Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just in case anyone asked ... some books I'd like to see made into movies

You know, considering that no one with any kind of power that I know of has ever actually asked, a rather remarkable number of my favorite books have already been made into movies this year: "Where the Wild Things Are" (of course), "The Damned United", "Youth in Revolt" and "Watchmen" (and yes, in case anyone has a snooty reaction to that, "Watchmen" is indeed a great novel, graphic or otherwise.)

That got me to thinking, and looking through my book shelf, for the books that I'd most like to be made into feature films, though I really can't see any of these six making any kind of serious box office coin.

Before we get into any of that, however, the program for the 2009 Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival has just been released, and as usual it's full of a lot of very fun stuff. I'll probably see 10 or so movies in the three days I'm there in November, and so far the highlights I've scribbled down are "The Baader-Meinhof Complex", the documentaries "It Might Get Loud" and "Youssou NDour: I Bring What I Love", and the animated film "Sita Sings the Blues," leaving me with more than a few slots to fill.

If anyone who knows more about independent and foreign movies than I do wouldn't mind looking through the program you can download here and giving me a few suggestions, I'd certainly appreciate it.

But getting back to the intended subject here today, looking through my bookshelf, here are the five or six (or seven) books I could find that I'd most like to see made into feature films:

Among the Thugs
Soccer hooliganism is hardly the most appealing subject, but it's already worked very well at least once as a movie with "Green Street Hooligans" starring Frodo Baggins himself (if you haven't seen that one, it's well worth a rental.) This nonfictional work by Granta editor Bill Buford chronicles his often frightening adventures running with a rather surly band of Manchester United fans known as the "Inter-City Jibbers," most notably with a troubled trip to Turin. It's just a fascinating book I've read at least three times now.

"Reservation Blues"
Given the relative success of "Smoke Signals" and how many great books have been written by the American Indian scribe Sherman Alexie, it really surprises me that more of his books haven't been made into flicks already. If I had to pick just one, it would be "Reservation Blues," probably his most accessible novel and just a great tale about what happens when bluesman Robert Johnson makes a visit to the Spokane Indian Reservation and passes his enchanted guitar along to resident Thomas-Builds-the-Fire. Adam Beach surely needs the work, and for the young ladies, why not that Taylor Lautner from those "Twilight" movies too?

The "Adrian Mole" novels
Sue Townsend's series of novels about Adrian Mole (who starts out at age 13 3/4 and, of course, gets older) have already been the inspiration for three British TV series, none of which I've managed to see, and even apparently a musical of some sort. And, though I can find no evidence that it has either been ever completed or even started, there's also a listing for a "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4" at the IMDB for 2009, but it doesn't feature a cast, so I have no idea what's going on with any of that. Here's hoping it somehow makes to a theater somewhere near me soon!

"Member of the Wedding"
OK, this one has also already been made into two TV movies and a proper 1954 feature film, but the coming-of-age story of Frankie Addams by the great Georgia writer Carson McCullers is just the definition of timeless and could certainly be done again and right. Perhaps I just have a soft spot for this one because mi hermano played John Henry West in a local theater production of this when I was growing up, and I quickly just fell in love with the story.

"Outcasts United"
I really harbor no fantasies that there's ever gonna be a genuine blockbuster about soccer, but this great American story penned by New York Times reporter Warren St. John would just make a perfectly compelling movie. The nonfiction work tells the tale of coach Luma Mufleh and her band of refugee kids who band together to form a not-surprisingly-good soccer team in the town of Clarkston, Georgia. Much more than a soccer story, it's all about immigration in America and what happens when you transform a sleepy Southern town into a melting pot featuring all kinds of ingredients. Read it now if you can.

"Maggie Muggins (or Spring in Earl's Court)" and "Small World"
I went through a brief period of my reading life when all I read was British novels, and these were easily two of the best. Though Keith Waterhouse's novel "Billy Liar" has been made into a great 1963 movie, the story of Maggie Muggins is just as good, and her misadventures as "a piece of urban flotsam" would certainly work as movie, sort of the anti-Bridget Jones (and please, dear God, if anyone ever really does make a movie of this, don't cast Renee Zellweger in it!) "Small World: An Academic Romance," by David Lodge, is just one of the wittiest novels I've ever read, and despite the fact that it's set in the none-too-movie-glamorous world of academic conferences, it still delivers all kinds of funny.

So, there you have it, and I believe that actually went to seven. I fully realize that none of these ideas will ever hit the screen (or at least not again) anytime soon or ever, but please feel free to add any books you'd love to see brought to the big screen to this list.

And, because I'm just psyched beyond belief to finally be getting to see Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are" this Friday, here's a clip from when Max first meets the Wild Things to get you geeked up too. Peace out.


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

If Member of the Wedding was adapted I say Saiorse Ronan and Taraji P Henson. Who do you nominate?

Reel Fanatic said...

I like those choices quite a bit, especially Taraji P. Henson ... She's obviously way too old, but she still likes to play that young, so I'd go with Ellen Page to play Frankie

Aracir said...

I just bought a copy of Reservation Blues..got to read it soon.. but if it's made into a movie, I'd like to see real Indians play Thomas and Adam's role (was it Victor?).. the original cast was great, too!

Aracir said...

no Taylor Lautner please =D

Reel Fanatic said...

If I remember correctly, Adam did indeed play Victor .. but it's sad that I can't remember who played Thomas in "Smoke Signals"

Cullen said...

Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Reel Fanatic said...

I could definitely go for that one, Cullen ... the first "Hitchhiker's" movie was a real oddity, but not in all the best ways the book was, so there's certainly room for improvement on the big screen