**The following is an adaptation of a conversation that actually happened, more or less, between actual booksellers, give or take, with undisclosed reliance on/participation of the internet.**
Today at Diesel we unpacked our first wave of DVDs, now on sale at all our Diesel locations. The selection is small (wait, what’s a positive word for “small”--intimate?), six “classic literature” adaptations, many of which have become classics in their own right. When I pulled the PBS Macbeth out of the box, for example, Patrick Stewart all bloody-handed on the cover, my co-worker was like:
THAT is an excellent adaptation. Lady MacBeth is chilling.
And I was like:
You should watch it, Kate Fleetwood, you know, she played “Woman with Baby” in Elizabeth: The Golden Age. And she did some voice work in the last Harry Potter movie.
So, she’s never been in anything else...
Okay, it may have been the Harry Potter video game. But the film is very true to the play, it’s an excellent modernization, none of that Kenneth Branagh Hamlet business where the setting is some vague Euro cloud-land.
But it’s not that difficult to adapt a play, is it? I mean, it’s written to be performed. It doesn’t require the slash-and-burn of adapting a behemoth novel. War and Peace. Anna Karenina. Actually, Tom Stoppard is doing a new adaptation of Anna Karenina that’s coming out in the fall, I think. I’ve never been more excited to see the film of a book I haven’t read.
You didn’t read Anna Karenina?
That’s not true. I dressed up for the midnight premieres of all three Lord of the Rings films before I ever read the books. Which, by the way, might be my favorite adaptations of all time.
You dressed up for the Lord of the Rings premieres?
I mean, the battle scenes are a little mixed up and a few characters are missing, but who’s really sorry that Tom Bombadil got the boot? If you want to talk LOTR, who is Tom Bombadil even supposed to BE? What does he mean? Why won’t he help them fight?
Yeah, I don’t want to talk LOTR with you.
Aragorn. I went as Aragorn. I actually was able to use the same brown robe to be Aragorn, Obi Wan at the Star Wars premieres, and Dobby for a few of the Harry Potter’s. And then lit it on fire while waiting in line for The Hunger Games. Just Kidding. I went as a mockingjay.
How are you going to re-purpose your robe for Anna Karenina?
Do you think there’ll be a midnight showing? I may have to invest in some new pieces.
Well, I’m looking forward to the Cloud Atlas adaptation. I hear they had six different directors tackle the six distinct segments of the novel. I mean, it sounds like a terrible idea, doomed to result in a disjointed product, but isn’t that what you would have said about the novel if you knew what David Mitchell was up to?
I just hope they do the book justice. There’s such margin for error. Things I’m sorry I wasted two hours on that had no reason to be terrible: The Rum Diary. WHYYYYY?
That was really awful.
Never Let Me Go. That was a tragedy.
More like “Never Let Kiera Knightly Play A Complex Character.”
Robert Redford as Gatsby.
DiCaprio as Gatsby might turn out alright. But I don’t believe in Tobey Maguire. He ruined Spiderman. Was Seabiscuit a bad movie or do I just hate Tobey Maguire?
The Cider House Rules. That was an epic movie.
It was an epic movie because John Irving wrote an epic book and then a mostly good cast acted it and Michael Caine huffed a lot of ether. I’m not giving Tobey Maguire a pass because Charlize Theron is cute.
He was good in The Ice Storm. Totally solid performance. Great book by Rick Moody. Adaptation win. New question: Has Tobey Maguire ever been in a movie NOT based on a book?
WHOA, he’s going to be in the film of Life of Pi as well. But yeah, he made that creepy Brothers movie about coming home from war and being a psycho. Not a book. You know what was great? October Sky.
That wasn’t Tobey Maguire, that was Jake Gyllenhaal.
You know, Tobey Maguire is sort of a poor man’s Jake Gyllenhaal.
Who, coincidentally, stars in my favorite adaptation of all time.
Lord of the Rings?
Brokeback Mountain. Based on one of Annie Proulx’s short stories. The dialogue is almost word-for-word. Very impressive.
I miss Heath Ledger.
I miss him too. I miss him too.