The Box Office Belletrist
‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ Is Both Creepy and Confused

Is Ray Bradbury's classic a horror film? Well, not exactly. Is it a family film? Nah, it has too many genuine scares for the kiddies. Is it perfect for Halloween? Well, Mr. Dark is delightfully wicked...

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Putting the Bite Back into Snow White with ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

After some bland remakes of this classic fairytale, it's nice to see the poison put back into Snow White's apple.

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What It Means to Be Human: ‘Never Let Me Go’’

The film, Never Let Me Go, follows the book relatively well, although it eliminates some of the story, and isn't able to mirror the novel's careful and timed revelations about the mystery of Hailsham's students.

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‘Lord of the Flies’ Still Reigns

Fear and brutality inherent in the human condition and the drive to survive are themes that have never gone out of fashion. The stakes get even higher when those involved are children, and that's obviously a big seller.

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‘A Moveable Feast’ in ‘Midnight in Paris’

Ernest Hemingway compared Paris to a moveable feast because no matter what time it is, Paris is always the magnificent city of lights. Woody Allen expands upon Hemingway's testimony in the magical Midnight in Paris.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Vampire

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I is a gratifying escape from reality. Those who are familiar with the books will be pleased with Director Bill Condon's attention to detail.

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Before There Was ‘The Exorcist’, There Was ‘The Possession of Joel Delaney’

Once again, the film industry came in and took a perfectly creepy book and upped the sensationalism because nothing can ever be too shocking in Hollywood.

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Transforming the Metamorphosis

While Atanes's film comes across as somber and unintentionally funny, and the Capaldi film is bizarre and outright amusing. Both do a brilliant job of capturing the surreal, dark mood that The Metamorphosis is cocooned in.

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‘Norwegian Wood’ Is Pretty Onscreen, But Puzzling

Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood has been referred to as the "Japanese Catcher in the Rye", but J. D. Salinger said that his book was not actable and he would never sell the rights to Hollywood. Maybe Murakami should have listened to Salinger.

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‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ at 34: Still Thrilling After All These Years

What makes Close Encounters of the Third Kind stand out to this day is that it isn’t the usual UFO tale of “us vs them”, like Spielberg’s later remake of War of the Worlds; rather, it's very much a story about Earthlings.

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A is for Axe: The Filmic Butchering of ‘The Scarlet Letter’

As is often the case with classics, what could have been a brilliantly updated film adaptation of The Scarlet Letter was consumed by the Hollywood machine that instead spits out a shallow and action-packed romp with a glossed-over ending.

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‘Poltergeist’: Home Sweet Hell

James Kahn’s version of Poltergeist is a rare example of a book written after a movie is released, which results in a riveting read.

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‘Eclipse’: A Sort of Romantic Kind of Fairytale

When I saw Eclipse, a gaggle of teenage girls behind me giggled, gasped and squealed their way through most of the film. Each time their hysteria erupted, it happened during a romantic scene.

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Cracking the Spine: The Lovely Bones

The author's 'heaven' is a concrete and unexpected place with"lumbering women throwing shot put and javelin"; whereas the filmmaker's interpretation changes 'heaven' to something like a garish, 3-D Hallmark card.

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Chéri: Out of the Boudoir

Frears and Hampton puts the viewer into Chéri in a very real and sensual manner, paying homage to Collette's luxuriant corporeal details.

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The Ice Storm: America Out in the Cold

Ang Lee captures the '70s on film the way Rick Moody captures the era in the book The Ice Storm. It's the midst of the sexual revolution, the Watergate scandal is erupting, and the country's social consciousness is changing.

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New Moon: Wherefor Art Thou Edward?

Bella and Edward's longing for each other is what makes the series so appealing. It fully encapsulates the bliss and agony of first love or any love that would make you lie down and die for the other person.

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Little Women: Brilliant Book, Flawed Film

A scene shows Ryder blissfully tying up the manuscript and putting a rose under the string. That's rather like what Armstrong and the screenwriters did to the film: tied it up neatly with a pretty flower.

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A Ghost Story of Dubious Origins

No matter the vercity of the tale, The Haunting in Connecticut has just enough creep quotient to keep me engaged, especially since I grew up a few miles from the house.

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The Handmaid’s Tale: Not So Sci-fi

The terrifying, 'it could happen today' message of this story is best told in the Atwood's book, rather than the film version.

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Not to be Silenced: To Kill a Mockingbird

'To Kill a Mockingbird' is more than an enlightening tale of the racial inadequacies in the South during the Depression -- it inspired people to study law.

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We All End Up in Diapers: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Comparing the book to the film, it’s as if Fitzgerald laid just the foundation, and from that Roth built a multi-storied house.

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Let the Right One In, But Only the Right One

Lindqvist’s book and Alfredson’s film adaptation both convey a sweet, dark version of puppy love. We don’t need the American remake.

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‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’: Check, Please

I hate it when a film takes a brilliant literary work and turns it into what it thinks the literary work should be.

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Chok(ing) Onscreen and In Print

Whether served up on the page or on the screen, this is an intimate assessment of a twisted mother/son relationship with plenty of sardonic humor and scathing satire.

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1 Mar 2009 // 7:59 PM

Woolf at the Door

Both Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Michael Cunningham's The Hours offer an illuminating look at the choices we make, the roles we play, and the hours that hinge our lives together.

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7 Jan 2009 // 7:59 PM

Twilight Takeover

The film is a successful adaptation of the book not only because Pattinson is so talented and dreamy, but also because Hardwicke knows a thing or two about filming adolescents.

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2 Dec 2008 // 8:00 PM

Hughes Oughta Know

The British Library bought Ted Hughes' literary archive, further inspiring film and literary speculation into his life with Sylvia Plath.

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28 Oct 2008 // 9:59 PM

Blinded by Science

While Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a wonderful tale of a tortured man and his experiment, I’ll take Hollywood’s version of the block-headed monster any day.

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Bukowski: What Lies Beneath

During the rare moments when Charles Bukowski's vulnerable side are shown, they manage to break through the "dirty old man" parody of himself that he had become.

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24 Aug 2008 // 10:00 PM

He’s Lost Control

The kids who grew up in the '90s had the haunted Kurt Cobain; my generation had the tormented Ian Curtis.

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28 Jul 2008 // 10:00 PM

Rebel Rebel

The time is ripe for revisiting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, as we're all aware that individual freedoms are still being suppressed by governments around the world.

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29 Jun 2008 // 10:00 PM

Love on the Rocks

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'s dark, witty banter and assessment of human malice made my brain tick and also made me glad I wasn’t married.

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Living the Dream: The Life Before Her Eyes

Kaisischke's grotesque images of the natural world remind me of Sylvia Plath. She is a master of highlighting the splendor and tragedy working side-by-side in everyday life.

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Love in the Time of Record Shops

Technology may have changed the way we obtain music, but as Nick Hornby's High Fidelity reminds us, it can never alter our love affair with the medium.

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23 Mar 2008 // 10:00 PM

The Escape Artist

The desire to escape that lives in each of us, and the consequences of acting on that desire, is what makes us care for Chris McCandless (Into the Wild), and what makes his short life such a compelling story.

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Standing by Stephen King

Childhood and the end of innocence are vividly portrayed in Stephen King's novella The Body, and Rob Reiner's excellent interpretation, Stand by Me.

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13 Feb 2008 // 9:00 PM

The Sins of the Sister

A director can translate a writer’s words to the screen beautifully, but he can never alter their power on the page. The book and film versions of Atonement prove this all too well.

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19 Dec 2007 // 9:00 PM

The Good Shepherd

His comic look at life in the '50s formed the foundation for a seminal Christmas 'Story'. But there is more to Jean Sheperd than little boys and BB guns.

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Save the Drama for Your Mama

Sons and Lovers gave author D.H. Lawrence a chance to work out all his Oedipal issues. Too bad the film adaptations have been less than enlightening.

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24 Oct 2007 // 10:00 PM

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Flowers in the Attic is the perfect example of what happens to a favorite book when it gets pressed through the Hollywood machine. The results are enough to ruin a sly, scandalous thriller - and a reader's rich adolescent memories.

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One Hit Wonder - The Stone Reader

A favored book from one's past. An elusive author who seemingly never wrote anything since. Sounds like the components for a fascinating documentary? You'd be right.

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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Circumstances may have brought them together, but a single 'enduring' emotion may be driving Ian McEwan's characters toward a deranged date with destiny.

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13 Jun 2007 // 10:00 PM

The Lisbon Bunch

Purposefully ending one's life is often seen as a last act of personal desperation. But in Jefferey Eugenides' poignant, bewitching novel, it may actually be a form of salvation.

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15 Apr 2007 // 10:00 PM

We Like to Watch

Far more prescient today than it was 36 years ago, Jerzy Kosiński’s darkly comic novel of media and politics, Being There, lives on, thanks in part to Hal Ashby's marvelous 1979 motion picture adaptation.

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21 Feb 2007 // 7:59 PM


James Redfield's 'prophetic' novel, The Celestine Prophecy, as manifested in film... maybe it means something. I see soft-focus imagery and swirling colors. I'm getting a feeling. It''s... nausea.

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Stumbling with Nail Clippers

It was one of the most talked about tomes upon its release. Unfortunately, our literary liaison for all things film thinks that Augusten Burrough's mesmerizing memoir was definitely defanged in the cinematic translation.

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30 Oct 2006 // 10:00 PM

Vamping It Up

From folklore to fright icon, a certain naughty neckbiter remains one of literature -- and film's -- most fascinating fear factors.

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19 Sep 2006 // 9:00 PM

Lolita’s Balls!

Between the scandalous novel and it's equally inflammatory big screen adaptation, Vladimir Nabokov's classic story of unnatural, obsessive love still has chutzpah.

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8 Aug 2006 // 9:00 PM

The Da Vinci De-Bacle

As I sat there in the theater watching The Da Vinci Code, I wondered how it would be possible to follow the knotty narrative if you hadn't read the book first.

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“Thunder”‘s Blunder

The Box Office Belletrist -- Thunder's Blunder -- Hyams and company managed to take an excellent metaphor for man's technological hubris and strip it of all importance.

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31 May 2006 // 9:00 PM

Bradbury on Fire

Though it was written over a half century ago, and the only film adaptation was helmed during the tumultuous and turbulent '60s, Fahrenheit 451 remains a classic sci-fi treasure. Our literary lady of letters believes that now just might be the right time for a remake.

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24 Apr 2006 // 9:00 PM

Swimming Home

Sometimes, the written word can be far more evocative than the most memorable motion picture. Such is the case with John Cheever's classic short story about alienation amongst the sun-drenched swimming pools of suburbia.

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Sympathy for the Devil: In Cold Blood

Truman Capote crafted a masterpiece in human ambiguity with his classic 'nonfiction' novel. Our leading lady of letters argues that the recent cinematic exploration of the book's creation is an equally unnerving experience.

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26 Feb 2006 // 9:00 PM

Vintage Venom

Looking for a classic bit of 'cruelty' with 'intentions' that are all too clear? Our resident literary 'liaison' argues the case for this 1988 masterwork of manipulation.

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16 Jan 2006 // 9:00 PM

Love Is Risky Business

With all the Oscar buzz swirling around Ang Lee's taboo-busting drama, our literary liaison wants us to not forget the stellar short story it's based upon.

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14 Dec 2005 // 9:00 PM

Austen’s Powers

Despite Jane Austen's obvious skill as a storyteller, her novel, Pride and Prejudice, is somewhat asexual. Thankfully, the new film version of the literary classic introduces some much needed physicality into this far too courteous romance.

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Everything Is (Sort Of) Illuminated

In the rare case of a book and its cinematic adaptation complimenting each other, Makowsky looks at the link between the literary and celluloid versions of Jonathan Safran Foer's acclaimed novel.

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Trick or Treat, Trick or Treat, Give Us Something Good to Read

Interested in some chilling All Hallows Eve fare? Our resident lady of literature attempts to glean the thrills from the spills as she searches the shelves -- both book and video -- for a good scare.

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Dullest of Them All?

In this month's installment, Makowsky wonders why, in either kid-friendly or mainstream motion picture versions, the Brothers Grimm just can't get any respect.

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‘Chick Lit’ Overload

Makowsky laments the continuing influence of 'Chick Lit' in both bookstores and movie houses worldwide.

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13 Jul 2005 // 12:00 AM

The 2005 War of the Worlds may be one of the few times where the credits 'based on the book by...' actually has a legitimate meaning.

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Like most bibliophiles, I often cringe when a favorite book is transformed for the big screen. It doesn't mean I won't give it a chance though.

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//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

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