Books on Film: Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom: title page

Soo.. I just watched Moonrise Kingdom on Friday night. Directed by Wes Anderson, it centers around two loner preteens who decide to run off into the wilderness together. This sets off a hunt by the local community. Quirkiness abounds, and everything is filmed with deliberation and general loveliness.

Perhaps it’s because the story’s protagonists are twelve, and Moonrise Kingdom is set during a summer in 1965, when kids are at camp or reading books and listening to records at home, but I was stuck by how much this movie evoked a sense of nostalgia. It’s a weird sort of nostalgia though. Everything is made up. Essentially, it’s a nostalgia for something that never existed.

Suzy reads from Shelly and the Secret Universe

My favorite props have to be the books that twelve-year-old Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) read. Of course, it would be the fictitious books with titles like Shelly and the Secret Universe and awesome old-style covers that stoked this book nerd’s sense of nostalgia.

Moonrise Kingdom: Suzy's suitcase of books

These are my books. I like stories with magic powers in them. Either in kingdoms on Earth or on foreign planets. Usually I prefer a girl hero, but not always.

Suzy reads The Francine Odysseys by Gertrude Price

Suzy: I always wished I was an orphan. Most of my favorite characters are. I think your lives are more special.
Sam: I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

There are six books in this movie, and I took screen caps of them all. But did you know, not only did Wes Anderson have artists make book covers, and wrote passages that are attributed to each book, but there are also animations for each book? According to the Internet, Anderson considered putting the animations in the movie, but instead used them in a promotional short. It is quite awesome and worth a watch.

Sam: These are all library books. In my school you’re only allowed to check-out one at a time. Some of these are going to be overdue.

Sam hesitates. He suddenly realizes something. He asks bluntly:

Sam: Do you steal?

Silence. Suzy nods reluctantly. Sam looks confused.

Sam: Why? You’re not poor.

Suzy stares at the books. She absently brushes some dust off them. She rearranges them slightly. She says finally:

Suzy: I might turn some of them back in one day. I haven’t decided yet. I know it’s bad. I think I just took them to have a secret to keep. Anyway, for some reason, it makes me feel in a better mood sometimes.

Suzy reads The Girl From Jupiter by Isaac Clarke

Suzy reads Disappearance of the Sixth Grade by Burris Burris

Suzy reads from The Light of Seven Matchsticks by Virginia Tipton

Suzy reads from The Return of Auntie Lorraine by Miriam Weaver

Books on Film: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Thanks to Michelle of See Michelle Read, I finally watched The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, an animated short up for an Oscar today. Let me tell you, if you are a bibliophile, it will be hard not to love this little gem. I may have teared up a bit at the end.

The short is up on full on youtube, although I don’t know for how long. If you have 15 minutes to sit down and watch it, I highly recommend you do.

I Have Found It / Kandukondain Kandukondain (film)

I Have Found It (Kandukondain Kandukondain), is an Indian adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. This film is in Tamil, and came out in 2000.

Two sisters
The story is about a wealthy family that live in the village of Poongudi. Their wealth is from their grandfather, who has been confined to his sickbed for many years. In his stead his daughter and granddaughters manage his huge house, temple, farm, and college.

Sowmya, the oldest of the three daughters, is the practical, responsible one, and acts as the Principal of her family’s college and teaches classes on computers. She also takes care of the temple and farm. Her first suitor died, and since then she’s been labeled ‘unlucky’, and new suitors don’t want to take a chance.

Her younger sister Meenakshi (nicknamed Meenu), is the impetuous one, determined to marry for love, not practicality. She wants a pure, strong love, and a man who can quote poetry. She doesn’t hold back from speaking her mind.

Manohar is a young man with dreams of becoming a film director. Sowmya mistakes him as a potential match (sent by the matchmaker), when he goes to her house looking to film there. Seeing her sadness, Manohar starts to fall for her, but wants to wait until he makes a name for himself.

Major Bala is a wounded soldier who has become somewhat bitter after the war. He is wealthy, thanks to his flower business, but drinks and is grouchy. When he meets Meenakshi for the first time, he is taken with her singing. He encourages her talent, even buying her a tambura from Tanjore, and in exchange for her taking lessons, he stops drinking. While he really cares for Meenu, he considers himself too old for her.

Any potiential hope Bala has of winning Meenu is crushed when Meenu meets young financial wizard Srikanth, who helps her when she twists her ankle, can quote her favorite poets, and is just as impulsive as she is.

Then their grandfather dies, leaving the house to his son, who hasn’t visited in 10 years. To add insult to injury, this son then turns his sister and her daughters out of the house, forcing them to move to Madras.

There, without much money, they can barely pay rent for a small place, and the girls struggle to find jobs. In the meantime, Srikanth’s company goes bankrupt, and he disappears for a while.

Slowly their fortunes change through hard work and the help of friends, and Sowmya and Meenu marry the right men.


Overall, this is a much more traditional (and conservative, no kissing!), Indian movie than the previous Bollywood Austen adaptions I’ve watched (Bride & Prejudice, Aisha). The style reminded me of the Indian movies of my childhood, where the music has classical Indian instruments and style, actors lip sync with the songs, and where the dance sequences have metaphorical meaning within the story. It wasn’t uncommon for two people to be talking, then transported to Egypt and convey their flirting in a dance with multiple costume changes (P.S. Indian movies play the WHOLE song).  The pageantry in I Have Found It may read as cheesy to some, but made me nostalgic, and with two beautiful leading actresses, there were some gorgeous moments.

In terms of following Jane Austen, I think that this movie does a very good job. With a running time of two and a half hours, it follows the story (adapted to India) as closely as some BBC adaptions I’ve seen. Although the two sisters were very beautiful, I didn’t really think the actors playing their suitors where that good looking, but they won me over, especially Major Bala. He’s played by major Indian film star Mammootty, and I think his acting was the stand out performance. This movie ended up feeling very romantic. I was invested in the stories and I felt like each character had a nice backstory and that their emotions were well conveyed, so I rooted for them to be happy.

The two screenshots above are from my favorite dance sequence of the movie, mostly for how pretty the pops of red looks against that desert backdrop (ETA: but ignore the subtitles on this youtube video, they are SO off and don’t match the subtitles on the DVD, which make much more sense):

Aisha (film)

Aisha (2010) is a Bollywood retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, in the same sort of vein as Clueless. It stars Sonam Kapoor as the gorgeous and spoiled Daddy’s girl, Aisha.

The story begins at the wedding of Aisha’s auntie Chitra to Col. Singh. Fresh from her success at matchmaking (for she introduced these two to each other), Aisha eyes the wedding guests for new matches..

…and she alights on Randhir, heir to a fortune (but a bit of a dork), and Shefali, a country mouse. So Aisha’s meddling begins

Aisha takes “poor Shefali” under her wing, giving her a makeover, while her cynical friend Pinky disapproves but goes along with it. Cue a lot of shopping at designer stores and a sleepover.

Arjun, the boy next door warns Aisha that she shouldn’t treat people like dolls (or something to that effect). Aisha finds him very irritating.

Aisha introduces Shefali to upper-crust Dehli society, where people watch polo matches and go on weekend rafting trips. Sometimes they help out at animal shelters. Shefali hangs on to Aisha’s every word and takes her advice as gospel, including whether she should accept the proposal of the hometown boy she likes.

Aisha dislikes Aarti, a returnee from New York (and Angelina Jolie look-alike), who seems way too cozy with Arjun.

On the other hand Arjun isn’t fond of Dhruv, Col. Singh’s prodigal son. Dhruv is very muscled and takes his shirt of a lot in this movie, and Aisha seems interested in him at first.

Because of her manipulation, eventually Aisha’s friends have had enough and leave her. Aisha is left alone to consider her sense of entitlement.

Of course everything turns out all right at the end.

I thought that Aisha was slickly produced with beautiful sets (I want to live in Aisha’s house) and gorgeous people, but while it’s a lot of eye candy, I had a problem with Aisha’s character. Rather than being a charming, well-meaning busy-body, this version of Emma came off as a spoiled snob who thinks she knows what’s best for everybody. She uses “middle class” as a real insult, and when her friends get mad at her for her judgmental views, Aisha truly deserves it. I understood why in the end she falls for the boy-next-door, but not why he falls for her. Otherwise this movie is very pretty, with the right dose of pageantry, and perfect music selections (I must download them all), but story-wise, it has an unlikable central character, which is too bad because the rest of it is rather cute. I particularly enjoyed the secondary romance with Pinky as one half of the couple. I’d say watch this for the pretty, not for the plot.

Aisha has a very nice website here.

Jane Eyre 2011

I’ve been dying to see the new Jane Eyre adaption for a while now, and when it came out, I was bummed to find that it wasn’t playing nearby. I live near NYC, but taking a train for 40 min to an hour each way, getting on the subway to get to a theater, etc etc = dude, too much work for a movie, even if it is Jane Eyre.  So after ranting sadly to the Mister, he pointed me at this list of theatres, and I saw that the movie would be playing in a town only 15 minutes away on 3/25.  YES!  I’m so glad that we tend to get lucky with the limited release movies over here.

Anyway. I liked it. I think this version did a really good job with the creepy parts of the story, and the locations used were spot on. There was a dark gloominess in the visuals in this version of Jane Eyre that I liked, but it wasn’t overbearing – it contrasted nicely to the scenes with light.  There was a time or two where there were hand-held camera shots, which is not my favorite device to show agitation of the characters, but thankfully it was only used a time or two.

I thought that Micheal Fassbender did a good job in his Rochester. Grumpy and a little intimidating yet with a glint of humor and pleased surprise when he interacted with Jane. I was (like many I think), worried about Mia Wasikowska’s portrayal of Jane after her performance in Alice in Wonderland, but her blankness worked when it came to Jane’s reserve. If I were to nitpick I would have preferred to see a little bit more nuance in her facial expressions. She can’t seem to convey more than a sort of outward calm, slight confusion, or utter crying upset. I thought the actor who played the younger Jane Eyre was better, to tell you the truth. Wasikowska had some great lines though – I think Jane got the most laughs in this movie for her deadpan responses to Rochester.

The move was 115 minutes (just under two hours), and it did well in showing the story, although there was a scene that was hoping to see that I didn’t, and I wished it was a bit longer because I felt like although it did show Jane and Rochester falling for one another, it still felt a bit truncated.

I have to say I don’t have the 2006 Masterpiece Theatre miniseries version of Jane Eyre to compare it to. I suspect I will like the miniseries better just because with these adaptations, I find that I like the longer versions better. And for the response of a total Jane Eyre newbie, my husband liked it too. I was afraid he wouldn’t, since he fell asleep during North & South (the horror).

ETA: Husband says that because the movie began with Jane hearing her name being called in the wind, he thought she hearing voices and thus crazy. He also felt like the movie didn’t show enough of Rochester/Jane falling in love, but this only served to prove that Jane was insane. HAH. I’m so amused.

Books on Film: Brick

Brick (2005) is a film with a modern twist on detective noir. Set in high school, it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan Frye who takes it upon himself to solve the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Emily. In the middle of the movie, Brendan goes to a party at a house that has THIS library. Oh how I would love to have an office that extended to the floor above via spiral staircase where my books waited for me. But I would turn on more lights.

Books on Film: What Dreams May Come

The Library in Paradise in the 1998 movie, What Dreams May Come is one of my favorite libraries on the silver screen. Imagine all those books, waiting for you to float upwards to reach and read them! The only thing I’d change is having so much water nearby, although I guess these books are supposed to be indestructible.

Here are some captured images from the movie. Anyone else have a favorite library from a movie?

Continue reading

Of presents and movie trailers

I think I may be back in business here. Finally. So hopefully posting won’t be so spotty. Some stuff I wanted to post about:

I’ve signed up for the Book Blogger Holiday Swap, which I did last year too. We just got our giftees assigned last week, and I’ve already bought some books. 😀 I really hope that this person likes at least one of the books I got her. She has very different tastes from mine so I’m a little worried. *crosses fingers*. Anyway, I still haven’t spent that much so I’m thinking I’ll throw more stuff in there. I love giving presents.

2) Angie from Angieville and Holly from The Book Harbinger posted about the new Jane Eyre movie last week:

“Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) and Michael Fassbender (“Inglourious Basterds”) star in the romantic drama based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, from acclaimed director Cary Fukunaga (“Sin Nombre”). In the story, Jane Eyre flees Thornfield House, where she works as a governess for wealthy Edward Rochester. As she reflects upon the people and emotions that have defined her, it is clear that the isolated and imposing residence — and Mr. Rochester’s coldness — have sorely tested the young woman’s resilience, forged years earlier when she was orphaned. She must now act decisively to secure her own future and come to terms with the past that haunts her — and the terrible secret that Mr. Rochester is hiding and that she has uncovered…”

Of course I want to watch this. I wasn’t that impressed by Mia Wasikowska in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, but then, that whole movie disappointed me, so I’m keeping an open mind, which isn’t hard because this trailer is hitting all the right notes.

3) Along with the Jane Eyre movie trailer I’ve stumbled upon a few others I wanted to mention:

Red Riding Hood:

“In “Red Riding Hood,” Seyfried plays Valerie, a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie’s older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon’s arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. As panic grips the town, Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast-one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect… and bait.”

Eh. I watched this trailer and found it rather cheesy. Cheesy bad. I do like the red cloak and the music in the trailer, but I don’t expect much from this one.

From Prada to Nada

“A whimsical spin on Austen’s original, “From Prada to Nada” follows two spoiled sisters when they are left penniless after the sudden death of their father. Forced to move in with their estranged aunt in East Los Angeles, this is a fish-out-of-water story where the girls ultimately find romance, as well as a love for their culture.”

OK, this is Sense and Sensibility retold with a Mexican American spin. I’m iffy on whether this is going to turn out well. It looks a little too Disney-fied, but it could end up being fun. I am already a bit wary because the blurb calls both sisters spoiled.. I don’t really think that that’s what Sense and Sensibility was about! *is worried*.  Maybe I’m not supposed to compare the moral of the story of From Prada to Nada with the original, but I can’t help it.

Cowboys and Aliens

“In Silver City, Arizona, Apache Indians and Western settlers must lay their differences aside when an alien spaceship crash lands in their city.”

This has nothing to do with books, but I’ll include it here because I love seeing science fiction cross overs. AND. Cowboys. Versus. ALIENS! Harrison Ford is in it! And Jon Favreau directs! This looks cheesy good.

That is all.

Pride and Prejudice: A Latter Day Comedy

While looking around for modern day retellings of Pride and Prejudice I ran across the movie Pride and Prejudice: A Latter Day Comedy. It seemed like an odd combination but it looked cute. I couldn’t get it through netflix, but the whole thing seems to be up on youtube. Here’s the trailer:

Elizabeth Bennett is a college student in Utah who works part time in a bookstore and has dreams of publishing her book, the world’s only “Napoleonic Techno Fantasy”  (Heh, I’d read that).  She lives with four other girls. Jane is from Brazil and is Elizabeth’s best friend and roommate. Lydia is their landlord, and Kitty is Lydia’s younger sister. Mary is the awkward roommate.

Lydia and Kitty are devotees to “The Pink Bible” which is a popular self-help book about getting a man, and they plan to use it at a party at Charles Bingley’s house. This party is where we basically meet all the major characters and the story is set up. Of course Lydia is after Charles, but when he sets eyes on Jane, she’s the only one he’s interested in. This is also where the girls meet Darcy, Charles’ best friend. At this point Darcy has already managed to put himself in Elizabeth’s bad books when he was an arrogant jerk at her bookstore. Also circling Elizabeth is Collins, the resident church bore, and bad-boy Jack Wickham, both who ask Elizabeth to marry them, for different reasons. Things get complicated when Darcy begins to fall for Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s book catches the eye of a publishing company, which turns out to be Darcy’s.

This was story very loosely based on the original with only the core group of characters. It’s a fun movie, and I think that it falls under the made-for-TV romcom. The type of movie you’d see on some weekend movie marathon on a cable network. It isn’t supposed to be taken seriously. The movie had a lot of goofy moments and pretty much everyone was gently made fun of. And although it’s set in Utah and the characters mention church (and there is a funny scene at church), I didn’t find this religious at all. It just feels like part of the setting.  I think if goofball romcoms are your thing, and you don’t mind something mindless, this is the movie for you, but if you can’t stand that sort of movie, skip this one.

I set up a playlist to watch the movie in it’s entirety

This is #3 for the Everything Austen 2 challenge.

10 movies based on books in 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (based on the comic books my Bryan Lee O’Malley – lovely review by Nymeth here)

Tales from Earthsea -(loosely based on characters from Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series)

Eat, Pray, Love (based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert)

Ramona and Beezus (based on Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary. I loved these books when I was a kid)

Alice in Wonderland (based on the books my Lewis Carroll)

Voyage of the Dawn Treader (based on the 3rd book from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (based on the books by Jeff Kinney)

How to Train Your Dragon (based on the book by Cressida Cowell)

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (based on The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan)

Priest (based on the graphic novels by Min-woo Hyung) – ok this really comes out 2011

others: Eclipse , HP7, Dear John, The Last Song