A book is not a movie, and a movie is not a book. People equate film and literature all the time because they are the media through which stories are told, but the means they use to tell these stories are very different. A book is at liberty to say, “Anything essential is invisible to the eye” (Saint-Exupéry The Little Prince), but film at its core is visual, based on action: things that people do, things that people say. Literature on the other hand can enter the realm of the mind, probing into the minds of its characters, laying bare their thoughts to the reader, who in turn sees it all in their own mind’s eye. In order to adapt a book into a film fundamental changes must be made, something that fans of a book can find hard to understand sometimes. You cannot just transcribe a book into screenplay format, it has to be condensed, restructured, and made visual, but what must remain in a good adaptation is the spirit of the book. That is what is sacred, and that is what needs to survive any cuts, changes and alterations. It is this fact that makes adaptation a very tricky art. Mark Osborne’s new film of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved The Little Prince (coming to Netflix August 5) balances on this high wire. Continue reading →
Some films change your life; they say deep and abiding things about human nature, and make you think long and hard about the world. Trollhunter is not one of those films. The mock-documentary about three student filmmakers who stumble upon a Norwegian government secret while trying to make a film about bear poachers is at its heart deeply silly. Trollhunter succeeds though because it plays its premise completely straight. The temptation in a film about a man who hunts trolls for a living would be to camp it up with a knowing wink at the audience, but to the credit of director André Øvredal and star Otto Jepersen everything is laid before you simply and solemnly; the humor is found in the context, or in the words of Øvredal, “[it adds] to the absurdity of everything to insist so intensely that it’s real.” (Chris Eggertsen Bloody Disgusting, 5/6/11) Continue reading →
I first encountered Swedish director Lukas Moodysson in a review by one of my favorite critics, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker. Lane opened his review of Moodysson’s second film Together with: “Just when I was starting to despair of ever finding a decent movie about life in a Swedish hippie colony in the mid-nineteen-seventies, along comes a perfect example.” For me at 15 this was the zenith of film criticism. I hung the quote on my wall and frequently referenced it, but it wasn’t until I was 20 when my Swedish roommate gave me Together for my birthday that I actually saw the film.
Together displays two of Moodysson’s sharpest skills: a gift for capturing the look and feel of earlier eras, and the ability to get startlingly good performances from child actors, but it is in his delightful 2013 film We Are the Best! that these strengths get the showcase they truly deserve. Based on the graphic novel Never Goodnight by Coco Moodysson (who also happens to be Lukas Moodysson’s wife) We Are the Best! follows the ups and downs of three 13 year-old girls as they start a punk band in 1982 Stockholm. Continue reading →