“Literary Sources”, that’s a highly debatable term. Here I just mean anything that’s written, with text, and had been published in real paper or digitally. Which means, Avengers: Age of Ultron is eligible, having been published as a comic book, with text accompanying graphics. Indeed, that’s one movie I’ll be watching. Main attraction: James Spader as Ultron.
Now, for the list. I admit that’s subjective because it’s my list. I include here some titles that pique my interest, ones that I feel would create some ripples. So here it is.
Far From The Madding Crowd (May 1, 2015)
I have talked about this in a previous post, and now the time has come. In just a few days – opening the same day as Avengers: Age of Ultron – is a new version of Thomas Hardy’s classic. What an assortment of delights in our entertainment smorgasbord. Almost fifty years have past since John Schlesinger’s 1967 production, the definitive version shall I say. Schlesinger was a director of high repute; two years after Madding Crowd he went on to win the Oscar best picture for Midnight Cowboy. His stars for the Hardy adaptation were all high caliber actors: Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Alan Bates. But watching it again a while ago I couldn’t help but feel it a bit dated. Now almost fifty years later, a 21st C. attempt is viable and anticipated. I should reserve my judgement until I’ve seen the movie of course, but from the trailers, it sure looks like a very contemporary take on 19th C. literature. Will the eversweet Carey Mulligan make a believable Bathsheba Everdene?
Macbeth (May 2015)
Acclaimed Australian director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth will premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in May. Shakespeare’s works are probably the most adapted sources on screen. Just for Macbeth, we have 200 results if you go on IMDb. So why watch another one? For one reason, how many Macbeth’s have your actually seen on screen? I’m sure there are other good reasons too, like, watching Academy Awards best actress Marion Cotillard transform from Edith Piaff into Lady Macbeth should be interesting. What more, with high calibre character actor Michael Fassbender as Macbeth, the two should make a dynamic, murderous duo.
Based on the National Book Award winning bio (1978) Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg. Perkins was editor at Scribner, a ‘genius’ because he brought to the world the works of Earnest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, among others. He was also the man who told Hemingway to “tone it down”. To these great writers, Perkins was also critic, money-lender, psychoanalyst, and friend. What’s interesting is that the 500+ page bio is adapted into film with its director and most of the main cast all non-Americans. Acclaimed stage director Michael Grandage, cast includes Colin Firth, Jude Law, Dominic West, Guy Pearce, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney. Screenplay by John Logan who wrote Skyfall (2012). Yup.
Joyce Carol Oates’s imaginary account of Marilyn Monroe was a finalist of the National Book Award in 2000 and the Pulitzer in 2001. It just happened that recently I’ve re-watched My Week with Marilyn (2011, Michelle Williams as MM) and the superb doc Love, Marilyn (2012), both leaving me with a troubling sadness. I’ve not read Oates’s novel and know not how she approaches her subject, who I feel, despite her talent and popularity, was a victim of objectification as a sex symbol, exploited for her beauty and sexuality, despised for her inadequacy by her husband AM, drowned in fame, and eventually, lost her total self. I hope Oates’s perspective is internal and sympathetic. I love the choice for the role: Jessica Chastain.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
With the success of Cinderella (2015), looks like this is the trend: Animation turned into live-action feature. I do look forward to this one. I mean, even with such a worn-out, age-old tale like Cinderella can be revitalized and brought back to life with such vigour and sparks, I trust Disney’s Beatuy and the Beast can be adapted into an even more entertaining work. After all, that’s a story I love much more than Cinderella. Take a look at this human cast: Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as Beast (a long way from Matthew Crawley), Luke Evans as Gaston, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, Stanley Tucci as Cadenza, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, Kevin Klein as Maurice, directed by the Oscar winning Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Twilight). But can they all sing?
“Goodbye to All That” (Film rights optioned)
This is not Robert Graves’s autobiography but Joan Didion’s essay in her collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968). The film rights have just been optioned recently by Megan Carlson and Brian Sullivan as the first project of their production company. A feature film based on an essay is a most interesting idea. But this is no ordinary essay. Didion’s seminal piece in her iconic collection contains substantial materials as a springboard to a full length movie, and I believe it can be done. The essay is a summarized account of her years living in New York City working for Vogue, an essay prize she won while at UC Berkeley. At first thinking of staying in NYC for six months, eventually living there eight years until she married John Dunne and moved back to CA. I highly anticipate this movie adaptation. The producers are seeking for a female screenwriter and director for the feature. Who other than Didion herself should do the writing?