Upcoming Bookish Adaptations – Autumn 2017

As the weather gets colder and we are once again driven indoors, the next best thing to curling up with a good book is watching a great bookish adaptation. Here are the ones you should keep an eye out for this autumn:

The Cuckoo’s Calling 

nintchdbpict000329243004
JK Rowling’s adult crime novels under the name Robert Gailbraith aren’t as well known as her famous boy wizard, but with a BBC detective series that might soon change.

IT

it-movie-poster-homepage
This is Stephen King’s year with several of his works hitting big and small screens. Catch Pennywise the clown in cinemas this September.

The Mist 

tw-28619
What can be found hiding in the mist? Find out in Netflix’s adaptation of Stephen Kings novella.

1922 

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-3-51-25-pm
Another Stephen King adaptation just in time for Halloween – and this one is complete with a ghostly haunting.

Murder on the Orient Express

MV5BMTczODA5MDQ0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzU0OTg0MjI@._V1_CR0,59,640,360_AL_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_
Kenneth Brannagh brings Agatha Christie’s well-loved mystery to life with an all-star cast in this cinema blockbuster, released in November.

The Snowman
MV5BZTYzOGFlZTAtN2E0Ni00MjZjLTg5MzUtMThjNjNkMTM5YTA2L2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjEwNTM2Mzc@._V1_

Jo Nesbo’s thriller stars Michael Fassbender as a detective who must investigate the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter.

Alias Grace
Alias Grace

The second Atwood adaptation to come to small screens this year is a historical fiction based on real murders in 1840s Canada.

Which adaptation will you be watching this autumn?

Advertisements

Anne with an E: First Look

Anne of Green Gables is a beloved childhood memory for many people, so when Netflix announced that they would be doing an original series there was obviously a huge reaction. Many people felt that it needed to be done, others were outraged – no adaptation could match the book. However if it was going to be done, then who could do it better than Netflix with their huge successes in original series and adaptations in recent months?

Series 1 is now available on Netflix, so after seeing Episode 1, what first impressions can we take from this highly anticipated series?

It’s a lot darker than the books

Looking back, we should have guessed that there was more to Anne’s past than meets the eye. She turns up to the Cuthberts’ in a fair state and in the book it is just passed off that she’s a bit of an oddball and her desire to stay with the Cuthberts’ because asylums aren’t very nice. However in this adaptation Anne has a number of flashbacks which show her to be a victim of abuse at the hands of the previous family she ‘worked’ for. While this may be a bit serious and gothic for some, it definitely made it feel more real – suddenly her emotions make sense rather than seeming histrionic.

Anne is not quite so precocious 

The book Anne is frustratingly precocious to the point it becomes comedic. By bringing Anne down to earth a bit, her wild imaginings and ridiculous speeches becomes a lot more meaningful. She is just as heartwarming as ever, but she is also relatable and earnest. I wish I could have been like this version of Anne at 13. She also gets a much appreciated feminist update when she declares ‘girls can do anything boys can and more.’

Its pacy

Some of our favourite moments from Anne’s early days at Green Gables feel as though they are raced through immediately – however this might have something to do with the fact that Netflix has made the first episode a double one – lasting a full hour and thirty mins. I don’t really understand why since Netflix has proved that we like our viewing in short and many installments. My attention was wavering through this first one, and I can’t help but think I would have appreciated it split into two, to have Anne’s best slip-ups a little more spaced out.

It is aesthetically perfect

I was going to say aesthetically ‘stunning’ then I realised this wasn’t the right description. Green Gables is beautiful, scenes of Matthew riding through water are breathtaking and the contrast between the lovely present of Avonlea and Anne’s horrific past is on point. However there are some visual aspects which are less ‘stunning’ but which makes it all the more perfect. Anne is wonderfully presented as the thin, freckly, red-headed vain girl we all know and love and I am so glad because TV adaptations have a tendency to give appearances the Hollywood Treatment. Equally our first view of Diana shows a fairly real girl in her early teens. Neither have been altered, airbrushed or beautified and that’s ok because they are perfect just the way they are.


Overall, a pretty positive first look at a classic childhood story, I just hope that future episodes can relate the journey Anne goes through growing up and do the classic justice.

The Handmaid’s Tale: First Look

2017 has seen a resurgence in Atwood’s classic, partially as a staple in the feminist canon, and partly as a reaction to fears of such a dystopian future under the Trump administration. Hulu’s adaptation couldn’t have come at a better time.

Now that the first episodes have dropped, what can we tell about this long awaited series?

Colour is everything

If you have read the novel you will know how important colour is – the handmaiden’s red gowns for example. However, the series takes this a whole step further. Offred’s past is shown in fairly bland, real colours, while the present is almost Tim Burton-esque in it’s contrast. The symbolic reds of the handmaiden’s, blue of the wives and greens of the Marthas aren’t the only colours here, the brightness of the oranges, the greenery of the surrounding suburbs and the stark whites of the buildings are all used to create a vivid and too-perfect-to-be-real setting.

Young and beautiful

The commander and his wife, Serena Joy, are written as older in the book, with the commander even having silver hair. Joseph Fiennes certainly doesn’t fit the bill and the same can be said of his counterpart Yvonne Strahovski. There is definitely some Hollywood glamourising going on here but hopefully the change to the characters serves a better purpose than simply aesthetics.

Amped up violence

From the very first episode we see far more violence than in the book, with the ‘salvaging’ coming much earlier than expected – evidently for the shock factor. We also see a gruesome addition at the ‘Red Centre’ so this seemingly sets the pace for more violence as the show progresses.

An update for 2017 

There are subtle hints indicating a contemporary time period – from technology to passing remarks. Moreover, the series departs from the books which dealt with racism in a very specific way, instead employing a diverse cast.

What’s in a name?

The short answer: everything. We get confirmation of character names to a much greater extent than in the book and most importantly we find out Offred’s name – no spoilers here you have to watch! If you are looking for literary significance or hidden meanings, this revelation is HUGE. 

So basically everything is bigger, brighter and more dramatic, as is only to be expected from such a high profile TV adaptation. Only time will tell whether the series will do it’s book justice but it is looking pretty positive so far!

Review: The Night Manager

  

The BBC’s flagship six part drama, co-produced with AMC, has been described as many things, with most recent views being that Hiddleston’s role was an extended audition for the next 007.

     Photo from USA Today

 
But as cynical as many of the descriptions offered were the BBC developed the perfect formula for The Night Manager. A classic spy thriller brings in readers and older generations, while updating the story keeps it current, relevant and original. Pair all of this with a stellar cast and you’ve really hit the money. The six part formula is short enough to hold interest and the Sunday night slot is prime time for drama.   
 Photo from The Telegraph

Hiddleston was suave, sophisticated and wily. Is he Bond material? I’m not so sure but he is certainly well suited to Le Carré’s style and despite the public school accent managed to channel an element of the bad boy, occasionally making us question which side he was working for.
 Photo from the Radio Times

Despite Hiddleston being the main character it was Hugh Laurie who stole the show as Roper, one of the most charasmatic villains I’ve seen on TV in a while. He may not have been the scariest but when his humour catches you off guard and you start to sympathise with him, he bowls you over backwards with what he is capable of. Roper is always in control and he never gets his hands dirty.  
  Photo from the Radio Times

But he certainly has a match, albeit unconventional, in the figure of Angela Burr, diversifying Le Carré’s original characters. Played by Oliva Colman who’s pregnancy was written into the script, her character tops the others by a long way. She is a fierce, determined woman who isn’t taken seriously in her profession and is constantly demeaned by men and younger women in power suits, who exemplify the corrupt echelons of the security services. 

With one of the country’s best funny-men and a pregnant spy you would think the show risked becoming a farce, yet it was far from it. The drama was serious and tense, the humour was perfectly poised and utterly engaging. If it is the input of a successful American channel which has helped this then it is a partnership which I would like to see continue in the future. If anything is going to give channels a fighting chance against streaming services, then it will be series like The Night Manager

Review: Jane the Virgin

  From its original advertisements Jane the Virgin first seemed like it was going to be a bit of a farcical comedy. I seemed unconvinced for a while. However, one night when I was heading off to work, the programme started and my housemate was hooked in disbelief. After spending the next few weeks being told how great it was, I tuned in and caught up from the beginning. Watching up to three or four episodes at a time, I had clearly caught the bug.

Jane Villanueva is a Latina twenty something who, it is made clear from the beginning, has remained a virgin and intends to until she marries. Living a happy life; about to graduate as a teacher and engaged to her boyfriend Micheal Cordero, her life is turned upside down when she is accidentally artificially inseminated with the only sperm sample from her boss and the man she kissed five years ago, Rafael Solano. 

As the show is both based on and a parody of the traditional Spanish ‘telenovela’ we delve into a world of breakups, romances, long lost relatives, scandal, drug dealing and murder. The telenovela is known for its over dramatic plot twists, far more sensational than any English soap, and the show uses this tradition and also satirises it through the figure of Jane’s long lost father, telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega. 

The addition of the highly comedic narrator and on screen subtitles which include texting and hashtagging cements the show firmly in an age of modern technology and modern issues, making it humorous and identifiable for a relatively young audience. This is furthered in the very identifiable character of Jane, who we follow through the struggles of what many in the audience would term a ‘disaster’, as well as simply trying to navigate American life as a young woman from a Latino family. 

The dilemmas that Jane faces pose interesting ethical questions and sheds and interesting light on reconciling what may seem like old fashioned religious ideas and 21st Century modern life. Through frequent flashbacks and a strong insight into her home life we become heavily emotionally invested in Jane’s character and her story.

Special commendations go to the creators for offering a show with so many strong female characters, with their own agency and also for breaking these women out of, and questioning, traditonal stereotypes such as virgin, mother, temptress etc. The show is funny, clever and self-satirising but at the same time it has a simple, lighthearted and genuine feel. It is also thought provoking, dramatic, tense and so full of plot twists you will constantly be screaming at the screen for the next episode. 

Photo by themarysue.com