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February 27, 2008

Comments

Louis Delair, Jr.

I believe that your insights are concise and I agree totally. I believe, however, that a slight aside from pure boovie recognition is in order, given your addition of a comment regarding Glen Hansard and his Oscar for "Once". The story is a good human interest, feel good piece. The movie tells the story but, in my view, does not go far enough in developing the characters. HOWEVER!, the musical score raises the movie to a gut-wrenching emotive that so pulled me in that I hurried home from the theater and logged in to iTunes to buy the soundtrack on line. The raw vocals of the guitar renditions and the classical piano bits interlaced into the film made it another of the films that I need a box of kleenex to watch...as well as laugh. Similarities - the movie Love Actually of a few Christmases ago comes to mind as a film which benefited greatly, as did Once, from its soundtrack (its director said the same). Thanks for mentioning Glen Hansard and giving me a fulcrum upon which to launch a sideways boovie comment to encourage, at least, that readers give the soundtrack to ONCE a listen!

Howard G

Hi, Steve,

I'm glad you're returned to this matter of Boovies, because I'd wanted to comment earlier, but never got around to it. Now I've got another chance.

I am one of those huge movie fans and incessant readers who wouldn't hesitate to read a book after seeing a movie. I view book-writing and movie-making as equally valid art forms, both with their own separate power, magic and limitations. True, the movie is often a pale second to the book; adaptation is hard, as the Charlie Kaufman movie makes clear. But not always. And unless the movie is a real stinker, what does it matter if it isn’t quite as good as the original text? It’s impossible to improve on Pride and Prejudice, but I sure am glad that didn’t stop somebody from remaking it into a Keira Knightley vehicle.

Now as it so happens, I had never read P&P. Too much like chick lit. But I found myself swept away by this latest screen version -- frankly stunned by the wit and modern cadence of the dialog. I wanted to check out how much of the movie was the invention of the screenwriters, and how much was owed to Jane Austen, her own 19-century self. So after watching the movie, I turned to the book. And was captivated. No, I couldn’t see the color of the countryside, or hear the rustle of the costumes, or admire the jawline of the comely Ms. Knightley, but I could finally understand lots of plot subtleties that whizzed past me in the movie. Best of all, I could feel the thrall of Austen’s mind – her confidence as a storyteller, her easy grasp of human nature. And yes, the wit was there. It was hers. Somehow, still contemporary. All the more miraculous for finding it in an old book.

Bear in mind that I knew the story, knew the characters from the screen. Did that dampen my enjoyment of the book? On the contrary. Without seeing the movie, I’m sure I never would have been motivated to pick up the book and experience its pleasures.

With Atonement, I had read the book first and felt it so perfectly, intricately written, that I harbored very little hope for its translation to the screen. And yet I liked the movie, even though I thought director Joe Wright had inflated it enormously – had taken an intimate story of interior complexities and turned it into a sweeping romantic movie, full of vistas and incredibly expansive war scenes that spoke Big Production, rather than Ian McEwan fastidiousness. So I was shocked to go back and skim the Atonement I’d read… and find that those same sweeping scenes actually appeared in the book. I hadn’t remembered them at all.

Which tells you something else about the difference in experience between reading and movie-going. Reading Atonement, I was so focused on the inner lives of the characters that I barely paid attention to the side trips they took to war or work or wherever. Watching Atonement, I studied every image, looking at surfaces for clues into the characters’ interiors. That’s the nature of medium for you. A moviemaker must devise outer images to suggest to us what’s going on inside a character. An author drives us directly into the character’s mind.

They are telling the same story. But the moviemaker and the author have different means of telling it. Which means they give you different things to appreciate. No matter what order you take them in.

Best,

Laura Moseley

Dear Steve,
I just finished "ristening" to Your Well Read Life and I think it is one of the most amazing books I have ever come in contact with. I just wanted to let you know that I reviewed it this morning on my blog: http://grannyshippiethreads.blogspot.com . I hope that all of my readers read this book as well so that the whole world can live a Well Read Life.

Laura

Beth Van Vorst Gray

Steve:

I guess we can all be "boovie-groovies" now that you have coined the phrase. I like that a lot better than "groupies."

Though I agree with the previous writers, the most outstanding boovie of them all has to be "To Kill A Mockingbird." Having read the book first, over and over, I almost feared seeing the movie, since the characters lived so vividly in my mind. After many assurances that it was wonderful, I saw the movie and immediately recognized, and loved, my friends from the book. Now, I read it again and see it again from time to time.

There was also a wonderful production of "TKAM" staged at the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, that evoked the true spirit of BOTH book and movie. Never expected that, but, perhaps, the message and the definition of the characters of the original book was so clear and strong that misinterpreting is not possible.

B.

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