literary adaptations

Ben Affleck

Hot off of his Oscar non-nomination for directing Argo, increasingly beloved on Twitter Hollywood personality Ben Affleck has confirmed that his next project as a director is going to be an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel, “Live by Night.” It’s long been thought that this material was one of the things that Affleck planned on working on, but given his now in-demand status as a director, his ongoing acting career, and the time he spends being the center of ridiculous political rumors, it was never quite clear when or if he was going to get around to it. In a recent interview with MTV [via Coming Soon], however, Matt Damon’s possible best friend revealed that the Lehane adaptation is officially going to be the next thing he works on. In fact, the exact words he used were, “Basically, I’m doing this movie called Live by Night, and I’m trying to meet this schedule in order to do it and meet the back end so I can have it released at the right time.” This tightness in scheduling, it turns out, is the reason he had to drop out of acting opposite Kristen Stewart in Focus. So what’s Live by Night going to be all about? For the scoop, let’s turn to the novel’s trusty Amazon description, which describes it by saying:

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Paul Thomas Anderson

Speculation surrounding what Paul Thomas Anderson’s next project is going to be like is usually intense enough in the film geek community, but when the guy starts making claims in interviews that his next film is going to be like a Cheech and Chong movie, well then people really start scratching their heads. The project in question is called Inherent Vice, and it’s an adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel that the director has been said to have been working on for about as long as we’ve known he was going to make The Master. Pynchon’s book is set in ’60s-era Los Angeles and features a drug-soaked private investigator named Larry “Doc” Sportello as its protagonist. It’s a story that’s awash with music and cultural references from the era, and in a profile that The New York Times did on Anderson, he gave the publication a little bit of insight into what the process of adapting this rich tapestry of experience from the page to the screen has been like. What’s most notable is that, unlike how we heard There Will Be Blood was an adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s book “Oil!” and then the two proved to only have loose connections, this time around Anderson is looking to do a fairly faithful adaptation of Pynchon’s work, so much so that he seems to have been working with the author, who is famously reclusive and not prone to accepting visitors. When asked to elaborate on the cooperation that’s gone on between […]

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The Great Gatsby

If there’s one thing our culture never gets tired of, it’s tabloid news. Taking a promising young pretty person, anointing them with almost mythic stature, and then feasting on their misery like psychic vampires when they eventually succumb to scandal and fall from grace…that’s the name of the game! Seeing as the new trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby sticks pretty closely to this formula, and presents things with the flashy, kinetic visual style that the director has become famous for, chances are it’s going to do a good job of selling this story to a wider audience than was willing to read Fitzgerald’s novel in their high school English class. When it was first announced that Luhrmann was going to be tackling material as generally dry as Gatsby, and filming it in 3D no less, the entire notion seemed kind of absurd. But after watching this trailer, it starts to make a bit of sense. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is getting what he wants by entering and mastering a world of artifice. The main drama in the story is generally concerned with who’s sleeping with who. Plus, this is a period piece that affords its director the opportunity to stage several lavish parties. All of that isn’t too far off from what Luhrmann has already done with Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!

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The Forever War Cover

After making a real stinker with Robin Hood, veteran director Ridley Scott seemed to get some of his mojo back by revisiting his Alien roots with his most recent film, Prometheus. Script problems aside, that movie had quite a bit going for it, not the least of which were a couple strong performances and a load of jaw-dropping visuals. So why not try to keep a good thing going by sticking to the sci-fi genre? To that end, Fox 2000 has optioned a classic sci-fi novel for the director to bring to the big screen. According to Deadline, the studio has hired Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters scribe Dante Harper to adapt Joe Haldeman’s Nebula- and Hugo-winning 1974 novel “The Forever War.” Scott himself describes the book as being, “a science-fiction epic, a bit of ‘The Odyssey’ by way of Blade Runner, built on a brilliant, disorienting premise.”

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If you’ve ever spent any extended time in a coffee shop or a freshman dorm, chances are you’ve seen a good number of young people with open hearts and confused eyes dutifully thumbing through the pages of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” It’s one of those books you just have to get into when you’re coming of age, like “The Catcher in the Rye,” or, if you’re a sociopath, Ayn Rand’s stuff. Given the book’s enduring popularity, it’s strange that it’s taken so long for Hollywood to make a big screen adaptation, but, nevertheless, the wait is over, and the first trailer for the film is here. How does it look? Well, it looks like director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and his camera crew have shot a beautiful film. And seeing as the narration put over this trailer quotes one of the most famous passages from Kerouac’s novel, it looks like he’s made a film that’s very much On the Road. This seems to be a straight adaptation; the essence of the book put up on the screen, without any unexpected detours.

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David Goyer

Given his writing credits on superhero epics like The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, and even the first three Blade movies, David Goyer is no stranger to high profile filmmaking. Which is experience that should serve him well as he transitions over from being a writer to someone who’s doing more work as a producer. Especially considering the latest project he has a hand in putting together is an adaptation of Patrick Lee’s epic end-of-the-world thriller, “The Breach,” a film that Goyer is producing alongside Transformers’ Lorenzo di Bonaventura. What exactly is The Breach going to be about? Well, if you’ve read the book you know, but for those of us ignorant on the subject, the studio seems to be giving the simple synopsis that it’s a story about, “an ex-cop who races to prevent an artifact from bringing about an apocalypse.” Sounds like bad stuff already, but the book’s Amazon description hints at an even larger scope. Its rundown of the novel’s plot reads:

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Hathaway and Hemsworth

If you’re looking for a movie about cyborgs that has a creative team with a good amount of solid, robot-related sci-fi experience under their belt, then Amped might be the project for you. THR has word that this is going to be the next film for director Alex Proyas, who first captured film fans’ attentions with things like The Crow and Dark City, and later went on to make his robot bones with 2004’s I, Robot. Proyas isn’t the only robot-friendly name with a hand in the creation of this project, either. Amped comes from a Daniel H. Wilson novel of the same name; and if you don’t know who Wilson is, he’s a contributor to “Popular Mechanics” as their “resident roboticist,” and he wrote the novels “How to Survive a Robot Uprising,” “How to Build a Robot Army,” and “Robopocalypse,” which is serving as the source material for Steven Spielberg’s next film. The guy knows his robots. But what, exactly, is the story that Proyas’ eye for sci-fi visuals will be bringing to the big screen? Let’s let the original novel’s Amazon description fill us in:

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Rhys Ifans

Given the reliable financial formula of taking classic novels and turning them into feature films with lots of fancy period costumes and either Keira Knightley or Mia Wasikowska in the lead role, it was probably only a matter of time before somebody decided to make another film version of Gustave Flaubert’s influential masterpiece, “Madam Bovary.” So we weren’t at all surprised when it was announced that Cold Souls director Sophie Barthes would be taking a crack at the material, and that she had Wasikowska all booked up to be her lead. Sounded like a pretty good idea. But after that the pot was sweetened even further when versatile young actor Ezra Miller, who effectively played a creepy kid in We Need to Talk About Kevin and a flamboyant friend in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was announced as playing one of the Bovary character’s many extramarital boy toys, and acting god Paul Giamatti signed on to play Monsieur Homais, a man who threatens to reveal the title character’s many indiscretions. Don’t think that Barthes and her crew are done when it comes to their attempts at luring you into watching a movie based off a book you avoided in high school, either. Variety is now reporting that another great actor is joining the cast, as Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Amazing Spider-Man) has signed on to play Monsieur Lheureux.

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Recent months have been very kind to the career of young actress Shailene Woodley. Not only did she make herself ridiculously famous basically overnight by standing toe-to-toe with George Clooney in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, but recently she signed on to play the very high profile role of Mary Jane Watson in Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man sequel. This freight train of success isn’t stopping with acclaimed dramas and big comic book blockbusters, however, because Heat Vision is reporting that Woodley is now closing in on a deal to star in the next big YA adaptation, Divergent. Divergent, if you’ll remember, is the first adaptation of a planned trilogy of Veronica Roth novels, and is set to be directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist). Amazon’s description of Roth’s novel gives the story the following synopsis:

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The past few years have seen Adam Scott go from bit actor to actor in demand. It turns out the Parks and Recreation regular isn’t content to just be one of the most successful comic actors on the planet, however, he’s also got some filmmaking skills he wants to introduce to the world – so he and his writer wife, Naomi Scott, have started Gettin’ Rad Productions, a company whose main goal is to facilitate them in making cool stuff. Before you ask, yes, Scott knows how ridiculous that sounds. He calls GRP a name that’s “both stupid and aspirational.” What kind of stuff are the duo going to be working on? Well, it turns out you might have already seen their first project, that Adult Swim special that turned out to be a shot-for-shot remake of the Simon & Simon opening credits starring Adam and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm:

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Michelle Williams

The story behind the publishing of Irène Némirovsky’s “Suite Française” is an interesting one. When World War II first started, Némirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris, but by the time 1942 rolled around, she was a prisoner being held in Auschwitz, the prison camp where she eventually died. Somewhere during this period she managed to write the entirety of “Suite Française,” however, in microscopic handwriting, in a single notebook. Believing it to be a personal journal, Némirovsky’s daughter kept it until the late ’90s without ever reading it. Then, after thumbing through the pages and realizing that she had one of the first literary works about World War II ever written, she decided to have her mother’s book published, and it wasn’t long before it became a bestseller. The book’s Amazon description describes its plot by saying, “Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940. ‘Suite Française’ tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts.”

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Vinterberg and Far From the Madding Crowd

Seeing as his work was published back in the 1800’s, Thomas Hardy probably isn’t much of a household name these days. But people who were English majors in college still know him, due to the class or two where they were likely assigned works like “The Return of the Native” or “Jude the Obscure.” He’s like Wordsworth, just a little less famous. Thomas Vinterberg, similarly, isn’t much of a household name. But he’s a name that film students probably recognize, due to his being one of the co-founders of the Dogma 95 movement of minimalist filmmaking. Also, several of his works, like The Celebration or, more recently, The Hunt, have made decent waves in the insular worlds of film festivals and awards shows. Basically he’s like Lars Von Trier, just a little less famous. We’re discussing these two Thomases because their work is about to collide in an interesting way. According to a report from The Wrap, the Danish director is currently in talks to adapt one of Hardy’s classic novels, “Far From the Madding Crowd,” for the big screen. If a deal is struck, the script Vinterberg would be working with comes from a fellow named David Nicholls, who’s been something of an adaptation machine lately, as he’s already adapted another of Hardy’s works, “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” into a BBC miniseries, he wrote the new Mike Newell-directed adaptation of “Great Expectations” that just debuted at TIFF, and he’s also got a version of “Tender is the Night” currently […]

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Here’s a story that’s likely to make you squeamish. Director Roman Polanski, who famously had to flee the United States after being caught violating a pubescent girl in the most thorough way a person can be violated, is all set to direct an “erotic black comedy” about a director who engages in sadomasochistic role play with the actresses who audition for him. Cute, right? The film in question is called Venus in Fur, and it’s an adaptation of the award-winning play of the same name, which was about a writer/director who was trying to put on an adaptation of the 1870 novella of the same name. The play was by David Ives, the original novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (which is where the term “masochism” comes from), and the film will come from an adapted screenplay by Polanski and Ives, acting as co-writers. Venus in Fur will be French-language, and actors Emmanuelle Seigner and Louis Garrel are set to star.

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Great Expectations Trailer

Seeing as we already got a version of Charles Dickens’ assigned-to-you-freshman-year-of-high-school classic “Great Expectations” that was adapted by a Harry Potter director (Alfonso Cuarón) back in 1998, some might be under the impression that we don’t need another. But Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell would beg to differ, so he’s put together his own film version of the much-loved-except-by-high-school-freshmen story, and he’s challenged Cuarón to a secret benefactor showdown. For those of you (us) who slept through your high school English classes, Great Expectations centers on the character of Pip (War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine), a young boy of meager means who nevertheless befriends a creepy old rich lady named Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter), falls in love with her beautiful but twisted young ward Estella (Holliday Grainger), and eventually becomes a young gentleman with a bursting pocketbook and a wealth of potential due to the generosity of an anonymous benefactor (identity withheld). How does this all hash out in regards to Newell’s new film? If its new UK trailer [via Empire] is any indication, it gives Newell the chance to distance himself from the miserable failure that was his last film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, re-embrace the spooky mood-building that made him a good fit for the Harry Potter franchise, and work with respected actors like Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, and Sally Hawkins.

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A Man Most Wanted

Back in February it was reported that there was a new adaptation of a John le Carré novel being developed, and that it was looking to put Philip Seymour Hoffman in a leading role. It all sounded very exciting, but Hoffman’s involvement wasn’t official. Well, some time has passed since then, details on the project are starting to solidify, and the crew has even started to put together a cast of familiar faces to join Hoffman in supporting roles. But first, let’s recap exactly what this project is. A Most Wanted Man is a story about a half-Russian, half-Czech immigrant who comes to Germany—scarred and starved—looking for his father’s lost fortune. His past is mysterious, his motives are suspect, and eventually his pursuits get the attentions of a British banker and a young female lawyer, who both try to help them in their own way, and who end up forming a strange love triangle in the process. There’s no time for romance, however, as the man’s arrival also gets the attention of a group of spies from three different nations, and soon all of the players converge in ways that are likely steeped in intrigue and double crossings.

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Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

The latest directorial effort from screen legend Robert Redford, The Company You Keep, was all set to make a big splash and impress distributors at the upcoming deal-making feeding grounds that are the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, but a new development is making it look like the film’s screenings at those fests are going to come off as something of an afterthought. If you’ve got a used car that you need to get rid of, or maybe some old exercise equipment lying around that you’ve been thinking of putting on eBay, then maybe you should think of having Redford write the ad copy for you, because it seems that he’s something of a salesman. THR is reporting that the director, along with his fellow producers Nicolas Chartier and Bill Holderman, have already struck a deal with Sony Pictures Classics to handle all U.S. distributions rights for the film. Based on a book by Neil Gordon, The Company You Keep stars Redford himself as a former Weather Underground militant, wanted for bank robbery and murder, who gets exposed decades after his crimes by a meddling young reporter (as played by Shia LaBeouf).

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Seeing as shooting is set to begin next month on Harald Zwart’s adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s smash-hit YA fantasy novel “City of Bones,” it’s starting to become crunch time as far as putting together a cast is concerned. When we made our last casting update, pretty much every major role had been filled other than that of Luke Garroway, the teenage protagonist’s surrogate father-figure, and Valentine Morgenstern, the primary villain of the story who has many and sometimes mysterious ties to the pasts of the protagonists. Well, worry not, fans of demon-killing Shadowhunters, because it looks like the film is going to be able to fill all of its big roles with weeks to spare. First off, Luke Garroway: he’’s the gruff, flannel shirt wearing fellow that spends a lot of time hanging around with the protagonist Clary’s (Lily Collins) mother (Lena Headey). Though I can’t find any place where this casting was actually announced, Irish actor Aidan Turner is now listed as playing the role. He’s probably best known for his role on the BBC show Being Human, which is also heavily concerned with creatures of the night, so he should feel right at home dealing with mystical and dangerous things.

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Actor/writer/director/student/weirdo James Franco has tried to pull off a lot of things over the past few years, but he’s yet to attempt to be an action hero. That may be about to change though, because THR is reporting that he just signed on to star in a project that involves two of the cornerstones of movie masculinity. The film is called Homefront, it comes from a script that was penned by Sylvester Stallone, and it will see Franco acting opposite Jason Statham. Uh-oh, Mr. Franco, looks like we’re gonna need a bigger boat (full of HGH). Okay, so maybe painting Franco as an action hero is pushing it. According to the report, Franco will actually be playing the villain of the piece, a meth dealer who goes by the name of Gator. Apparently he runs the town he lives in due to his super-profitable, meth-dealing lifestyle, and when an ex-D.E.A. agent (Statham) moves his family in down the street in hopes of living a sleepy life, it leads to some fireworks. Stallone’s script is based off of a novel of the same name that was written by Chuck Logan, so to get a better idea of the specifics of the story we can turn to the books Amazon description, which reads:

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Casting is currently at a fever pitch regarding the next great hope in the Young Adult film franchise arms race, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. The most recent news we had about director Harald Zwart’s series-launcher is that Game of Thrones and Mad Men vets Lena Headey and Jared Harris had landed roles as two of the adult characters, and today comes news that two of the teenage roles that make up most of the primary cast have also been filled. The thrust of the City of Bones story, again, is that a girl named Clary Fray (Lily Collins) becomes suddenly involved in the hidden world of Shadowhunters (powerful beings who hunt demons right under our noses). The first Shadowhunter that she comes across is dreamboat Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), a troubled orphan who comes complete with a foster family. Said family is most importantly made up of two siblings who Jace lives and hunts demons with, Isabelle and Alec Lightwood. These are the oh-so-important roles that have now been filled.

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Mortal Instruments Casting

Recently, a round of bad guy casting pointed to the fact that the next big YA novel-to-movie franchise, The Mortal Instruments, might be getting ready to move forward in earnest, and another chunk of casting announcements that came out today seems to serve as confirmation. Joining names like Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower – who are cast as the young, attractive leads – come a couple of more experienced actors who have been tapped to take on some of the adult roles, and one more (relatively) young actor, who is set to play a hip side-character. First up, Game of Thrones’ Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey, has been tapped to play Jocelyn Fray, the mother of the film’s protagonist, Clary. Seeing as much of the first film involves her disappearance, she probably won’t have much to do here, but one can only imagine she’s also been locked in for potential future installments. Next on the list is Mad Men’s Lane Pryce, Jared Harris, who has signed on to play a character named Hodge Starkweather. Starkweather serves as a live-in tutor to many of the young demon hunters who make up the main cast, so Harris’ extreme Britishness should serve him well there. Finally, All About Women actor Godfrey Gao is taking on the role of Magnus Bane, a flamboyant hipster who also happens to be the most powerful Warlock in Brooklyn. Glamour shots of the actor on the Internet confirm that he should be pretty enough for the part.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
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