A Trilogy in Two Parts

1001004006264943_Hunger-GamesI’ve been reading The Hunger Games recently. I enjoyed the first book, and upon watching the film, was reasonably happy with the adaptation. In fact, there are parts of the film that are more coherent than the book. With maybe another thirty minutes, the film could have been a near perfect adaptation.

I finished the second book, Catching Fire, and it confirmed something that has been nagging me for a while, ie: some trilogies need to be reduced to two books. Don’t get me wrong, I like a long story told over a number of books, but there seems to be a need to squeeze more out of a story than there actually is. It’s similar to the need to split films into multiples, Hobbit, Twilight:Breaking Dawn, Hunger Games:Mockingjay.

Catching Fire is an ok book, but it feels like a transition, it feels like its only purpose is to move the story from book one to book three. That in itself is not a unworthy goal, it’s just that it meanders. The Hunger Games part of the book only takes up about a hundred and fifty pages, so it feels a little stilted. The first act is just a tad boring. My overall impression was that the book could have lost an act at the front, and gained one at the end; drag in some of the material from Mockingjay. My daughter doesn’t like the second film, although she loved the books and the first film. I think that the source material is probably to blame here. I’ll let you know when I’ve watched it.

Mockingjay redeems the series. It’s a very different style of book than book one, and I like that change in tone. The subject matter is interesting even if the progression through the book is not necessarily so.

I must admit that I expected the books to be more violent than they were. Overall I liked the series, I just could have done with it in two books or one big one!

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The Shawshank Redemption

While I was in London last week for the Apple Tech Talk, I decided to go watch The Shawshank Redemption at the Wyndham Theatre.

Most of you will be aware of the Film by Frank Darabont. Some of you may even be aware that it is based on the short story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King.

I love the short story and I love the film. So when I noticed the other day that there was a play on in London, and that it was only running until the end of November, then I figured I should go watch it while I had the opportunity of being up there.

Firstly, I enjoyed watching it. It wasn’t great, it was ok.
I wonder if I am just not attuned to theatre. I don’t mind musical theatre, I get that, but the difference between plays and films seems to be vast. In this case, everything seems to be said in a shout.

The play is apparently based on the book and not the film – plenty of copyright issues here I guess. The problem is that Frank Darabont did a magnificent job of adapting the book, that it was always going to be hard to stray away from that. So the first think the writers did to differentiate the play from the film was to go back to the original source and have Red as a red-haired white man of Irish ethnicity – right? Wrong! Red is a Morgan Freeman wannabe… and it doesn’t work. His voice is gravelly, and fast, and loud. Morgan Freeman is controlled, slow, and soothing. I can’t read the book anymore without hearing Morgan Freeman narrating for me.

The version of Red’s voice-over, that makes the hairs stand up when delivered in the film…

There’s a con like me in every prison
in America, I guess. I’m the guy who
can get it for you. Cigarettes, a
bag of reefer if you’re partial, a
bottle of brandy to celebrate your
kid’s high school graduation. Damn
near anything, within reason.

In the play, this is the opening lines… rushed, shouted, gravelly, and disappointing…

All in all my concerns with the play were that even though the writers were apparently trying to steer clear of the film, they kept coming back to it. Many of the characters seemed liked they were poor versions of the film characters. In fact Tommy was almost identical that I wondered if they had just lifted the original actor.

In the film many of the characters we amalgamation of multiple characters – Brooks and The Warden in particular. In the play – yep you guessed it – amalgamations. Warden Norton – looked the same, if a little more portly!

I hated Andy Dufresne in the play ( Kevin Anderson). He’s cocky, too forward, almost having a controlled route through his time at the shank. But he still has this kind of Tim Robbins look-a-like thing going on.

So in the end, the play can’t make it’s mind up – be the film, be the book, or be neither. There are some very odd changes and additions that had no earthly right being there.
To be honest, I think the play is really cashing in on the film and not a decent theatrical version of the book. The writers have tried to avoid the obvious copyright issues without dropping things that their audience of film fans might take issues with. I mean, the whole thing starts with the name right? Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption

I think my favourite part was when the cast sing as Tommy is hanging in his cell… that was a wonderful moment, and almost worth the entrance fee alone.

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The Death of Billy Black

Many years ago my dad told me a story about one of his friends Billy (
William Black ). He told me about him taking part in a race where he had
to run up a very steep road/hill/lane while carrying a sheep over his
shoulders.

Not long after that conversation I got to thinking about a story “The
Legend of Billy Black”. It never really formed into anything it was just
this concept about this kid who was remarkable at everything he did,
generous to a fault, and extremely well liked by everyone who ever met
him. The story would follow him as he grew up.

I did an amount of searching on Google to see if I could find any high
profile people with the name, especially anything written or filmed. I
didn’t want to create a character that was already prominent. Nothing came up. Yes there were plenty of Billy Black’s but nothing that I felt
concerned about.

As part of my Dreamgate novel I decided to weave Billy into the story in
order to have some form of cross over. I like the idea of connecting my
short stories and other works with Dreamgate. I even toyed with the idea
of giving Blacks identity to one of the mysterious main characters ‘The
Traveller’.

Anyway, I started listing to the Audiobook of ’s . I listen while at the gym, it’s so much easier to get through a workout when you are distracted by something else; I clock watch less…

To my horror, very early on, a character called Billy Black appears…
re-doing my google search, the results are filled with Billy Black from
the book and film of Twilight… and in that moment I saw the death of MY
character.

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Wikipedia Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

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Sideways

Sidways

I finished reading Sideways a few weeks ago, yes I know it’s taken me some time to mention, but there you go. It’s the third in the Trilogy of film books… ie: I read 3 books on the bounce that were made into films all of which I had seen the film first. The book is very good. The story is that of 2 friends who go on a stag week. The groom is going to have his final fling and his best man, Miles, is there for the wine tour. The story has a very interesting interplay between the characters and you seem to get into their mindset pretty well. However, one of the real interesting thing is the detail for the Wine. Miles is a real Wine snob and you get a lot of detail about wine and drinking wine. Although this may sound a little boring, which indeed sometimes it does feel while reading, it actually does two things perfectly… a) gets you into Miles’ character, and b) makes you want to drink the wines they are talking about!

See Also: The Green Mile | Big Fish

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Big Fish

Big fishI finished reading ’s Big Fish last week. This is the second of my trilogy “Reading Book’s of Films that I have watched recently”. It’s a quick book to read being not very long, but it’s lovely and simple and sweet!

If you are not familiar with the book or the film, it’s a man recounting the stories that his father told him as a child about how he used to catch big fish on ice with best boots for ice fishing, where all the stories were about the father. Most of the stories are rather fantasical and a little unbelievable as they paint the father in the light of an extraordinary and great man. But they are used to explain his long absences away from the family.

To me it blends the tall tales that a father tells with the child’s regard of his father as the ultimate hero, and the reconciliation of coming to terms with his father’s pending death.

, Big Fish – the film, The Green Mile

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Wikipedia Daniel Wallace

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