Thursday, December 3, 2020

Thursday Movie Picks: Adaptations

It's the first Thursday in December. That means the countdown clock at the top of this page seems to be moving faster than it was just a few days ago even though it's not. I wish it were. 2020 just cannot end fast enough.

Enough about that, let's get on with the reason we're here - Thursday Movie Picks. The topic picked by our host, Wanderer at Wandering Through Shelves, is adaptations. When we hear that word, most of us think of renowned books that became movies. If you're on the younger side, you might think of comic book characters that made it to the big screen. There's a step between those two. Well, truthfully, they're just slightly more ambitious, longer comic books. Of course, I'm talking about graphic novels. I'm going even a little bit further. I'm going to talk about movies adapted from graphic novels that have nothing to do with superheroes. Hmm...


American Splendor 

(2003)

After you see it, you might get an inkling this has something to do with comics, but that's only because our protagonist becomes the author of an influential comic book series. Though the comics play a major part, it's more or less the love story of real life comic book author Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti) and Joyce Brabner (Hope Davis) This is a film as quirky as its main character. It's live-action, but with many animated sequences. The real Harvey and Joyce show up alongside the actors playing them and talk about the comics they made together. Giamatti and Davis are absolutely great. And so is the whole movie. (Full review)  


Persepolis

(2007)

After you see it, you might get an inkling this has something to do with comics, but that's only because our protagonist grows up to be a graphic novelist. Why does that sound familiar? Though it makes lots of social commentary, it's more or less a coming of age story of real-life graphic novelist Marjane Most of the movie is spent with our main character Marji as she grows up in Iran during political and civil unrest in the 70s and 80s. Don't mistake this for a kiddie-flick just because it's animated. It's anything but. However, it is a movie that kids should see during their teen years. 


The Diary of a Teenage Girl 

(2015)

After you see it, you might get an inkling this has something to do with comics, but that's only because our protagonist is an aspiring cartoonist. Hmm, deja vu. She's also a troubled 15 year old, named Minnie, growing up in the 70s with a mom who parties more than she parents. Understandably, but regrettably, we watch Minnie fall into the same hard partying lifestyle. And this movie pulls no punches, earning every bit of its R-rating as it travels a rather unsettling road. Bel Powley is amazing in the lead and, for my money, Kristen Wiig's work as her mom is career-best. (Quick and Dirty review)


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15 comments:

  1. I've seen all 3 of these films and I love them all. American Splendor remains one of my all-time favorite films as it was one of my earliest art house film experiences that I went to as it was packed and man. The reception it got in the end was worth it. I love Persepolis as well as it made me realize that everything I learned in world history in school about Iran was wrong. Especially as I realized why Iranians hate Americans and... yeah, I don't blame them. Diary of a Teenage Girl was equally great not just in my discovery of Marielle Heller but also in Bel Powley.

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  2. Persepolis is such a wonderful movie - I need to rewatch it some time soon!

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  3. I really enjoyed Persepolis! Diary of a Teenage Girl just made me uncomfortable, but Bel Powley was fantastic in it. I haven't seen your first pick.

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    1. There's no doubt Diary of a Teenage Girl is an uncomfortable watch, so I understand being put off by it. I hope you get to see American Splendor, though.

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  4. I've seen your first two and loved them both. Based on your theme, I think I might have gone with Ghost World as my third choice.

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    1. Unfortunately, I haven't seen Ghost World,. It's on the list, though.

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  5. I haven't seen any of these yet but both American Splendor and Persepolis are on my to see list and have been for a while, I really need to get to them. I almost watched American Splendor a couple of years ago because of all the positive word of mouth for it but decided to watch Giamatti's other widely praised film Sideways first and didn't like it at all so the other one got pushed to the side.

    I also thought of book to movie adaptations first but since the theme was wide open I decided to go with stage to screen adaptations. I limited myself to ones where I had seen both the film and a production of the play on Broadway.

    Into the Woods (2014)-Adaptation of the Sondheim musical reimaging of classic fairy tales-Rapunzel, Cinderella, the Baker & His Wife etc.-with an impressive cast (Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman among others) is enjoyable but misses the magic of the stage production despite CGI and the utilization of location shooting. I saw this in 1988 at the Martin Beck Theatre, though Phylicia Rashad had by that time replaced Bernadette Peters who had originated the role of the Witch.

    Gypsy (1962)-Star powered (Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood and Karl Malden in the leads) filmization of the classic stage play based on the memoirs of ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee growing up in the shadow of her more talented sister June and her fearsomely aggressive stage mother Mama Rose that Ethel Merman made legendary when it opened in 1959 with a score by Jules Styne & Stephen Sondheim. I saw the 2003 revival with Bernadette Peters as Mama Rose at the St. James Theatre.

    MacBeth (1948)-Moody expressionistic take on the Shakespeare "Scottish Play" about the price of unfettered ambition and lust for power by a courtier (Orson Welles) and his rapacious wife (Jeanette Nolan). I saw the production starring Christopher Plummer (he was very good) and Glenda Jackson (she was electrifying!) at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in 1988.

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    1. Please do check out American Splendor and Persepolis. Both are excellent. Then again, I love Sideways, so take that as you may.

      Almost went with stage adaptations myself. There are some good ones out there. However, I didn't care for the cinematic version of Into the Woods. Haven't seen the play, nor the other two movies you picked.

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  6. I like your theme within a theme even though I have not seen any of these. The closest is Persepolis which I watched on YouTube but only could see part of it.

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    1. Oh, I really hope you get to see all of Persepolis. It is truly an achievement.

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  7. I seen the bottom two and really like them and with Persepolis being the only one that I've also read the graphic novel.

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    1. Haven't gotten my hands on the graphic novel yet, but I'd like to.

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