly stunned with discomfort.

    TIFF is big news in entertainment PR (where I work); we’ll be watching all acquisitions and screening reviews very closely.


    1. Aubrey,

      Yes, TIFF is one of the biggest, and I think more and more ‘mainstream’. So that’s why its popularity has grown over the recent years. Will you be covering the event?


  8. Arti, my friend Milton is dying for the release of the NYFF schedule (he’s a member of the Film Society of Lincoln Center which is how we’re able to purchase tickets before the general public). Gone Girl is opening a few days after the festival starts, so I think I’ll opt to see it in my neighborhood multiplex for significantly less than the NYFF ticket price. But Inherent Vice is not getting released until the end of the year (at least that’s what we figure in NYC and LA), so we’ll likely jump all over that one. My favorite P.T. Anderson film is There Will Be Blood. I thought that one was brilliant and I got to see it for free at a star studded premier screening at the Ziegfeld theater in the heart of midtown Manhattan. The only thing that was a drag was that I was told I wasn’t allowed to take a guest so I went solo, but when I picked up my ticket, I opened my envelope and I had two passes. That killed me. I so regretted not having Milton with me since we always try to do those types of spectacular screenings together. And he LOVES the Ziegfeld.


    1. LA,

      I tend to agree with you about not seeing the films that I know I’ll have the chance to see soon after the festival, mainly as you said for the price difference. But the major attraction watching them at festivals is the cast and director’s Q & A after the screenings, not all, but some. I’d found those talks and interactions most inspiring. That’s the main reason I’m willing to pay the hefty sum, or else I’ll just go to half price Tuesday.
      What a bummer for your bad experience with your movie pass for the star-studded premiere of There Will Be Blood (don’t think I’ll ever have that chance), a missed chance to have Milton join you. I might have a chance though to get a free pass for Boyhood, which I highly anticipate. But even if I don’t get it I’d pay to see that one. Glad that it even comes here to Cowtown. As for me, these passes usually admit two. But I often just go by myself since I like to be silently absorbing a film without being anti-social. I’ll be heading to TIFF in early Sept. and since I’m not a member, I’ve to wait till the members have made their selections before I can pick mine. So hopefully I can still see some I anticipate. I can understand Milton’s anxiety to know about the NYFF full program.


      1. I love the NYFF for the opportunity to hear the filmmakers and cast members talk, but when the moderator opens up the post-screening q&a to audience questions, that’s when I find myself reaching for the Tums. Often, the questions are non-questions; just some airhead rambling pointlessly in an almost stream of consciousness monologue. Milton and I find that breed of gasbag tortuous. We have attended some post-screening q&a’s that were surprisingly intelligent, but those are few and far between. One of my favorites involved Catherine Breillat who completely cut an idiot in the audience to size. She was not mean to this dolt, but she certainly could have spoken for both Milton and me when people without an actual question in mind yammer. We rarely ever participate, even though I have occasionally had a question that Milton will say, “I wish you asked that!” I’m just not compelled to do so because I often find the questions asked, when they really are questions (“what was your shooting ratio?” who gives a rat’s butt?), rather insipid. But, I do love the atmosphere of the NYFF. I was once inhaling a roast beef sandwich, waiting for Milton to arrive, when Michael Haneke walked right past me. That was such a thrill.


        1. Yes, during a FF, the whole city is electrifying. Not that I’m a stalker (only for birds) or star gazer but I could feel the excitement. Thing is, I may not recognize Michael Haneke even if he walks past me, albeit, I was most gratified to have seen Ciran Hinds and Jessica Chastain up close.
          And LOL! Your description of ‘some airhead rambling pointlessly in an almost stream of consciousness monologue’ makes me think of that guy lining up at a movie theatre yapping away on Marshall McLuhan when Woody Allen standing in front of him with Diane Keaton brings him to face the real one.
          But one of my own experience was, when after watching The Lady, which was a disappointing flop by Luc Besson on Aung San Suu Kyi, someone from the audience stood up and identified herself as her neighbour and delivered some heartfelt sharing (succinctly, which made it all the more precious.)


  9. Of these, Still Alice sounds the most intriguing to me. Several parents of friends are going through various stages of Alzheimer’s with varying degrees of denial from their children and family members.

    I listened to Girl Gone with that can’t-stop-looking-at-train-wreck feel. Don’t think I could do the film.


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