Archive | Book Matters

Eat Drink Book Movie

If there’s one thing people like as much as food, it’s the culture of food: dining and cooking blogs, restaurant scenes, cookbooks for every sense and sensibility, chef idolatry, food TV, and, of course, food movies. Even bad movies about food are still good, thanks to their subjects, and cinema’s most sensual moments tend to feature meals rather than sex—think Eat Drink Man Woman, Babette’s Feast, and Tom Jones. (If you’ve never seen the latter, be forewarned: You’ll never look at a roasted chicken the same way again.)

While there’s never been a shortage of movies to make us hungry, though, there’s a surprising dearth of films based on food memoirs. Sure, there’s Julie & Julia, Nora Ephron’s film based on memoirs by Julia Child and Julie Powell; Toast, based on British chef Nigel Slater’s memoir; and reportedly an upcoming film based on New York City chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s Bones, Blood & Butter (which may star Lady Goop herself, Gwyneth Paltrow). But since all of Hollywood loves a literary adaptation, and since few literary genres blend such va-va-voom carnality with serious brass tacks, I’d argue there should be many more. For Word and Film, I list the food writers whose books would provide an excellent start.

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. 

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