Good Reading : April 2009
books to film screenings From page to screen, SARAH MINNS tells us the literary movies to watch out for in 2009. For kids There are plenty of kids’ book adaptations coming up this year, including old favourites like the ‘Ramona’ series by Beverly Cleary. The first movie, Beezus and Ramona, has just been cast, with tween singer and actress Selena Gomez to play Beezus and nine-year-old actress Joey King set to play Ramona. Elizabeth Allen, who directed the adaptation of Alice Hoffman’s Aquamarine in 2006, will direct Beezus and Ramona. Another perennial favourite, Where the Wild Things Are, has an Australian release date of 10 December. Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze have adapted Maurice Sendak’s book for the screen, but rumour has it the production has been plagued with problems: reshooting the entire movie, tantrums on set, and it’s almost impossible to get information about it – but it will surely be worth the wait. Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenebaums, Bottle Rocket) has just finished directing an animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, starring Cate Blanchett, George Clooney and Bill Murray. It’s due in Australia this December. Cloudy, with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi and Ron Barrett, has been made into an animation, with Anna Faris (Lost in Translation, Scary Movie) providing voice talent. But perhaps the biggest news in children’s adaptations this year is Harry Potter 20 goodreading i APRIL 2009 and the Half-blood Prince, due to hit the cinemas in June. For grown-ups In 1936 an Irish aristocrat known as Lord Dunsany wrote a novella entitled My Talks with Dean Spanley. Interested in the occult, Dunsany wrote many works of fantasy, and Dean Spanley explores the story of an ordinary clergyman who claims to have lived as a dog. The adaptation, a New Zealand/UK co-production directed by Toa Fraser, has been praised overseas. Philip French in the Observer called it ‘a delightful, oddly moving film, immaculately acted, carefully skirting whimsy’. It stars Peter O’Toole, Sam Neil and Bryan Brown. Julie and Julia, the movie, is due out this October. Based on the book by Julie Powell, the movie adaptation (by You’ve Got Mail’s Nora Ephron) includes a parallel story of the life of Julia Childs, using her memoir My Life in France. It stars Meryl Streep as Julia Childs and Amy Adams as Julie Powell (in her blog ‘What Could Happen?’ Powell says it’s a bit strange to see ‘a Rom-Com-ed, slimmed-down, considerably less foul-mouthed version of yourself – on a movie screen’.) The Secret Life of Bees is sweeping award ceremonies abroad. The coming- of-age New York Times bestseller set in the 1960s by Sue Monk Kidd stars Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning. An adaptation of Jodie Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper starring Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin and Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin will be released later this year. The story is about a 13-year-old girl who was conceived to provide her unwell sister with a bone marrow match, but sues her parents for medical emancipation. It was directed by Nick Cassavetes. The British soccer comedy-drama starring Michael Sheen, The Damned United, about Brian Clough’s 44-day tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football, Leeds United, is due for release later this year. It is based on the novel of the same name by David Peace. Also watch out for … • The film version of Li Cunxin’s autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer, directed by Bruce Beresford, to be released in October. • Jane Campion’s new project Bright Star, about the doomed romance between Keats and Fanny Brawne. • And a new Denis Lehane adaptation, Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kinglsey.