• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Saw the Movie and I Read the Book

Just read the novel Normal People by Sally Rooney and watched the BBC series. There is a particular pleasure in watching a novel come to life on the screen. Most people say they prefer the book, but I almost always prefer the movie unless they really fuck it up. I’m probably biased because my first book/movie was Love Story. Ali McGraw should have won an Oscar for her voice and shiny hair.

Are you a movie or a book person? Any favorite adaptations?

12 Responses

  1. Book, all the way, although I thought Greta Gerwig’s Little Women was so well done.

  2. Books first, then film. Currently laughing through Joseph Heller’s God Knows and re-watching The Wire.

  3. “Are you a movie or a book person? Any favorite adaptations?”

    A movie’s a movie and a book’s a book. Rarely the twain shall meet. Movie’s the opera of our day. Books were never operas.

    Okay, I have declaimed. So what and now what? I’m not a movie maker so maybe I don’t have anything helpful to add. Will I let that stop me? Pshaw! I’m a writer and a man of opinion.

    Books can make good mini-series. Room there to stretch out. A book can be made into a good movie if 1) the book is simple, 2) the intent of the author was to write a book that could be made into a movie; or 3) the movie can be focused on certain parts of the book and leave other parts out.

    Favorite adaptations? Can’t think of any right off hand. I will say that’s because it’s early in my day and I’m but halfway through my first cup of tea. Yes, I start my day with tea. How effete, how privileged, how snob. Or no — I graduate to coffee a little later in the morning, when it’s time to be responsive to my corporate masters.

    Is there a movie in that? Is there a book? Of course, of course. There are movies and books in everything. Some are worth the time, some are not. But we know this. As for me, I still don’t know —

    No, no, it just came to me. Certainly a favorite adaption is the three movies that were made from the three books of Tolkien’s Ring Trilogy.

    But another is “To Have and Have Not,” wherein the book was used as a jumping-off point for a story which then went where the book did not. Why? Because the one was a book and the other was a movie, and what works for the one often does not work for the other. Two forms of art, you know.

  4. Mostly books, but sometimes I see a movie based on a book I probably wouldn’t have read and think, maybe I should read that book. Recently we watched “Where Did You Go, Bernadette?” based on Maria Semple’s novel. It was a very good movie with characters I couldn’t really relate to, but found interesting, especially in this time of social distancing. Since I haven’t read the book, I don’t know which I’d prefer, but it was a damn good adaptation. I read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series because I saw “My Brilliant Friend” on HBO and as good as the series is, the books are incredible. I don’t know if I ever would have committed to the quartet of novels without the HBO introduction.

  5. I am enjoying Normal People. I read the book and so far, the characters in the series are very close to what I would imagine the book characters would be like. I love seeing movies adapted from books. I do recall one adaptation I hated – Bonfire of the Vanities. I absolutely loved the book but the movie was awful! One of my favorite books – World According to Garth became a great movie!

  6. Wonder Boys worked in book and movie form. So did Henry & June.

  7. This is not the topic you’re discussing, but can I just say how nice it is to see people talking about the kind of movies I like. I don’t understand why so many adults go the full fangirl on Disney cartoons and superhero movies. The whole merch thing, the intense discussions…the stickers. Give me Pride and Prejudice (movie version), and please dear god spare me the cosplay.

  8. I prefer to read the book first, then watch the movie to see how the screenwriter, director and actors interpret the original material. No mere nod to the book, which engendered all this outcropping of art – acting, cinematography, music, editing, et al. As for which I like better? Depends on the outcome.

  9. I haven’t seen or read Normal People but it’s on my to-do list. As far as adaptations go, I can’t go past Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy for a masterful transition to film. They left out all the stuff in the book that I glossed over because it bored me to tears (Tom Bombadil, anyone?) and it was the best cast I’ve ever seen. I can literally not imagine anyone else in any of the roles.

  10. i preferred SIDEWAYS the movie to the book, but Paul G. is a great actor and his abilities flesh out the character into 3+ dimensions, if that’s possible. characterization is key.

    WONDER BOYS is better in film than on the page but for different reasons: cutting extraneous details. and Michael D. is pretty fabulous in a shambling author/professor character. again, characterization.

    many movies are better than books for their visual effects, of course. fantasy stuff. THE WIZARD OF OZ, all the LORD OF THE RINGS movies, etc. etc.


  11. I can remember thinking “At last, a movie better than the book!” but i can’t remember what the movie was. When I like a book, I like it as a book–the word on the page, and while I might see the film later, it’s just out of curiosity. I often go to a film for the geography, and I might remember that.

  12. I must see the movie first. Then I can picture the characters in the book.

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