Books2Movies Blog

Since I learned to read letters, and that was quite long time ago, I fell in love with movies and books. Not a day passes without a page of some book read -- a day without a movie is possible though, I haven't so much time at hand as I used to have when I was student.


I like immensely to travel too, but as that passion of mine is hardly possible to fulfill every year, I satisfy myself with those at hand, and those are well, you know, books and movies. A combination of both would be perfect and here I'll try to reflect on those - books and their adaptations, never mind the time, the form and the language in which they were made.

Haunting read but intended for whom?

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - John Boyne

Although good and suspenseful story overall, I didn't like the approach to the theme. Younger readers - if this book was intended for them - won't understand much - if they are not familiar with the subject matter - because many things were left unsaid or misspelled. That's oftentimes alright to do for older readers and adults, they can easily read between the lines what was going on, but in this case I found it annoying, because I didn't understand the point of it. It was really hard to believe that Bruno would have been so oblivious of everything, that no one would tell him what was really going on, even Shmuel. And was it so necessary to hide and misspell everything? Maybe I misunderstood the intentions of the author, maybe it wasn't for the well-being of the younger readers, but to show how Bruno was sensitive and naive child, that much that he didn't want to repeat what he witnessed. The story will surely haunt me long after reading it, but I didn't like the style nonetheless.

Reminiscences about childhood and innocence gone

The Body - Frank Muller, Stephen King

I liked this novella, it reminded me of my own childhood, without internet and with not so tight supervision of the children. Now it is shocking, but then it was commonplace, something for kids to casually talk about without doing much about it - because kids rarely had any say in these matters - domestic violence, abuse of authority and bullying. I truly felt sorry for Chris, he really tried hard to beat the system that was totally prejudiced against him. The movie was not so harsh as the novella was.
I really liked how novella made us to see those boys how they all grew up in those three days off the home turf. They have all seen of what material they were made of. I liked the movie more though. The boys were really fun to watch, especially good was the performance of River Phoenix, but I liked it more mainly because it smoothed the edges. There were no beatings (at least not on screen, suggestions were mild), relationship between Gordie and Dennys was better, and their paths later in life weren't so depressing. There was also one digression in novella that in my opinion really didn't suit the story - Stud City, Gordie's first story in the novella. The second, about Lard Ass Hogan, was great, and somewhat fitting their mentality - that's why it is amusing to watch in the movie too.

Good novel. But not to read again. Ever.

The Trial - Franz Kafka, Breon Mitchell

While brilliant on the narrative level - it really piqued my curiosity (and bewilderment) till the end, I really wanted to read it all through - it failed to make me care for Joseph K. He was obnoxious. For all I knew, he may even have been guilty for something, but as he was such a cad, he wasn't aware what he did wrong. On the other hand, the way he was (mis)treated and lead around without real purpose and sense of direction (and the reader with him likewise), well, all right, it was really wrong and frightening. It was surreal, all that what happened to him, but not really so far from the truth, that it is the way we usually feel when something happens we cannot control nor understand. The parable at the end, in which nor the guard nor the peasant did what they should have done because of ignorance and/or stupidity (or whatever that actually meant in Kafka's mind), speaks volumes of our powerlessness before the forces grander than our limited understanding of the world. We all live in some sort of shell - some are more comfy than other, but are still shells, the ways we perceive our lives and limits to which we are ready to go to suit our needs, never beyond. Kafka tells us here what happens when somebody (or something) forcibly breaks that shell. One may be the smartest person in his/her field of expertise, but when happens something totally unexpected and totally out of one's control, expertise means not a thing. Where to go, where to hide, what to do, what do they want, why had that happened to me, will that ever end, what did I did wrong, please help me I have no clue how to behave in this case. And the powers to be do not care to give you any answers. Because they like what they see. You squirming in your submissiveness and ignorance before their feet.
Oh The Trial is definitely brilliant novel, it is. But did I like it? No way. Nobody will ever force me to read it again.

Nice surprise

Austenland - Shannon Hale

I've read it in one sitting and really recommend it for any romantic person. I mean, you might really enjoy it if you do not expect some sort of high lit. I didn't find any faults in the narrative, the writing style was light, easy to read, and quite funny and clean, which were two main factors for my liking of it. Story wasn't so awfully predictable for a romance novel - there were some twists that managed to make me wonder what sort of ending it'll have at last. It really surprised me.

Icons of Film: the 20th Century

Icons of Film: The 20th Century (Prestel's Icons) -

Of course it is impossible to select the best movies of the 20th century to suit everyone's tastes, but those that are selected here in this book, the mere 84 of them, are impeccable. The photographs and essays that accompany each of them are also very good so I think this would be nice gift if not to yourself then to some other movie buff.

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen

Despite enticing film tie-in cover, the actual romance between our heroine and the hero starts and ends with the last chapter of the novel, and without much fuss. It seemed as if Jane Austen got tired of the story when it at last came to its conclusion, after 400 pages of meticulous descriptions of seductions and refusals. I often wondered how on Earth Austen managed to write so much… about what exactly? The story may be put in two sentences – Fanny Price got lifted from her poor plebeian background to the wealth and noble dignity of her uncle’s family where she gradually fell in love with her cousin. (Don’t even start that topic – at Austen’s time it didn’t seem so big deal, and although I still got the creeps over that issue, I had to get over it.) She secretly (of course) desired (and did manage) to marry him at last, but in meantime she had to endure the advances of a man whose consistency along with her own she would firmly test and finally (dis)prove.

The main storyline however wasn’t what really interested Austen – at least that’s my take on it – the relationships and the clashes of different character types were what delighted her along with the issues women of her time were dealing with, such as peer and parental pressures, marital decisions and its consequences. I loved all those details, and the way all those depictions of different marriages, different lifestyles and different classes were interwoven. One could acutely feel the atmosphere of that time and the state of Fanny’s mind in every turmoil of her life. At first glance, for an example, the situation of Fanny Price’s mother did not appear relevant, but related to Bertram’s family and wealthy Mr Crawford’s proposal, it held an important leverage, along with Mr Crawford’s kindness and attention in other fields during that wooing time. Interesting though, it’s difficult from those descriptions to figure out Austen’s personal thoughts on marriages. It doesn’t appear that she disapproves marriages for love in general, after all, Fanny marries for love, but those that lack everything else – like that of Fanny Price’s mother. She believed I guess in prudent liaisons, where the partners in love can offer to each other not only love but also respect and security of some kind.

Fanny Price isn’t quite appealing character. Reportedly, even Austen didn’t like her very much, but rather challenged herself to invent such a main character. Young Fanny Price resembles a lot Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and the older one seems equally…virtuous and equally difficult to care about. Her opinions are so firm and her lifestyle so rigid, almost as if every hour of her life had to be strictly regulated and defined or she would lose her wits. BUT – very big but – I really liked how she stood up firmly against all persuasions to marry Crawford. I really liked how Austen transformed Fanny from insecure child to fully grown woman with her own mind and stand, despite my own opinions of them. I was appalled by all those speeches made to her – she was barely eighteen and it was really expected of her to jump on that chance to marry even if she doesn’t love the groom in question, because she was mere woman and supposed not to think at all, certainly not with her own head and especially not with her own heart. They almost convinced me she was making mistake! Although that might be due the hard time I had swallowing the fact she was in love with her own first cousin.

The problem remains also, that Austen did never fail to make us understand, women of her time and class were considered merely as beautiful and fragile ornaments – it’s enough to observe the way Lady Bertram was treated by her own family – and that makes their decision-making more difficult. Every decision that would be beyond social expectations was met with terrible resistance in their inner circles and even with abandon if thoroughly conducted.

Maybe that’s why Austen didn’t elaborate much Edmund’s feelings towards Fanny. This wasn’t romance story at all. This was Fanny’s story, and the story of all women (and men in some cases!) that have to fight argumentatively for the right to make their own choices. Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice might be an example of Austen’s contemporaries that bowed to such pressures from their peers and relatives. Austen did not try to sweeten these women’s deals, analyzing and even (perhaps) condemning them in more detail in this novel.


Coraline - Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman

Coraline is dark yet magical fairy tale about a girl whose end of the summer in a new flat turned out to be everything but ordinary. That new flat was in utterly old and creepy house that once might have belonged to some contemporaries of E.M. Forster, but now was in disrepair, possibly because of some dark secrets that little girl uncovered.
New surroundings and feeling of utter loneliness and boredom attracted things that should have stayed undisturbed, and yet, wasn't she so adventurous and curious, she mightn't ever have discovered what her courage and wits, together with genuine kindness of her heart and one particular furry ally, can do - and she did some great things every girl or boy of her age should be proud of.
In this story Neil Gaiman achieved to sell eternal values every child should be aware of, without being not a least bit patronizing, while confronting readers with some terrifying images that sound disturbing to children and adults alike. Buttons instead of eyes, spidery hands, hallway walls slimy, soft and warm on touch, cocoons with some undescribable creatures -- Henry Sellick already had some great experience with Nightmare Before Christmas, so the stop-motion adaptation of this story should have been a piece of cake to him. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those things have inspired Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth as well. Such imagery is part of our human nature - just think how many times we have dreamt some extraordinarily weird dreams -- never mind that if we couldn't remember them afterwards! - so we shouldn't fear to frighten our children with this story. Their imagination is more vivid and much stronger than ours that is burdened with everyday's trivial worries. I even dare to believe they would be rather grateful for such an offer. It would gratify their sense of self-worth if we would with the approval of this story think them more mature and more valiant than their age shows.

Film Critic: A Decade Behind the Scenes in the Movies Industry

Film Critic: A Decade Behind the Scenes in the Movie Industry - Laremy Legel

I bought it out of curiosity, knowing the author from Ropes of Silicon. The book reads in fact as a memoir, about Legel's struggles to succeed in a field he loves so much, with bits of previously unpublished materials. As I am interested in the way how this whole film criticism works, I thought it would be interesting read. And it was - I would definitely recommend it to any lover of the motion pictures and everything related to them.

Life of Pi

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Extraordinarily beautiful novel on all levels – may be read without any second thoughts, but it was oh so delightful read exactly because of those metaphysical wonders in which the reading unconsciously leads you! This was storytelling at its best! Descriptions of human-animal relations were so vivid and convincing. The sense of existential crisis, of body, mind, spirit and soul stranded in the middle of nowhere was totally palpable. Novel may be understood as an allegory as well, tackling the strength of human belief in something beyond his/her perceptions, of which your opinion will depend right on your views of the world, and if you are religious, it will depend right on the ways you perceive your god(s). If you are curious to see what in detail this means, in reviews - this and/or of other readers - please resist temptation! Read the novel for yourself and then come back if you would still care to hear other people’s opinions – because every review going deeper into the novel analysis would spoil your enjoyment of the book. Not that you wouldn't enjoy it anyway, but your own perception of the novel will be unconsciously marred by the perception of that other reader(s) whose review(s) you’ve read out of curiosity. I am so delighted by the novel, that I am certain I'll soon read it over again, despite having so many other books on my to-read list.

My eyes were opened suddenly with the questions that made me wonder, what if...? I might be quite slow for not perceiving the connection at once, but to be honest, didn't really wish to delve deeper into the story unless it would open itself alone to me – if story has to be pried into, forcefully dissected into smaller sections to be understood, as if we are in school, then I honestly would think it didn't achieve its goal. The story has to make you wonder without having to read it thrice to be certain that you've read the thing correctly. It should make you smile and admire it without making you first feeling dumb. This is that kind of the story. You really can admire it without trying to figure out deeper meaning of the whole thing. You really do not have to. It is indeed beautiful the way it is. Narrative is thrilling, characters fascinating, the whole setting amazing for any admirer of adventures, passions and torments of human soul and mind.


Life of Pi (the film) -- 9/10 (seen 13 January 2013)

What's A Nice Actor Like You Doing In A Movie Like This?

What's A Nice Actor Like You Doing In A Movie Like This?: The Ultimate Guide to the Most Embarrassing Movies in History, and the Celebrities Who Appeared In Them - Dan Whitehead

Very cool and funny retellings of every ridiculous film in which each actor or actress mentioned in the book performed. Those films are mostly - that’s not really surprising - horror films, mostly made in time when special effects were downright silly and the stories for them equally, hilariously stupid. This book was really delightful read, I laughed occasionally really hard, and to be honest, with its detailed analyses it saved me time to explore these cinematic curiosities by myself.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky Undeniably cool story, but felt rather like a jumble of all the issues young adolescents may have. Not only relationship issues but some very serious stuff, like suicide, abortion, rape, child molestation, domestic violence etc. Any of those subjects would be disturbing and worth pondering about alone, and here are they all, mentioned in too episodic, too commonplace way, not having any significant impact on anything and anybody later in the story. Charlie also wasn’t really a character I could relate to, because he was so weird behaving -- and don’t tell me I should be more compassionate with him, as he was like that supposedly because of his childhood traumas. Trauma I believe, unless physical, does not lower affected people’s intelligence, so I must assume that state of his mind was present from his very birth. He behaved irrationally, occasionally very dumblike, as if he was constantly stoned -- everything had to be explained to him very plainly and directly, in very clear sentences, mercy on us all if something was omitted in some particular conversation, so it was really hard to believe that he was such genius as his teachers claimed him to be. Maybe letters weren’t the best form of expressing both his state of mind (health of which seemed at times quite dubious) and the occurrences in his close environment, because he was pretty good in describing what’s going on around, just to play dumb when he was supposed to translate the impact of these events on his relatives, friends and himself, his mind and feelings.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium #3)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. Film Tie-In - Stieg Larsson

As an epilogue to the story started in the second book, this book wraps the trilogy satisfactorily. Some details present from the very beginning continued to annoy me till the end, but weren't bothersome enough to interrupt reading. That mostly refers to the frank use of brand names and such, which I deeply dislike in any kind of fiction. Call me picky, but not only these names already seem outdated now, they were too obvious not to be considered paid-for commercials, even if they were only figments of imagination - didn't care enough to make that query. I honestly couldn't care less for any of the products mentioned in the book... If only the mention of each was less frequent! 

Interesting how all three books differ very much in the sub-genre of the fiction they belong to. The first one is true example of investigative journalistic thriller; the second is typical murder case(s) thriller, while the third is more a courtroom thriller. Naturally these subgenres intertwine in each novel, especially because many characters belong to different spheres of crime investigation scene (journalists, lawyers, detectives, police officers, government agents) but the presence of one dominates over the others in each of the books. At least that was my impression of the whole series.

I am still very impressed by his minute, very precise writing style in a fashion of one true journalist, in which he carefully unraveled the storyline and logic behind the decisions of all the characters. The only imperfection -- beside one blatant mentioned above -- would be that all the characters were perfect in their own way. Aside their peculiar private lives (for which I might care or not at some point, but didn't really affect any storyline at all), every main character was perfect. Mikael was perfect journalist, Erika perfect magazine editor, Lisbeth perfect investigator, Anders perfect doctor, Annika perfect lawyer, Monica perfect police officer, Susanne perfect security officer et cetera. While I love to see so many people that thrive morally, ethically and else in their own professions - that is quite refreshening and reassuring to read once in a while at least in the fiction - but it loses its appeal when all the main "villains" are quite the opposite in their own professions. 

Overall, first book should be rather regarded as a prequel to the series, because it merely introduces us to the characters, and the storyline is different from the other books. The character development is also a bit inconsistent with the other books, meaning Lisbeth from the first book isn't quite the same from the second and the third book. Also, I wasn't really impressed with Lisbeth as many other reviewers were. Had Larsson lived to write another novel, I would certainly read it too, but not because of characters. I was more impressed with the storyweaving and peculiar crime solving methods described in detail and with ease hard to compare with any other modern crime fiction writer.

Battle Royale

Battle Royale - Koushun Takami, Yuji Oniki

I am impressed, really impressed. Forty three characters (forty two students plus one instructor) and all of them different and exquisitely well portrayed. Every character and their various conducts in such an extreme situation were totally convincing. I was completely immersed in the story right after somewhat confusing and, in my opinion, unnecessary introduction. Actually the whole story was amazing... except the very premise, that bugged me same as it did with The Hunger Games.

Ms. Collins might talk as much as she likes, that she hasn't ever heard of Takami's Battle Royale before going to the publisher with her own book, but the fact is that The Hunger Games - at least the first one I've read - is bleak, simplified... better said, Americanized version of Battle Royale. Battle Royale isn't some kind of dazzling showing off where some contestants signed in voluntarily - it was gruesome top secret fun exclusively designed by and performed for government. No need to justify it with any motives beside pure bloody entertainment for sadistic officials (and masses in case of The Hunger Games). I mean, Romans weren't that hypocritical - panem et circenses, remember? There Collins had lost me, going into elaborate justifications of something utterly superficial and stupid. For any kind of the government.

The game in Battle Royale was also pointless - one even remarked the need for replenishing their youth, because it somehow dwindled in numbers (!) - no subject and official did really care for it (except its very participants) nor knew its any purpose (except those officials who were into gambling, but that was supposedly top secret anyway), but no one did dare to say anything at all, let alone something against it. Government itself was weird one too, with an odd way of commanding and assessing suitability of its subjects. Also, the way it reported that program and results of it to the nation was contradictory and idiotic in itself. But I left all that aside. What was really important, was the fact that nobody really cared to change the way things were... Nobody but those unfortunate students on the island and (some of) their relatives.

What really fascinated me were the students themselves. Sometimes they were described in the third person, sometimes in the first, but all were special - and you as a reader could really sense their unique personalities and unique ways in which they handled the situations they were in. That was amazing, for you could feel the sorrow for every each person there in the game. Even for bad ones, excepting the instructor, of course. They were so young, only fifteen years old - life was just starting for them! Not a single one of them has chosen to be there and to feel such anguish and terror for no just cause. Nobody didn't really want to participate in that game for lunatics. They had to, didn't know what else they could do. Most of them did though feebly retain their spirits by going a bit around the rules. Imagine how that looks to a child now forced to grow up quickly, to know for a fact that your life might end just right now, to be aware that the probability of that event was extremely high because only one of them can be a survivor? Ugh... However, I must admit, sometimes I did wonder do children of that age think like that, most of them seemed too mature for me - but maybe that's because I grew up in the times with a bit different circumstances.

Anyway, every scene in the book was so vivid, so easy to imagine in the mind -- to the very end. I liked the way Takami wrapped the whole story. I haven't seen the film yet, but it had an ending quite perfect for a film. At first it might seem it necessitates the sequel, but I don't feel so. Sometimes it is better to leave things like that, because I feel the point of the story was in the journey, to the deepness of human hearts, not in the final result.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith

Just a bit of note here: this one star (standing for 2 of 10) does not mean the book was written badly. No, on the contrary, it was really well written. Grammar, editing, all those things that sugar-coat the story were superb. But the story itself was dull and annoying... for me. It took me three months to finish the last chapter in one night. The truth is simple - every sentence regarding Abraham Lincoln was interesting, although narrative even there was a bit boring. Let's say everything was fine except those ... vampires. I cringed every single time the story turned to swinging of axes, vampire hunts and secret vampire conspiracies to enslave the country Lincoln was at last the president of. It is not that I cannot stand vampires. No, I just find annoying the fact some people find amusing to intertwine the historical facts and people with in this case silly childish horror fantasies. I do not mind alternate realities and histories. But this wasn't that kind of story. Battles which Confederates miraculously won because of vampire allies? Ridiculous, even mildly offensive to Southerners - really not my kind of humour. Everything somehow seemed wrong and disrespectful. It irritated me so much that I do not wish even to see the movie.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) - Philip K. Dick

In today's world, full of must-have (not for me though) gadgets and other electric appliances that might be as well alive - considering the way we tend to behave with them - this novel was really curious and enlightening read. What it means to be human - yes, really good question when you have androids whom you are supposed to mercilessly retire because of their breaking the first law of robotics (Asimov's actually, I believe), i.e. because of harming and escaping from their human owners. A person like Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter whose task was precisely that above mentioned, must at last wonder, what makes humans so more worthy and so different from their own creations.

This novel was not exempt from Philip K. Dick's infamous stances toward women. Oh no, I was stupefied more than once while reading it. But the whole concept of humanity and empathy versus sheer intelligence and ratio, mattered more, and Dick managed to superbly relay these issues through the interesting depiction of the various characters, but even better through the perspicacious interaction between them.

In this version of our near future (in my edition of the novel are still 90s though ;) Earth is totally devastated by nuclear war and the remaining humans started to measure their humanity and social status with tests of intelligence and empathy. The latter specifically helped Rick Deckard to identify androids that came to existence almost in the same time as the off-world colonization program. These artificial beings were every day more and more perfected to look and function like humans, and that troubled more and more Earth's police forces regarding android escapees. What was wrong with these tests was, that actually everybody, humans and animals, whether real or fake, 'wore' some kind of tag, price or social status. Those not conforming, were casted out and/or constantly humiliated, like J.R. Isidore whom we discovered wasn't too bright but had a heart of gold, or like androids, who might not have had hearts at all, but in some cases were in other ways more valuable than some human specimens. At first empathy seemed more fake than androids themselves, yet in the novel we soon discover why that concept was so important and why androids couldn't figure out the same, being thus dangerous not only to humans but, on further reflection, to themselves too.

The Man Who Would Be King

The Man Who Would Be King - Rudyard Kipling Wish I liked the story more because of the same-name movie, but couldn't. The narrative was sometimes difficult to read because of intentionally mumbled first-person (I mean Carnehan's, not Kipling's) retelling of an adventure in Kafiristan and terrible retribution the main characters experienced at last. That I could handle well, but not the characters themselves. They were obnoxious loafers, as Kipling himself said in the story, and I really couldn't care less for what happened to them. Well, the reader's journey to that moral of the story is what counts. And I got it, but didn't enjoy the story that much.

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