Most of the time, the book is much better than the film adaption, so that sometimes it becomes a torture to watch the movies.
Colm Toibin is another outstanding Irish writer, after James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and W B Yeats. The movie is gorgeously shot with oil-painting-like image quality and exquisite costumes. It is a warm and touching movie, well presenting the loneliness and alienation the heroine, Eilis Lacey, feels in a new world that Toibin beautifully describes. Star Saoirse Ronan was nominated for the Academy Award for best actress.
As a language master, Toibin chooses each word carefully. The book is a miracle that shows how powerful unadorned language can be. It’s easy to read with very few difficult words and complicated sentences.
Gone Girl (2014)
This is another thriller in recent years by David Fincher, after Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The leading actress, Rosamund Pike, won n Academy Award nomination for best actress in 2015.
The novel by American writer Gillian Flynn topped the New York Times bestseller list in 2012. It’s a story about a desperate housewife whose husband cheats on her. Amy, the heroine, was a famous writer, a beautiful, intelligent woman whose growing-up stories were made into books and won tens of thousands of fans. Living in the spotlight all her life, Amy, unable to stand her husband’s infidelity, schemes to frame her husband for her disappearance.
It’s a story of a psychopath, a story of a modern Medea. As New York Times bestselling author Tana French puts it, “this is a wonderful and terrifying book about how the happy surface normality and the underlying darkness can become too closely interwoven to separate.”
I strongly recommend this movie starring Sally Hawkins as the warm-hearted, lovely, thoughtful but sad heroine Anne Elliot, who is unmarried at 27. The long takes and the piano score create an atmosphere of depression and uneasiness, matching Anne’s situation after her family’s wealth was squandered up by her father and elder sister, and her possible future as a spinster.
I watched the movie three times and cried every time when I saw Anne running crazily to catch up with her heartbroken lover and accept his proposal.
The movie is based on Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. A lot of people are familiar with the famous Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. This one is equally good in my opinion.
The Remains of the Day（1993）
The story involves the relationship between a housekeeper, played by Emma Thompson, and Anthony Hopkins’s butler in a grand mansion like Downton Abbey in Britain. I watched it eight years ago after I finished reading the Booker Prize winner by Japanese-British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. The movie adaption is brilliant, nominated for Academy Awards for best actor, best director and best picture. The repressed love between the two people is well represented by the endless rainy days in the solemn atmosphere of the movie.
Ishiguro’s other novel, Never Let Me Go, has also been adapted for film, starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, but the Japanese version is better.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof （1953）
I don’t always like Elizabeth Taylor, like in Little Women and Cleopatra. However, when I watched the film version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I was amazed by her performance. Adapted from American playwright Tennessee Williams’ play, the movie won six Oscar nominations, including best actress, best actor, best director and best picture.
Every soul in the story is painful for its own reason, showing how equal people are in front of God. The tempestuous quarrels between father and sons, between brothers and between husband and wife push the plot from one climax to another, until in the end everything returns to calmness.
Tinker, Taylor, Soldier and Spy （2011）
To be honest, I don’t see how brilliant the film version is with Gary Oldman, who was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor. It is said the TV series in 1979 is better.
However, many people love the novel. The author John Le Carre is the most famous espionage novelist in Britain. Recently, the BBC adaption of his Night Manager featuring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie has fascinated many audiences. I also helped my British colleague Paul to download the TV series.
If you want to read an English espionage novel, this book is a good choice.
Sleepy Hollow （1999）
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button （2008）
I put these two movies together because they both are adapted from short stories.
Sleepy Hollow, featuring Johnny Depp, is adapted from “the father of American literature” Washington Irving’s short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, is adapted from F Scott Fitzgerald’s short story of the same name.
For those who are afraid of long stories, these two may be good choices.
Fight Club （1999）
Yes, this is another David Fincher film, starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Carter, my favorite actors and actress.
I studied the novel by Chuck Palahniuk for a term paper several years ago. I was really excited about the postmodern narrative style and the angry-youth-like charge on excessive mass consumption. The novel is much more violent than the film adaption.
Now the sequel of the novel is coming out, but honestly, I dare not read it.
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.
Many people can recite the beautiful opening sentences of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. The Nabokov family, from Russia, spoke three languages at home, Russian, English and French, but Vladimir could read and spell in English before Russian. His diction and writing style appear exotic and Russian, and therefore are quite difficult to read, although very elegant.
Stanley Kubrick created a lot of classic symbols in his film adaption, such as Lolita wearing red-rimmed, heart-shaped sunglasses and sucking a lollipop on the poster.
River Town (2017)
On Chesil Beach (2017)
River Town will come out next year, a Lu Chuan film adapted from American journalist and writer Peter Hessler’s nonfiction book, River Town. He was based in China for years as a correspondent for The New Yorker. The book is based on his teaching experience at a normal university in Fuling, Sichuan province in late 1990s. His writing is neat, vivid and humorous. What is more, like Toibin, his language is also relatively unadorned, but powerful enough.
On Chesil Beach is a novel by contemporary British writer Ian McEwan, and the movie will be released next year. Another of the writer’s novels, novel, Atonement, was been adapted for film in 2007, starring Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan and James McAvoy.
I read the novel several years ago at one sitting. The story starts with the breakup of a newly married couple. Anyone who loves films like An Education cannot miss the novel and the film.
卷福、神秘博士和一群老戏骨表演群口相声：To be or not to be该咋念，简直高潮迭起