Romance

27th January
2009
written by JohnArkontaky

Book:
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
©1922, P.F. Collier & Sons Co.
Short Story

Movie:

Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: Eric Roth
Starring: Brad Pitt, Kate Blanchett
Release: 12/25/2008
Rating: PG-13

If someone had told you about an amazing autobiography he read about a man-child who was born old and died an infant, then the next day another person were to recount a wonderfully strange documentary film about an un-aging man named Benjamin Button, you would be hearing two starkly different tales. These men share a name, yes, but with different families, upbringings, home towns, personalities, adventures, romances, and growing up in different time periods, it’s hard to say that there is only one curious case of a Button. (more…)

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27th December
2008
written by brandij

The Book
Author: Stephenie Meyer
© 2005
Published by Little, Brown and Company

The Movie
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson
Released: November 21, 2008
Rated: PG-13

Twilight, the biggest book phenomenon among young adults since Harry Potter introduces Bella Swan, an incredibly average teenage girl, and Edward Cullen, her incredibly unusual love interest. Bella leaves sunny Phoenix for cloud-soaked Forks, Washington to live with her father (who happens to be the police chief of the 3000 person town). Clumsy Bella charms all the young men in Forks, with the exception of our cold-blooded hero, Edward. He seems to be repulsed by the very scent of her. Through the course of a few hundred pages (or a couple of hours) we learn that Edward isn’t truly repulsed by Bella, but rather is inhumanly attracted to her scent; specifically the smell of her blood. Edward, along with his super-humanly beautiful family are a coven of vampires who also routinely make their home in Forks.

Twilight pairs traditional teenage angst (Will Jessica ever get the nerve to ask Mike to the Sadie Hawkins dance? Should Bella re-use the paper about Pride and Prejudice that she wrote in Phoenix for an assignment in Forks?), with a retelling of Romeo and Juliet‘s lovers who can never be together. It also incorporates a healthy dose of history, chase, and suspense. By the end, you’ve grown to hope for Bella and Edward, and can hardly wait to pick up the next book in the series.

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23rd December
2008
written by brandij

The Book
Author: Nicholas Sparks
© 1996
Published by Grand Central Publishing

The Movie
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands
Released: June 25, 2004
Rated: PG-13

The Notebook has been highlighted as one of the best love stories of our time, and it well could be. Of course, this book doesn’t tell the story well. In, what appears to be characteristic Sparks style, we meet Noah 49 years after the story takes place. He’s now an old man, living in an assisted care facility. He spends his days reading the notebook in which the story of he and his wife Allie is written. The love story is that notebook, when Allie and Noah are reunited, 14 years after their summer of teenage love. In just a few days, their love is rebuilt, and they spend the next 49 years building a life. Noah reads to Allie to help her remember their life, as she sinks into the depths of Alzheimer’s.

The primary story in The Notebook takes only a few days, but the love that Noah and Allie share endures for more than 60 years. There is little action, little drama, and truthfully, little confrontation in the book. Sparks may draw you in with the premise, but he again leaves you hanging for the beautiful phrasing and imagery which you hope to find in the greatest love story of the decade.

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22nd December
2008
written by brandij

Nights in Rodanthe book cover
Book
Author: Nicholas Sparks
© 2002
Published: Warner Books

Movie
Directed by: George C. Wolfe
Starring: Diane Lane, Richard Gere
Released: September 26, 2008
Rated: PG-13

Nights in Rodanthe is written to be one of the “second chance at love” stories that middle-aged women across the world may dream about, especially with Richard Gere as the romantic hero. While the movie vaguely misses the mark, the book doesn’t even come close.

Sparks uses a formulaic approach to the love story; love coming into the lives of 2 people unexpectedly, distance forces the two lovers apart, and finally, the enduring quality of love. The simple story can appeal to those who are looking for a quick read; or who want to truly engage their imagination to give depth to the characters.

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24th May
2008
written by brandij

Novel
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Published: Vintage Books, © 1998

Movie:
Director: Mike Newell
Starring: Benjamin Bratt, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Javier Bardem
Release: November 2007

I expected Love in the Time of Cholera to be a beautiful love story – perhaps one that would join the line of Gone with the Wind. In some ways, it is like Gone with the Wind, in the sense that the traditional love story is reinvented in a completely new way. In just the back panel of the book, you discover that while Florentino loves Florentina for over 50 years, that doesn’t slow his prowess – he has 622 affairs during that time. Now, how would one portray that on-screen without it quickly becoming an x-rated film?

Love

Oh, how many of us have felt the infatuation of young love – the kind that songs are written about. One song in particular comes to mind for young Florentino (Javier Bardem) and Fermina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno).

“… ‘Cause when you’re fifteen and someone tells you they love you,
You’re gonna believe it…”  – Taylor Swift, Fifteen

Such is love for young Florentino and Fermina. Their early relationship is developed through a series of letters (enhanced, on-screen by stolen glances in church and at carnival).  He loves her from the moment he sees her, and doesn’t hesitate to tell her in every possible way. When her father, perfectly portrayed by John Leguizamo, discovers that she’s agreed to marry Florentino, he wisks her away to the countryside.

Love is different when you’re 18, especially in a time when an 18 year old woman is the head of the household. When Fermina sees Florentino again in the market after a 2-year hiatus, she instantly realizes that Florentino is not the man that she had imagined. She immediately breaks off their engagement. Florentino falls into most unmasculine displays despair, and Fermina moves on. She eventually agrees to marry Dr. Juvenal Urbino, and Florentino starts his 622 affairs.

Overwhelming Description

Marquez relied very little in dialogue through the book – rather telling the story through the thoughts and statements of fact. I admittedly was worried about how the movie would turn out, as so much of a film is typically told through character dialogue. Newell’s team did an outstanding job of using the description and thoughts to build missing dialogue, and use the background that was needed to build the story.

Newell also left out elements that were less important to the story – such as the way that Urbino liked the smell of his pee after eating asparagus, or that Florentino needed frequent enemas. While these elements of the novel were… interesting… they rarely added to the depth of the story, and were fine deletions from the screenplay.

The Naughty Bits

Since Newell left out the smell of asparagus pee, he needed to spice up the storyline somehow – so he enhanced the stories of Florentino’s 622 affairs. The depictions were much more graphic, bordering on x-rated, as Florentino explored physical love with a wide variety of women, in a wide variety of places and positions. He detailed them all in a journal, which was notably absent from the novel. In fact, the only reference that I can recall to the exact number of affairs he had was from the back panel of the book.

Florentino’s tastes were varied. At times, it seemed like he would sleep with any woman who presented the opportunity. He often slept with widows, as they seem to be the most free with their lives. He doesn’t limit his affairs there – he also has an affair with a married woman, leading to her untimely death at the hands of her jealous husband.

As an old man, he also sleeps with much younger women – in particular his young charge America. In the movie, she’s in college, studying to be a teacher; but in the novel, she seems much younger. Enough younger, in fact, that their affair seems to have a very Lolita quality. No matter – the age difference of 50+ years could definitely be considered a ‘naughty bit’.

Worth it?

Without ruining the end (which you know from the beginning), I’ve been asking myself the question about whether the book or the movie were worth the time I invested in the reading and watching. To be sure, there are parts of the story that I will likely never forget (Florentino’s lover who used baby pacifiers as part of the sexual act), there are more parts that I’ll never remember from both the book and the movie. I’ve still not made up my mind, so you’ll have to decide for yourself.