Archive for category: film

When I read Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge a few years ago, I was floored. And wowed. And gobsmacked. It had been a long while since a book had such a HUGE impression on me, one that has lingered to this day. I read the book only once, but kept telling myself to go back to it. The only reason I didn’t, I think, is because when I get that deeply involved in something, it’s all consuming. Meaning, at the sacrifice of everything else, like good hygiene and remembering to feed the cat.

So when HBO released its mini series Olive Kitteridge last month, I was hesitant. Hesitant because films are rarely as a good as the book and hesitant because November is a hectic month and becoming consumed again was the last thing I needed.

But I kept seeing people talk about it online, so I finally gave in.

Yep, obsessed again.

  • I’ve watched it 2.5 times (I’m halfway through the second part for the third time…did you follow that?).
  • I’ve developed a wicked crush on the actor Richard Jenkins who plays Henry, Olive’s long-suffering husband. He is excellent. I can’t stress this enough.
  • I’ve decided I want to sit and have a coffee or glass of wine with Frances McDormand because she fucking rocks. I loved her in Fargo and I’d forgotten until I remembered that she was in Moonrise Kingdom. She’s wonderful, and I love the fact she fell in love with this book as I did and that she so tenderly shepherded it to the screen.
  • Bill Murray. Jesus. He’s pretty much fantastic in everything he’s appeared in over the last decade plus. This is no exception.
  • John Gallagher, Jr. I got to know him in The Newsroom. Here, he plays Olive’s son and does so with such maturity and wisdom and poise.
  • The rest of the cast is excellent as well. Too many awesome people to get into here.

The setting. THE SETTING.

I read the novel during the late fall, early winter, and I think it influenced my read. I remember describing the book like this: it’s like watching the sun set on a Cape Cod beach in the dead of winter.

Unless you’ve ever experienced that, you probably won’t get what I mean, but if you have — if you can feel the chill in your bones and the wind on your face and see the milky orb against the pale pink sky as it sinks into the dark gray water and you sense that part desperate, part joyous, part awe struck feeling it produces in your soul, then you get it.

That’s what I experienced when I watched this film for the first time and second time and two-point-five time.

Okay, the title might be a little overly dramatic, but let me explain. First of all, this memory has come flooding back (see what I did there?), thanks to the re-release of Titanic in 3D. I saw the original for the first time in December of 1997 (with my beloved) and was wowed, just like everyone else.

I then went on to see the flick another three times (at least) in the spring of 1998, and here’s why: my beloved and I had broken up, and I was, quite simply, devastated.

I was a young pup — I’d just turned 25 — and my heart was breaking, and no, Celine Dion, it didn’t feel like it would go on. This was before the Internet had taken off and everyone had email. Facebook didn’t exist, nor the smart phones and texting and online Scrabble we’ve come to know and love today. Time went by so slowly back then, but even more so for me in that stretch of spring circa 1998 when every minute it seemed my tender little heart ached and broke some more. I needed distractions, something to fill the endless, empty hours. Enter Titanic. I mean, there’s nothing like a 3.5 hour movie to kill off a chunk of time.

Yes, it might seem odd that I opted for a flick with a love story — and a sad one — at its heart, but I had few choices. So off to the theater I went, by myself, when I didn’t think I could stand another moment in my body. The hours I stared at the screen with glazed, red, and puffy eyes saved me.

I’ve seen the movie probably a dozen times since then and know much of the dialogue word-for-word. I haven’t seen it in 3D and don’t know if I will. The memories it’s stirred up are enough.

But it’s those memories and experiences, I think, that shape and complete us (corny sounding, even as I write it, but it’s true), and, for me, all of it has inspired me, my writing, and my vision for my future.

It’s taken me fourteen years to feel this way, but I’m grateful for all of it, and I am, finally, at peace.

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So, I have a question for readers who go to see silver-screen adaptations of books they love: why?

I ask the question of you, but I need to direct the question at myself as well, since I’ll often go see films based on books I love. But why? I know the story. I know how it’s supposed to end. I know that liberties will be taken — liberties that may annoy me — since it’s impossible to stay 100 percent true from book-to-film.

So why do we go?

For me, it’s an opportunity to experience the story in a new way. It’s a chance to see the screenwriter’s, director’s, and actors’ interpretation of the same core story that I experienced on the page. It’s a chance to revisit a story I enjoyed (because I can’t recall going to see a movie based on a book I didn’t like).

Why do you go? Share in the comments.

And speaking of movies-based-on-books that I can’t wait to see, here’s the trailer for The Hunger Games.

Can’t. Wait.

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I’m sure all writers have that one movie they feel every writer should watch. Mine is Stand By Me, which is based on the Stephen King short story “The Body.”

I love this film for so many reasons: the time in my life when I saw it (aged 13 in 1986), the story itself, and, of course, the whole writer theme. I’m embedding the trailer below. I highly recommend adding this to your Netflix queue if you haven’t seen it yet.

What film do YOU recommend all writers see? Leave your picks in the comments.

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