Adapting Cormac McCarthy’s The Road: After the End of the World

Genre fiction has long resided on the less reputable side of the divide between escapism and literature. But as The Atlantic notes, cult writers like Neil Gaiman are increasingly crossing over into the mainstream while established novelists like Michael Chabon are exploring sci-fi/horror/fantasy territory blazed by the likes of Margaret Atwood. Few have blurred these […]

Sass and Kick Ass: James Bond: Casino Royale (2006)

Paradoxically for one of the freshest James Bond films ever made, Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale (2006) is actually the third adaptation of the character’s debut in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel. After a largely forgotten 1954 TV movie in which “Jimmy” Bond was awkwardly Americanized, the same premise was parodied in a 1967 farce bearing the […]

A Vampire’s Secret Daily Toil: Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In)

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) is unapologetically a vampire story. It follows most of the rules of the genre but avoids the standard trappings of spectacular bloodletting (like, say, Blade) and simplistic sexual metaphors (we’re looking at you, Twilight). Director Tomas Alfredson and screenwriter John Ajvide (adapting his own novel) […]

Desperate to Be Liked: Julian Jarrold’s Brideshead Revisited

Director Julian Jarrold’s lavish period piece Brideshead Revisited trots the globe like a genteel James Bond adventure, visiting London, Venice, and Morocco, but especially the opulent Castle Howard. From the perspective of an ignoramus that hasn’t read Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel, this compressed version of what I imagine to be a grander prose narrative doesn’t […]

Emotional Illiteracy: Stephen Daldry’s The Reader

Director Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Billy Elliot) and screenwriter David Hare’s adaptation of Bernhard Schlink’s novel (produced by the late Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack) studies evolving notions of German postwar guilt and culpability. Unfolding across three distinct time periods (1958, 1966, and 1995), The Reader hinges on a significant reveal in its middle that […]

A Disease Immune to Bureaucracy: Fernando Meirelles’ Blindness

Director Fernando Meirelles has examined desperate pressure cookers (City of God) and institutional corruption (The Constant Gardener) before. Blindness proves perfect to meld both themes, with a science fiction twist imagining the downfall of civilization itself. Blindness is part of a special subset of the horror/sci-fi/disaster genre: the dystopian end-of-civilization nightmare. Whereas the typical entry […]

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