Book or Movie?

As I was facing a Saturday night alone with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, I turned to the interwebs for something to entertain me.  It turns out that they recently adapted the Nick Hornby novel Juliet, Naked.  Last April when I went to Taiwan I bought that novel to read on the excruciatingly long flight.  (No, really, it was thirteen hours.)  I was drawn to the off-beat plot of a woman in a dead-end relationship who starts up an accidental correspondence with her boyfriend’s musical idol.  But I found it to be pretty boring.  The writing was bland and it dragged, not really giving me anything to connect to.  I got through maybe a third before moving on to something else.  That’s why you always put multiple books on your Kindle before flying to the other side of the world, am I right?

So, why would I want to watch the movie you ask.  The book is always better than the movie, right?  They even have t-shirts that say “The book was better,” so everyone knows it.  Well, call me crazy but I’m squarely in the camp of Not Necessarily.

Books and movies are different mediums.  Some stories work really well in book form and lose something in translation.  I’m sure you can find many a rant online about why your favorite book didn’t fare well in Hollywood.  And a lot of times that’s true.

I heard great things about that movie The Notebook.  Everybody loved it and it was just the most romantic and beautiful love story.  As any good reader I said, “I’ll read the book first.”  So I did and it was…terrible.  Oh, M. Goodness, so overblown and melodramatic.  I was expecting more from Nicolas Sparks, having seen the film version of Nights in Rodanthe, which was pretty good if you’re into that kind of thing.  So what was I missing?  I came to the realization that some authors and their stories are just better suited to film.  I think Nicolas Sparks is one of them.

So that brings me back to Juliet, Naked.  I watched it and really enjoyed it.  Everything that was flat on the page was bright on screen.  The connections between the characters were genuine and not overdone.  I particularly connected with Annie.  She felt real and believable.  It’s not your typical rom-com and if you find yourself with a Saturday night in, I recommend it.  I also recommend High Fidelity, another Nick Hornby novel that was adapted in 2000.  I’ve never read the book so you’ll have to make your own judgement there.

I have seen some really bad adaptations (I’m looking at you, It) but I’ve also seen some good ones.  I may be standing alone, but I’ll stand up for those films that are truly better than the book.  Always is a strong word, but life has taught me that there are always exceptions that prove the rule.


Less Talkie, More Dancie

You know what?  I wish someone would remake Dirty Dancing and explain every plot point in excruciating detail and add a whole bunch of unnecessary info about Mr. and Mrs. Houseman.  Oh, wait.

Yeah, so, if you watched the ABC remake, you know what I’m talking about.  And if you didn’t, don’t.

Oh, M. goodness.  For reals, y’all, I couldn’t believe the amount of talking that went on in that movie.  It was so boring and I think we saw way more of Mrs. Houseman than we did of Johnny.  Colt Prattes was beyond uncharismatic as Johnny and Abigail Breslin as Baby looked like she was 12.  There was ZERO chemistry between them.

Baby is well-read and a feminist and she gets her sister to read and…ZZZ.  Mrs. Houseman is a neglected housewife and they’re getting a divorce and…ZZZ.  Lisa is really awesome and doesn’t resent her sister and wants to have a relationship with the rapey waiter AND the black guy and…ZZZ.  And wait, wait, wait. Baby and Johnny DON’T end up together?!  She has to go see him on Broadway and reminisce about their summer of love?  Sigh.

And to top it all off, there was a serious lack of choreography.  I mean, not only do you have Johnny and Baby singing at the end, they don’t dance at all!  The only decent dance number was in the staff house toward the beginning and that was the rest of the cast.  The “stars” could not dance.  At all.

The best thing was Baby sitting in the corner reading The Bell Jar, because she’s, you know, sad and stuff.  Ha!

This was a complete disaster of a remake.  If you haven’t seen the original Dirty Dancing, I suggest you watch it immediately.  I promise it’s amazing.  Insert a “time of your life” joke here.


Book Review: Into the Water

I got the new Paula Hawkins novel, Into the Water, thanks to Book of the Month extras.  Just like her debut, The Girl on the Train, I couldn’t put it down.

It’s a quick read and it looks longer than it is in hardback format.  The type is large and the chapters are short.  It moves back and forth between narrators with speed and skill.  I’m normally not a fan of that but Ms. Hawkins does it really well.  I do admit that it was a little confusing at first trying to place everyone into the narrative but I think that was part of the point.  This book really makes you lose your bearings, very much like the characters.

I enjoyed the tight family drama and the suspense.  It kept me reading and I’m sad it’s over.  That’s what a good book should do.  I definitely recommend Into the Water to lovers of grip-lit like myself but I also recommend it to anyone who likes a well-told story.

Book Review: The Princess Diarist

And now for something completely different.  I’ve decided to start reviewing some of the books I read here at ol’ Kim Who Lives at Home.  Hope you enjoy.

Let me start by saying I love Carrie Fisher.  I’ve read her other two memoirs, Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic, so I was super excited when I heard she had written a third.  I was also sad to learn of her untimely death and her mother’s shortly after.  She was a fantastic writer and I’m sorry there won’t be any more.

The Princess Diarist did not disappoint.  I love Fisher’s writing style.  She’s so witty and self-deprecating.  In this one in particular I thought she sounded, well, a lot like me.

In this memoir she goes back to the time of filming Star Wars in 1976.  I wasn’t born then but that didn’t matter at all.  She was a nineteen year old girl just starting her life and not sure what she wanted to do with it.  Even though I’ve never starred in a movie-turned-phenomenon, nor had an affair with my reticent co-star, I found her wholly relatable.   She has printed some of her personal diaries from the time and she sounds just as confused and scared as any of us at that age (or older).

I definitely recommend Ms. Fisher’s last literary outing.  I recommend her other memoirs as well.  I can’t speak to her fiction but I’d love to get around to it someday.  She really was a renaissance woman, huh?  So if you’re a Star Wars fan seeking more info about the filming or just love a good memoir, I suggest you pick it up.


This is Not the Sequel Series You’re Looking For

I am definitely one of the Millennials who was super stoked about the Boy Meets World sequel series when I heard about it. I even called it. Back when the Dallas sequel series started I was all, “If they ever make one for my generation it’ll be Boy Meets World.” And I was right. Sort of.

I’m not sure you can really consider Girl Meets World a true “sequel series” so much as a new show with the same formula and a couple of the same characters who stay mostly in the background. GMW is intended to be BMW for a new generation. I wouldn’t have a problem with it if they weren’t taking something I hold dear and turning it into another Disney Channel also ran.

There are many problems with the GMW model. The whole reason they did it as a so-called sequel series was to cash in on the name recognition of BMW. However, most of their target audience has never heard of the original show much less watched it and developed an attachment to it. The point of bringing back Corey and Topanga was to hook Millennials like me. They stated firmly that this would be for the new generation so what on earth made them think twenty and thirty somethings would want to watch an insipid Disney Channel show? So why include BMW characters at all? All the hype was caused by and paid attention to by us. Not tweens.

A glaring problem is the way the world has changed since 1993. When BMW premiered I was almost 8-years-old. The perfect audience for a sitcom about an 11-year-old boy and his friends. That’s right. It was about the kids. That was pretty revolutionary for the time. There were other family programs on but mostly they focused on the parents and the kids were there for comic relief and to cause conflict. This was a show for us and about us. I think that’s the main reason it lasted so long and is still revered by our generation. Others came after but it was pretty much the first. Today, TV is flooded with all kinds of shows aimed at the tween market ranging from goofy BMW-type sitcoms to creepy vampire soap operas. With that much market saturation, GMW needs us to pick up some slack but I don’t see it happening. I, for one, am too old to listen to a little girl whine about how she wants to be like her best friend and teachers give too much homework.

Another problem is this is now a “girl” show. Back in my day, girls watched all the stuff boys did but boys wouldn’t watch something they considered girly. I’m not a parent and I haven’t spent a lot of time around little boys lately but I’m guessing that hasn’t changed much. So let’s do the math here. Audience – Millennials – Tween Boys = Tween Girls. I know girls this age can be obsessive. Trust me. But with so many options and overstimulation on and off the screen, can something this generic capture enough hearts? Time will tell.

I think it’s great that they want to make a BMW for today’s tweens. I really do. I loved it. Hell, I still love it and will watch it at every opportunity. That’s why it rankles that we’ve been deprived of a real sequel series. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would have liked a show about Corey and Topanga (and Shawn!) struggling with adulthood, marriage, parenthood, jobs. The things we’re now struggling with. BMW was unique because it featured the kids. A well-done sequel series could have stood out again by bringing back the family sitcom. To me, GMW is a missed opportunity.

Netflix Must Think I’m the Biggest Nerd

After watching the PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered, I got interested in watching some Shakespeare plays. The newest productions are four history plays, Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, and Henry V, collectively known as the PBS series, The Hollow Crown. I missed Richard II when it aired on PBS so I put the series on my Netflix queue. The day before it came out.

Yes, I am that girl.

I can just imagine the person who stuffed that envelope thinking, “Nerd. Who’s she trying to impress?” But I think I saved my street cred by taking the rest of them off my queue. Not because I didn’t enjoy Richard II (it’s great by the way), but because I recorded the others on PBS. Now Netflix thinks I’m just another joe schmo who thought she could handle Shakespeare and failed. So I enjoyed my Shakespeare history plays in peaceful anonymity.

Full disclosure: The fact that Tom Hiddleston was heavily featured in three out of the four plays was a factor in my decision to sit through eight hours of Shakespeare. But I really did like them. Henry V was awesome and I’d totally watch it again. And as a bonus, I’ve gotten two Jeopardy clues right about the Battle of Agincourt, which I wouldn’t have if not for Henry V. Okay, street cred destroyed.