Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want to Watch at the Cinema

I haven’t posted for a little while now, due to life getting in the way of writing and also me suffering from a strange kind of lethargy, a little like a soggy dark cloud sitting over my head, threatening to rain.  Nothing serious, I’m just a bit full of gloom at the moment.  I’m pretty much forcing myself to do a Top Ten Tuesday (as brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish) in the hope that it might help drag me out of this state and find my mojo again.

This week’s theme is the top ten books we’d like to see made into movies.  This is a problem and definitely not guaranteed to be an easy post to get me going again.  You see, as I guess will be the case for a lot of you, I’m not a big fan of movies of books.  In general, they are disappointing and, at worst, they are downright disgraceful.  It’s far easier to think of poor adaptations than good adaptations.  I’m almost tempted to list ten books I didn’t enjoy, on the grounds that I’d rather rubbish films were made of bad books than of books I like!  That wouldn’t really be in the spirit of things though so I will play the game by the rules like a good boy.  I’ve tried to avoid listing books that have already been films or TV programmes but I don’t hold out any sort of warranty that I have got this right and please also bear in mind that my taste in movies runs to the mindless and easy – I’m happy to exercise my mind in the written page but not so much at the cinema, where I’m more likely to be exercising my wits to come up with a good reason for Mrs Falaise to allow me to stuff my face with junk food and mega cups of fizzy pop.

Before we start, however, I would like to bring my peculiar burst of generosity to the attention of those of you who do not read this blog regularly.  I am having a little giveaway, as detailed in an earlier post.  To find out more, click here and read until the end!

So, my top ten books I’d like to see made into movies:

1.         The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  It’s got Dracula.  It’s got historical quests.  It’s got libraries and exotic locations.  It’s got a sufficient patina of literacy that you don’t have to make excuses for reading it but it’s really a good old fashioned yarn.  And there’s sufficient cuttable fat to make the movie adaptation work.

2.         Harlot’s Ghost by Norman Mailer.  This is the story of a junior CIA officer, the son of one of the CIA’s founding fathers, and his coming of age as a young officer during the ‘50s and ‘60s.  It’s a huge and sweeping novel that would require some serious work for the screen but it would be a big film.

3.         The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum. I can’t actually believe that this hasn’t been made into a film yet.  An American agent and a KGB agent are sworn enemies but are forced to join forces when both are framed for murder by a secretive conspiracy emanating from Italy and threatening to take over the world.  It is one of my favourite trash thrillers and is eminently big screen-worthy.  Apparently, it has ben optioned by MGM and is scheduled for release next year, with Denzel Washington and, allegedly, Tom Cruise as the stars.  Now, where’s my popcorn and Diet Coke?

4.         The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.  Actually, I think Fforde’s books are fundamentally unfilmable but there would be something fascinatingly car crash-like about an attempt to do his alternative Britain and Bookworld justice.

5.         The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by G.P. Dahlquist.  I’ve posted about this here in the past but I think that a bit of judicious editing could turn this into a fun flick.  Albeit with an 18 rating!

6.         Kraken by China Mieville.  Set in an alternative London, filled with warring cults, magic, new gods and mysterious prophets, a giant squid is stolen from the Natural History Museum and its curator, Billy Harrow, must track it down.  Why?  Because it is just possible that it is actually a god and someone wants to use it to end the world.  Yeah.

7.         Offside by Manuel Vazquez Montalban.  One of the great Pepe Carvalho stories, this one revolves around the signing of Jack Mortimer, European Footballer of the Year, by FC Barcelona.  All of Montalban’s books are enjoyable but there are very few decent films involving football so I’d like to se this one done properly, with lots of sexy shots of Barcelona, one of my favourite cities, and of the Camp Nou, one of the great stadia.

8.         The Red Rose Crew by Daniel Boyne.  I was a (poor) rower at university, love the sport and am in awe of the dedication of international class oarsmen and women.  I chose this, the inspirational story of the 1975 US Women’s eight World silver medal crew, over David Halberstam’s the Last Amateurs and Blood over Water by David and James Livingston because of the wider struggles the crew had against public indifference as well as their own sporting struggles against the might of the Eastern Bloc.  This would be real feelgood, tear-jerking stuff and it’s an emotionally draining read.  The Livingston book would also work, being the story of two brothers rowing in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, one of the iconic sporting events, but on opposing crews.  It’s a wonderful portrait of sibling rivalry and the effects of competition on family relations.

9.         The Plot against America by Philip Roth.  This is a counter-factual history of America between 1940 and 1942.  It shows an America in which Charles Lindbergh defeats Roosevelt in the 1940 Presidential election and reaches agreement with Hitler to maintain US neutrality.  Slowly but surely, anti-semitism starts to creep into American life and Jewish Americans are encouraged, sometimes by force, to move from the East Coast into the rural mid-West.  It’s a fascinating study of the fragility of democracy.  I think this would make a real Oscar contender.

10.       The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.  I can’t believe no-one has thought about making these into films.  Oh, they have?  Really?  Well I never!


Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Oh, I think you're right about both The Plot Against America and The Historian. Those could be good!

Red said...

I hope the soggy cloud following you around disperses soon!

I considered the Eyre Affair and other TN books but I think they are unfilmable. Now some of his other books might work...

Sharon said...

You have some really good choices here. I especially like the idea of seeing Kraken made into a movie!

Unknown said...

Forget the movies-your picks have given me some new books to read! I'd not heard of Kraken or THe Plot Against America (though obviously I've heard of Philip Roth-he's on my "I can't believe I still haven't read this author I must fix that right away" list.

KarenSi said...

Funny how many people I have seen start this prompt by saying they hate film adaptations of their favourite books. I'm the same. Even when it isn't too bad there is always something they have done/left out that niggles at you.

I considered The Plot Against America on my list two but already had two books set from that time period. Would be interesting though as would The Historian. I thought about Eyre Affair but I honestly don't know ho Bookworld could be translated into film without it being butchered.

Anonymous said...

I'd likr to see The Historian as a movie, except I can see it ending up Dan Brown-esque...that would not be a good thing.

It would be interesting to see what they would make of a film from The Eyre Affair, I can't see it being possible, but maybe. When I went to see Jasper Fforde he mentioned that he wasn't against the idea but didn't think it would be possible, apparently he has been approached, but by random directors who don't seem to have ever made any films!

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