Archive | Book Matters

Of ‘Under the Skin’ and Mother Lodes

It can be said that the first rule of any literary adaptation is that it must work unto itself—that our appreciation of the film can’t be contingent upon our familiarity with the book. But I would offer an adjacent rule: that, as audiences, we must never judge a literary adaptation by how well it references its antecedent. Nothing makes my heart sink faster than the casual dismissal, “Eh, the novel was better than the movie.”

I’ve been thinking about this because of two recent releases: the terrific Hateship, Loveship, which diverges greatly in tone from the terrific Alice Munro short story upon which it’s based (I review them both here), and Under the Skin. A sci-fi indie starring Scarlett Johansson as a ruby-lipped alien predator, Skin hit theaters last week to much ado. Continue Reading →

‘Hateship Loveship,’ a Study in Earnestness

Hateship Loveship, starring Kristen Wiig, is far less blasé than the Alice Munro story on which it’s based. An excerpt from my Word and Film review :

We get the sense Munroe as narrator skims over the details of how a love match is made not out of prudery so much as a distaste for the obviousness of the whole business. “A woman not to be deterred, a man who’s lost his way? Eh, you do the math,” she seems to be saying, airily waving a rough-knuckled hand. In contrast, the film “Hateship Loveship” is a study in earnestness. To some degree this is a function of our times. The story has been updated to the contemporary Midwest from mid-20th century Canada, when stricter social codes were bound to engender subversiveness. 

For Early Birds Like Me

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want. Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.
—Rumi

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy